Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

June 26, 2014

Parents push Unit 40 district to lighten up policy

EFFINGHAM — Parents continue to rebuke Unit 40’s discipline policy and procedures even though administration presented rational for what parents are calling overly aggressive discipline.

Superintendent Mark Doan presented Monday figures for suspensions and expulsions over the past several years.

“We had nine expulsions this school year,” he said. “Eight of them were due to violations of the drug policy. Our board of education decided we aren’t going to have drugs in our schools.”

Although Effingham High School ranks higher than most area schools for expulsions, Doan said that is often because of other schools’ preferences not to expel and to place a student in an alternative program.

He added that any course of disciplinary action within the district follows a closely monitored points system by administrators trained in Reid interview training. The training, which instructs administration on the best way to handle a student, is approved by the state board of education.

“94 percent of EHS students followed the code of conduct so as not to earn an out-of-school suspension,” said Doan of the 2013-14 school year. “That is in line with previous years.”

Doan said the discipline only pertained to a small fraction of the student body.

“Of those students seen in the EHS office for any reason, whether it is a bus write-up or something in the hallway, from the least consequential issue to an expulsion, 51 percent of those students that came into the office didn’t earn any points at all,” said Doan.

Nearly a dozen community members brought up issues related to what they believe is aggressive discipline at the high school.

Parent David Campbell again asked the school board that administration ease up on student discipline. He pointed to figures he gathered from schools of comparable size, such as Charleston and Mattoon high schools, which have lower expulsion rates, although suspension rates were comparable between the schools. Effingham expelled 20 students in 2010, seven in 2011, 18 in 2012, 15 in 2013 and nine in 2014. During the same years, Charleston, Mattoon and Salem high schools, he said, each expelled no more than two students.

Concerned parent Jamie Warner said when her daughter attended Effingham High School, she regularly felt singled out by school administration. Warner contends she only felt comfortable speaking before the school board because her daughter recently graduated.

“I felt very uncomfortable going into the school,” she added. “I felt like I was being looked down at.”

Another parent was concerned about the district’s social media policy amendment that allows administration to obtain a student’s password to look at his or her cellphone or social media accounts if an administrator believes there is an imminent threat. Recent state legislation allows districts to implement such a policy.

“I am here to speak out against the change to the handbook,” said Brad Hibdon. “It is illegal and against the Fourth Amendment right against illegal search and seizure.”

Hibdon said he hopes there would be more sensitivity on the local level.

“People are afraid to come here, because they are afraid of the school,” he said. “People are being bullied by the school district and I’m tired of it.”

Hibdon said if the district believes there is an imminent threat to the school by a student, administration should contact the Effingham Police Department or the student’s parents.

Several parents at the meeting said they probably won’t sign the handbook before the upcoming year.

“The students are held to what is in the handbook,” said Doan.

Hibdon asked the repercussions of a parent not signing a handbook, to which Doan replied, “we will have to cross that bridge when we cross it.”

Board member Carol Ruffner defended the handbook change.

“The reason that it is in there is when you look at the school shootings in school, and they go back and look at those students’ phones, they saw where the students were posting ‘I’m going to go shoot someone in the school,’” said Ruffner. “That is the only reason the school would want to get into a student’s phone.”

Campbell said he and others would continue attending school board meetings until administration stopped being so strict on students.

“Something needs to be done,” said Warner. “Unit 40 is looking bad.”

Tony Huffman can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 138, at tony.huffman@effinghamdailynews.com or on Twitter @EDNthuffman.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Shimkus not taking anything for granted despite past electoral success

    U.S. Rep. John Shimkus  hasn't had a serious election challenge in more than a decade. But the longtime congressman said he's not taking anything for granted, even though his sprawling district appears tailor-made for continued Republican representation.

    August 19, 2014

  • Power out in Effingham subdivision; cause not yet known

    A small number of Ameren electric customers on the west side of Effingham were out of power this morning.

    August 19, 2014

  • Unit 40 presents $57k deficit Thanks to a series of personnel moves, Unit 40 officials have estimated a $57,136 deficit for the school year — much less than the $834,000 deficit the previous year. With this year’s expected revenue at $28,695,717 and expenditures coming in at $28,

    August 19, 2014

  • 8-16 bank robber 2.jpg Police seek suspect after Marshall bank robbery

    Police from several agencies were seeking a man suspected of robbing a bank in Marshall Friday morning.

    August 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • Church Briefs

    Centenary UMCCentenary United Methodist Church, Effingham, will host the following activities: • Saturday, Aug. 16: Pick It Up Effingham at Menards, 8 a.m.• Sunday, Aug. 17: Connection Time, 10 a.m.; Glenwood Worship, 10:30 a.m.; Lavender Ridge Worsh

    August 15, 2014

  • tony- rural health pic 'A more urban nation' The demographic of those in need of health care in rural areas of the heartland are changing. While those native to the Midwest are moving to the south, east and west coast for better climate and employment, the number of immigrants and elderly is on

    August 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Making preschool possible

    A quarter of children starting kindergarten in Effingham have no preschool experience. Studies say this lack of prior school experience is a disadvantage, but a group of community members intend to change that.

    August 14, 2014

  • Thankyou Dear T-town residents,To all of you who were in any way responsible for the perfect roll-out of our Terquasquicentennial, I want to say a public thank you. I know I speak for many.The planning for such an event must have consumed your lives for the p

    August 14, 2014

  • State board recommends license suspension for local lawyer

    August 13, 2014

  • TREC to seek action on bike lanes

    Now that the third phase of the multi-use trail project is almost complete, trail advocates have their sights set on the Effingham City Council.

    August 13, 2014

AP Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.