Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

School shootings and crisis situations are never an easy topic to discuss, but at the Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting Monday evening, Shawn Dunbrack, of the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security, addressed the board with the steps he and the staff have taken to ensure Pocahontas County is prepared for any type of emergency situation.

In the recent past, the board worked with Family Resource Network director Laura Young to apply for grants specifically for emergency response planning and crisis planning. As Young was searching for grants, she contacted Dunbrack, who worked with her and board office staff on implementing a program.

“This is a national program that was developed by a gentleman [John Michael Keyes] whose daughter was killed in the Platte Canyon High School shooting a few years back,” Dunbrack said. “The name of the foundation is the “I Love You Guys” Foundation. That being because that was the last text that she sent to her father before she died.”

Dunbrack explained that Keyes developed a standard response plan for all kinds of emergencies that may take place at a school – whether it be an active shooter or a fire. The plan includes what the staff and students will do to stay safe, as well as all the steps to evacuate the schools, and then a resolution which sees the students reunited with their families.

“Believe it or not, the school is going to be a crime scene,” Dunbrack said. “The buses may be a crime scene. The parking lot may be a crime scene. Those students can’t immediately leave that school they’ve evacuated from and go home. They’re going to need to be interviewed by police. They’re going to need to go through mental health counseling and make sure they’re okay. So will the staff and everybody else involved.”

Dunbrack has been meeting with the board office staff and principals over the course of a year to work on implementing the plans at all the schools, as well as providing drills at schools for students and staff to help them be prepared.

In the future, Dunbrack said he wants to implement teams which will include school staff, his staff, law enforcement and community members to ensure the continued safety of the county’s students.

“In moving forward with this, we would like to see the schools develop a multi-disciplinary team and what that involves is someone from our offices and some folks from law enforcement, so we can develop this plan and make sure this plan makes sense for Pocahontas County and the folks that are actually going to be responding to emergencies,” he said.

The board thanked Dunbrack for his report and his efforts in implementing the program. All board members offered their personal assistance in working on the team, if needed.

In updates:

• Director of Maintenance Ron Hall introduced the board to Wendel representative Andy Coccina, who gave a presentation on replacing the lighting systems at the schools with LED lighting systems. The new system would save the board a substantial amount of money and Hall asked Coccina to address the board personally.

The board asked how much it would cost to initiate the plan, and Coccina advised that it would be difficult to come up with an estimate without an in-depth evaluation of the schools. However, he did say the cost of the initial plan and installation would be covered by the savings created by the new system.

The board thanked Coccina for his presentation and asked Hall to work on creating a plan to move forward.

• Student representative Taylor Tegtmeyer introduced himself, and said he would be the representative for the first semester of the year. Tegtmeyer is a senior at Pocahontas County High School and serves as president of the National Honor Society. He also participates in archery, track and volunteers at the public library.

Tegtmeyer reported that the first few days of school have gone well, and the football team, as well as the boys and girls soccer teams, are prepared for a great season. He added that the new cross country team will begin its season this week and the golf team is off to a good start, too.

The board welcomed Tegtmeyer and said it looks forward to his reports. Tegtmeyer participated in the meeting and gave the students’ point-of-view on several agenda items.

• The board discussed the future of the former board of education office building and voted to advertise for bids to demolish and remove the old building.

Included in the discussion was Pocahontas County Parks and Recreation director Lauren Bennett who said the Parks and Rec board is interested in continued use of the cafeteria section of the building, but does not want to take on the rest of the building. She said if the board chooses to have the building demolished, the Parks and Rec board would understand and look for alternatives for its facilities.

In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:

• Contract between Pocahontas County Health Department and the Pocahontas County Board of Education, retroactive to August 14, for the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year.

• Contract between Pocahontas County Board of Education and Erica Marks, retroactive to August 15, 2018 through May 21, 2019, wherein Marks will provide gifted services per the terms of the contract at the rate of $275 per day, not to exceed $16,500 for the contract term.

• Contract between Pocahontas County Board of Education and Melanie Mason, PT, retroactive to August 15, 2018 through June 30, 2019, where Mason will provide physical therapy services per the terms of the contract at the rate of $110 per hour, not to exceed $20,000 for the contract term.

• Contract between Pocahontas County Board of Education and Leslie Goodall, retroactive to August 15, 2018 through June 30, 2019, wherein Goodall will provide occupational therapy services per the terms of the contract at the rate of $60 per hour, not to exceed $15,000 for the contract term.

• Contract between Pocahontas County Board of Education and David B. Wamsley, effective for the 2018-2019 school year, wherein Wamsley will provide psychoeducational assessments at the rate of $385 each, rating scales at the rate of $60 each, and conference and consultations at the rate of $115 per hour, per terms of the contract.

• Contract between Pocahontas County Board of Education and Denise Elliott, retroactive to July 2, 2018 through June 30, 2019, wherein Elliott will provide orientation and mobility and multi-categorical special education/autism services per the terms of the contract at the rate of $125 per hour, not to exceed $28,000 for the contract term.

• WV Pre-K Agreement between Pocahontas County Board of Education at School Days Child Care, LLC, effective August 20, through the end of the 2018-2019 school year, per the terms of the contract at the rate of nine equal installments of $8,333.33 plus reimbursement for services.

• Accepted bid from Rose’s Excavating, in the amount of $122,455, for the installation of the wastewater treatment plant at Pocahontas County High School.

• Placed the following policies on 30-day comment: GCC-C – Substitute Service Personnel List; IH – Grading System for Pocahontas County Schools; and JCBB-A – Mandatory Expulsion for Conduct in Group A.

• Justin M. Kerr as volunteer assistant coach for seventh and eighth grade football at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2018-2019 season.

• To offer physical education and health as a combined course at Pocahontas County High School; students will receive two credits for this course.

• The following Locally Approved CTE concentrations: Arts Concentration of Instrumental Music to contain the following courses: band 1, band 2 and two of the following – jazz band, guitar, music appreciation or choir. Arts Concentration of Vocal Music to contain the following courses: choir 1, choir 2 and two of the following – jazz band, guitar, band 1, band 2 or music appreciation. Arts Concentration of Art to contain the following courses: art 1, art 2, art 3 and art 4.

In personnel management, the board approved the following:

• Requested transfer Rebecca A. Davis from itinerant special education classroom aide/bus aide at Marlinton Elementary School to itinerant special education classroom aide/ bus aide at Marlinton Middle School, effective August 21, for the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year, at state basic pay.

• Employment of Evan Rose as school bus operator – long-term substitute – for Pocahontas County Schools, retroactive to August 15, for the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year, or upon the return of the regular school bus operator, at state basic pay.

• Resignation of Shawn W. Carr as school bus operator for Pocahontas County Schools, retroactive to the end of the day on August 9.

• Employment of the following mentors, effective for the 2018-2019 school year, at $20 per hour, not to exceed 50 hours, not to exceed $1,000: Maria Hall mentoring Nicole Dilley; and Cathy Mitchell mentoring Seth Kiriluk; and contingent upon completion of WVDE mentor training: Mary Sue Burns mentoring Derek Trull and Shanna Carr; and Jennifer Nail mentoring Lauren Goodwin.

• Employment of Susan Herold, Mary Lois McCutcheon and David Moore, Jr., as substitute teachers for Pocahontas County Schools, effective for the 2018-2019 school year, as needed, at state basic pay.

The next board meeting will be Monday, September 10, at 6 p.m., with location to be determined.