Photo of a hand holding a megaphone with the words "Athens ISD Board News"

During the July regular meeting of the Athens ISD Board of Trustees, board members approved the updated student code of conduct, which contains several changes resulting from Texas’ 88th Legislative Session. One of the most relevant changes for this school year involves vapes, a device used for inhaling vapor typically containing nicotine and flavoring, but that can also contain THC. 

Under a new law, any student caught possessing, using or delivering a vape device — or any part of a vape device — must now be placed into DAEP (Disciplinary Alternative Education Program). Previously, the degree of discipline for vape-related offenses was at the discretion of the district. That is no longer the case.

Board members also received a presentation on the district’s Early College High School program, PINNACLE ECHS. Athens High School Principal Jason Iglehart, formerly the dean of ECHS, told board members the total enrollment for the PINNACLE program is 253 students. In 2023, 51 ECHS students graduated with their associates degrees from Trinity Valley Community College, at no additional cost to their families. 

As is required, the demographics of ECHS closely mirror that of the district as a whole. For example, both the incoming freshman ECHS class and the district as a whole are around 76 percent economically disadvantaged. 

“It’s been a privilege to run this program the last three years,” said Iglehart. “ECHS is a bright spot for our district. … It’s been great to see these students take advantage of an awesome opportunity.”

In other board business:

  • Gina Hunter returned to the board after being unanimously appointed to Place 6. Board member Freddie Paul was elected as board secretary.

  • The board approved the purchase of a combination of print and online instructional materials for middle school math and high school advanced placement English language arts classes. 

  • The board approved the purchase of 300 iPads, divided evenly between the three elementary schools, to replace outdated devices that cannot be upgraded.

  • As a security measure, the board approved the purchase of cell phone signal boosters for all campuses.

  • The board approved the purchase of additional internet access points for wireless connectivity in order to cover the high school campus and fieldhouse.

  • The board approved the purchase of a 1-ton dually pickup from Bacon Auto Ranch to be used by the ag department primarily for traveling throughout the state for livestock shows. The truck will replace one that was stolen in San Antonio in February. The vehicle was recovered but damaged to the point of being unusable.