R-V board split continues

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Some decisions made by the Southwest R-V School Board were unanimous last Thursday night while others split the board right down the middle.

In a 7-0 vote, the board approved a drug testing policy that will go into effect at the start of the spring sports season, which begins the first part of March. The policy that was approved on Feb. 9 has been a subject of discussion and public debate since August of 2005.

The board's decision to approve the policy in its final form came two days after the district hosted a public forum on the topic. Southwest High School Principal Vicki Enyart, who spearheaded the drug testing effort, described the forum as "the most productive community-school event I've been involved with since I've been here."

The policy, which applies to all students participating in competitive extracurricular events, will require students and parents to sign a drug testing consent form before the student can participate in a competitive activity. If a student does not sign the form, they would be prohibited from participating in competitive activities during the school year.

Students who sign the consent forms will be assigned a random number for testing purposes, which protects the individual's privacy. The selection procedure will be conducted randomly by laboratory testing personnel.

Each quarter during the school year, approximately 10 percent of all participants in the program will be tested. The testing will be done using a urine specimen.

The consequences of testing positive for drugs are as follows. The first time a student tests positive, they will be required to meet with a certified chemical dependency counselor for at least four counseling appointments and a chemical dependency assessment. The student would not be eligible to participate in a competitive activity until all counseling sessions are finished and all counseling requirements ful-filled.

The student would then be required to submit to three random urine tests over the next year. If a student failed to comply with any of the conditions of the policy, they would not be able to compete for a period of one year.

If a student receives a second positive result, they would be immediately ineligible to compete for 270 days. A third positive result would bring about a 730-day ineligibility. Any student suspended from a competitive activity because of a positive drug test will be required to pass a district-administered drug test before being eligible to participate again.

After approving the policy, Danny Dalton, board president, volunteered to be the first person tested.

"I want to be the first one and I'll pay for the test," said Dalton. The rest of the board members also agreed to be part of the testing pool.

In addition to approving a drug testing policy, the school board gave unanimous approval to a request by the senior class to take a senior trip to Minneapolis, Minn. The board also approved the 2006-07 school calendar, the purchase of a 71-passenger bus and a 30-passenger bus and a bus lease from L.J. Hart and Company by 7-0 votes.

Following a discussion of old business, Dalton opened the meeting up for board discussion. "I've tried and tried to work with everyone and sometimes my patience has been tested," said Dalton. "Last month when Richard (Asbill) submitted his resignation, I got to thinking I'd fallen short there. I'm sorry if I dropped the ball, and as I said at the last meeting, we'll try harder to do better."

Dalton's comments were followed by a motion by Jane Hobbs to approve a vote of no confidence in Janet Ballard.

"I don't know if I can work with all the board members," said Hobbs. "I would like to take a vote of no confidence in Janet Ballard."

Judy Friend disagreed with Hobbs' motion.

"This has no bearing on how we're helping our children," Friend said. "You're wasting our time."

Hobbs responded by stating that Ballard had done things over the years that made it difficult for Hobbs to serve alongside her on the board.

"Why did you run for the board?" Hobbs asked Ballard.

"To keep the public informed," Ballard answered. "I wanted to see minutes posted. I wanted the Sunshine Law to be followed."

After additional discussion, Robert Shockley seconded Hobbs' motion and Hobbs, Shockley, Robert Catron and Dalton approved the motion and Angie Corn, Ballard and Friend voted against it. The motion carried by a vote of 4-3.

In closed session, the division among board members continued.

By a 4-3 vote, the board voted to employ Enyart as high school principal for the 2006-07 school year. Hobbs, Shockley, Catron and Dalton voted in favor of renewing Enyart's contract, and Corn, Friend and Ballard voted against it.

A vote to renew Elementary Principal Judy Randall's contract for the 2006-07 failed to pass by a 3-3 vote. Corn, Friend and Ballard voted against the measure, and Shockley, Catron and Dalton voted in favor of it. Hobbs was forced to abstain from the vote.

According to Superin-tendent Richard Asbill, a tie vote means Randall will not be employed by the district for the coming school year. Randall has been a Southwest employee for 18 years.

Ben Abramovitz, middle school principal, and Wanda Smith, the school's special services director, were both re-employed for the 2006-07 school year by a 7-0 vote.

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