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Board Expels Two Short Line Students

By Staff | Jan 6, 2010

Two more Wetzel County students were expelled by the board of education Jan. 4 for alleged abuse of a non-controlled prescription drug, a nerve medication. A similar incident involving a non-controlled drug led to the expulsion of four Magnolia High School students in December, 2009.

The male students, in the eighth and sixth grades at Short Line School, were expelled for the remainder of the school year, but will be referred to the Intervention Program for Substance Abuse, a 20-day alternative to traditional expulsion for certain alleged violators of codes of student conduct. The alleged incident occurred Dec. 15.

The cases also were referred to Wetzel County Prosecuting Attorney Tim E. Haught for potential criminal charges.

Sue Villers, county director of student support services, told the board that five of six students eligible for the new IPSA program are enrolled in it. A sixth student tried IPSA, but opted to return to straight-out expulsion for the remainder of the school year.

Villers said the five students and their parents have embraced the program well and are faithfully participating in the regimen of one-half day of classes and one-half day of seminars and workshops such as decision-making and risk-taking behaviors.

At the end of the 20-day program, students may be returned to the classroom if they have met all IPSA requirements, including an exit drug test. Such testing may be ordered on IPSA students throughout the expulsion period. Students who engage in other infractions of school policy or statutory law are remanded immediately to traditional expulsion.

In another matter, the board approved a memorandum of understanding with the state department of education to participate in a Race to the Top, a new federal grant program.

The purpose of the agreement is to “establish a framework of collaboration, as well as articulate specific roles and responsibilities in support of the state in its implementation of an approved” grant project.

Details of the program are sketchy at this point, but the program seems to have a core set of contents and objectives that states may share, according to County Director of Secondary Education Tammy Wells.

Wells recently attended a superintendents’ meeting on the program in Charleston where, she said, the purpose and scope of the program were not entirely clear to many attending the session.

The program drew some skeptical comments from board members Linda Ritz and Willie Baker. Baker warned against “an agenda-driven course content developed by a far-away government bureaucracy, however well intended. That can lead to further distancing a community from the freedom and authority to make decisions about our children’s education.”

Ritz expressed fear that the program may become an unfunded or under-funded federal mandate, suggesting that county school systems will be left to continue funding the program once it is established by federal grant monies.

The board approved an easement of property at Long Drain School to the West Virginia Department of Transportation as it works to upgrade the bridge on state Route 7, near the school.

The department will pay the school system $5,200 in consideration of the easement, which will not interfere with the orderly conduct of school operations. Purpose of the state’s request is to allow convenient access of personnel and vehicles to the repair site.

The board formally approved a low bid of $1,163,000 from Climatec Inc. for the HVAC project at New Martinsville School. The bid includes the cost of a chiller and pump. Eighty percent of the project will be paid with funds allocated from the state School Building Authority, with the balance paid with county funds.

Work on the project is expected to begin this school year and be completed by the beginning of the 2010-11 school year. Superintendent of Schools Bill Jones said some work can begin on an off-shift basis to avoid disruption of school operations.

The board approved a similar project for LDS, although that project has not been bid at this time.

Before adjourning, the board approved leaves of absences and some personnel and staffing changes for the current school year. LDS teacher Dave Pethtel received a leave from Jan. 11 through March 19 to serve in the West Virginia Legislature and an unpaid medical leave of absence was approved for Bus Operator Roger L. Thomas from Jan. 4 through June 9, 2010.

The board added Zachary Blair to approved chaperones/volunteers at Magnolia High School for the 2010 school year. It also okayed contracted services for Juliann M. Allman as SAT coordinator at Short Line School, effective immediately.

Sandra S. Greathouse’s position as halftime cook II at LDS was reclassified a halftime cook III.

A change in assignment was approved for James M. Daugherty from countywide supervisory teacher aide, special education, based at NMS to countywide supervisory teacher aide, male special education, based at Paden City Elementary School.

The board also changed the assignment of Bus Operator Franklin S. Hixenbaugh from the Chisel Finger/State Road Run/Fluharty Run route on Bus #7, to Mobley/North Fork/4-Mile/Barker route aboard Bus #16, effective Jan. 5.

In addition, the assignment of Daniel L. Postlethwait was changed on the same date from halftime custodian II at Valley High School to the same position at MHS. Both positions are on 228-day a year contracts.

The board scheduled its next meeting for 7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 19, at the county office building, 333 Foundry St., New Martinsville.