The president of Fairfax County's major teachers union urged last night that more protections for teachers and students be put into a proposed AIDS policy that the School Board received from Superintendent Robert R. Spillane.
In other business, the board approved a watered-down version of the superintendent's proposal to eliminate behind-the-wheel driver training on school property during school hours. On-street driver training will still be offered during school hours, but instruction on the driving range will be confined to hours after classes and on Saturdays.
On the AIDS issue, the board had resisted having a written policy on students and staff members, arguing that cases should be handled individually. But it reversed itself and ordered Spillane to propose a policy four days after the mother of an AIDS-afflicted kindergarten girl filed suit Dec. 22 to force the school system to readmit her child.
The board voted Jan. 2 to readmit the child to Riverside Elementary School after Spillane said a medical review concluded that her attendance would not pose a danger to other students or staff.
The superintendent's proposal would remove students or staff from school pending a medical review. The superintendent would have 10 days after receiving the results of that review to decide on an employee's case or to make a recommendation to the School Board on a student's case. The board would have to act by its next scheduled meeting on the student's case.
In a written statement to the board, Fairfax Education Association President Mimi Dash criticized the proposal's lack of deadlines for completing the medical review. "Given the hardship experienced by those undergoing review, it would be best to establish a clear time line for the entire process," she said.
Dash also called for greater teacher representation in decisions on students, inclusion of the student's or employee's doctor on the medical review committee and a requirement that the school system pay for AIDS tests that it requests. She said teachers should not be required to work with infected students who are not allowed in school.
The board agreed to create a 41-member advisory group to make recommendations on the policy. The board will name 22 members and the superintendent 18, including eight representatives of county or employee groups. The chairman will be Ann Kahn, a former School Board member and national PTA president.
The board agreed to vote on a calendar for adopting the policy, including public hearings, at its Jan. 28 meeting.
On the driver education issue, Spillane argued that his proposal would allow more time for academics and provide for student parking on the driving ranges. Supporters on the board agreed: "I would like to see less disruption of the academic school day," said Joy Korologos.
But the proposal drew fire from organizations representing students and teachers. Critics said that students missed only three sessions of any one class at most because of driver education conducted during the school day. They said the change would discriminate against students who work or join after-school activities, and would force students to drive during rush hour or after dark. They said the change would cut driver training enrollment and send more students to commercial driving schools, whose graduates have a higher accident rate.