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Platteville schools agree to student discipline review
School board decides to resolve Department of Education complaint
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The Platteville School Board Monday approved a process to change how the school district disciplines students and reviews harassment complaints.

The board’s unanimous vote came two weeks after it approved reassigning administrators as part of resolving a complaint filed by a school district parent with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights.

Superintendent Connie Valenza said the school district “decided to resolve the pending OCR complaint in order to move forward with our mission to provide an excellent education to all students in our community and to use our financial resources to support that mission, rather than towards a protracted legal battle.”

The process focuses on Platteville Middle School, though “we will be implementing many of these initiatives district-wide,” said a school district statement.

The Office of Civil Rights recommendations are based on one complaint about PMS alleging “discriminatory practices related to discipline and following up on harassment complaints” last year, said Valenza.

Through 2015 at Platteville Middle School, the school district will:

•    Make “comprehensive review” of the school district’s discipline, harassment and discrimination “policies, practices and procedures,” with revisions if necessary.

ª    Provide training on new policies, practices and procedures for PMS administration, staff, students and families.

•    Conduct a “climate survey” on “issues of what I’d call the emotional safety of the students,” said Valenza, including “bullying, harassment,” and the “school’s receptiveness to complaints.”

•    Create a new student forum/peer leadership group.

•    Develop an advisory group of PMS staff members and parents on revised discipline, harassment and discrimination policies.

Valenza said had the district not agreed to the recommendations, “they would have recourse to pursue legal action against the school district. The recommendations certainly wouldn’t prove to be detrimental to our students in any way, and they could improve our overall educational program.”

The school board Oct. 14 voted to make four administrative changes, which become effective with the start of the second quarter Monday:

•    Platteville Middle School principal Lisa Finnegan will become the school district’s assessment and instructional technology coordinator, and will be “assisting” high school principal Jeff Jacobson.

•    Finnegan will be replaced as Middle School principal by Jason Julius, a science instructor at Platteville High School.

•    Neal Wilkins Elementary Learning Center principal ReNah Reuter will become district director of student achievement and intervention services.

•    Reuter will be replaced as Neal Wilkins principal by Don Shaw, who will remain as Westview Elementary School principal as well. Shaw had been the fourth- and fifth-grade principal at the Middle School.

The school board also voted to accept the resignation of Pupil Services Director Robin North effective Thursday.

The school district will be hiring a Home to School/Early Intervention Services Coordinator, “with a focus on supporting the achievement of and developing connections with families of our early elementary school students,” according to information given out at the Oct. 14 meeting.