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The search for a new superintendent for the Loudonville-Perrysville Schools continues.
The L-P School Board, at its regular April session Monday, April 10, spent an hour and 10 minutes in executive session at the start of the meeting, during which they met with board attorneys to discuss employment of a public employee.
No mention of the session was made when the board reconvened in open session. The meeting started an hour earlier than usual, at 6 p.m., and the board returned to open session at 7:13 p.m.
At the end of the meeting, when asked, Board President Dave Hunter said, "We are still in the process of the superintendent search."
The board also dealt with both a very positive and a very disconcerting issue during its public participation session.
Six family members confronted the board regarding cases of bullying their family member, a high school-age girl, cases which, Dave Hellinger, uncle of the victim, said "changed my niece, formerly a happy, involved student, into a depressed, even suicidal person. Because of the bullying, which includes cyber bullying from one person who has moved out of this school district, my niece tried to take her own life. Bullies have thrown food at her and, because of this, we take her out of school to avoid contact with them during lunch hours. We know the school knows about it. We want to offer our help in a fight against bullying."
The victim's stepbrother, Jason Hellinger, went a step further. "I graduated from high school here in 2003. I know back then bullying like my sister has suffered would not have been tolerated. I don't know what has happened to the school since."
An aunt to the victim, Carrie Hellinger, said the school "should offer better support for the victims of bullying, as well as strong counseling for the bullies themselves. You can't just expel them."
She said after hearing of her niece's plight, she had talked with other parents who told her stories of, for instance, a 7-year-old boy bullied by bigger boys in his class, and a 12-year-old girl who is harassed constantly.
"I see part of the problem being teachers who try to be hip with the kids, and act more like the friends of the kids rather than authority figures," she added.
After about 30 minutes of listening, Superintendent John Miller said the L-P board's policy on bullying mirrors the state board of education's policy.
"We are prohibited, by law, from discussing any individual student in a public meeting, but, speaking for this board and my staff, let me say that we want all of our kids to be safe," he said.
Dave Hellinger restated his offer: "We would like to help you work on this issue to avoid problems like my niece has suffered."
On a much brighter note, the board received a check for $6,020.87 from Pomerene Hospital in Millersburg as sponsorship for the medical detectives STEM class which will be offered to eighth-graders next school year.
In addition to the financial contribution, Pomerene will allow class members to tour the hospital in Millersburg and will bring doctors and their staff members at the hospital to speak at the class. The class will be taught by science teacher Kori Auble.
Miller also announced that a second eighth-grade STEM class will also be offered, Flight and Space, taught by veteran science teacher Jim Gale. It will be sponsored by the L-P School Foundation, which has contributed $9,586 toward course expenses.
Kathy Puster, district curriculum supervisor, also announced that a liaison will be connected next school year between high school STEM classes and the NASA/Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, with students working on a project with Glenn scientists.
"This is a thrust toward making contacts for STEM students not just in industrial applications, but also, in the case of these new classes and the Glenn connection, with the fields of health care, flight and space," Puster said. "STEM is becoming our school district's brand."
Snyder, CEO of Pomerene Hospital, noted "involving young people in our hospital is part of our strategy. We love to grow our own employees, who give us long-term stability, and see our involvement as career development."
In addition to the Pomerene and LPSF gifts, other donations to the schools accepted at the meeting included $1,000 from the Nancy and Douglas Yeager Foundation for this years William J. Yeager Scholarship; $2,000 from Milestone Benefits Agency, the district's insurance broker, for scholarships; $4,000 from the Ohio State Eagles Charity Fund for scholarships; a book for the Budd School library from Karena Burgess; $100 from the Academic Boosters to Mrs. Sandy Cates fourth grade class to purchase graphic novels for class reading; and $400 to Marissa Burd's high school English classes so 120 students could participate in the Shakespeare Festival in Akron.