PEORIA, IL -- The Peoria District 150 School Board on May 12 heard adults and students plead to save arts programs, as the board decides which programs get the ax.
But before that, during the public comments, they heard a shocking report from activists Sharon Crews and Terry Knapp, concerning what happens to students caught performing sexual related incidents in schools.
In a word: nothing happens to them, Knapp said. And in addition the Peoria police have no record of these offenses, Knapp said.
Here is a recording of the public comments:
The comments of Crews will be printed below.
Here is the report from the Peoria Journal Star.
Knapp also criticized the board for continuing to ban local arts personality Lee Wenger from the schools, for a run-in with a student years ago. The incident has been expunged from court records, Knapp said. "It's ridiculous that he's banned from the school district."
Heartland Festival Orchestra director David Commanday asked the board not to cut arts program, and he was followed by several others.
Then in her response, board president Debbie Wolfmeyer said "we are not considering arts" cuts, but added "everything is on the table" because of budget cuts.
Here is the comment from Crews:
At the last meeting Mrs. Wolfmeyer acknowledged that the Expulsion in Abeyance grant ended some time ago, but that the idea of that program has been expanded to include all offenses, not just for drugs and alcohol. In fact, in 2013-14 and this year up to March 10, 228 of the 373 expelled students were placed on probation instead of being expelled.
The name Expulsion in Abeyance is still being used, but the expansion of the now defunct program to include all offenses has not been reflected in policy. Your informal decisions should not be allowed to replace policy.
Wolfmeyer stated that the board chose probation over expulsion to avoid expelling a student for a one-time offense. I believe that the records of the 228 students would show a trail of referrals and suspensions that preceded what you want to call a one-time offense. There is no listing for expulsions of students who are expelled after their 4th suspension—or is that policy now defunct, also?
I don’t know why this board is so reluctant to see the truth and/or to tell us the truth about much of anything. You vote on expulsions and revocations of expulsions at every meeting. Why can’t you include the number of each as part of the minutes?
The data I received about expulsions caused me to draw a few conclusions.
Again, expulsion is not a viable solution without summer school and probably night school. Summer school is the only justifiable consequence for expulsion and actually the only credible opportunity for students to make up credits.
Of the 373 expulsions, 43 were kindergarten through 4th grade; 37 of them were in the abeyance program, so they were not expelled. The first thing you should do is to come up with a better consequence than expulsion or probation for children this young.
Not surprisingly, 249 of the expulsions were for seventh through tenth graders with 81 for ninth grade. Clearly, that is a group that needs special attention. I found it interesting and a bit bewildering that comparatively few juniors and seniors were expelled.
128 expulsions were for drugs or physical fighting.
The length of expulsion time varied so much that it is difficult to draw conclusions as to the justification for the lack of consistency. I believe that legitimate lengths of expulsion are impossible without summer school.
An extensive change in your discipline policies for referrals, suspensions, and expulsions is greatly needed. This time please seek the advice and opinions of teachers. Classroom disruptions continue to take up too much learning time. I do not believe that expulsions are the best solution, but problem students must not be allowed to continue disrupting classrooms.