Trail board clears way over dance
BY ROBERT L. BAKER
Wyoming County Press Examiner
Two items that weren’t even on the agenda at Monday’s Lackawanna Trail school board work session pretty much dominated the discussion.
Parents Christy and Bob Clarke were recognized regarding an issue they and their daughter had about the upcoming Homecoming dance.
Their daughter, Ashley, a ninth grader, asked an eighth grader about going to the dance with her, and in the recent past that would not have been an issue, as the dance was open to all junior-senior high school members from seventh through twelfth grade.
So, as Mrs. Clarke described it, she took her daughter out and they bought a formal dress for the occasion.
Then, two days later they discovered the Lackawanna Trail website noted that the homecoming dance would only be available this fall to those in grades 9-12.
Mrs. Clarke said the decision actually affects several students, but the concern she had was about having put her daughter in the difficult task of uninviting her dance partner.
“It’s a lot to ask kids to uninvite someone,” Mrs. Clarke said.
“It’s unfair,” her daughter chimed in.
Principal John Rushefski said that there was discussion over the past year about mixing the classes at certain social functions , and he and the asst. principal Mark Murphy decided the Homecoming dance would be a senior high dance.
Board member Joseph Strauch pointed out that the board approved a student policy manual which said that extracurricular events would be open to those in grades 7-12.
He challenged that rather than distinguishing on grade level, maybe the issue should be about sudent ages.
Superintendent Matt Rukauskas said it was a very sensitive issue and Rushefski noted, “We have to make some tough decisions.”
Both Bob and Christy Clarke said they appreciated the fact that the administration had safety uppermost in their minds, but they felt that timing was not a fair thing to do this late in the school year, and especially after their daughter’s dress had been purchased.
“Can’t this policy be implemented beginning with next year,” Mrs. Clarke asked.
Board presidentMark Lombardi said he would like to either table the matter until next Monday or caucus the group for its position.
He asked for the sentiment of the board and one by one, all but two seemed to think that perhaps timing was off.
But board member Joseph Ross challenged Strauch’s assertion that the adminsitration didn’t have any flexibility with interpreting the policy manual.
Carol Selwood said she saw the dance as a rite of passage for older students, and Judith Johnson said she had no desire to micro-manage what the administration does on a daily basis.
Ned Clarke, Kevin Mulhern, David Thorne and Michael Mould said they didn’t really question the administrators motives but felt the timing was unfortunate.
In the end, Board president Lombardi said there needs to be a policy to which everyone is aware and it needs to be enfored equitably for those not only in senior high, but also those in junior high.
In other business Monday, Trail curriculum director Janice Joyce addressed Pennsylvania’s new system for grading schools.
Joyce said a website, www.paschoolperformance.org, attempts to give consumers a sense of transparency and accountability, but the creators are still trying to work the glitches out.
There is information regarding the Elementary Center, which received a score of 84 out of 100, but high schools have not been assigned scores yet because of assignment of numbers.
She noted that in time, that would be worked out.