Local News

August 29, 2013

School board candidates give views at forum

OSKALOOSA — Oskaloosa School Board candidates gave their views on questions ranging from the Good Conduct Policy to bullying at a candidate forum Monday night.

Eight candidates are running for five seats on the school board and the election will be held on Sept. 10. Three candidates — incumbent Lin Yoder is facing off against Kraig Van Hulzen and Carl Drost for the at-large seat; and Board President Susan Boxler faces Neal Hadden for the District 3 seat. Shelly Herr is running unopposed for the District 2 seat as is Tom Richardson for the District 5 seat and Shawn Moyer for the District 6 seat.

The first question the candidates fielded pertained to the eight-page student Good Conduct Policy — whether it should be revamped and if the School Board has too much power over students.

Van Hulzen said the policy had been updated recently.

“It does seem a little lengthy,” he said.

On the question of too much power, Van Hulzen said: “It’s the administration’s job to uphold the Good Conduct Policy.” He said the important thing is that everyone is treated fairly.

“I’d review it,” Drost said.

Drost said that standards for students should be the same as those for teachers, administrators and school board members.

Yoder said the policy was reworked by a committee and unanimously passed by the school board on July 9.

Moyer said the policy should be “precise and clear. I’m not 100 percent clear that it does that.”

He thought it should apply to everyone.

In regards to board members having too much power, Moyer said no.

Richardson said he supports students participating in extra-curricular activities, but if they have violations for alcohol, drugs or tobacco, they should be reprimanded to hold students accountable. Parking tickets and speeding tickets are not part of it.

Hadden said he is in favor of revisiting the policy. He thought that if Ankeny could have a two-page policy, why can’t Oskaloosa?

Boxler said participation in an extra-curricular activity is a “privilege” and the Good Conduct Policy reflects expectations for students to live up to. The policy is open for scrutiny, and the district’s legal counsel conducts a review, she said. Boxler also said Superintendent Russ Reiter has met with teams and coaches about the policy.

“I’m in favor of looking at it again,” Herr said.

After answering questions presented by moderator John Ottosson, the candidates fielded questions from the audience.

The Rev. Liz Colton asked the candidates about the district’s anti-bullying policy.

Herr said she is in favor of all means to prevent it.

“Bullying is clearly an issue,” Boxler said. The district’s policy is in place, and teachers and administrators are clear on it.

Hadden said the district has a good policy in place and teachers instruct students on what it is.

Richardson said the district has had Positive Behavior Intervention Support for the past three years and bullying has declined at all three levels of school.

Moyer said expectations are set and teachers and parents need to work together to prevent bullying.

“Bullying is different than when I was a kid,” he said.

“We do have an excellent bullying policy,” Yoder said. Teachers always have their eyes and ears open to detect bullying.

“I’d have zero tolerance for bullying,” Drost said.

“I deal with it on a daily basis,” Van Hulzen said. Bullying is not to be tolerated, he added.

Herald Editor Duane Nollen can be reached by email at oskynews@oskyherald.com

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