Tulpehocken board approves pilot program

The Tulpehocken Board of School Directors discussed and approved a pilot program for students who are expelled from school.

Until now, the choices for students expelled from the school were to go to an alternative school or use the virtual academy. There had been mixed responses on the choices. The new program would be a mixture of a homebound system with the virtual school and a teacher that would meet with them during the week.

Because students expelled are not allowed to be on the school property, the school district was previously looking into other possible buildings in the area for the students to use. Due to not knowing how many students would need to use an alternative building the decision was made to use this pilot program.

“We feel confident where we are,” said Edward Albert, superintendent.

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This previous school year was a rare year with the number of expulsions. The new program would have each student in a homebound model with a teacher assigned. By using technology and having the students meet with a teacher, off of school grounds, for a certain number of hours a week, the board hopes that the students will not fall behind.

“The biggest concern is when they come back into the mainstream and if they can pick up where they should be,” said Albert.

Board President Scott Klopp expressed concern in the homebound system as students have not flourished in the past. Lisa Hassler was also concerned with the accountability since parents would be responsible for a large part of making sure the student was doing their work.

“We think we can be successful,” said Albert.

The program will be implemented for 45 days after which time the administration, teachers and board will revisit the situation to see how the program and students did. Teachers in the program will be current staff members.

Also at the meeting on Aug. 20, the board began to discuss the dress code policy.

The administration thoroughly looked at the current dress code policy and wants to make a few changes. They believe that students should receive a warning for their first offense.

Evelyn Fox was concerned on the wording of the policy as to if the first offense was for the year, semester or when it was counted.

“We think we’ll be able to monitor that,” said Albert who stressed that communication would be key as well as using common sense and exceptions when necessary. “I don’t think it’s black and white.”

Albert believes that communication and a joint effort from the administration and staff will make it possible to enforce the dress code policy and make appropriate judgment calls. At the high school level, the students meet every 45 days to go over the rules and keep them up to date on policies.

“We’re hoping that we’re proactive with the kids,” said Albert.

The dress code will be discussed again at the next board meeting.

Also at the meeting, the board voted to approve the revised agreement with Hamburg Area School District for students to attend Tulpehocken Area School District’s Agriculture Program for the 2013-2014 school year. A number of students are already on the list including a student from Schuylkill Valley School District as well.

The board also voted on and approved the personnel agenda.

Following the meeting the board went into an executive session.

About the Author

Shea Singley

Shea Singley is the editor of The Hamburg Area Item. She grew up in Berks County and spent three years at the University of Arizona, Tucson, where she double majored in Creative Writing and English before transferring to Kutztown University where she majored in Professional Writing. Shea graduated from Kutztown University in 2012 and during that time completed an internship in the publication department of a non-profit organization in Washington, DC. She joined Berks-Mont Newspapers in March of 2013 and had enjoyed getting the chance to explore the Hamburg area and meet the readers. Reach the author at ssingley@berksmontnews.com or follow Shea on Twitter: @hamburgitem.