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Brooke handicap transportation discussed

October 9, 2012
Weirton Daily Times

WELLSBURG - The Brooke County Board of Education on Monday was asked why it didn't provide funding for a handicapped student to participate in a field trip.

Linda Arbogast, a former Brooke County teacher, said the board shouldn't have denied a request for funding for a handicap-accessible bus to transport a pupil from Jefferson Primary School for a field trip to Janoski's Pumpkin Farm on Thursday.

Arbogast said the schools can't afford the expense, which has been assumed by the board in the past.

Article Photos

ARTS WINNERS — Many state winners of the PTA Cultural Arts Reflections Contest were recognized by the Brooke County Board of Education Monday. On hand for the occasion were, from left, Denise Spensy, Brooke County Council PTA president; winners Amy Rine of Follansbee Middle School; Cheyenne Grooms of Beech Bottom Primary School; Brady Mercer of Wellsburg Primary School; and Jaiden Gephart of FMS; and Suzie Tennant, first vice president of the county council. - Warren Scott

While denying the request, board members said they believed the schools paid that expense in the past, as they do for most field trips, and the board couldn't afford to pay for handicap buses for all trips taken by Brooke County schools.

Board President Jim Piccirillo said Monday he knows handicapped students shouldn't be excluded from field trips.

"We also need schools to understand we just don't have the money for field trips they think we have," he said.

Following the meeting, Piccirillo said cost-saving measures could be sought, such as busing handicapped students from various schools on the same field trip with other students. He noted many of the primary schools visit Janoski's.

Melissa Figlioli, special education director, said since the last meeting she learned county funds have been used for the handicap-accessible buses in the past. Federal money received for special education may not be used for field trips, she said.

Ron Staffileno, transportation director, said it costs about $150 per bus. That figure includes the driver's wages, fuel and other expenses and varies according to the distance traveled, he said.

Kathy Kidder, superintendent, said the schools pay for field trips in various ways, including holding fundraisers and requiring students to pay.

Piccirillo said he would like to discuss various aspects of field trips and other issues at a work meeting set for 5 p.m. Oct. 16 at the board's office.

In recent months he has raised concerns about field trips being comparable between schools serving areas of varying income levels and being appropriate for pupils' current course of studies.

The board also heard from Sasha Hendrickson, a parent of children in Brooke County schools, who asked the board to change its application procedure for parents and others who want to volunteer at schools.

Hendrickson encouraged the board to adopt a policy prohibiting people convicted of crimes against children or domestic or other violence from volunteering. But she said said the school district doesn't routinely run full background checks for volunteers, it only checks that they aren't registered sexual offenders. She added applications for potential volunteers state they may have background checks performed, which she said creates the potential for discrimination.

Marty Bartz, assistant superintendent, said a question asking applicants if they have been "charged with a crime" has been changed to "convicted of a crime," at Hendrickson's suggestion.

But Piccirillo and other board members said they have no plans of changing the policy further.

Following the meeting, Bartz reiterated the current policy involves the prosecutor's office in determining, if needed, whether a person with a criminal background should be prohibited from schools, depending on the circumstances of their crimes.

The board earlier expressed concern charging potential volunteers a $45 fee for a full background check could deter their involvement.

Hendrickson said she planned to take her concerns to the state Department of Education.

At an earlier meeting a parent asked what information is displayed for the Brooke High School security guard who conducts the sexual offender checks for volunteers and visitors to the school.

Bartz said he has checked and found the person's name, address and the expiration date for their driver's license is displayed and nothing else and nothing is printed but his or her name.

The parent had asked if the Social Security number or other personal information is displayed.

In other business, the board:

Recognized state winners of the PTA Cultural Arts Reflections Contest. "The Magic of a Moment" was the theme for the contest, in which students could submit entries using various art forms.

Local winners and their divisions were: Taylor Pannett of Follansbee Middle School, dance, film, music and photography; Kallie Delatore of Wellsburg Middle School, photography and visual arts; Elijah Cain of Hooverson Heights Primary School, film; Anthony Taylor and Brody Pelchuck of Wellsburg Primary School, both film; Emily Donley of WMSl, literature; Eric Bierschwale of L.B. Millsop Primary School, literature; Amy Rine of FMS, literature; Michael Shane of Beech Bottom Primary School, music; Kaeleigh Patterson of Wellsburg Primary, music; Cheyenne Grooms of Beech Bottom Primary, photography; Makenna Nickerson of Franklin Primary, photography; Brady Mercer of Wellsburg Primary, photography; Jaiden Gephart of FMS, visual arts; and Madison Reynolds, Angela Gadd and Austin King, all visual arts.

Approved the hiring of Tim Ennis as a bus driver; Susan Michaux, aide and autism mentor, Brooke High School; Deborah Rowing, health teacher, WMS; Larry Hood, freshman boys basketball coach, Brooke High School; James McFadden, seventh-grade girls basketball coach, WMS; James Cicchirillo, seventh-grade girls basketball coach, FMS; Amy Serevicz, assistant junior varsity girls basketball coach, high school; and Emily Beall, boys varsity tennis coach, high school.

Accepted a resignation from Gary Matteson, eighth-grade basketball coach at WMS.

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