It was a packed house at last night’s Indiana School Board meeting as the board took up the issue of disciplinary action against a group of students caught drinking on a school-sponsored trip.
Parents and students filled up the East Pike Elementary gym for last night’s meeting and there were several people signed up for public comment. Some talked about music and drama funding, but opinions on the student discipline overrode the discussion. Seven Indiana Area High School students face possible expulsion as they await court action on charges of underage drinking while they were on a school-sponsored event for the Key Club in Hershey. Two online petitions are being circulated, one urging leniency and one pushing for strict adherence to dsitrict disciplinary policy.
Two public commenters were cut off by Solicitor Trish Andrews because they were speaking too specifically about the expulsion debate, or were comparing similar past cases in too great of detail. There was no disclosure by the administration or the board on whether or not expulsion hearings would take place, but the board authorized legal counsel for the administration for that very thing.
The public spoke passionately about both sides of disciplinary action, some said that the students need help and support and should remain within the school, while others said that disciplinary guidelines are in place and should be followed, no matter who broke the rules laid out by the district.
In other matters from Monday night's meeting, the board approved safety measures they hope will protect students in all six buildings in the district. AMong the improvements are upgrades to the phone system, public address system, video surveillance, interior doors and door card access systems. This first round of upgrades will cost the district $860,000 which will come from leftover energy saving improvement money and the capital reserve fund.
The board also approved a motion to allow the administration to meet with state and borough police in order to provide more protection for district buildings.
Jurisdiction issues may be solved as the buildings/grounds/transportation committee now has permission to study the feasibility of annexing the high school, which is in White Township, to the Indiana Borough. Some members of the board discussed their displeasure at the lack of White Township’s accommodation on police jurisdiction.