Air gun leads to student’s expulsion – Arkansas Online

air-gun-leads-to-student’s-expulsion-–-arkansas-online

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White Hall School District assistant superintendent Debbie Jones listens to virtual principal and communications coordinator Jennifer Menard explain the requested change to offer virtual learning only to seventh through 12th-graders to the school board Tuesday, March 8, 2022.
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A White Hall High School student has been expelled from campus for the remainder of the school year after he is alleged to have brought an airsoft gun to track practice.

School district Superintendent Doug Dorris said Tuesday it was reported the student brought the airsoft pistol, which was painted black and made to look like an assault gun, to campus Feb. 28. The student did not attend school that day, Dorris said.

"He was firing at students -- you see students jumping around campus -- and at that time, he was arrested that day," Dorris said.

White Hall School Board members voted unanimously to ban the student from campus. He'll be allowed to continue classes through Google Classroom.

The student was the sixth to be expelled from a White Hall campus this school year. Five students -- four in high school and one in middle school -- were connected to social media threats posted on the app Yik Yak posted in December and arrested. The school board expelled them in January.

VIRTUAL CLASSES TO BE LIMITED

The board also approved a plan to offer virtual instruction only to students in grades 7-12 for the 2022-23 school year.

The Arkansas River Education Service Cooperative managed the K-6 virtual learning program for the district, according to WHSD communication director and virtual principal Jennifer Menard. She said the cooperative has done a "great job" with the program.

"When we evaluated where we were with our students, while they are participating and their grades are good, you compare their STAR reading in the fall to their STAR reading in the winter, we're not seeing a whole lot of growth," Menard said. "And I think a lot of that has to do with them being away from campus and not in front of a teacher."

The foundations of reading and math are important and hard to teach through a computer, assistant superintendent Debbie Jones said.

Upon notifying elementary school parents of the now-approved change, Menard said, they said more than half of the 19 elementary students enrolled were ready to return on-site. There are 31 high school students and 10 in middle school enrolled in virtual instruction.

IN OTHER DISTRICT BUSINESS

The WHSD has $7.2 million in operating funds, $400,000 less than this time last year, finance and technology director Doug Brown said.

Of that deficit, $350,000 went to staff bonuses, Brown said.

"We were prepared with drawing down our balance back before Thanksgiving, when we gave that bonus," Brown said. "It was an enhancement for their hard work [through] covid-19, overload and so forth."

Brown blamed the increase in supplies, diesel and natural gas over the last eight months on the rest of the deficit.

"All I know is we spent $29,000 in natural gas last year and $61,000 to the natural gas provider this year," Brown said. "I don't know how to give an explanation other than, they're entitled to certain costs in their regulatory world."

Two 77-passenger Thomas Built buses will be purchased, in addition to one that was already purchased through Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding.

PERSONNEL MOVES

Effective for the 2022-23 school year, Margie Parker has been named special education director, Tracy Samples district chief financial officer and Michael Reeves middle and high school Junior ROTC Army instructor.

Shimorye Hampton will resign as civics teacher and assistant football coach on May 28, Zach Mitchell will resign as sixth-grade math teacher, assistant football coach and head track coach at the end of this school year, and Michael Hawkins has resigned as high school special education aide immediately.

Contract extensions have been awarded to:

• Assistant superintendents Cedric Hawkins and Jones

• Gifted and Talented supervisor Mary Beth Passmore

• Principals Bill Tietz (Gandy Elementary), Jeff Glover (Hardin Elementary), Tim Atkinson (Moody Elementary), Tammie Canada (Taylor Elementary), Les Davis (middle school), Nathan Sullivan (high school) and Menard (virtual; also as communication director)

• Assistant principals Lakendra Lovelady (middle school), Skip Carr and Angie Looney (high school).

And Ann Tibbs will retire as Taylor/Gandy music teacher at the end of the school year.

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