AP NEWS

Report On Crestwood Probe Expected To Be Made Public

March 22, 2019

WRIGHT TWP. — Joseph Rasmus described the past six months since he became superintendent as a period of change and upheaval, as reflected in dialogs about a state probe, suicide, scheduling and smoking held during Thursday’s school board meeting.

A probe by the state Auditor General’s Office into busing, which led the board to replace Superintendent Joseph Gorham with Rasmus, is wrapping up.

In a draft of a report that district Solicitor John Dean expects to be public within weeks, the auditor general issued findings against the district for failing to have clearances for bus drivers and for provisions of its previous bus contract.

Because a majority of drivers didn’t have clearances on file, the district canceled classes for two days in October 2018 while updating the drivers’ status.

Since then, Crestwood has reformed its policy and keeps copies of the clearances at the school offices, Dean said.

The board canceled and re-entered a contract with a bus company and is preparing for negotiating a new contract for the 2019-20 school year.

Dean said the draft report compliments the district on how it addressed the findings.

“I think the community will be appreciate of what we’ve already done,” said Rasmus, adding that Crestwood made an aggressive response.

His response to a parent’s question about counseling in view of a student’s suicide earlier this year was more nuanced.

Rasmus outlined the outpatient care provided at all schools. Students and teachers moreover have been taught about the new Safe2Say service in which they can text or telephone when they or someone they know is suffering from depression, abuse or other threats.

Behavioral health clinicians are available at elementary schools, and Rasmus asked the provider to offer that help at high school next year.

But he said there is also an interplay between teachers, guidance counselors, the district’s advisory committee and students to look out for their health.

“It’s embedded and enmeshed with everything we do,” he told the parent during the meeting. Later he elaborated, saying teachers know students’ temperament and when they are “off” their normal behavior.

Counselors get involved, sometimes to learn the issues was benign or sometimes more serious, he said.

When a student told the board about problems caused in foreign language studies by combining fourth-year class and Advanced Placement classes, Rasmus said the faculty brought up the same issue with him.

The administration and faculty, he said, are re-evaluating courses and elective paths that students can choose. A new outline might be prepared by April.

When a mother, Tracey Pachick, expressed concerns she has about vaping, Rasmus said the district is putting together clear policies and punishments for smoking, vaping and other disciplinary lapses and for repeated violations.

Currently, a student is suspended for three days for smoking. The district has updated its smoking policy to cover vaping devices and non-tobacco liquids used in them.

Contact the writer:

kjackson@standardspeaker.com; 570-501-3587