SYRACUSE – Two relatives of Wawasee students addressed the school board Tuesday night concerning sanctions from the board, but before any comments were allowed, corporation attorney David Cates stood and reviewed the public comments policy.
He said that the law provides for the public to hear an open board meeting, but the board can stipulate the terms for public speaking.
“The topics have to be germane to school board function,” he said, adding that the tone should be kept civil. The board also would not discuss a personal issues due to privacy requirements.
Linda Pruitt, North Webster, and her father, Clifford Clevenger, asked if a ban placed on her family members from attending school events, or being on school premises, could be revoked. She said a letter they received from Superintendent Tom Edington, following issues with family members attending ball games, laid out the ban due to “a number of situations this summer.”
Refering to the ban, Pruitt asked the board, “Can we discuss it, and what are the legalities?” The board advised her to go to the superintendent with the problem. “But what if I don’t like what he says?” she asked.
Cates said that even though the schools are public, “It is absolutely legal for schools to control their property.”
Board President Rebecca Linnemeier said, “No one would be banned without a reason,” but added that she would see that the board review the matter. Edington said he would take another look at it.
Clevenger said he received a call from Edington to “not come to the school.”
“I’ve been a part of the school district for 37 years,” he said, “and I want to come see my kids and grandkids. I want to see their games. I’ve got kids and grandkids graduating.”
He also said that he understood that he would be charged $25 for security if he did attend a function on school premises. When told to discuss the matter with the superintendent, he answered, “I thought the school board made these decisions.”
Later in the meeting Edington informed the board that when these events happened, he sought advice  from law enforcement and legal experts.
“I banned them because of a number of situations this summer. But there are family parties and functions when everybody could attend, and if security was needed everybody there would share the cost of security.”
Linnemeier again suggested that they all review the situation. “I think there has been some confusion and it needs clarification,” she said. Board members agreed.
The board did not agree to a proposed change order to construction work at the high school. Heavy equipment tore up conduits under the parking lot and the board wanted to know why the cost wasn’t the responsibility of the contractors involved.
Edington said that he was in talks about that, but in the meantime he wanted to get the bills paid and let the work continue. The cost is just over $5,000. Also, he said that since the wires were torn up, now would be a good time to lay them out correctly. The school would pay for this portion of the bill.
Statistician Bob Cockburn presented some figures to the board that showed an uptick in ISTEP scores over the past six years. He graphed scores in math and English for all grades who took the test from 2009 to the present.
“You can see a lot of major dips in 2013,” said Cockburn, “but that was when the test was a fiasco,” referring to the year the schools experienced state-wide technical problems. In total, “It is trending upward.”
Director of Curriculum and Instruction Joy Goshert told the board that Wawasee Middle School, which is being carefully monitored, has been making gains at every level. “We still have work to do, but it’s good to see gains.”
Other good news came in the form of donations. The board accepted $50 from the North Webster Church of the Brethren Women Fellowship to go toward the Boomerang Backpack program; $3,000 from the REMC Operation RoundUp Fund to ECO Challenge summer camp; $3,000 from Kosciusko County Community Foundation for aviation operations; $1,000 from Bart Culver to be used for a piano lab; and 100 backpacks donated by the Knights of Columbus.
In other employment matters, the board hired Mariah Corrigan for the Syracuse Title I paraprofessional position and Rebecca Weirick as North Webster Highly Qualified Title I paraprofessional. They accepted the resignation of Geoff Walmer as high school assistant principal.
They approved the transfers of Teresa Zurcher from North Webster kindergarten instructor to reading interventionist; Dawn Randall, cafeteria worker, from Syracuse to WMS; Christy Lawrence as Syracuse temporary remediation paraprofessional to Title I/ESL paraprofessional; and Anne Richey from paraprofessional to WHS receptionist.