Lehigh Valley

School board to consider hate speech revisions for handbook

VIDEO: Saucon Valley school board...

LOWER SAUCON TWP., Pa. - Despite what the rhyme says about sticks and stones, the Saucon Valley School District knows words can hurt you.

Tuesday night school board members will consider changes to the student handbook that were sparked by several alleged racial incidents last year.

Two students filed civil right lawsuits claiming the district failed to protect them from repeated racial intimidation.

"After the incidents we had we looked at the school handbook the way it already existed and we found a lot of holes," said Ron Salmon. 

Saucon Valley parent Ron Salmon was part of the committee that drafted the revisions.

He says previously, hate speech was not specifically addressed in the handbook.

But he says the revisions now address all forms of discrimination, harassment and intimidation.

He says talk in the community of banning five specific words was just that: talk.

Superintendent Craig Butler calls the changes a clear direction moving forward that outline the process and the punishments for inappropriate student behavior.

"But there is a lot of flexibility within the process, within that procedure in that it could range anywhere from a verbal warning or some sort of educational intervention or some opportunity to re-teach or re-clarify," Butler said.

The revision says possible punishment also includes suspension or police involvement.

Butler says the student handbook is just one piece of an overall effort to ensure a healthy, disruption free environment.

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