Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - PolicyAssessmentHRSB
Policy and Procedure Development and Discussion
Halifax Regional School Board
The Halifax Regional School Board (HRSB) positions student learning as its top priority (HRSB,
Learning,2012, para. 1). In order to support this focus, the board has developed 66 policies that cover six
categories: Board Governance and Operations, School Administration, Program, Human Resource
Services, Financial Services, and Community Relations. Overall, the policies are suitable, clear,and
accurate. The use of scientific notion, headings, and subheadings to divide elements supports
comprehension. School Administration and Human Resource Services are two of the most integral
components of a well-functioning school board. As such, two policies from each of these sections are
examined below. A critical analysis found some weaknesses that are policy-specific and strengths that are
common across all four policies.
B.013 Regional Code of Conduct
Some of the most significant obstacles to student learning are behavioural issues. As such, it is
important to examine policy B.013, Regional Code of Conduct,a policy under the umbrella of School
Administration which outlines guidelines for student conduct including expectations, preventative
measures,and consequences for poor conduct.
Policy B.013 presents guidelines for conduct within schools under the board’s jurisdiction
including the roles and responsibilities of all member groups, the promotion of appropriate behaviours,
and the ranges of approved (and forbidden) actions to address inappropriate behaviours. In general, the
policy is comprehensive and well organized using headings and subheadings presented in scientific
notation. The preamble section addresses the school board’s generalapproach to conduct including their
commitment to a philosophy that supports a “proactive approach to discipline,” an approach that is
evident throughout the policy (HRSB, Regional Code of Conduct,2006, p.1).
This policy suffers most from a lack of brevity. Including appendices, it is a 22 page document.
While it is important to address all issues and players involved in matters of conduct, 22 pages are too
many to be effectively read and absorbed. There are a number of places where the policy could be
tightened. Section 4 on guiding principles, for example, could be combined with the preamble section as
their contents overlap. Pages 8 to 18 include two tables that outline categories of offences,descriptions of
offences,proactive strategies for prevention, and ranges of possible consequences. There is a lot of
repetition in the tables and some of the offences and punishments could be combined for brevity’s sake.
Alternatively, since the tables need only be consulted for specific offences when they occur and not read
in their entirety every time the policy is consulted, the generalized discussion of offences and
consequences in the preceding pages could be tightened or eliminated entirely.
Besides lack of brevity, the policy also suffers from some obvious contradictions and exclusions.
For example, the policy forbids “the use of academic work as a disciplinary procedure,” and then suggests
a “research project on harmful effects of tobacco use” as a punishment for tobacco use on school property
(pp. 6, 8). Several times throughout the document, statements are made indicating that “strategies will be
developed” (p.5) or member groups will be involved in the development of codes of conduct (pp. 2-3).
However,there is no reference to how these goals will be reached,how often codes of conduct will be
changed, and so forth. A link to another policy or guidelines for implementation of these vague statements
would greatly enhance the policy. Pages 19-22 are labelled “Halifax Regional School Board Code of
Conduct Procedures,” but the contents only outline the processes relating to suspension. The policy
attempts to provide a clear delineation between policies and procedures, but the delineation is not entirely
accurate. Many of the preceding pages of policy are peppered with references to procedures such as the
possible punishments presented in the tables from page 8-18.
The final role of the school board, section 5.1.3, is to “ensure that [the] policy is reviewed at least
every five years” (p.2). Ironically, the policy was last revised in 2006 and there is no indication on the
website that the policy is currently under review.
B.019 High School Attendance
The High School Attendance policy’s centralmessage is that attendance impacts learning and
achievement. This policy empowers school administrators to manage attendance for their particular
school. While encouraging school-based solutions for ensuring high attendance,this policy offers a clear
framework to guide administrators with their decision-making. The attendance policy includes a detailed
list of procedures that schools must follow as they develop attendance strategies. For example, these
procedures define the attendance terms including present,special circumstance absence,suspension,
excused absence,and unexcused absence. Additionally, this policy outlines the responsibilities of
different stakeholders for ensuring regular attendance including the School Board Attendance Committee,
superintendent, school administrators, teachers,students, and parents/guardians. One notable weakness of
this policy is that it does not address the penalties or repercussions for students who fail to abide by the
school’s attendance policy. Punitive measures for absenteeism are addressed in the Regional Code of
Conduct policy; a reference to the appropriate section of this policy would be very beneficial.
This policy directly relates to the HRSB’s mission of ensuring that students develop a “passion
for learning” and “achieving personal success” (HRSB, 2012-2013 General Fund BusinessPlan and
Budget, 2012, p. 5). An attendance policy is necessary for schools to implement strategies that maximize
attendance in order to teach students the value of lifelong learning. Additionally, the HRSB has a
(somewhat vague) vision that seeks to improve every school by 2012-2013 (HRSB, About Us,2012).
Assuming that attendance falls under this improvement umbrella, this policy aligns well with such a
vision. In light of these goals, it does seem strange that the policy only targets the high school level and
does not address attendance at elementary or junior high schools. While this policy is certainly fit for
purpose for high schools as the title indicates, it could be argued that it has a broader application to lower-
level schools. The introductory sentence clearly expresses the importance of attendance for student
achievement so the reader is left wondering why it is restricted to the high school level. Nevertheless,this
policy is very necessary for both the success of the HRSB and for the success of students.
Overall, the attendance policy is well-written, logically organized, and appropriately clear and
brief. A clear differentiation between the policy statements and procedures has been established and each
of these sections are preceded by a table of contents. The policy is subdivided into concise policy
statements that deal with specific issues directly related to student attendance. This section is followed by
a much more detailed list of procedures and statement of responsibilities. Each section consistently
includes a relevant subheading and is clearly divided by scientific notation. This policy could be stronger
if it provided reference materialfor its readers. For example, the policy refers to various acts and bodies
such as the Nova Scotia Education Act, the Public School Program, the School Advisory Council, and the
HRSB Attendance Committee all of which may be of interest to various stakeholders.
D.005 Secondary Employment
Within the Human Resources section are nine HRSB policies which address issues pertaining to
the board’s staff. The Secondary Employment policy, approved in 1997, addresses employees working
outside of their positions at HRSB and states that the employee's primary obligation is to HRSB (HRSB,
Secondary Employment,1997, p.1). It defines secondary employment as “[e]mployment with an employer
other than Halifax Regional School Board, including self-employment” (p.1). As the board's primary goal
is the education of young people, it is reasonable to expect employees to be committed to their role in
serving that aim. Additionally, as the school board is an elected government body, it is important that
there is no appearance of bias or activity that could sully the board's reputation or that of the school
system generally. This policy also stresses the need for employees to represent themselves accurately and
not to act in a way that may appear as though they are acting on behalf of the HRSB (p. 2). Again, this
speaks to the board's need to maintain accountability and preserve its reputation.
This policy is necessary because the work schedules of many teachers and other HRSB
employees can often accommodate secondary employment. The HRSB must ensure it is providing the
best quality education for its students and that employees’ secondary employment is not diminishing the
level of education delivered. The board also must have recourse should an employee put the HRSB in a
compromising position where there is a conflict of interest or the appearance of one, though penalties and
repercussions are not discussed. HRSB must also preserve its neutrality and distance from political,
business, or other endeavours. The policy addresses all issues related to secondary employment and is
therefore fit for purpose.
The Secondary Employment policy itself is one very clear and well-written sentence using plain
language. Using scientific notation, the procedural guidelines are subdivided into three categories -
conditions that would prohibit secondary employment, conditions for employees who have secondary
employment, and possible requirement of notifying the secondary employer that the employee's
secondary employment is “in no way authorized, endorsed or supported by Halifax Regional School
Board” (p. 3). Each of these sections is further segmented with detailed descriptions of each statement.
The pagination clearly indicates which page the reader is on and the total number of pages,three. The
demarcation of guidelines is clear and the policy itself is prominently identified. As this policy addresses
a relatively simple issue, it is appropriately brief and concise.
D.009 Diversity Management
The HRSB has committed itself to ensuring an inclusive work environment through its Diversity
Management policy (HRSB, Diversity Management,2007, p.1). The policy outlines the board’s aims to
recruit, promote, and hire members of underrepresented groups and offers strategic approaches to do so.
Furthermore, the policy requires that once hired, all employees are treated equally and without prejudice.
The HRSB’s mission statement of ensuring that “each student develops passion … for building a
harmonious global community” is supported by this policy (HRSB, 2012-2013 Draft General Fund
Business Plan,2012, p.5).
Overall, this policy is necessary,especially in a setting that can fall under intense public scrutiny.
The foundation of the policy is the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act (HRSB, Diversity Management,2007,
p. 1) and it further attempts to guarantee an environment in which no employee feels discriminated
against. The purpose of the Diversity Management policy is clear and explicit in the preamble. Unlike the
other policies reviewed, D.009 contains a section outlining accountability (p 3). The overall development
of strategies relating to diversity are the responsibility of the Superintendent, while the implementation is
shared by Board Services and human resources.
In terms of clarity, this policy provides numerous definitions (pp. 2-3) to ensure that those
involved understand all of the terms and objectives. Furthermore, the plan, goals and expected outcomes
are clearly stated. In terms of brevity, this policy is a concise eight pages including two appendices: a
workplace survey, and the actualdiversity management plan. The organizational structure,pagination,
and notation are neat and concise as well.
The four policies reviewed are serviceable documents. A common strength among these policies
is their connection to the HRSB’s mission statement. It is evident that each policy is in place to serve the
board’s overarching aim to provide education to the young students in its charge. Moreover,each policy
is clearly written in plain language, appropriately structured with scientific notation, and properly
formatted with strategic pagination. These policies, however, could be improved in several areas. First,
the table of contents in each policy does not include physical page numbers making it much more difficult
to navigate through lengthy policies. Additionally, stronger use of supporting documents, either through
clearer citations or hyperlinks to connect the reader directly to the original, would enhance the policies’
value. Finally, to improve accessibility, the policies should be provided in HTML format in addition to
downloadable PDFs. As it stands, Halifax Regional School Board’s set of policies are comprehensive in
coverage; however, implementing the suggested changes outlined above would improve their usability for
stakeholders outside the board.
Halifax Regional School Board. (1997). Secondary Employment. Retrieved from:
Halifax Regional School Board. (2006). Regional Code of Conduct. Retrieved from:
Halifax Regional School Board. (2007). Diversity Management Policy.Retrieved from:
Halifax Regional School Board. (2008). High School Attendance Policy. Retrieved from:
Halifax Regional School Board (2008-2009). 2012-2013 General Fund Business Plan & Budget.
Retrieved from: http://www.hrsb.ns.ca/files/Downloads/pdf/finance/budget/budget-business-plan-
Halifax Regional School Board. (2012). Learning. Retrieved from:
Halifax Regional School Board. (2012). About Us. Retrieved from: