Youth advisory & school board discuss issues

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 03/04/97.

The Youth Advisory Council met with the Paynesville Area School Board on Tuesday, Feb. 25, to discuss issues in the high school and middle school. One question the high school students had was the question on legality of administrative actions concerning the recent high school league violations.

The students said they had a lot of questions about the procedure which was used by the school board. The administration questioned more than 18 students, one at a time, placing them in the wrestling room until all were questioned. ďWe understand it was a tough thing for the administration to do on the spur of the moment,Ē Mike Putzke said.

ďThere are never two circumstances the same and the administration will react the best they can at that moment,Ē Dean Hanson, board member, said.

Pat Flanders, board member, said he has talked with the administration concerning the issue and if they had to do it over, they would have put the students in the library instead of the wrestling room. ďThere is pending litigation, making it difficult for the board to discuss openly,Ē Flanders added.

Debora Glenz, board member, felt the incident was a no-win situation. ďWe are concerned with the process and no process is perfect.

ďWhen contemplating possible policies or directives, we need to remember that every circumstance is unique. The administration needs latitude to deal with circumstances as they arise. We have seen both ends of the spectrum where some people are angry with the procedure and others feel the students got off too easy,Ē Flanders said.

ďFourteen students confessed and took responsibility for their actions. Another player apologized to his team and I respect him for that action,Ē Flanders added. ďIt is always easier to dwell on the negative than the positive.Ē

Barb Ingalsbe, a concerned parent, felt the four hours the students spent in the wrestling room were justifiable. ďThe students and parents signed the league rules stating they were responsible for their actions and accept the consequences. Sitting in the wrestling room was part of the consequences. The parents should count their blessings the matter was handled the way it was. All the students were treated with dignity and respect by John Janotta,Ē Ingalsbe added.

Glenz felt the students were assumed guilty before questioned. ďI have a problem with the whole issue. I heard the kids were not allowed to call their parents, why?Ē she asked. No one present at the meeting had an answer. ďI would like to see the issue openly discussed and have a policy in place if this should arise again. A lot of speculation is going on and it will until everything is settled,Ē Glenz added.

ďStudents feel the administration is lying to them,Ē Sarah Nelson said.

*Other issues brought up by the high school was the need for an auditorium and weight room, more modems for internet access and painting lines on the high school parking lot in the spring. The board said they would consider painting lines on the parking lot as that has never been done before.

In regards to the auditorium and weight facility, the board is looking at the feasibility and at some point will take the issues to the public to decide. The cost of the weight room is about 15 percent of the auditorium.

The technology committee has funds earmarked so internet access can be had in each classroom and in the computer lab. However, the funds only cover the cost of the wiring and not for units to hook up to internet.

The middle school students asked if the library couldnít be open longer, asked for tougher discipline on kids for rules infractions, that there be more teachers in the halls, and suggested kids do work around the school during their detention periods.

*The board discussed a cooperative agreement between the Paynesville/New London-Spicer Youth Hockey Association, Cold Spring Rocori School Board and the Paynesville School Board.

Otto Naujokas, hockey spokesperson, said all the districts are in the same predicament. Rocori will support a hockey program if it is funded by an outside source. Naujokas added the state high school league has extended the deadline for sign up to April 15 to help the schools and hockey associations reach an agreement.

Superintendent Howard Caldwell suggested the groups donít rush into anything and make sure everything is clear and in place right away.

ďThe interest is there now. If we delay a year, maybe we wonít be able to get in,Ē Bill Virant, school athletic director, said. The board officially refused to support the cooperative until they had something in writing, a contract to review from the youth hockey association before they could make an agreement with Rocori.

ďPersonally, if the cooperative is contractually clear stating the hockey association will financially support the program and not the school district, Iíll support the pairing,Ē Flanders said.

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