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Board discusses revocation of gating criteria

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times
The Leavenworth Board of Education met Monday.

When they met this week, members of the Leavenworth Board of Education discussed revoking gating criteria previously adopted for the school district.

Board members ended up taking no action, leaving the gating criteria in place.

The gating criteria established thresholds to serve as a guide for changing the mode of education being used by the district based on COVID-19 data for Leavenworth County.

The issue of revoking the previously approved gating criteria was raised Monday by board President Doug Darling.

“The Board of Education decided not to follow that gating criteria,” he said. “It should be removed as a policy in my opinion.”

During a meeting last month, board members voted against switching from in-person instruction to remote instruction even though the change was called for under the gating criteria.

Five board members voted against transitioning to only remote instruction. Darling was one of two board members who voted in favor of making the change. Board Vice President Dannielle Wells also voted in favor of making the switch.

“We have a policy we adopted in September,” Darling said. “We chose not to follow it in November.”

He asked his fellow board members if they wanted to keep a policy they do not follow.

“I would like to have gating criteria that is followed,” Wells said.

Superintendent Mike Roth, who recommended switching to remote instruction last month, expressed concern about a significant number of teacher absences during the pandemic.

He said the education of students is impacted when they attend classes taught by substitute teachers who do not have the same level of training as the normal classroom teachers.

“It’s not the same,” he said.

Board member John Goodman argued closing schools can cause more harm to students than keeping the buildings open during the pandemic.

“We need to keep kids in school where we can help them,” he said.

Goodman acknowledged that keeping schools open creates a risk of spreading the coronavirus “but we have mitigated it to the best of our ability and then some.”

Goodman made a motion to revoke the district’s gating criteria. But no other board member provided a second to the motion.

“Not hearing a second, the motion fails,” Darling said.

Board members then moved on without attempting other action related to the gating criteria.

Also during the meeting, board members approved a resolution expressing their intent to terminate a teacher for alleged inappropriate communication with a student in violation an employee handbook and three board policies.

The teacher has a right to request a hearing before a hearing officer.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR