By ALICIA LEONARD
The Walton County School Board met during their regularly scheduled session Aug. 14. On their agenda were contracts, grants, funding, curriculum and personnel recommendations. All board members were present. Walton County School Superintendent Carlene Anderson was absent. In her place, Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction Kay Dailey, made request for approval of the board on Anderson’s behalf.
Board member Faye Leddon requested to move items from the consent agenda to the action agenda. Board members approved unanimously to the change and the modified agenda before them. The board then moved to approve previous meeting minutes unanimously.
Public comments were called for and one person came forward. Roberta Wheeler, a mother of two children enrolled in Walton County schools, protested the absentee policy and took issue with textbooks and copy paper in the Freeport school.
Wheeler told the board, “I come here in protest of the attendance policy. It is my opinion and I believe it is in direct conflict with Florida Statue 1003.26. Nowhere have I read that this is supposed to be tracked period by period. I believe it is wrong. I think it specifically targets at-risk children and minorities. Children who miss classes are predominately from single parent homes that put them at risk. I come to you not because my children miss school, but at some point, they could be considered truant due to excused absences.”
Wheeler went on to explain that on page eight of the student handbook, it states that children with excused absences could end up being reported to the principal, even leading up to notification of the State Attorney’s office. “I will not stop until this is removed from the code of conduct. Me and the community are rising up against this. Nowhere does it say that period-by-period that these absences should be tracked for truant behavior. A pattern of non-attendance should be tracked by the day,” she added.
Wheeler also stated that supplies at Freeport High School are in question. Board Chairman Dennis Wallace had earlier given Wheeler a one-minute warning to wrap up her comments. As she continued, he struck his gavel a few times, but it did not deter the parent from continuing. “My niece and nephew were sitting in a class and were told that because there are too many students in Algebra II, they do not get a text book. Excuse me? How can a student properly learn without a textbook? And the parents have to send in copy paper because the budget does not afford copy paper to make workbooks for these students. This has got to change and I will not stop until it does.”
Board member Sharon Roberts requested that Dailey ask Anderson look into the supply issue that Wheeler spoke of to the board. “We need to check if Freeport High School has a problem and where that problem is,” she said. Leddon requested that board attorney Ben Holley look into the statue that Wheeler quoted and for a report to come back to the board.
Consent agenda items were next. The board moved to approve the consent agenda unanimously.
Personnel recommendations came before the board next. With no abstentions from board members for personal conflicts, personnel recommendations votes were called for with one comment from Roberts. “I see that there are a couple of employees being moved administratively and I want to make sure these individuals know that this is under the superintendent and not the school board. And, it is my concern that if you are being moved, I would hope that you are happy in your position and not being forced to be somewhere you would not like to be.” The board approved the recommendations unanimously.
Next, Leddon requested information on instructor contracts for NGCAR-PR (Next Generation Content Area Reading) training and why they were being paid for this training above and beyond their usual pay. Dailey responded that they had been specifically trained to be able to come back and train other teachers and this duty as well as working many Saturdays and off hours were above and beyond their normal duties. She said their hours and time spent on these sessions and planning were recorded and produced for the payroll department as a separate contract and with separate pay for the extra duties for the development and not for providing the training during regular hours.
Leddon clarified that she was not questioning the employees, but was merely trying to get answers for the questions she had been asked by other staff and citizens. Leddon also requested to be provided paperwork to back up the extra pay for documentation purposes. Dailey responded that they would be happy to provide documentation. The board moved unanimously to approve these contracts. …
Read the full story in the Aug. 16, 2012 edition of the Herald Breeze.