ST. PARIS – A Graham Local Schools parent is looking for changes at the district after her daughter was dropped off at the wrong location after school.
St. Paris resident Katie Allen told the school board Monday her daughter and her nephew were dropped off two miles from their regular bus stop April 25. She called the office that afternoon to find out where the children were, and “it turned out nobody knew where the child was,” she said.
Not long after that phone call, Allen’s 13-year-old daughter called and told her she was dropped off on Cemetery Road instead of Heck Hill Road, her normal stop. She said the bus driver, a substitute on the route, told her daughter and nephew to find their own way home.
“This isn’t a mistake to me. It’s a matter of negligence,” Allen said.
Allen added her daughter said other students were dropped off at the wrong locations that day.
Allen spoke to officials at the school transportation office and said she was going to let the matter drop, but then her daughter was later bullied by the regular bus driver.
“She made a point of letting every student on that bus know my daughter was so stupid she couldn’t find her own way home,” Allen said.
Allen said she hadn’t received a response from the school and she wanted the school board to look into it. She said she wanted the bus driver removed from the position, that she feared for the safety of students.
Superintendent Kirk Koennecke said after the meeting that he held meetings with Allen, the substitute bus driver, the regular bus driver, the director of operations and the transportation supervisor. He added he held a mediation meeting between the student and the adult involved, with the administration present. He said he conducted investigations and spoke with other students on the bus.
“We actually have no evidence that the bus driver in question removed the students from the bus or scolded this particular parent’s daughter at all,” he said. “We also have other student comments that contradict the student’s version.”
Koennecke added there has been discipline, though he did not speak to specifics. No one has been fired, he said, though that does not mean the driver will continue to drive for the district. Training will be ongoing for staff regarding job duties, he added.
“We are never happy when someone isn’t happy with our service,” he said. “I made clear to our staff we want to continue to work on quality customer service.”
Board approves job shadowing, community service policies
The school board approved new policies for job shadowing and community service requirements. Board member Miranda Uhl voted against the policies and Board Vice President Steve Prince was absent.
The community service policy requires students to complete a minimum number of community service hours to graduate. A parent previously spoke to the board expressing opposition to the community service policy, stating student time would be better spent in the classroom. The parent said community service decisions should be made by the family, not the school.
The district held its first United Service Day in April. Students spent the day doing community service in the county. The hours spent that day could be used for the community service requirement, Koennecke said previously.
Board member Ryan Pine said both policies are central to the district’s new mission statement and will use existing and new partnerships in the community. He said having the United Service Day reinforced his belief the policy is necessary.
Board President Steve Setty said the district is the heart of the community and that it is important to set a positive culture in the school for the education of the “whole child.” He added he didn’t think the hourly requirement was a significant amount of time outside of what is already provided if students take part in the service day.
Koennecke added the state legislature is considering additional graduation requirements that include service learning and job shadowing and having those policies in place helps Graham students receive those credits.
In other action, the board:
•Accepted donations of $250 from Hillyard, Inc., $100 from Virginia Stanley, $500 from Michael and Lisa O’Connor, $1,000 from Waibel Energy Systems, $500 from Weidmann Electrical Technology Inc., $200 from Wendy’s in Urbana, $50 from Christopher Winch, $200 from McKeever’s, and $250 from PN2 LLC, East Lawn & Garden, all for United Service Day.
•Accepted resignations of Varsity Track Assistant Coach Sheila Prill, effective April 24, 2017; Custodian Mystri Swiger, effective May 5, 2017; Teacher Stephanie Watercutter, effective June 30, 2017; Teacher Michelle Brinkman, effective July 31, 2017; aide Barbara Kauffman for retirement, effective July 31, 2017; Teacher Andrew Woods, effective Aug. 1, 2017; and Teacher Charles Ratcliff, effective Aug. 20, 2017.
•Approved one-year limited contracts for Tutors for Individualized Services (Home Instruction/Intervention Tutors/Summer School Physical Education) for the 2016-17 school year.
•Approved the additional eight-day extended service contract for the 2016-17 school year for Psychologist Sandra Jacomet.
•Approved hiring Fall Strength Coach Richard Randall, High School Head Football Cheerleading Coach Megan Kelly, and Fall (MS) Athletic Event Manager Tracy Merica, all for the 2017-18 school year.
•Approved one-year limited contracts for Occupational Therapist Assistant (.5) Jennifer Phlipot and Secretary Kristina Thornton, both for the 2017-18 school year.
•Approved hiring Girls Varsity Soccer Head Coach Tristan Bogan for the 2017-18 school year.
•Approved the overnight trip to Glen Helen Outdoor Education Center in Yellow Springs Oct. 9-11 and Oct. 11.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.