Emotions high at LHISD Board meeting

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By SARAH SILBERSTEIN

Tears, hugs, and quiet conversation filled the meeting room while individuals awaited the school board’s ruling Monday on the Level III grievance appeal brought by Chad Schulze against the administration.

Schulze, the parent of a Liberty Hill High School senior, filed a Level I grievance on Aug. 18 after his daughter, the co-captain of the cheerleading team, was removed from the team on Aug. 8.

Schulze said the incident that led to his daughter’s removal stemmed from a conflict between his daughter and the other co-captain.

He said his daughter spoke with the cheerleading coach in an attempt to resolve the conflict. His daughter became emotional during the conversation and when the coach asked if she was quitting the team, she responded, ‘yes, if this is how it’s going to be’, Schulze said.

It is because of that “if” in his daughter’s response that Schulze filed the Level I grievance with the high school because, he said, his daughter had no intention of quitting the team.

Mario Bye, the principal of LHHS, met with Schulze and spoke with coaches, students, and parents regarding the incident. Based on his investigation, Bye said he decided to not reinstate the student to the team.

“I have no intention of allowing a culture where quitting has no consequences,” Bye said.

Schulze filed a Level II grievance to have the Level I grievance decision reviewed and hopefully overturned so that his daughter could return to the team.

Bye reviewed his decision and decided to uphold his Level I ruling to not allow the student to return to the team.

At the Level III hearing Monday, Schulze said he was no longer seeking to have his daughter reinstated to the team and was addressing the Board of Trustees to urge them to create policy that would prevent any individual from reviewing their own decision in the grievance process.

“My daughter’s senior year is forever changed,” Schulze said. “For the first time since my children have been in school, I feel that they have no voice.”

The Board was only allowed to rule on the original grievance, which was to reinstate Schulze’s daughter to the team.

“Policy considerations would be outside of the grievance hearing,” said Board President Clay Cole.

The Board entered closed session at 6:55 p.m. to discuss the grievance and returned an hour and a half later at 8:28 p.m. to deliver their decision.

“The Board sees no need to take action,” Cole said.

The ruling upheld the Level II decision to not reinstate Schulze’s daughter to the cheerleading team.

The Board then entered closed session at 8:29 p.m. to discuss personnel and property and returned at 9: 26 p.m.

The Board approved the immediate employment of sixth grade teacher Dimitra Becker, first grade teacher Teresa Jay, Special Education Instructor Elizabeth Bowman and the creation of a tennis coach position at the high school.

Superintendent Dr. Rob Hart, said the district received a $28,404 title program increase from the state.

“When we plan our budget in the summer, it’s on an estimate,” Hart said. “Generally when it’s finalized, there will be a slight increase.”

Hart updated the board on district enrollment, which is at 3,681 students, an increase of 189 students from the previous school year, and informed the board that all schools were performing above 90 percent attendance.

Hart recognized Tara Rockafellow’s CTSBO certification and donations made to LHISD by Workforce Solutions and Pedernales Electric Cooperative.

Assistant Superintendent Toni Hicks reviewed the 2016-2017 District Performance Objectives and Improvement Plan.

Hicks said the district is meeting state accountability standards and is focused on district-wide alignment, utilizing instructional resources, creating training procedures, increasing attendance, and postsecondary readiness.

John Clark, chair of the School Health Advisory Council (SHAC), presented the committee’s annual report.

The SHAC, which is comprised of LHISD staff and parents, met four times during the 2015-2016 school year and will make recommendations to the school board about sexual education, alcohol awareness and health programs at the December meeting.

Clark said the focuses of the SHAC for the 2016-2017 school year are to increase employee motivation and positivity, effective parent communication, and organization of the 2017 Liberty Fit Festival.

The project manager for the Rancho Sienna Elementary construction project, reported to the Board that all concrete has been poured and the walls are starting to go up. Despite the recent rain, the project is still on track for completion in August 2017.

Parent Laura Coleman addressed the board during the public comments portion of the meeting about the high school’s varsity sports needs and encouraged board members to ensure the individual who is hired for the tennis coach position be a good fit for the school and the team.

Coleman said she had “nothing but positive things to say” about the school district’s attentiveness to her concerns.

“There is a problem in Liberty Hill, but there is no doubt in my mind that it will be addressed,” she said.

The next LHISD Board of Trustees meeting will be held on Monday, Dec. 12 at 6 p.m.

Liberty Hill schools will be closed Nov. 21-25 for fall break.

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