Shafer reaffirms support for HNHS administration after patron questions information about New Tech proposal

Huntington County Community SchooLs Superintendent Tracey Shafer reaffirmed his trust in the Huntington North High School administration after a patron alleged the HNHS administration had concealed information regarding the New Tech proposal.

However, two members of the board of trustees found some of the presentation - made during the board's meeting on Monday, Dec. 21, by Stephen Geders - to have merit.

Geders presented minutes from several New Tech Committee meetings, which he said were given to him anonymously. Geders said that the committee discussed items - such as the number of teachers to be moved, costs involved and location of New Tech - that were never presented to the board.

"After reviewing the minutes, I have come to the conclusion that the high school administration has not been clear in communicating with the board of education the true costs to successfully implement New Tech within Huntington North High School," Geders said as he explained, "The board was told $70,000 (for New Tech renovations), yet prior to the vote, the committee is talking needs in excess of $2 million."

Board members Rex Baxter and Scott Hoffman said they received the same information that Geders presented, and Baxter said he has found up to 80 percent of it to be true.

Shafer said that presenting the information for speculation wasn't fair and that the information was not accurate.

"The biggest problem (of New Tech) is misinformation," Shafer said during the meeting.

Shafer had previously said that he has encountered uninformed questions and concerns, as well as misconceptions, regarding the New Tech program.

Also discussed during Monday's meeting was the ratification of a temporary disciplinary suspension of a certified employee. The employee has since resigned.

An investigation into the behavior of Jeff Shoup, an industrial educational teacher at Huntington North High School, began on Oct. 20, 2009.

"During this time of investigation, the administration concluded that Mr. Shoup was insubordinate in his continued use of group punishment in class, engagement in repeated physical horseplay with students, including wrestling with a student; and repeated use of foul language around students," Shafer read.

He added that Shoup received disciplinary due process and remained under paid leave through Dec. 7, 2009. At that time, Shoup resigned "at the request of the administration," Shafer said. This "effectively ends his compensation and employment with HCCSC effective Dec. 7."

By a narrow vote of 4-3, the 2010-11 calendar was passed upon its second reading. Those voting in favor were Vice President Rick Brubaker and board members Dr. Jennifer Goff, Tom King and Troy Smart. Those voting against were President Kevin Patrick, Secretary Rex Baxter and member Scott Hoffman.

The calendar that was passed sets the first teacher day on Aug. 10, 2010, and the first student day on Aug. 12. This was the calendar recommended by Shafer and it includes four built-in snow days.

Some members questioned that Martin Luther King Jr. Day will not be a day off school. Shafer said that the "thinking has shifted a little bit" about observing the holiday and that teachers can "recognize diversity" in an "educational setting."

The board also learned that driver education will again be offered and two courses have been added into the high school curriculum.

Biology II-Human Genetics is a one-semester course and the prerequisite is a B or higher in biology. It will be offered to mostly juniors and seniors, but maybe also to sophomores. The books cost $125 each.

Earth and Space Science II-Oceanography is a one-semester course and it requires no additional materials.

Biology II-Anatomy and Physiology is already offered at HNHS, but now it will be offered full year, not just one semester. It also includes vocational reimbursement.

The courses were presented for first reading, but to get them into the program of studies, the board moved and passed the requests unanimously. The requirement to actually hold the classes is 15 students being signed up for the new courses.