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A 'ruckus' at BV

MANLIUS — An incident in the Bureau Valley High School lunchroom last week brought a crowd of more than 100 parents, teachers and students to the Bureau Valley School Board meeting Monday night.

After moving the meeting into the auditorium to find seats for everyone in attendance, Board President Keith Bolin began by reading a statement from the board.

"The board of education and administration agree that all staff and students should be treated in a fair, firm and consistent manner," Bolin said. "We clearly do not condone the berating of students in a public or private setting within our school. We also know that the vast majority of our staff do not behave in this manner, and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts.

"In situations where employee, — and I'd like you to listen carefully to this statement — in situations where employee behavior is outside of our expectations, we will, and have taken appropriate action, to remediate and correct this behavior.

"We believe that all of our students should be present each day in our schools, and not be afraid of being singled out or harassed, anywhere, anytime, by our staff.

"Any students who feels harassed or treated poorly by anyone while at school is encouraged to report the matter to their teacher or to the administrative office. We also expect, and we know our professional staff to remain professional during instruction time, even if the actions of others necessitate intervention.

"If simple redirection is not effective, staff are directed to handle the matter privately, outside the presence of other students, by sending the student to the school office."

Following the letter, Bolin set out specific instruction for public comment, but it turned out not to be necessary as only two people approached the podium.

After Bureau Valley Education Association President Ann Lusher read a letter on a different topic, Randall Walters said he was the father of Tyler Walters, one of the boys who was berated last Tuesday. Walters said his son went to the principal's office to take the blame for all of the students who were involved in the lunchroom incident.

"He was almost accosted in the principal's office," Walters said. "This seems to be a history with Mr. Showalter."

Walters said the school was founded on the principles of unity, excellence and pride.

"I think the only unity here right now is that everybody, along with myself, requests that you, the school board, move for the swift and immediate dismissal of Mr. Showalter," Walters said.

Walters said there are some students in the district have only one place to go to feel safe, and that is the school.

'This is not safe for them anymore," he said. "When a child has a principal in his face, using profanity, this has no place here."

Walters said his son didn't deserve what happened to him, and neither did a couple of the other students. He said that as an emergency medical technician, he is bound by law to report abuse, and he reported the incident to several board members and Superintendent John Bute.

"Something needs to be done," he said. "It can't go on anymore."

Walters' comments were followed by lengthy applause.

After the board went into closed session, Walters said Showalter had became "unglued" during the incident.

"Mr. Showalter went after a couple of different students that had nothing to do with it," he said. "He basically told them to get out of the school. He made some very threatening remarks to them."

Walters said the teachers that were present at the meeting came because they heard the "ruckus."

"That's why all the teachers are here today, because even they want the dismissal of Mr. Showalter," he said. 'It's time for him to go."

The board hired Patrick Showalter in June to replace former principal Mike Patterson, whom the board voted not to rehire in March.

While the board was still in closed session, Justin Yepsen of Sheffield took the microphone to ask everyone for their names and contact information. Yepsen said he and some others were going to schedule some meetings to talk about the issues facing the school.

"We can talk through these issues and try to get somebody to come to the board and speak," he said. "I just don't think they're getting what we're trying to bring to them."

The board went into closed session at 8:27 p.m. and came out shortly before 11 p.m. No action was taken, and the issue was tabled until the January meeting.

For continuing coverage, check out www.bcrnews.com.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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