Hamilton County school board addresses policy changes, special education

Board chairman Steve Highlander, right, speaks next to schools superintendent Bryan Johnson amid a discussion about equity in the school system during a Hamilton County Board of Education work session on Thursday, June 21, 2018, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Hamilton County Schools might soon have a new process for dealing with convicted felons or student discipline issues, after the board introduced updated policies at its meeting Thursday.

First readings of new policies including who has to undergo a background check when working or volunteering for the district, how chronic absenteeism is handled, and whether the district can enter into a non-disclosure agreement (it can't) were discussed.

Previously, it was the school district's policy for potential employees to undergo a background check, and if they had been convicted of a felony in the past five years they would be automatically disqualified.

But according to board attorney Scott Bennett, "not all felonies are created equal."

He encouraged the board, which now requires even volunteers to undergo a background check, to re-examine the language it uses in regard to felony convictions.