By ALICIA LEONARD
The Walton County School Board (WCSB) met in their regular session on April 10 and a special shorter session April 16 to go over consent and action agenda items as well approve public advertising, personnel recommendations and workshop requests.
Chairperson Dennis Wallace opened the meeting on April 10, and with no announcements from Superintendent Carlene Anderson, the board discussed last minute changes to the agenda, before moving on to the board approving the agenda before them unanimously. The board then moved unanimously to approve prior minutes from March 13 and 14 meetings. All agendas and prior approved minutes from those meetings can be found at http://www.walton.k12.fl.us/board/.
Wallace next called for public comments. A mother of a Van R. Butler student came forth and complimented the board on the school system and their child’s experience with their school. The parent told the board they have been displaced to the local area after Hurricane Katrina and decided to stay after they became impressed with the area and schools.
Anderson then recommended the consent agenda items before them for board approval. The board approved the recommendation unanimously. Some of those items included approval for planning, design and preparations for secondary content teachers, approval of Vereks consulting contracts for the Shortel phone system and approval of an agreement between the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) and the WCSB for the operation, maintenance and permit transfer of Mossy Head School Waste Water Treatment Plant.
The board then moved onto the action agenda items. Anderson requested of the board to be sure that they were familiar with the personnel approval request and to remove themselves from the approval process if there was a possible conflict of interest. Board members verified that there were no conflicts and voted unanimously to approve personnel recommendations.
Board member Mark Davis requested an addition of language of the word “post” as in post-trial, to an agreement with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and the Florida Department of Corrections that no student could participate in after-school activities that was involved pre-trial, post-trial, or post-plea. The board approved the addition of the language unanimously.
The board approved an updated list of general contractors and construction managers. They then moved to approve the lowest and most responsive bidder and contract for repairs at West DeFuniak Elementary with the unanimous approval going to Townsend Architects.
The board went on to discuss 10 requested expulsions of students. Due to the privacy concerns surrounding juveniles, names are not discussed, and details are limited during the discussions. Davis requested more information on one student expulsion request due to concerns they had not violated the code of conduct language for the school. Anderson replied the student had already been under a “behavioral contract” with the school due to earlier problems. Anderson went on to to describe a “body language threat” and “multiple suspensions from the same school.” Ben Holley, attorney for the board, added that the child had enough infractions that it violated the behavior agreement and that met the terms of expulsion. School board member Sharon Roberts requested that the schools requesting expulsion be more detailed in writing and circumstance if they are new to writing up students for removal. After more discussion, the board moved unanimously to approve the expulsions before them.
Roberts, when it came time to ask for board members’ comments, told the board that she had spoken with a representative of the Florida Department of Transportation representative after the last BCC meeting and asked if buses and school district vehicles would have to pay a toll for crossing the bridge if a toll was put in place in the future. The representative told Roberts that they were not sure, but it was a possibility that the school district would have to pay for crossing as well as other county vehicles. Roberts asked the representative to get a solid answer and respond to Anderson with the details.
Anderson replied that in a prior meeting they were assured that provisions would be in place for buses to pass without tolls. Roberts said at the last meeting, by the official that was sent, she was told there were no provisions in place for county vehicles or buses. “I just think moving forward in the budget process, we need to see those provisions in writing or it could be very costly to our district,” Roberts added. Anderson replied that she would make sure to look into any discrepancies in what the board had been told about toll fees. Davis requested two workshops looking into attendance and code of conduct language.
The board then moved unanimously to hold two closed expulsion hearings on April 16, in order for the parents to not have to miss work. During the April 16 meeting, the board approved the expulsion of six students, unanimously approved advertising of the rule development and intent to adopt procedures for the pedagogical usage of social media in Walton County schools and a master planning workshop for May 8 at 8:15 a.m.and student progression plan workshop on May 22 at 3 p.m. with a code of conduct workshop at 4 p.m. on that same day.