Memo gives cited school an all-clear

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 25, 2001

[06/22/01] After a May 22 visit from state education officals to the Center for Alternative Programs, Vicksburg Warren School District administrators are making some changes at the school.

“We appreciate their suggestions, and we’re taking them under advisement,” Superintendent Donald Oakes said at a Vicksburg Warren School District board meeting Thursday. Oakes’ experience includes work as principal at the Alternative School, established in 1991 for students who are not functioning in a conventional classroom setting.

The report issued by the Warren County Grand Jury May 11 blasted the district, saying that rules against drugs, alcohol and tobacco use were being ignored at the school by students and faculty.

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Oakes downplayed the report, and school board members have expressed no public concern.

The center was moved to the former Bovina Elementary last year.

After the May site evaluation of the school by state education officials, State Superintendent of Education Dr. Richard Thompson provided suggestions to the district in a June 7 letter, which included keeping more accurate records, seeking more parental involvement and monitoring student smoking through increased staff supervision.

“I wish the alternative school was the only place we had smoking in the building,” Oakes said. “But, it was a big issue.”

Also, the visiting team found that the secondary social studies teacher at the school was not licensed in the proper subject area, and a safety officer was armed. Oakes said the officer no longer carries a weapon, and no action has been taken against the unlicensed teacher.

So far, Oakes said, smoke alarms have been installed in the bathrooms at the school and a walk-through metal detector has been placed at the front entrance of the building. Other changes are being made including the addition of an Internet usage policy and a restraint protocol to the school handbook.

“Ninety-nine percent of everything they told us to do is done,” said Mike Ouzts, the district’s safety coordinator, who, along with other VWSD officials, participated in the May 22 assessment.

Oakes said he plans to issue a written report of the progress at the Alternative School to the next grand jury.

In a personnel move, trustees also changed the job title of Agnes Lyles from curriculum and vocational director to assistant superintendent.

Lyles, longtime assistant principal at Warren Central High School before being moved to the central office last fall, will supervise the district’s four high schools and junior highs. Veteran Assistant Superintendent Jimmie Mullins will maintain her title and supervise the district’s nine elementary schools.

Trustees also:

Approved the minutes from the May 17 regular board meeting and the special called meetings on May 31 and June 6.

Accepted a $75 donation from Golding Barge Co. to the golf program at Warren Central High School to purchase equipment.

Accepted a $100 donation from Golding Barge Co. to the district’s athletic program.

Accepted a $10 donation from John and Nancy Smith, a $10 donation from Vivian Johnson and a $12.50 donation from Total Horse to the Lift-A-Thon for the athletic program at Warren Central Junior High School.

Accepted a $100 donation from Westat Inc. to South Park Elementary for school store supplies.

Accepted a $129 donation from General Mills/Box Tops for Education to South Park Elementary to purchase Boomwhackers.

Accepted a $37.51 from Domino’s Pizza to South Park Elementary to upgrade the school’s computer lab.

Accepted a $185 donation from SAKS Inc. to South Park Elementary from the school benefit sale.

Accepted five donations $100 from Margaret Wright, $45 from Frances Gaddis, $100 from Billie Bishop, $50 from New South Radio of Vicksburg and $100 from International Paper to Vicksburg High School’s Destination ImagiNation team.

Accepted a $200 donation from Betty Thornley to Warren Central Junior High School to purchase uniform shirts.

Accepted four donations from the Warren Central Junior High School PTA a sofa valued at $499, a chair valued at $421.01 and an artificial tree valued at $79.99 for the teachers’ lounge at the school.

Accepted a $400 donation from the Corps Chapter of the Chamber of Commerce to South Park Elementary for concrete benches.

Accepted a donation of limestone valued at $252 from MMC Materials for the S.E.A. Lion Sanctuary.

Approved the write-off of $657 in outstanding accounts payable checks.

Approved the request of an emergency teaching certificate for Brian Oakes, who will be a teacher/assistant football coach at Warren Central High School.

Accepted the recommendation for one substitute bus driver for the remainder of the 2000-01 school year.

Accepted the recommendation of employees for classified positions for the 2001-02 school year.

Accepted the recommendation of the list of 2001 summer school staff members.