Chesterton Tribune

Duneland Schools expelled fewer students last year

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In the 19 years that he has served as the Duneland Schools hearing officer, Mark McKibben said last school year was the first time that the number of students in trouble and facing expulsion declined.

In his annual report on student disciplinary proceedings, McKibben told the Duneland School Board Monday that 74 students were referred to him as part of their due process proceedings, down from 87 in the 2009-10 school year.

Of the 74 students, 49 were placed on Form 16, meaning that they were technically expelled but allowed to stay in school as long as they completed the terms of their probation. Of these, 13 violated their probation and were expelled, while another 36 completed their probation.

A total of 25 expulsion meetings were requested, and of those, 19 failed to respond or show up for their meeting, down from 21 in the prior school year. Of the six who attended, five were expelled and one was placed on probation but violated the terms and ended up expelled as well.

The total of students expelled came to 38, down from 43 in the previous school year.

McKibben, who also serves as Duneland’s Director of Special Services, said the fact that the number of students facing explusion dropped is a good sign. And so far this year, the number of hearings held has been lower than usual, though he noted that disciplinary problems tend to increase in the spring semester.

“Everyone’s starting off on a good foot,” he said.

Of the students referred to McKibben as hearing officer last year, the grade breakdown was as follows: One intermediate student, one 7th grader, three 8th graders, 15 freshmen, 20 sophomores, 17 juniors and 17 seniors.

By far, most of the students — 45 — ended up in disciplinary hearings due to truancy or tardiness. The other violations were: Six for disobedience or general failure to follow rules; seven for fighting; nine for drugs or alcohol; and four for weapons, all of which involved bringing knives to school.

McKibben said that of the students in trouble for substances, last year was unusual in that most of the students were in violation due to alcohol, not drugs as is usually the case.

WIS Presentation

Monday’s school board meeting was not held in its usual location at the Administration Center but at Westchester Intermediate, where this past summer, the office entry and nurses station were reconstructed.

WIS students in Cara Ellerthorpe’s sixth grade Advanced Reading and English class gave the school board a presentation about how their class uses the 1-to-1 technology program, in which every student has his or her own laptop for school use. The students addressed how they use technology for sharing of information, research, blogging, making videos, organizing their work and more.

The students who addressed the board were: Joey De Hoyos, Jakob Kintzele, Drew Stolz, Josh Guzek, Grant Brunt, Lucas Davison, Sophie Burke, and Molly Grimes.

WIS Principal Shawn Longacre noted that this is the tenth year that WIS has been an intermediate school. The school opened with a sixth grade honors math class and last year extended advanced math to fifth grade. It now also offers Ellerthorpe’s advanced Reading and English class.

Ellerthorpe displayed a cart full of student laptops and said that the ability for her class to use the technology on a one-to-one basis has been extroaordinarily helpful.

Other Items

In other matters at Monday’s school board meeting:

• The board approved a resolution allowing additional investments of school funds, in the event that funding is freed up. Business Manager Bonnie Gaston said as it is right now, savings accounts are generating better interest rates than CDs.

• The board approved the two annual special summer school trips for high school students. The marine biology trip will include scuba training followed by a trip to Key Largo, Fla. The trip will be June 25 to 29, with students paying their entire way at an estimated cost of up to $1,800. The Trail Bound trip will be from June 17 to 24 and will include field study in upstate New York at sites such as Niagara Falls, Fort Ticonderoga, West Point, and Cooperstown. The cost for students is $600 each.

• In personnel, the only item for board action was acceptance of a resignation from Lisa Lowe, Title I aide at Liberty Elementary.

• Duneland Superintendent Dirk Baer announced that the next school board meeting, Dec. 5, will include a preview of the budget and state funding issues. School board member Ralph Ayres noted that the Indiana Legislature will resume for its organizational day this month, at which time bills can start to be filed. Citing the possibility of more education cuts, school board president Janice Custer responded: “Is there anything else they can take from us?”


 Posted 11/8/2011