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Board Expels MHS Student

By Staff | Feb 17, 2010

Magnolia High School parent Claire Blatt spoke for a group at the Feb. 15 meeting of the board of education to ask that it enact a more flexible, school-specific school-closing policy that would extracurricular events and athletic practices to continue. (Photo by Bill Abraham)

A Magnolia High School male student was expelled for 12 consecutive months Feb. 15 by the Wetzel County Board of Education for allegedly violating county and state codes of student conduct and the West Virginia State Schools Act.

Authorities say the student showed up at school Feb. 2 allegedly under the influence of marijuana. Because marijuana is a controlled substance, the student is not eligible for the IPSA alternative form of expulsion.

He is the ninth student this year to be expelled-all for substance abuse violations. The matter has been referred to Wetzel County Prosecuting Attorney Timothy E. Haught for further investigation.

Sara Yeater, a sixth grade teacher at New Martinsville School, asked the board to retain her in her present position for next year, rather than transfer her to a countywide special education position.

State law permits formation of a subsequent class when a class exceeds 25 students. Present figures show that there are 109 fifth grade students whom the board plans to ask for waivers to configure into three classes of 27 students each and a fourth class with 28 students.

In the photo, New Martinsville School sixth grade teacher Sara Yeater emphasizes a point as she makes her case to the board of education Feb. 15 to retain her present position for the next school year.

Yeater argued for adding another class, noting that doing otherwise would be destructive to a continuity she has tried to build “from the structured reading program they experienced in the fifth grade to those established in the seventh/eighth grades.” She emphasized that such a continuity would be preserved in all classes.

Her remarks got some traction with Board Member Linda Ritz, who commented that Yeater’s observations “have much merit.” Board Member Willy Baker agreed.

Assistant Superintendent Jay Yeager said the board could change its mind and form another class, if warranted, by Aug. 1.

Later in the meeting, however, the board reassigned Yeater as countywide special education teacher for LD/MI/BD with Autism students, based at NMS, for the 2009-10 school year.

Magnolia High School parent Claire Blatt spoke for a group of residents that is, evidently, displeased with the way decisions are made for weather-related school closings. The group submitted written changes it would like to see implemented.

At present, the county has no policy to regulate such closings. Rather, those decisions are made by the county superintendent on a daily basis and apply to all academic, extracurricular, and co-curricular events in the county, including scheduled and unscheduled athletic activities and events.

Among other things, the group proposed that during emergency school closings of more than two consecutive days, “gymnasiums will be open to athletes for optional conditioning under a coach’s direction.”

They told the board that athletes undergo a “de-conditioning” if they go unpracticed for several days-itself a potential hazard to their health and safety.

They also asked that events scheduled for a Saturday be considered independently from a school closing on the preceding day; that athletes not be penalized for missing an optional practice; and that parents exercise good judgment in allowing their children to participate.

What the group appeared to be asking is that school-closing decisions be made on an individual school or attendance area basis and have flexibility to be changed on that basis. Presumably, the policy also would apply to all extracurricular and co-curricular events and activities.

Board President Mike Blair asked County Superintendent Bill Jones to formulate a written policy that takes into consideration the parents’ suggestions, as well as recommendations from school principals and coaches.

Jones noted that he is reviewing changes in Marshall County’s emergency-closing policy, which was recently amended by its board of education. He also said that such a policy-which puts student safety as the priority consideration-should be ready March 1 to begin a two-meeting adoption procedure.

Elsewhere at the meeting, the board voted to accept the immediate resignation of Nathan A. Underwood as countywide substitute teacher and to approve the hiring of Angelica M. Arboleda for that position.

Evan M. Jones’ assignment also was changed, from “temporary” bus operator for the Alternate 18/St. Rt. 2 route on bus #30, to the Traders Run/Stout Run/Fallen Timber/Arches Fork route aboard bus #12.

In addition, the board approved re-assignments for the following personnel in the 2010-11 school year:

Deborah L. Allen, as second grade teacher at NMS; Laura A. Barcus, as countywide special education teacher at Short Line School; Paula S. Cumberledge, as first grade teacher at NMS; Cynthia S. Weber, as 7/8 grade social studies teacher at SLS; and Christopher D. Roberts as 7/8 grade language arts teacher, also at SLS. Roberts moved from a part-time appointment to a fulltime assignment.

The board also reassigned Olivia L. Gump from kindergarten to third grade at Long Drain School; Mark A. Volin from fifth grade to third grade at NMS; and Cathy J. Amos from fourth to fifth grade at Paden City Elementary School.

Among other business, the board approved a revised job description for the position of director of curriculum and instruction (including vocational education). That description, in the form of a policy, distinguishes it from that of director of secondary and vocational education.

The policy moves to a second and final hearing at the board’s next regularly-scheduled meeting, 7 p.m., March 1, at the board’s offices, 333 Foundry St., New Martinsville.

The board approved Sally A. Price’s request that her children be permitted to continue attending NMS. It also granted Robert E. Dorsey permission to leave Hundred High School at the end of the seventh period for the remainder of the 2009-10 school year. Dorsey’s request was endorsed by HHS Principal Richard Oschenbein.

However, the board failed to approve Gladys Hendershot’s request that her child be released from Wetzel County Schools to attend school in Tyler County.