Awareness training has begun

STEUBENVILLE – The city school district has conducted an educational session for middle school and high school parents regarding an alleged 2012 rape and has scheduled sessions for teachers and staff workers next month.

“At our first session we had a very good discussion and good questions from our parents. We talked about how to discuss the incident with our school children,” said Superintendent Mike McVey following the monthly board of education meeting Wednesday night.

The school board authorized a $5,000 agreement with the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center to provide two educational sessions for parents regarding sexual violence and how to communicate with their children.

According to the district’s action plan, a March 27 training for all staff “is for some or all areas of sexual harassment, bullying, date rape, substance abuse and social media. The results are to educate the staff as to how to provide a culture to prevent future tragedies.”

Two Steubenville High School student-athletes are set to stand trial in March for the alleged rape of a 16-year-old Weirton female in August.

McVey announced in January the school district was planning “to expand our curriculum in our schools dealing with the events now under investigation. We are also planning to expand counseling for our students. And we will continue to provide more information and more services,” McVey said.

“And, we plan to do a few age-appropriate public forums for our students and their parents as well as the community. It’s a trying time for us, and our school board’s main focus is doing what is best for the kids,” said McVey.

“The past few months have been very difficult for all of us in the Steubenville City Schools. Since the time we first heard allegations of a sexual assault involving some of our students, we began immediate dialog with the law enforcement authorities. Our hearts go out to the young victim. We sincerely hope she is getting the help she needs to heal from this ordeal,” according to McVey’s media statement released in January.

“As a school district our goal is to graduate students who are well educated, compassionate and caring who create greater understanding and good will within the community. The past few months have been very difficult, but as educators we know it is our responsibility to make sure all of us learn from this experience,” McVey said in his January media statement.

In other business, the board:

Accepted a resignation submitted by Steubenville High School Athletic Director Fred Heatherington, who will retire effective May 31. Heatherington also serves as a teacher at the high school. McVey said Heatherington has been athletic director at the school for the past 13 years.

“At this point we aren’t sure who will replace him. We are in the process of sending our annual letters of intent to all of our teachers to determine who may be retiring and who is returning. We will make our decisions for next year after reviewing that list in March,” McVey explained.

Heatherington’s retirement was one of several personnel issues approved during the monthly board meeting.

Approved the resignation of Octavia Lover, a paraprofessional at the high school, effective Friday.

Approved the resignation submitted by Eric Harris, who worked as a part-time custodian at the high school. He cited relocation as the reason for his resignation.

Approved Dina Federico and Melissa Karas as Title 1 tutors for the remainder of the current school year.

Approved the following substitute teachers for the remainder of the 2012-13 school year: Katherine Christopher, early childhood; Ryan Houk, general education; Lyndsea Metheny, intervention specialist; Kara Purviance, general education; and Andrew Radakovich, general education teacher.

Approved Anthony Leone, a high school student, to work in the cafeteria in the Big Red Works program.

Accepted the 2013-14 certificated staff and non-certificated staff school year calendar.

Approved a $2,000 donation from Youth Activities of Steubenville for the Steubenville High School choir.

OK’d the revised facility rental agreement for the use of school buildings, grounds and facilities and approved two rental agreements for this year.

“The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce has requested the use of Harding Stadium for June 28 and 29 or 30 for the annual Stars and Stripes concert. And the chamber has also requested the high school auditorium for their lecture series for 7:30 p.m. on April 9,” reported assistant Superintendent Barry Gullen.

Approved a $6,237.50 contract with Comcast Spotlight to provide parent information regarding city schools.

Accepted the OneNetConnectivity grant of $9,000 and granted approval to enter into a contract with the state auditor’s office to assist in preparation of the 2012-13 annual financial report at a cost not to exceed $21,000.

Approved the purchase of an Esber cash register and reporting system at an estimated cost of $15,000.

According to Mike Bauman, director of the district’s buildings and grounds, “the Esber cash register and reporting system is actually a standalone data bank that will allow us to collect and calculate updated data from our school lunch program.”

“We receive reimbursement from the state and federal government for our low-income and free breakfast and lunch program. Our elementary school teachers often record the information by hand, and once a student moves from the grade school level to the middle school or to the high school we have to start that record keeping over again. This system will allow us to maintain the information from the grade school through the high school,” Bauman stated.