By John A. Ballentine
WYOMING – In an anticlimactic atmosphere, the Stark County School Board of Education terminated the employment of bus driver Al Curry and aide Cathy Webster. School board members voted 7-0 to terminate Curry and Webster after a 10-minute discussion in executive session.
Curry and Webster were involved in a bus incident concerning a presumed autistic child in which a “screaming bucket” was placed over his head for discipline. Toulon resident Barbara Keske brought to light that her 7-year-old son had been “the victim of abuse” after she learned of the bucket incident at the close of the school year.
The actual dismissal of the two employees turned out to be a formality, with dismissal listed as an agenda item heading into the meeting. Prior to Monday’s meeting, Stark School officials issued a press release that stated that the “bucket” incident was not approved or an appropriate discipline.
The meeting was attended by approximately 10 visitors and Toulon residents Fred Sams and Jim Nowlan spoke in support of the two employees.
“I don’t think this situation has been handled very well,” Sams said. “I don’t think the other side of the story, Curry and Webster’s side, has been made available.”
The Prairie News requested comment several weeks ago from the two employees, but they declined to make statements. Neither Curry nor Webster attended Monday’s meeting.
Although Barbara Keske was present, she elected not to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting.
In other action, the board : Approved bids from Prairie Farms to supply milk for the upcoming school year; for Area Disposal Service to pick up trash; and for the Prairie News to print the Rebel Reporter publication.
Also, Dale Heinhold presented information to the board concerning the purchase of technology upgrades at a cost of $17,500 for the Toulon school buildings. This included upgrading a firewall for the internet system.
The board will conduct its annual “board retreat” on July 15 at 8 a.m. at One Eleven Coffee, in Wyoming. The regular meeting is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on the same day.
Junior high football scheduling now has four to five games in place for the upcoming season. This is the first year this level of football has been offered as a school sport at Stark County.
The board heard that an intercom system at the two Toulon school buildings will cost approximately $30,000 for each building to replace and to interconnect the schools. Upgrading the old system is desired because of many problems encountered with it and the two school buildings presently cannot communicate with one another.
After a second executive session, the board approved: the retirement of teachers Jody Jones and Theresa Strode effective at the end of the 2021-22 school year; the retirement of teacher and athletic director Scott Paxson effective the end of the 2021-22 school year; the retirement of Janet West as paraprofessional effective immediately; plus several other individuals in various assignments.
By John A. Ballentine