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Responses to Town Hall Audience Questions

The following questions were posed by audience members during the Town Hall Meeting held on November 9, 2022. To answer the questions, Reading School District administration grouped them by topic.

Code of Conduct

Why are kids who disrespect/threaten staff allowed to still be in the building?

  • The Reading School District’s code of conduct outlines disciplinary protocols based on federal, state, and local regulations. Disciplinary action is taken based on the level of the infraction, and protocols for suspensions and alternate placements are outlined in the code of conduct.
  • Public schools are obligated to implement and document interventions with students who have ongoing behavioral issues before a student can be referred to Alternative Education for Disruptive Youth (AEDY) Programs as per PA School Code, especially if the student is enrolled in Special Education or is an English language learner.
  • As outlined in the PA School Code, students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) are given special considerations as it pertains to disciplinary exclusions. For example, a student with an IEP is limited in the number of days they can be suspended.

Is there a solution to removing kids from school who cannot follow rules/guidelines?

  • Public schools are required to implement interventions for all students who experience recurring behavioral concerns BEFORE proceeding with the student’s removal from the building. However, there are some offenses that can lead to immediate removal from school and referral to an alternative education.Offenses that may lead to immediate removal from schools include: possession of weapons, possession of drugs, and inflicting  bodily harm on another person that leads to hospitalization. The District is putting a process in place to enforce the Expulsion Policy.
  • The following are options for placements out of school:
    • More restrictive Special Education placements can be considered for students with disabilities whose behaviors interfere with their learning in a general education environment. These placements require that the IEP team follow all of the protocols required by special education regulations.
      • Specialized placement - in district
      • Specialized placement - out of district
    • Alternative Education for Disruptive Youth (AEDY) - as explained above
    • Mental Health Placements - contingent on parent and health insurance

When are they going to address the amount of kids vaping/selling vapes in school? I reported the name of a student who was selling vapes and nothing was done.

  • The use of vapes and selling of vapes in school is a violation of the code of conduct. In partnership with Caron, the Reading School District will start anti-vaping/tobacco cessation groups in January 2023 that will serve as an initial response to a vaping/tobacco violation.
  • Reading School District administration is seeing a spike in the use of vape pens. Many of these pens are being confiscated while the individual is on school property and some cases are being referred to juvenile court with charges including possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. Juveniles can be charged with summary offenses pursuant to 18 PA section 6306.1. Students can be fined by the Magisterial District Judge or the Magisterial District Judge may refer these matters to the Youth Aid Panel. 
  • The Reading School District Director of Communication is working with the Students Services Department to develop an anti-vaping campaign targeted to middle and high school students. 

What can be done about the videos that include violence?

  • Videos that are posted to social media are outside the control of the school district. Each social media platform has its own rules and regulations regarding what the platform is willing or able to display. The district has attempted many times to request that the various platforms remove the videos, and they have refused to do so. If the district learns of the identity of the person who posts the video to social media, then the Code of Conduct could apply to his or her actions.
  • Families and community organizations are encouraged to speak with children about appropriate use of social media and technology.

School Culture

What are you doing to reward the kids that don't get in trouble and are successful?

  • Ice Cream social for students who earn Honor/Merit roll.
  • Student committees are presently working on this topic.

Have you ever considered a chaplain in the school?

  • The relationship between religion and public schools is governed by the constitutions of the United States and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Very broadly, the government is prohibited from establishing an official religion from among all religions or favoring religion over non-religion through programming in public schools. However, the state and federal constitutions protect privately-initiated religious expression and activities from government interference and discrimination. These broad directives can compete with each other. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that public school officials must not show either favoritism toward or hostility against religious expression, such as prayer.
  • As a result of these broad aims, there are some general rules that school districts must follow:
    • School officials, acting in their official capacities, may not lead their classes in prayer, devotional readings from the Bible or other religious text, or other religious activities;
    • School officials may not use their authority to attempt to persuade or compel students to participate in prayer or other religious activities; and
    • School officials may not select speakers on a basis that favors religious speech over non-religious speech or speech that favors one religion over another.
  • Taken together, these general rules would prohibit a school district from having a chaplain present in buildings during instructional time to engage in religious activity. However, nothing would prevent a chaplain engaged in purely student-centered, secular work, like any other volunteer,  from being in buildings so long as he or she is not interfering with the operation of the school. In other words, the Reading School District would need to consider what is being done and by whom, rather than focusing on someone’s profession or calling.
  • For more information, please visit: (last accessed 11/15/22)

Is there a peer mediation team at Reading High School?

  • There is not a peer mediation program at Reading High School. Administrators and teachers are trained in Restorative Practices. Restorative practices focus on resolving conflict, building healthy relationships, and developing conflict resolution skills.

Extracurricular Activities

What are teachers and staff doing outside of the education curriculum to help our kids?

  • There are a variety of activities students can join after school. These activities include but are not limited to theater, Aevidum, Ecology Club, JROTC, Key Club, Knights for Justice, etc. Students can find a list of activities from their Advisory teacher and here
  • Advisory is a 30 minute period in the school schedule dedicated for a check in with all students. This time is utilized for teachers to check in with students on grades, attendance, Naviance assignments, and social/emotional lessons.  


How often does the superintendent or any other administration visit schools?

  • The superintendent and other members of central administration visit all schools within the Reading School District, especially Reading High School, every day.

Do you hire psychologists who don't have certifications in the U.S.?

  • Pennsylvania Department of Education has requirements for out of state certification. Information can be found at PDE Out of State Certifications. Reading School District does emergency certify staff who have an out of state certificate in high need positions.

What is the process when you do not get answers? What comes next? Can the steps be ordered?

  • To speak with someone regarding academic and school concerns, please use the chart found on the district website along with the code of conduct.


Why not let parents patrol the halls/surrounding buildings?

  • There are many ways for parents and community partners to volunteer their time and be present in Reading School District buildings. However, there are limits as to what they can do based on the collective bargaining agreement with the Safe Schools Officers, who provide school security, and district policies. For example, only security officers can physically intervene in a physical altercation because they receive specialized training to do so safely.
  • Our priority, today and every day, is the safety of our students and staff. Partnering with community organizations and parents is a key component. To that end we have partnered with the United Way of Berks County to post volunteer opportunities on their website. One of these opportunities are Hallway Helpers at Reading High School. To learn more about this opportunity, visit the United Way of Berks County.

How do you plan to protect RHS students from gang threats and violence?

  • The Reading School District is taking multiple measures focused on prevention and intervention to address gang violence, as well as other threats of violence. These measures include:
    • Continuous professional development training for teachers, staff, and Safe School Officers to manage disruptive students and teach students interpersonal skills.
    • School Police Officers working with Juvenile Probation Officers to ensure that punitive sanctions target delinquent gang behaviors.
    • Providing gang awareness training for Safe School Officers, School Police Officers, teachers, and administrators.
    • Assessing and documenting gang-related threats.
    • Addressing gang-related conduct through education. 

How are you going to keep the kids safe if you don't have enough security or police?

  • The Reading School District is actively recruiting for Safe School Officer and School Police Officer positions. Interested applicants can apply via our website. The district works with the City of Reading Police Department and Berks County Probation as well. 

My sons have told me some safety school officers allow fights to happen in the bathroom. What is going to be done to correct this?  

  • Allegations of misconduct by staff are investigated by the Reading School District, and personnel action is taken, where warranted. If you have information about misconduct by staff that you would like to share, contact the appropriate building administrator to share the information. Please keep in mind, however, that personnel investigations and any resulting discipline are confidential. 

Why aren't the School Police Officers allowed to carry guns?

  • In the Reading School District, there are Safe School Officers (SSO) and School Police Officers (SPO). Safe School Officers patrol the halls and ensure student and staff safety. They also oversee building entrances to ensure visitors sign in and provide proper identification before entering the school building. School Police Officers are sworn in by the Berks County Courts. They have the authority to make arrests and issue summon citations.
  • Under PA state law, whether to arm School Police Officers is a decision for individual school districts through their Boards of Directors. Each Board can determine for itself who and under what circumstances school security personnel are eligible to carry a firearm.

What is a neighborhood resource officer?
A Neighborhood Resource Officer (NRO) is a sworn police officer who is employed by the City of Reading. NROs are assigned to patrol and respond to Reading School District campuses. In addition to routine police activities related to Reading School District campuses, NROs are required to dedicate a portion of their work year engaging in community-building activities within the Reading School District community, such as mentoring, coaching, or in-class instruction. NROs also participate in professional development alongside Reading School District staff in relevant areas like substance abuse, trauma-informed interactions, and the development of adolescents. 

Why don't you lock all doors during school hours? Keep kids in and intruders out? Also easier to prevent weapons from entering the building.

  • Due to fire codes, exterior doors can prevent entry, but they can never prevent exit. This poses a challenge for schools, as it makes it easy for students to give entry to those who are not supposed to be in the school building.
  • The Reading School District is looking into solutions that would prevent un-monitored doors from being opened except in the event of an emergency. Until a solution is installed, administrators are assisting with monitoring exterior doors at Reading High School to prevent unauthorized individuals from being let inside or students exiting the school without permission.

Something that would help would be community policing. More police to have safety in the streets. Does the mayor have plans to increase police officers?

  • Whether to hire additional police officers is a question for the City of Reading, not the Reading School District. However, the Reading School District did cooperate with the City of Reading in its application for COPS funding which led to the funding of up to four additional police officers.

Why were the bathroom doors removed? Where is the privacy?

  • To be clear, the doors that were removed were the restroom doors from the hallway that lead to the common area of the restroom.  All individual stalls have doors that ensure privacy while students use the restroom.
  • The doors were initially removed due to ongoing reports that students were smoking/vaping and engaging in disruptive behaviors in the restrooms. Removing the doors allowed for Safe School Officers and School Police Officers to smell smoking/vaping and to hear disruptive behaviors occurring in the bathrooms.
  • The main bathroom doors have been replaced. 

Why are students not detained until a parent comes in when they are in the streets but supposed to be in school?

  • If a student is not present in a school building, the Reading School District cannot lawfully detain him or her. It would be up to Reading Police to cite the student for day-time curfew violations. The Reading School District can and does cite students who are truant, but it is not an offense for which students can be detained. Additionally, parents may not be available to pick up their children. 


How can the community of faith be a helping hand? Mentor? Help with character building?

  • As noted above, there are limits as to what can be done during instructional hours as it relates to religious activity. However, members of any faith community and members of the community are welcome to volunteer their time in our buildings. There are a variety of positive roles they can play. One of these opportunities are Hallway Helpers at Reading High School. To learn more about this opportunity, visit the United Way of Berks County.
  • For more information on volunteering in the schools, click here.

Can the volunteers' schedules be modified? For example, broken into multiple shifts?

  • Yes. Volunteer schedules are very flexible.

How can we be more involved other than sports?

  • Partnering with community organizations and parents in all aspects of students’ education is key to educating the whole child. To that end we have partnered with the United Way of Berks County to post volunteer opportunities on their website. One of these opportunities are Hallway Helpers at Reading High School. To learn more about this opportunity, visit the United Way of Berks County.
  • For more information on volunteering in the schools, click here.

What do you need from the community leaders?

  • Community leaders can work with the Reading School District to help fill its vacancies with staff and its buildings with volunteers. Community leaders need to advocate for increased and equitable funding for school districts, particularly districts like the Reading School District, that have been historically underfunded. 


Due to the teacher shortage, when will my child have an Algebra teacher?

  • The Reading School District is actively searching for qualified candidates to fill key academic positions at Reading High School. Unfortunately, there is currently a shortage of qualified educators across the country and in Pennsylvania.  As a result, the Reading School District is struggling to fill positions.  Math and science teachers are the least available because they are highly specialized.
  • In the absence of a certified teacher, online courses have been made available to our students to help them learn the content.

Will the internships that were mentioned by Dr. Murray only be available for seniors or for other grades?

  • The Reading School District currently offers some internships to younger students at Visions Credit Union and Tower Health. The District is in the process of expanding internship opportunities and hopes to offer a wider variety by Fall 2023.
  • Students, regardless of grade level, who are interested in internship opportunities should see their school counselor. 

How are seniors being prepped to pass the Keystones with all the other issues occurring?

  • The majority of students taking the Keystone exams are in 9th and 10th grades. Students are prepared to take the Keystone exams when they are enrolled in a trigger course, or a  course ending with the exam such as Algebra I, Biology, and English 10.
  • In addition to classroom preparation, to prepare 9th and 10th grade students for Keystone exams, teachers offer tutoring during Advisory and after school as the exams approach. 

What is the plan for students that are taking Keystone classes on the computer without subject teachers?

  • The Reading School District is looking to partner with the company that hosts our online classes to provide live instruction and support for students who are using the Edgenuity program. In addition, there is a Reading High School teacher who is responsible for grading the assignments and providing feedback to students.

Will there be a change to the schedule this school year?

  • It has come to our attention that some students at Reading High School received information about a proposed plan to change the bell schedule to occur after the Thanksgiving break.  This plan was being considered as a possible solution for ongoing staffing concerns at the high school.  However, the District has decided NOT to proceed with the proposed changes.  Reading High School’s current bell schedule will continue after the Thanksgiving break.
  • The District will continue working on solutions to address staffing concerns at Reading High School and will communicate with the appropriate stakeholders when final decisions are made.  We appreciate your continued patience and support as we work to address these concerns.

Is virtual learning actually a good option?

  • This question, as it is posed, does not have a simple yes or no response. For some students, virtual learning is a good option. However, for other students face-to-face learning is ideal for their individual success. The COVID-19 pandemic taught educators, parents, and students much about virtual learning. The pandemic also provided opportunities for extensive research into the impact of virtual learning. The Reading School District recommends that parents make the decision that is best for their student(s) and families in consultation with their child(ren)’s teacher/principal/counselors.

Any other options for night school?

  • Due to staffing challenges, the Reading School District is not offering Knight School for the 2022-2023 school year.

Other High School

There are too many students in the high school. Why not use other buildings owned by the district to split the school?

  • While the Reading School District has other buildings that have housed high school students, including RKAA Glenside which is temporarily closed, we currently do not have the number of staff and teachers that would be required for another building to house high school students. We continue to recruit and hire staff to fill the current open positions at the main building and to have the additional staff for satellite campus locations.

Why don't we have another high school?

  • The Reading School District has started the process to build a STEM Academy that will serve as a satellite campus for the high school on North 9th Street between Windsor and Douglas Streets on the site of the old Reading Outlet Center One. This building is slated to hold approximately 1,000 students and is scheduled to open for the first day of the 2025-2026 school year.


What are you doing to improve student and parent communication with school staff?

  • Reading High School has implemented the following protocols in an effort to improve overall communication between students/families and the school:
    • Core Teams:  Every student at Reading High School is assigned to a core team that is led by an assistant principal. That team includes a school counselor, a social worker, an attendance clerk, and other support staff.  Their role is to create support systems for students who are struggling in school. To find out which core team your child is assigned to, please see the Contact Us area of the RHS website.
    • Parent Outreach Assistants (POAs):  There are two Parent Outreach Assistants (POAs) assigned to the main campus of Reading HS and one additional POA who assists families at the RKAA campuses. The role of the POA is to serve as a bridge between the school and families.  All POAs are bilingual in English and Spanish and are available to assist parents and families.
    • Remind App: Classroom teachers invite students and families to connect with them using the Remind app. Teachers post updates, reminders, and other information that is relevant to families and students on the app.  Parents also have the ability to directly message teachers through the Remind app.
    • From the Castle Weekly Email: Reading High School sends a weekly email with updates and information for parents and students. The same email is then posted to the RHS webpage in the News section. Notice of this message is sent each week by email, text, and the Reading School District app.
    • RHS School Calendar: This year, the high school is actively updating their school calendar on the Reading High School website  
    • Blackboard Notifications:  Regular notifications are sent out to families to provide information about upcoming events like early dismissals and testing dates, and after school-wide security measures are enacted. For example, when the school experiences a hold action, a message is sent out to parents to let them know the circumstances.
    • RHS Morning Announcements: Students and families who would like to get daily updates from RHS are welcome to access the morning announcements in English/Spanish on the RHS Knight News YouTube page.
    • RHS Website: The high school maintains a website to share information with families and community.  The site can be accessed at the following web address: 
    • Social Media: In addition to the Reading School District’s Facebook page, RSD’s Spanish Facebook page, RSDRockstheArts Facebook page, and RSD’s Twitter account, Reading High School has its own Facebook page. There is also a Red Knight’s Athletics Facebook page. News and celebrations for families and students is posted to these pages daily.
  • In order for communication efforts to be effective, the Reading School District relies on parents to keep their contact information up to date. The District’s mass notification systems rely on the information that is housed in the electronic student information system.  Families whose information is not correct will not receive important messages from the school.
    • Parents/guardians may contact their child(ren)’s school when phone numbers and email addresses change so that records are kept up to date.
    • Parents/guardians can also update their contact information by logging into the Home Access Center.  

What is the process when you do not get answers? What comes next can the steps be ordered?

  • To speak with someone regarding academic and school concerns, please use the chart found on the district website along with the code of conduct.

How can I help to improve teacher and student communication?

  • Aside from talking directly with their teachers, students have other communication resources that they can utilize to contact their teachers.
    • E-mail:  Students and teachers have Reading School District email accounts which allow them to send messages directly to each other.
    • Google Classroom:  Students may also message their teachers through the messaging feature embedded in their Google Classrooms.
    • Core Teams:  Students can also connect with the members of their assigned core teams if they are in need of support.

Mental Health

What help or resources are being given to the youth engaging in high risk activities? Or their parents and family? What are the social workers doing to help students?

  • Caron Foundation is the Student Assistance Program (SAP) Liaison for the Reading School District. Student Assistance teams meet every day of the week. They receive referrals from staff, parents and students. Students engaging, verbalizing, or demonstrating risky or self-harming behaviors can receive a behavioral/mental health assessment by Caron (with parent permission). Other SAP interventions may include:
    • One-on-one check-in’s with a SAP case-manager or identified adult who has a relationship with the student.
    • Referral to a SAP group that may include: tobacco/vaping cessation, resiliency, stress management, grief and loss, social skills. These will start in January now that Caron has a dedicated space.
    • Access to Knight’s Closet for basic needs
    • Referral to community resources.
    • Academic monitoring.
  • Students may be referred to Malvern, the School Based Outpatient Therapy office.  If there are no available therapy options at the SBOT, social workers assist families and students in accessing community based services per their insurance benefits.
  • Aevidum is the RHS club that promotes awareness of MH issues, with a specific focus on reducing the stigma associated with MH issues. Many students are referred to this club as a means to develop relationships with other students.
  • R Mentors is a peer support group in which students are trained to act as mentors for students who may need to make social connections.
  • The core of School Counselor and School Social programming is developing relationships with students in order to assess student needs and develop plans or make referrals to in-school and community resources that will remove barriers to their academic success and social-emotional development.  
  • Social Workers are all trained in Restorative Practices and provide that training to all staff.  Restorative Practices is a form of social justice that is an alternative to transitional discipline, such as suspension.  Restorative Practices has a foundation of asking students six questions: What happened? What were you thinking of at the time? What have you thought about since? Who has been affected by what you have done? In what way have they been affected? What do you think you need to do to make things right?
  • Trauma informed practices training was provided to RHS professional staff.  This will be made available to students and parents later this year.
  • County Wellness supports the Health Resource Center.  Along with Planned Parenthood, they provide programming that focuses on healthy relationships and risky behavior reduction.