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