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FWCS board upholds expulsion, mulls policy

The Fort Wayne Community Schools board upheld a student expulsion and took the opportunity to discuss a policy change that would require families to visit the district’s alternative school before appealing a disciplinary decision to the board.

District policy allows parents and students to appeal an expulsion by the district to the school board. Board President Mark GiaQuinta said few appeals come before the board, with the last one being about two years ago. The board hears the case in a meeting closed to the public, but cannot vote on a decision until a public meeting. All four board members who attended the closed hearing approved a resolution to uphold the expulsion.

The board discussed the case but to protect the student’s privacy, the board didn’t provide any details that would reveal the student’s identity. GiaQuinta said this was the student’s first offense, a fact that was taken into account by the district.

The administration offered the student the option of being placed at Ward Education Center, the district’s alternative program, which was more lenient than what was originally suggested by the student’s principal, GiaQuinta said.

GiaQuinta would not provide details on the student’s actions that led to the expulsion, but said just 1 to 2 percent of students in the school are disciplined for the offense committed.

Part of the reason the case came to the board was because the family expressed concern about Ward, GiaQuinta said. In the event of an expulsion, the district can recommend a student spend a certain amount of time attending Ward before being allowed to return to his or her home school.

GiaQuinta proposed the district explore the legality of adding a policy requiring families to visit Ward before pursuing an appeal.

Member Julie Hollingsworth said many families have misconceptions about the school, which offers a structured environment for at-risk students.

“There’s no more secure environment in the entire district,” she said.

She said the school also requires students to pass a social skills or character building class.

Member Steve Corona said the school’s location on the southeast side of the city can make the option undesirable. He agreed that the policy change was worth pursuing.

Superintendent Wendy Robinson said a tour of Ward is sometimes part of the process for families who are willing.

“There’re only so many things you can force people to do,” she said.

Board approves roofing projects

In other business Monday, the board approved construction contracts for three roofing projects at various district buildings totaling about $1.4 million.

The projects are part of the district’s yearly roof projects, maintained per a district roof replacement plan.

Sections of the roof of the Helen P. Brown Natatorium will be replaced as part of total because of premature failure, said Director of Facilities Darren Hess.

He said that project was not part of the schedule but was moved up on the list.

Other buildings set for roof section replacements are the maintenance and warehouse buildings, South Side and Wayne high schools and Nebraska Elementary School.