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Potsdam Central looking at policy to allow for student memorials

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POTSDAM - The Potsdam Central School District Board of Education is currently reviewing a policy that would allow for the creation of student memorials on campus.

Superintendent Patrick H. Brady said the district’s current recognition policy is being looked at following a request from the family of Garrett J. Phillips to place a memorial to Garrett at the school.

“The board at the moment doesn’t have a policy at the moment that allows for the memorialization of students,” Mr. Brady said, noting the policy as written now is to honor achievements and contributions.

A new paragraph was added to the recognition policy and reviewed by the board for the first time earlier this week.

“The board may also establish an area for memorializing students who have died while attending Potsdam Central School. Such recognition may also take many forms such as a tree planting, or the dedication of a plaque or bench. Scholarships provided in the name of the deceased student are a preferred form of memorialization,” the addition reads.

Mr. Brady said the policy was written in a way that should cover not only this request, but future requests as well.

“It’s broad language that doesn’t just allow for the recognition of a single student, but any student who passes away while enrolled in the district,” he said.

The policy does contain language pertaining to the deceased that calls for “a waiting period of at least one year from the date of death prior to recognition,” but Mr. Brady said he’s not sure if that language would be applicable in this instance or not.

“I think we would have to talk about that as a board and whether or not that would apply,” he said, noting that portion of the policy is geared toward honoring people for their contributions to the district and not necessarily students who have passed away while enrolled in school.

The policy also noted that district funds may not be used for recognition purposes.

Garrett was 12 years old when he was found deceased inside his home this past fall. Village police are investigating his death as a homicide and an arrest has yet to be to made.

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