Religious School Policies & Procedures
The Religious School Committee will create all school policies and procedures, subject to Board approval. Children of Temple Beth Shalom members who wish to become Bar/Bat Mitzvah (son/daughter of the commandment) must abide by these policies and procedures.
Why does religious school need policies? School policies are not a modern invention. Rav (also known as Abba Archia), a third- century Babylonian scholar, is quoted in the Talmud (Bava Batra 21a) discussing such policy issues as classroom discipline, the appropriate age of students, class size and the need for classroom assistants. In setting policies for our Jewish schools, we are actually following an ancient and hallowed Jewish tradition.
The safety of our children is our primary concern. We are fortunate to be able to share the security measures already used on the JCC campus. All teachers from Temple Beth Shalom schools have received security procedure training from head of security. Please send an email to the school prior to the beginning of the school day (email@example.com) or call (512) 735-8900 if your child is going home with someone other than their parent.
Youth Safety Policy
The Temple will not tolerate sexual harassment or misconduct/molestation of any youth. It is the policy of the Temple to comply with federal and state laws that prohibit sexual misconduct/molestation and/or the reporting of such alleged misconduct. All employees will comply with the Temple’s Youth Safety Policy. For this policy, a child is defined as anyone under the age of 17.
The definition of sexual misconduct/molestation is as follows:
Child Sexual Abuse includes any sexual behavior or activity that is abusive toward a minor, and/or prohibited by state or federal law. Sexual abuse is the use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child to engage in, or assist any other person to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct or any simulation of such conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction of such conduct; or rape, and in cases of caretaker or inter-familial relationships, statutory rape, molestation, prostitution, or other form of sexual exploitation of children, or incest with children.
Any sexual harassment or misconduct/molestation by any employee will not be tolerated. Violation of this policy will be grounds for immediate and appropriate disciplinary action. It is also the responsibility of every employee of the Temple to assist in the identification and reporting to your supervisor any suspected instances of sexual harassment or misconduct/molestation, whether allegedly perpetrated by a fellow employee or any individual associated in any way with the Temple, so that it may be reported to the appropriate agency.
Temple Beth Shalom encourages volunteerism and interactions among our congregants and across generations. For the safety and protection of all of our congregants we are adopting best practices for interactions between staff and volunteers and underage members. In order to make this “zero-tolerance” policy clear to all employees, volunteers and staff members, the Board of Temple Beth Shalom adopts the following policy for employees and volunteers.
All employees and prospective employees will be given a criminal background check. Employees will be required to fill out a permission form agreeing that Temple Beth Shalom can complete the background check.
Each prospective employee is required to fill out an application that includes a question about having been convicted of any felony including any offense which is sex related and/or child abuse related. If a prospective employee is found to have a deferred adjudication or conviction of a crime which is a “moral turpitude” crime, then employment will not be offered to that individual. If a current employee is found to have a deferred adjudication or conviction of a crime which is a “moral turpitude” crime, it is grounds for termination of the employee.
Temple staff and volunteers are prohibited from meeting with youth of the congregation in their home or non-public locations unless a parent or two unrelated adults are present or the Temple has a written parental consent form.
- B’nai Mitzvah parents may sign the Youth Safety Policy Waiver for Bar/Bat Mitzvah tutors and sponsors which allows the child to meet with the sponsor or tutor in an unsupervised setting.
Sunday school children are dismissed at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. All students who attend 1st session are to be met by their parents in the Sanctuary. Family T’filah is from 11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. and we strongly encourage all parents to participate in this program. 2nd session dismissal for 6th-12th graders will take place at the North Entrance of our building (closest to the main JCC property entrance). 3rd-5th graders will be dismissed from the lobby of the ECP building. All children will be supervised by teachers, school administration, and parent volunteers to help ensure safety for all.
Please meet your child at the North Entrance of our building (closest to the main JCC property entrance). Dismissal times are 5:40 p.m. for the early session and 6:30 p.m. for the later session. Please encourage your child to wait for you rather than to meet you at your car so there aren't so many children in the parking lot.
It is our hope that every child will attend school for its duration, however, if extraordinary circumstances arise, the parent must inform the school administration and classroom teacher before the child may leave the building. Students will not be released to the parking lot during school hours. If parents are picking up students before dismissal time, they must park and meet their child at their classroom. Parents/Guardians are urged to keep such requests to a minimum and to arrange medical appointments and extra-curricular activities on the days that school is not in session.
Severe weather conditions might necessitate cancellation of school for the day. We recommend parents join our SMS Emergency/Reminder System by going to https://www.remind.com/join/tbsed or by texting @tbsed to the number 81010. When Austin ISD schools are closed, we close our Hebrew school. If school is cancelled or delayed, parents/guardians will receive an email about the change and, if you sign up for the Emergency/Reminder System, parents/guardians will also receive a text.
Field trip release forms must be signed and returned before the deadline date for each field trip in order for the child to be allowed to participate on the field trip. All efforts for security will be applied to ensure a safe environment for drivers, teachers, students, and chaperones on each field trip. Students are expected to be excellent representatives of Temple Beth Shalom by dressing accordingly for the site they are visiting, by being respectful to others and the space they are visiting, and by following all rules established by the teacher or organization being visited. In the event that a child misbehaves in such a way that endangers him/herself or others, or disrupts the learning of the group, the child’s parents will be called to pick up the student immediately.
Photography and Videos
Temple Beth Shalom may photograph or video record students in our school for use in Temple publicity. These may also be used to share learning experiences with classmates and our Temple community. Children’s full names will NOT be publicized and will not appear with the pictures unless we receive your written permission. Parents have an opportunity to opt-out of photographs or videos on our registration paper work or by emailing the school.
Throughout the year, there may be occasional emergency drills. Students are to follow their teachers to the designated location as quickly as possible.
In the event of an extreme emergency it might be necessary to evacuate students from the Dell Campus. Our procedure is to exit the property and walk to Northwest Hills United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall: 7050 Village Center Drive. The church is located near the corner of Far West and Hart Lane. It is right behind the Wells Fargo Bank and Starbucks. Their phone number is (512) 345-1743. Once safe, all parents will be contacted using information provided on the school registration form. All students and teachers will remain there until notified to return to the campus or are picked up by their parents. In the event that is it not safe to evacuate to the Church, we will follow the directions of the JCC security staff.
Illness and Injuries
All parents have the responsibility of leaving business, personal, and emergency numbers with the school office so that we are able to contact you immediately if your child becomes ill or sustains an injury at school. We ask that you keep your child at home if signs of a coming cold or other illness are evident. Please inform the school office if your child has a contagious disease that could be spread to others in the class as a result of attending school prior to the outbreak of the illness (e.g. influenza, chicken pox, head lice), so that this information may be shared anonymously with the rest of the class. If your child has sustained an injury outside of Temple Beth Shalom schools which requires accommodations to be made, please inform the School Director prior to the start of the next school session, so plans can be made accordingly.
Food and Snack Guidelines
Please refrain from sending any snack that contains any type of nuts, as several students in our community have allergy issues.
The Religious School Committee recognizes that consuming snack during school does present some educational opportunities to learn Jewish customs and practices. Parents may send a healthy snack for their child which they may enjoy during a short break. Please refrain from sending sweets and sugary drinks.
Teachers will be notified of student food allergies based on information provided on the school registration forms. Please notify the Education Director if this was not done or changes arise. Any food brought into the school must be vegetarian to ensure respect for any level of kashrut (Jewish dietary law) practiced by members of the Religious School community. Please refrain from sending snacks, lunches or dinners that contain meat products.
Communication with Teachers
Parents are encouraged to write a note or send an email to their child’s teacher or the school office informing the teacher of any change in routine that might interfere with their child’s learning for that day (i.e. medication taken prior to class that might make the child drowsy or active, spending the weekend with a relative or friend…). We don't publicize the contact information of our teachers without their permission, so to send messages to a teacher please email the note to firstname.lastname@example.org indicating which teacher you would like the note send to.
Fostering an open and meaningful dialogue between school and family is critical to any successful educational program. Temple Beth Shalom offers many opportunities for parents and teachers to communicate formally and informally about their child’s religious school experience. Opportunities for communication include the following:
Youth Education News
A weekly email, Youth Education News, will be sent each Thursday with information from the Education Director regarding youth activities, learning opportunities, mitzvah projects, community events that relate to families and students, and the like. The week’s schedule will be at the very top of the newsletter.
Religious School Teacher Communication
Each Religious School teacher will write a monthly email that will be sent to you by the school administrator.
Hebrew School Teacher Communication
All teachers will send out a weekly update. Emails will detail what was taught in class on the preceding session and the activities to be done at home to reinforce this learning. Often times, this will be a computer activity from our textbooks, to be done on the Behrman House website.
It is very important to continually evaluate the progress that each Temple Beth Shalom child is experiencing in his/her Religious and Hebrew school classroom. Therefore, the use of progress reports will be the cornerstone for measuring the child’s advancement and understanding of Judaism and Hebrew. It is the goal of Temple Beth Shalom to promote a fun, yet comprehensive learning environment where every child will want to learn and to be an active participant in the process. Conferences with your child’s teacher may be scheduled upon request.
Progress reports for both Sunday and Hebrew school students will be sent home twice a year – once in January and once at the beginning of June. The progress report will indicate:
- Areas of strength
- Opportunities for growth
- Future goals
Copies of the progress reports are kept in the school office for future reference and for evaluation in determining eligibility for Bat/Bar Mitzvah and Confirmation.
School Discipline and Expectations
Temple Beth Shalom’s school program is one in which learning takes place in an atmosphere of mutual respect among students, and between students and teachers. To this end, each class will begin the school year by establishing a classroom brit (covenant) that will promote positive behavior and discourage improper behavior. This brit will be completed through the mutual efforts of the teacher and students and will be posted in the classroom as well as sent home to our parents.
In addition to the terms of each classroom brit, Temple Beth Shalom has established the following list of behaviors that will not be tolerated in the school:
- Inappropriate physical contact of any kind among students or between a student and a teacher
- Use of offensive or abusive language in class or within the school
- Incidents of academic dishonesty in any form
- Defacing school, JCAA, Austin Jewish Academy, or Temple property of any kind
- Possession of contraband items (e.g. weapons, drugs, tobacco products) of any kind on school property
The first instance of a violation of a classroom brit or of the behaviors listed above will be handled at the classroom level between the teacher and the offending student. In dealing with students, teachers will display kavod (respect), for the student while providing the appropriate level of discipline for the situation.
Subsequent violations will be handled in an appropriate manner, at the discretion of the teacher, including, but not limited to, any of the following means:
The teacher contacting the parents of the offending student in writing concerning their child’s behavior. During this conversation, parents are encouraged to share the best learning and behavioral strategies for their child with the school to help support the learning environment.
- The teacher arranging a parent conference in order to discuss the student’s behavior.
- The teacher removing the student from the class to meet with the School Director.
- The School Director arranging a meeting with the student and the student’s parents.
- The School Director establishing the terms under which the child may be expelled and/or the conditions of returning to the classroom.
- Should a child be suspended, a plan to improve the student’s behavior will be created by the School Director and Clergy, teacher, parents and the student. Such a plan may include a temporary suspension of the child from the class, if the particular violation so merits. In extreme cases, the School Director may recommend to the Religious School Committee that the student be expelled from the school.
It is a goal of the school to provide a safe, supportive, Jewish learning environment for every student.