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Yellow Springs School Board affirms nonrenewal of contract

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Three members of the Yellow Springs School Board met last Monday, July 14, at a special board meeting and voted to affirm their previous decision to nonrenew the contract of McKinney Middle School physical education and health teacher Angela Bussey. The vote followed a hearing held earlier that day in executive session, at Bussey’s request and in accordance with Ohio Revised Code procedure.

Acting board president Sylvia Ellison and board members Evan Scott and Sean Creighton voted to nonrenew. Board President Aïda Merhemic recused herself, and Steve Conn was out of town. Ellison declined to comment on the hearing or say whether the board had learned new information during the closed session.

Reached for comment this week, Bussey summarized the complaints she lodged to both school leaders and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission about the unfair evaluations she believes she received during her first year teaching in Yellow Springs last year.

“The board of education has again failed the students, parents and community of Yellow Springs. Leadership is non-existent under Superintendent Basora and Principal Krier. They run a ‘Good Ole Boys’ club. Through the use of intimidation and bullying, the staff fear for their jobs if they dare to speak up for what is happening to them,” she wrote in an email on Tuesday. “I am going to continue my fight and expose the lack of fundamental decency and due process provided to teachers such as myself…The students and the community deserve and need to know the truth.”

Bussey did not disclose her plans going forward, but according to District Treasurer Dawn Weller, the ORC gives Bussey 30 days from the time she receives official notice of the board’s decision to file a case against the district in Greene County Common Pleas Court.

Bussey was hired in August 2013 to replace retiring teacher Sarah Lowe. After a year of unsatisfactory performance evaluations, YSHS/McKinney Principal Tim Krier recommended to nonrenew Bussey’s contract, and District Superintendent Mario Basora agreed. In April, at Bussey’s request and in accordance with the teacher’s union policy, the board held a public hearing at which Bussey, her attorney and several local and area colleages testified about her strength as a teacher. The board then voted to accept its staff’s recommendations to nonrenew the contract.

At its regular meeting on July 10, the board approved the hiring of new McKinney physical education/health teacher Melanie Egbert. This will be Egbert’s first year in the classroom after graduating from Ohio Northern University and student teaching.

In other school board business at the regular meeting on July 10:

• The district presented the 2013–14 bullying report for the K–12 student body. In the first semester school officials logged five official incidents of bullying — one harassment case among students in the fourth grade, two incidents of bullying and harassment for students in seventh grade, and two bullying-harassment cases for those in eighth grade. In the second semester there were a total of six reported bullying incidents — one case of harassment among sixth graders, four cases of harassment and intimidation among seventh graders, and one case of harassment among ninth graders.

A bullying incident in the schools is defined specifically as ongoing, intentional behavior to cause physical or emotional harm. The district has implemented several programs over the past three years to promote inclusion and restorative justice, including two years of Project Peace. The total number of incidents has decreased from 2010, when there were nine separate incidents of bullying just in the first semester at Mills Lawn. But the district is still working to do better, and will redouble its efforts this year to foster student-led peace making programs, Superintentent Basora said during the meeting.

• The district hired new fourth-grade teacher Cheryl Devine, who taught for eight years in an international baccalaureate elementary school. District Assistant Treasurer Eva Anderson resigned her position after 15 years with the district to take a job as treasurer of Greene County Career Center. The district also increased technical support technician Jacob Steberl’s position to 260 days, Mills Lawn counselor John Gudgel’s position from half time to just over, and instructional aide Karla Horvath’s position from three to six hours per day for a total budget increase of $20,000.

• The board approved the purchase of a new full-size school bus with handicap accessibility. The district will bid through the Southwestern Ohio Educational Purchasing Council for the item, which could cost around $90,000.

• The district transferred $16,952 to cover a deficit in the lunchroom budget and an additional transfer of up to $20,000 to either the athletic fund or the lunchroom fund.


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