Minnix gets handbook input from the board about the district’s transportation policy

By Neal A. Johnson, UD Editor
Posted 9/27/23

LINN   — Linn R-2 Athletic Director Chris Minnix sought input from board members at Thursday’s meeting regarding a portion of this year’s handbook.

“I really tried …

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Minnix gets handbook input from the board about the district’s transportation policy


LINN  — Linn R-2 Athletic Director Chris Minnix sought input from board members at Thursday’s meeting regarding a portion of this year’s handbook.

“I really tried to update our handbook, but one thing I missed — and we ran into the situation last year, and already this year — was our policy and procedure for how kids get transported to and from activities,” said Minnix. “Obviously, we want to make sure that all of our kids are getting on our bus, but with the kind of activities our kids do, there are some exceptions. One example is when a kid is competing for district choir, but there’s also cross country going on. We don’t want our kids to not be able to participate in their athletic event or their activities event because they didn’t ride the bus.”

Minnix said he tried to be cognizant of that specific example. “I’m not going to get this right the first time, which is why I’m here trying to get feedback, but at the same time, we have to have a policy and a procedure in place,” he added.

Last year, a student was checked out by a friend of the student’s parents after a game but then got into a car with someone who had not been at the event. “That, obviously, is a huge liability,” said Minnix. “That’s an issue. I always encourage kids to ride the bus home, too, because I think that’s a huge cultural piece. My team always rode the bus to and from, but, you know, parents have the right to take their kid out whenever they want, just like they do (at school). I think the language becomes a little bit tricky when you’re trying to cover all events, but also be accommodating.  What we’re trying to do here is partner with parents. We’ve tried to increase our procedures, instruction, and culture. We’re trying to get our teachers, coaches, and kids to think and plan for the future.”

The district’s transportation policy reads in part, “All participants are required to ride school-provided transportation to events; the only exception would be if they are participating in one school-sponsored event and require additional transportation to another school-sponsored event. In this circumstance, participants must discuss this process with their coaches and administration at least 24 hours before the events.”

Board member Brett Phillips began with the requirement that students ride the bus to events unless they are at a school-sponsored event, as outlined in the handbook.

“What if a child is at a funeral, for example?” Phillips asked, noting in that case, the student would need transportation with a parent to the event. “If a kid is at a funeral somewhere, I do not think it’s unreasonable for the parents to take that kid to the event that afternoon or evening and for that to be excused.”

Minnix agreed, noting he understands exceptions will arise and tried to address that in the handbook: “Exceptions to number one will be handled on a case-by-case basis, but examples may include injury, family emergency, game delay, etc…”

Brett agreed but said the language in the first paragraph of the handbook defines only one exception. “That’s why I brought it up,” he said. “If we allow for extreme situations like you just mentioned, you probably don’t want to put ‘only’ right there because the parents are going to hit that first. It’s rare, but there are times that are perfectly reasonable for parents to transport their kid to the event. It’s rare, but it happens.”

Regarding the release of students after an event, the handbook notes, “To proceed with this, the parent/guardian of the student being transported must provide written consent at least 24 hours before the intended transportation. The consent form, containing event details, contact information, and emergency contacts, should be submitted to the head coach AND school administration through designated channels (school email).”

Minnix reiterated that his goal is to partner with parents. “I’m asking them to give our coaches a heads-up,” he said.

At a tournament, for example, coaches are managing players in an unknown environment and then make sure students get home safely. Minnix added that he has told coaches not to argue with parents wanting to take their child home from an event.

“If kids are going to be released to parents, the coach needs to see the parent, and the parent needs to sign something, correct?” Phillips asked.

“Right,” Minnix replied.

“I think it reads that a parent does have to tell you 24 hours in advance; that would be the impression I would get from reading that,” Phillips continued. “I can just see scenarios where the night before, you think the kid’s gonna ride the bus, and something (comes up). That’s going to be okay, of course; we’re not going to argue that point. I might be wrong, but I think it reads like  it has to have 24-hour advance notice if you want to take your child home from an event.”

Board member Mark Baker said he read it the same way and had concerns.

Phillips said he appreciates what Minnix hopes to do with this policy but wants to ensure there is clarity.

“I think I just need to clean up the semantics,” Minnix said.

“I appreciate you taking a look at it,” Phillips replied. “Look at it from the perspective of a parent reading it, and you’ll see what we’re saying.”

Minnix believes athletics and activities are an extension of the classroom. “How do we handle that in school? The only people that can check out kids from our offices are people listed in Infinite Campus, either as their parent, guardian, or emergency contact,” he added, noting that grandparents can be added as a non-household emergency contact.

Minnix related the situation to his child’s daycare. “In order for someone to check him out, they have to be on our approved list,” he said.

Alerting coaches ahead of time helps with scheduling, Minnix noted.

Board member Naomi Klouzek asked if parents who always take their children home from games would be required to send an email telling the coach 24 hours before every game.

“Ideally,” Minnix replied.

“Are you trying to move to everybody rides the bus home?” Klouzek asked.

“It makes sense to me,” said Board President Dr. Shawn Strong. “I agree with you. If you win, you should celebrate with your team, and if you lose, you should be miserable on the bus ride back. I mean, it’s part of the culture.”

“That’s something I’ve been talking about for over a year now, trying to address our culture piece,” said Minnix. “That was not the intent of this policy, but a byproduct of that would be great.”

Minnix said he was not targeting parents with the handbook policy. Instead, he’s asking parents to partner with coaches and keep them appraised of transportation needs. “I’m just making sure we have something in place to avoid some of the scenarios I brought up,” he added.

Klouzek warned that parents, in some cases, would not be happy. “You’re going to hear screams,” she said.

“Which I think is a good thing because, frankly, I think it’s a part of the culture that we don’t have and need to build,” said Dr. Strong.

“Once I addressed those scenarios with coaches last year, based on that incident, we had good responses from our parents about this ahead of time,” said Minnix. “When we don’t have an official policy in our handbook, that then becomes a cyclical conversation that we’re having. I wanted something official in place, and I understand and appreciate your feedback. I’ll go back and make some edits, run it past you guys, and see if there’s anything that you’d like me to change.”

Superintendent Bob James said the district may wrestle most with the word “must” in the 24-hour requirement clause. “I think the spirit is, ‘Hey, we’re all trying to plan to have a great event and ensure a safe and orderly operation. It would help us to know as soon as you know.’ You’ve got to pick a time —two hours or four hours. So generally, it’s like if you let me know the day before, it ends up being a general thing, but we can change that word ‘must’ to say, ‘In the spirit of partnership and collaboration, we would appreciate if you give us advance notice when possible.’”

Dr. Strong agreed, noting that “should” could replace “must” with positive results.

James said the district’s philosophy is to “be crazy but not go nuts,” adding the district needs procedures in place. “We’re trying to organize 600-700 kids, and we’re understaffed at any given time, so you need those procedures,” he said. “You want those to be your general guidelines so you can consistently operate at the same time. But let’s not go beyond crazy into nuts where if we have a family with a funeral, we don’t dehumanize that family because we have a procedure written somewhere. Let’s treat them like they were our family and work with them. We’re all people; let’s treat everybody well.”

In athletic news, Minnix told the board the new conference has a name: Central State 8.

“That was exciting to be able to put out to our community, and I feel like it’s pretty catchy,” said Minnix. “We definitely went through the wringer back and forth, wrestled with the name, and that came out on top. Personally, I’m pretty happy about it. We’ve gotten great feedback about it from our community from the other school communities.”

He’s also very excited about the President’s Cup, a traveling trophy that would go to the school each year with the most points accumulated during conference competitions.

“That’s a pretty cool thing for school pride culture,” said Minnix. “That’s one of the things we want to put into place.”

Coaches plan to meet soon to finalize by-laws for their sports, establish voting procedures, and give them a chance to look at the rotation schedule athletic directors created.

• Minnix created a Facebook page for Linn R-2’s athletic department. “Sometimes parents just want to see when the games are, what the updates are, and sometimes it’s difficult when you have to scroll a ton,” he explained. “So, we just want to make sure that we have a centralized location streamlined for athletics and activities. That’s kicked off, and I’ve gotten very positive feedback on it.”

Remaining business will be presented next week.