Highland board honors athletes, band; hears from public
By Randa Wagner -
Students received awards, the proposed soccer program was examined, and the public had issues to address at the November 13 Highland School Board meeting.
Community member Chris Miller gave the board his personal assessment of the past soccer season to gauge if soccer should be adopted as fall varsity sport at Highland High School.
Miller said he used four key performance metrics in grading each assessment on a scale of 0 – 5. Miller’s assessment:
Player interest, commitment and skill level. Score: 2. In grades 9–12, he said 24 girls signed up and only 4 showed up. Out of the 20 boys, only 10 showed and played (as a co-ed team).
Miller felt a minimum of 16 high school players were needed for a successful team. Of the available players, only 4 had high school level competition ability, in his opinion. He felt there was not an adequate commitment from the student body at this time to field a team for next year.
Field and practice facility. Score: 3. The team currently uses the field between the multi purpose field near the elementary school
Coaching and player interaction. Score: 0 “This, by far, is the most disappointing in the coaches, players and parents that watched the game,” Miller said. “The coach actively and verbally addressed parents and players in a negative and abusive way. He allowed parents on the coaching sideline who also verbally and, at times physically, addressed the players in a negative and threatening way, This complete display of unprofessional behavior reflected negatively on Highland, its players, and HYO as an organization.”
Miller’s recommendation to the school board: HYO would secure a coach that conforms to the Ohio High School Athletic Association standards, a coach that has a valid coaching license and certification, and no parent under any circumstances should be allowed to coach from the sideline for any reason. HYO has not demonstrated this year, to my personal satisfaction, that they can secure proper coaching that reflects a professional behavior, standards of our community, and is in the best interest of the players.
HYO as an organization. Score: 2 “They did a great job in scheduling and coordinating games with parents,” Miller noted. “But because of the issues with coaching, sideline incidents, failure to respond in an immediate and direct way to numerous emails and phone calls, this approach has segmented and separated players and parents and created a hostile, negative environment.”
Miller’s recommendation was HYO needs more time to develop a program and address those issues.
“I would consider a passing score to be a 15 out of 20 (overall),” Miller said. “This year I’d score the program a 7. I would recommend to the board to reject making soccer a varsity sport for Highland for the 2013–2014 school year.”
A copy of the assessment was given to board members.
Board member Bill Short the entire school board attended the Ohio School Board Association Convention that morning (of Nov. 13).
Board member John Messmer said he appreciated the support he has received from the community so far in his first month on the board.
Board President Eric Thacker said he attended the elementary production put on by the first and third graders, attributing Mrs. Hinkle’s tremendous patience to resulting in an excellent program.
Superintendent Bill Dodds commented about the call system directions were placed on the website a few weeks ago and they didn’t work.
“When our data was loaded onto their system, they took a column that had random numbers and said put those in as your student’s ID numbers. They didn’t’ match up. The system is now fixed and there are steps on the website to walk you through it.”
Dodds said in transportation, they have faced some challenges this past month and a half. “We’ve been short on substitutes and have been shuffling around and trying to make sure we get to kids as timely as we can. We will be hiring a full time substitute position so, in the morning, there’s not a panic to search for substitutes. Someone will be ready and waiting in case someone calls off. What that does for us is keeps our transportation supervisor in the garage so when parents call, there’s someone to answer.”
Supt. Dodds offered a statement on the situation with Princpals Winkelffos and Knetchley (now resolved) and the ballfield debate.
A parent expressed concern that a full time substitute driver is not enough, feeling a full time dispatcher should be in place at all times.
Regarding the issue involving the principals, parents of elementary school students expressed concerned that the student accused of the misconduct was still attending school while the principals were not.
Another parent commented on the situation with the principals, saying she felt they needed to be back in the school as soon as possible.
“They are highly respected and very missed,” one parent told board members of the principals. “This is an unfortunate situation and I hope you’re taking it very seriously.”
“My question is, when there is a child that is a touchy-feeling type child that has been brought to principals, counselors and teachers, and this child has been ‘assessed’ and deemed ‘ok’ to come back, but still continues to act out on situations that are very inappropriate, when is enough, enough?” asked one parent, “to when this student can be no longer allowed to come back to the school?”
“Anytime there’s a safety situation or concern with any student or a group of students, we address it,” Supt. Dodds replied. “If necessary, for the safety of that child or other children, there are safety plans put into place. That’s our process. If someone else’s rights are violated or other students are at risk, then sometimes we have to take different steps.”
“What are we supposed to do until it happens?” asked the parent, “because it’s going to happen.”
“There have been very few incidents at the elementary school and they have all been addressed to my knowledge,” Supt. Dodds maintained.
“But the problem is still there,” said another parent. “It’s still going on”
“We are a public school that educates all children,” Supt. Dodds stated. “We cannot pick and choose who comes. Children have many challenges in many different ways.”
Another parent said she knew of more than one incident and it’s an ongoing problem that began before the schools merged.
“It happened last year and it’s happening again this year,” she said. “A lot of parents are done with it. We’re tired of having to worry about our children, being touched in inappropriate ways. Enough is enough! This is pushing it.”
Bill Short said he’s had three meetings with one of the affected parents and it’s difficult, because the school board has to follow the laws of the State of Ohio, which acknowledges the civil rights and privacy issues of all students.
“We will take the information back and share it further,” Board President Thacker said of the issue. “We do have the right personnel, and we will continue to working with this issue to ensure all kids are as safe as possible.”
On another subject, Mike Baker, of Marengo, asked Bill Short outright if the board was planning on selling the ballfields in Marengo in the next year.
“Absolutely not,” Short replied, “and, hopefully, not in ten years. They’re not expected to be for sale and this board has no reason to discuss selling land. We’re trying to not do that.”
The following were approved for supplemental contracts for the 2012–2013 school year: Ron Garlinger, Head Bowling Coach; Amber Brubaker, Volunteer Bowling Coach; Adam Gilmore, Head Wrestling Coach, Rich Williams, M.S. Wrestling Coach; Luke Clemens and Dave Williams, Volunteer Wrestling coaches; Galen Chapman, Head Girls Basketball Coach; Eric Thacker, Volunteer Girls Basketball Coach; David Burt, Asst. Girls Basketball Coach; Chelsea Squires, 7th Grade Girls Basketball Coach; Todd Belcher, 8th Grade Girls Basketball Coach; Joseph Oder, M.S. Basketball Asst. Coach; Leslie Martin, M.S. Cheerleading (Winter); Denise Stilwell and Jackie May, H.S. Cheerleader (Winter/Split); Heather Nauman, In-The-Know Co-Advisor (Split); and Joseph Oder, M.S. Sports Coordinator.
Martin Zeger was approved a continuing contract as Groundskeeper and Enoch Adkins, Jr. was approved as a substitute bus driver.
The next regular Highland Board meeting will be Wednesday, Dec. 12 in the high school cafetorium at 7 p.m.