April 10, 2023 Summary


The school board voted unanimously to revise policies 0143 and 0143.1 to allow publicly releasing the school board packet before board meetings. This is a major victory! Prior to March 2022, the school board packet was kept strictly confidential with no public access, even refusing public record requests. After having their hand forced by the Indiana Public Access Counselor, the school board revised a policy in March 2022 to allow the administration to post the school board packet on the school website after school board meetings. However, prior to the vote at this month’s meeting, the school board packet was completely confidential before school board meetings which often made it difficult for the public to know what was being voted on at the meeting. Going forward, the entire community will have access to the same information provided to school board members (with limited exceptions) before the meeting.

For the third month in a row, there are issues with inaccuracies in the minutes from prior meetings and this continues to be a point of contention. Another point of contention is the majority of the board’s refusal to follow our policy which requires two readings for any proposed policy revision which changes the construction or meaning of the policy. The majority of the board ignored objections and voted to approve major revisions to two policies where the proposed changes were introduced for the first time at this meeting. For the first time in years, the board produced minutes for their most recent work session. For the second meeting in a row, Witt and Austin have argued that they do not need to comply with Indiana’s open door law and that it is legal to reject public access to their committee meetings and not produce meeting minutes. Instead of offering to comply in the future, Witt threatened to remove board members from committees.


  • 6:30 Request to approve agenda and failed motion to correct the January organizational minutes
  • 6:34 Failed motions to have 2 readings for the proposed policy revisions
  • 6:39 Approval of the March Work Session minutes (first time in years)
  • 6:42 Motion denied to table inaccurate March 6, 2023 minutes
  • 6:50 Administration shares recognition about WLES, WLIS, & Jr/Sr HS
  • 7:00 Approval of March 6, 2023 minutes
  • 7:01 Communication from community member on gun safety by securing guns
  • 7:13 Revision of policy to allow school board packet to be available before meetings
  • 7:14 Discussion of Witt and Austin’s violation of Indiana Open Door Law
  • 7:19 Discussion on communication with public and administration
  • 7:25 Discussion on recent change allowing students to switch math tracks and skip classes
  • 7:29 Revision of policy on secretary duties (introduced for the first time at this meeting)
  • 7:43 Revision of policy for wellness policy (introduced for the first time at this meeting)
  • 7:48 Approval of Summer STEM Camp
  • 7:51 Approval of K-5 Summer Jumpstart
  • 7:57 Approval of Emergency Authorization to Hire (motion to table was denied)
  • 8:04 Approval of Robotics Team traveling for competition and world championship
  • 8:06 Approval of Personnel Report (hiring of WL grad as new Orchestra teacher)  
  • 8:10 Approval of Accounts Payable 
  • 8:12 Discussion of the school High Ability Program
  • 8:23 Board reports
  • 8:29 Discussion on referendum and work session
  • 8:34 WLIS music program
  • 8:36 Board report on legislation
  • 8:38 Superintendent report on legislation
  • 8:41 Information on Happy Hollow building and preschool
  • 8:42 Witt’s threat to remove school board members from committees
  • 8:44 Discussion about the timing of the release of the school board packet before meetings
  • 8:45 Meeting adjourned

The following is my summary of the public school board meeting and are not the official meeting minutes. My personal thoughts and opinions are given in italics and represent my own views which do not necessarily reflect those of any other member of the school board. I identify myself as Mumford in the summary but use first person when describing my personal thoughts and opinions.

6:30 – The school board meeting was called to order. The board was asked to approve the agenda for the April 10, 2023 regular meeting. Mumford motioned to add the organizational minutes from January 2023 to the agenda as they are still incorrect. There were no questions. The motion failed. For the third meeting in a row, the 4 PAC members (Austin, Marley, Schott, and Witt) have fought to keep the organizational minutes inaccurate. The issue is that the minutes incorrectly describe the votes for board officers. At the February meeting, Witt and Austin said that they would not list votes that were not unanimous (6:31) but eventually agreed that they would revise the minutes to reflect what actually happened at the organizational meeting and everyone voted to approve the minutes, trusting that they would follow through. However, three months after the organization meeting, the minutes still have important errors in the description of the votes for board officers. For example, when voting for Vice President, we were asked to either vote for Brad Marley or for Yue Yin. The 4 PAC members voted for Marley and the 3 non-PAC members voted for Yue Yin. The inaccurate minutes record a motion to nominate Marley followed by a 4-3 yes/no vote on Marley for Vice President followed by a motion to nominate Yue Yin followed by a 3-4 yes/no vote on Yin for vice President. To me, this matters because the inaccurate minutes say that I voted “no” on an up or down vote of Marley for Vice President. That never happened. Then the inaccurate minutes state that after the majority voted for Marley to be Vice President, then there was a motion to nominate Yin to be Vice President. That didn’t happen and doesn’t make sense. There are similar issues with the way the other votes are listed. Anyone can verify that the current version of the minutes from that meeting are inaccurate as compared to the recording of the organizational meeting on the school website. I have sent the board a description of the errors and even suggested text which they could use to make these minutes accurate. I don’t understand why the majority of the board does not want these minutes to be accurately recorded.

Motion to add organizational minutes to the agenda failed

Voted 3 out of 7 (Austin, Marley, Schott, and Witt opposed)

6:34 – Mumford motioned to change items 5 and 6 on the agenda from policy revisions that will be introduced and voted on in this meeting to just a first reading and no vote for the policy revisions. She noted that our policy states that two readings are required: “bylaws and policies may be adopted, amended, and repealed at any meeting of the Board, provided the proposed adoption, amendment, or repeal shall have been proposed at a previous Board meeting” (po0131.1). Five special situations are spelled out in policy 0131.2 where a policy can be amended with only one reading: “#1 renumbering subsections, sections, chapters and titles; #2 corrections or additions for grammatical or typographical errors; #3 changes in citations of the law such as renumbering; #4 changes in names for compliance personnel; #5 changes in titles of personnel when Board action is taken in making new positions or reducing staff. It is clear that policy revisions must have two readings if the proposed revision affects the “construction or meaning” of the policy. Item 5 on this month’s meeting agenda is an immediate revision of policy 0171.3 which consists of deleting the entire policy and inserting new wording. Item 6 on this month’s agenda is an immediate revision of policy 8510 which consists of adding a new school food service requirement. Both policy revisions change the construction or meaning of the policies and so should have two readings. Yin commented that the packet has yet to be released to the public before board meetings and voting so having two readings gives the community time to share feedback. Laurence said he agrees that we should follow our bylaws and have two readings. He wants to be able to seek community feedback and doesn’t feel like we need to rush to pass these policy revisions. Witt asked that the motions be voted on separately. The 4 PAC members didn’t suggest that there was any need for urgency in passing these revisions so it is not clear why they voted to ignore our bylaws which require two readings. 

Motion to change agenda item 5 to a first reading failed

Voted 3 out of 7 (Austin, Marley, Schott, and Witt opposed)

Motion to change agenda item 6 to a first reading failed

Voted 3 out of 7 (Austin, Marley, Schott, and Witt opposed)

Motion to approve the agenda passed

Voted 5 out of 7 (Wang and Mumford opposed)

6:39 – The board was asked to approve the minutes of the February 1, 2023 Work Session. Mumford stated that she had requested these minutes be produced and asked why minutes for prior work sessions held by the board had not been produced in the past. Witt and Greiner said they did not know why minutes for work sessions were not recorded in the past. Yin shared that the work session was held in the boardroom at the central office and noted that she was told that this room does not have livestream capability. She asked if future work sessions could provide an audio recording which could be shared with the community. Witt responded that the meetings are open to the public to attend. Yin said that the public is not always available to attend and it would be helpful to have alternative access. Witt thanked her for the suggestion. For years the school board has held work sessions without recording minutes, in violation of Indiana’s Open Door Law. I agree with Yin’s request to provide at least an audio recording of future work sessions.

Voted 7 out of 7

6:42 – The board was asked to approve the minutes of the March 6, 2023 Regular Meeting. Mumford said there are inaccuracies in these minutes. She said that she had described the inaccuracies in a message to other board members several days earlier. The issue is that the motions and votes appear in the wrong order. Although she noted this before the meeting, the minutes had not been corrected. Mumford made a motion to table the approval of these minutes until next month so they can be corrected. Witt said that she believes them to be correct and that she is certain that all board members have reviewed them. Mumford noted a specific inaccuracy, that the approval of the February minutes did not happen until after communication from the audience, but the minutes place the vote before when it actually took place. Wang said that the corrections to the draft should be done before the vote. He said that we should not vote first and then later make edits and agreed that we should table this until it is corrected. Witt said that in her time on the board, “we have operated in good faith that if there was some variety of typo or something that were not brought up prior to the meeting to be corrected that we would trust that the executive secretary of the board would competently edit that item, but if we are not comfortable with that then we have Mumford’s motion to table it. We have two options. One is that we can table them and refuse to vote on them because of a lack of confidence in Mrs. Julian doing the work. Or we can choose to vote on them and we can ask Mrs. Julian to make the correction, given that these are not substantial corrections, they are just changing the order of line items.” Wang said that the minutes should be a final version and that it has nothing to do with trust. Mumford said that Julian does a great job typing the minutes, but then it is each board member’s job to see that the minutes are accurate. Mumford noted that the continued contention about the January organizational minutes is an example of the problem with approving minutes before they are in their final form and noted that the January organizational minutes are still inaccurate three months later. Yin said that she appreciates Julian’s work and asked if the school board secretary could be responsible for reviewing the minutes each month. Yin noted that the bylaws say that the board secretary has responsibility for the minutes. Austin (board secretary) responded, “the board secretary was in Hawaii the entire week after the minutes were written and received them on the beach. Because I was out of town and because we have moved things around and everyone is in a hurry to receive the minutes, I let Mrs. Julian know that I was not available.” Austin then spoke pointedly at Yin and said, in a sarcastic tone, “I greatly appreciate you bringing this to everyone’s attention in a public meeting, that is very professional.” Witt said that she reviewed the minutes and she approved them. Austin said, “In the past when there have been problems with the minutes, we have worked on it together and discussed it as a team rather than making it some kind of weird performance.” The motion to table the minutes failed. I was shocked at the way Austin spoke to Yin and at Witt’s abrasive comments about Julian. I had shared the inaccuracies that I had found with every member of the board several days before the meeting and the minutes were still incorrect at the time the meeting began. My view is that the repeated issues with the minutes are not Julian’s fault. 

Motion to table approval of the minutes failed

Voted 3 out of 7 (Austin, Marley, Schott, and Witt opposed)

6:50 – Cronk was asked to recognize some of the good things happening at WLES. She shared that they completed their first kindness challenge giving 357 acts of kindness, 377 lbs. of food for Food Finders, and raised $6,948 to sustain the parent council.  Roth recognized WLIS and their wonderful living history experience involving staff and students. Greiner recognized the Jr/Sr HS percussion ensemble that earned its highest placement in school history. He noted that the Robotics team excelled this season and are advancing to the world competition in Houston, Texas. Margaret Psarros (WLIS principal) spoke about the arts at WLIS: orchestra, band, choir, grade-level musicals, and art. 12 students represented WLIS in the Tippecanoe Art Federation and 1 student was awarded best of show for 4th graders in Tippecanoe County.  There will be a WLIS art fair open house on April 17th, 6-7pm.

7:00 – Having forgotten to approve the minutes after the motion to table the approval of the minutes had failed, Witt asked the board to approve the minutes of the March 6, 2023 Regular Meeting.

Voted 4 out of 7 (Yin, Wang, and Mumford opposed)

7:01 – Communication from the audience on current agenda items (those who had signed up before the meeting began). 

  • Kathy Parker, West Lafayette City Councilor and parent of WL grads, talked about gun safety and the need to secure guns. She shared information on OneThingYouCanDo.org on suicide prevention. Also she talked about the importance of locking up guns and BeSMARTforKids.org. She asked that the school board consider a nonbinding resolution to raise awareness of secure storage for guns and red flag laws. Witt said this relates to the Wellness Policy but specifically relates to the safety committee which will meet this summer. Yin asked if there was a city requirement that gun stores share this information.  Parker said it would be wonderful if gun stores would share this information.

7:13 – Greiner presented the second reading for policy revisions to bylaws 0143 and 0143.1. The revisions allow the superintendent to release the school board packet before school board meetings. 

7:14 – Wang asked why the policy committee (Austin, Witt, and Greiner) doesn’t follow Indiana’s Open Door Law. Witt said that the policy committee is just preparing materials for the school board meeting and this is in compliance with state law. Wang said that they are meeting to deliberate and make recommendations which is considered official action in the statute. Witt disagreed and said that their current practice is appropriate. Wang said it is his opinion that the policy committee is violating the open door law. Witt said that she has the option to have no school board members serve on the committee and just ask the superintendent to propose policies. Indiana Code section 5-14-1.5-2(b)(3) requires committees formed by the school board to be open to the public. Our own policy (which mirrors the state law) states: “meetings of committees appointed directly by the School Board or its President and given authority to take official action upon public business are subject to the Open Door Law and shall give notice of meetings and hold public meetings as required by that statute. ‘Official action’ includes receiving information, deliberating, and making recommendations. A committee subject to the Open Door Law shall keep minutes of its meetings” (po0155).

7:19 – Yin said she is grateful that policy 0143 is being revised to remove the restriction that: “communications between the School Board and the Superintendent shall be disseminated to the public, if at all, through the School Corporation’s attorney.” I don’t think the school district has followed this since Reiling resigned as legal counsel about a year ago. Yin said that after the superintendent shares the board packet with board members, individual members are able to ask questions. She said that the answers from the superintendent are very helpful. Yin asked how their questions and Greiner’s answers could be shared with the public. Witt responded that community members should ask their questions directly to the superintendent. Greiner said that policy 0143 says that “individual board members should direct school district patrons’ with concerns related to personnel or the daily operations of the school district to the appropriate school personnel and consult with the Superintendent if the escalation is unclear.” Witt shared that this policy change of releasing the packet before the school board meetings will make it easier to share information because it will be available on the school’s website. Witt said if only board members are hearing concerns and not administrators, then the administrators do not know about the scope of the concerns. The discussion didn’t directly address Yin’s point, but I agree with Greiner and Witt that the best practice is to start with the school employee closest to the issue. Teachers and school administrators need to hear peoples’ concerns directly. For example, if there is an issue in a child’s class, it is best to start by talking with the teacher. However, in our school district, there is a lack of trust. There are many school- or district-wide issues that have been taken to principals and the superintendent for years and nothing was done. A large number of parents feel they are not heard and their concerns are not addressed. My view is that parents should never be discouraged from talking with the school board members they elected to represent them.

7:25 Yin brought up the recent math department’s decision that students will now be allowed to switch tracks and skip math classes. She said that there has not been public communication about how the procedures will work. Students and parents have asked for this information to be shared and it still has not happened. Austin told Yin that this discussion is off topic and that she should discuss it at the upcoming executive school board training meeting, which is closed to the public. I think Yin’s point is that our school district encourages each parent to talk individually with administrators and this prevents the whole community from being informed. She seems worried that some people who are not in the know will not be able to take advantage of this math policy change to help their child. Greiner could do more to address this by scheduling feedback sessions again. I loved the “Saturday Feedback Sessions” that were held last year with Greiner. Many parents attended and shared feedback with him about specific ways to improve the schools. Witt ended the sessions. I have asked Greiner to start doing something like this again so he will have the opportunity to hear directly from the community and build some trust.

Motion to revise policies 0143 & 0143.1 passed

Voted 7 out of 7

I raised my hand very high to vote for this. I would have liked to have cheered, but that didn’t seem appropriate in this formal setting. Getting these policy revisions passed is a huge win! Without access to the relevant documents during the meetings, the public often had no way to know what school board members were voting on. This change has been a long time coming and something the community has worked towards for many years. You can read about the multi-year effort to get access to information on my website.

7:29 – Greiner asked for a vote to approve proposed revisions of policy 0171.3 which concerns the responsibilities of the school board secretary. He said that the revisions were recommended by the school attorney. Wang again said that he thought that the revisions were significant and that there should be a first and second reading. He questioned removing the requirement that the secretary “shall prepare the annual report of the corporation and other reports required by the state board” because this is required by Indiana code. Greiner said that the school attorney believes that the new statement that the secretary will “sign official documents that require the signature of the secretary of the board” will satisfy this requirement of Indiana code. Wang asked that Greiner double check this with the school attorney to verify this line can be removed. Greiner said he is happy to do that if that is what the board wants. Witt asked Wang to confirm that he is concerned that following the advice of our attorney to remove that statement would be an error. Wang said yes, he thinks we should double check with them. Witt responded, “thank you for sharing your opinion” and did not offer to follow up or address his concern. Marley said that they selected this attorney to protect the school corporation and that we should do what the attorney says, noting that asking another question of our legal counsel means we have to pay them more. Wang asked why are we rushing to make this change? Why not wait a month to be sure? Yin asked what the annual report is? Cronk said it most likely refers to the annual performance report and is probably not the annual financial report that Cronk prepares. Marley said he was the secretary for the last 5 or 6 years and said that he knows what it said in the policy but he said that he did not prepare reports. Yin asked if this statement is being removed from the policy to make the policy consistent with our practice? Witt said that the new requirement that the secretary sign official documents refers to various documents and that this is what the secretary does. Mumford said that she has no issues with the proposed changes to this policy, but wants to explain that she will be voting “no” because introducing the proposed changes and voting to approve them in the same meeting is not consistent with our bylaws policy 0131.1 which requires that policy revisions receive two readings. 

Wang asked if the board previously voted for Roberta Julian to serve as the executive secretary with responsibility to keep the minutes and prepare the agenda. Witt said that it isn’t a voting item. Wang recommended that we vote on the executive secretary position as well as add a separate line item to the budget that lists her time serving the board differently than her time working directly for the superintendent. Witt said that the school board and superintendent work out of the same budget. Cronk said that this could easily be split between different line items in the operations fund. Witt said that this would be reporting for the sake of reporting. Marley said that even if we were to list it separately, the money would come out of the same fund. Wang said that this would make it so the board is responsible for some of the executive secretary’s time. I think Julian does a great job taking minutes so the board members can all focus on the meeting. My view is that the board secretary should then review the minutes and make adjustments. That step in the process hasn’t been going well. There were a lot of questions about the responsibilities of the board secretary and I don’t understand the rush to pass the completely rewritten policy without allowing a month between introducing it and voting on it.

Voted 5 out of 7 (Wang and Mumford opposed)

7:43 – Greiner asked for a vote to approve revision to policy 8510 regarding our school wellness plan. Courtney Fitzsimons, food service director, shared that every corporation that offers the national school lunch program is required to have a wellness policy that promotes students’ health, well-being, and ability to learn. The USDA requires the policy to be reviewed every 3 years. Fitzsimons reported that the wellness committee met and reviewed the policy. The committee recommended two revisions to meet the USDA requirements, one related to whole grain products and the other related to “smart snacks.” Fitzsimons also said that they had not advertised the opportunity for parents and students to give feedback on the wellness policy and that they would do this at the next review 3 years from now. Fitzsimmons said she would check with the committee annually to see if they should meet sooner, specifically to allow parent and student feedback. She said that anyone who would like to serve on the school wellness committee should contact her at fitzsimonsc@wl.k12.in.us. I attended the wellness committee meeting and was impressed with Fitzsimons’ organization and work. Hopefully parents and students will be invited to give feedback next year. Failing to invite parent and student feedback is a problem with the majority of our school committees. I’m fine with the changes to this policy, but I don’t understand the rush to vote on the revision in the same meeting it is introduced. We need to start following our own bylaws which require two readings (see policy 0131.1). 

Voted 5 out of 7 (Wang and Mumford opposed)

7:48 – Roth asked for approval of the Summer STEM Camp. Mr. Brantley donates his time and uses the fees to put on the camp and provide classroom supplies. Witt and Yin both commented that their own children have participated in this wonderful camp. Yin said that our schools offer a lot of summer camps for sports, STEM, band, orchestra, etc. and suggested that a list of all these summer opportunities would be helpful to families. Witt thanked her for the feedback.

Voted 7 out of 7

7:51 – Roth asked for approval of the WLCSC K-5 Jumpstart 2023. This program is designed to address learning loss and has the same format as it did last year. ESSER grant funds are used to pay the teachers and support staff. Roth noted that the document gives an incorrect start time and that the actual start time will be 8:45 am. The schools use NWEA testing data to determine who would most benefit from the program. The food service department is involved as breakfast and lunch are served. The transportation department makes sure all students have a ride. Yin shared her concern that prekindergarten students are not invited to participate. She talked about the achievement gap. She said that other school districts apply for funding to offer a summer jumpstart for incoming kindergarteners and said that she would like to see our school district also provide this service. Witt thanked Yin for her insights and reminded her to keep her comments to three minutes. I am grateful that we have this program and I agree with Yin that something like this could be very helpful for incoming kindergarteners.

Voted 7 out of 7

7:57 – Greiner asked for emergency authorization to hire for the summer. He noted that he already has emergency authorization to hire at all times as described in policy 0132.2. However, he said that the school board usually votes to give the superintendent emergency authorization to hire at this time each year and so he put it on the agenda. Using the emergency authorization hiring process, the board is informed about hires each week in the superintendent’s Friday notes to the board and new hires will also appear on the personnel report which the board approves each month. However, emergency authorization to hire means that hires are official immediately without needing to wait for school board approval. Greiner said that this allows our schools to hire the best teachers and compete with other schools. He said that he asked for immediate board approval before he would sign the contract when he was first hired as a teacher. He said that some other school districts also do this and specifically mentioned Kokomo and Southmont schools. Witt said that since he already has the authorization that we don’t need to vote on this. Greiner said that since it is on the agenda for a vote that they would either need to vote to change the agenda or vote to approve the emergency authorization to hire. Mumford motioned to table this until next month in order to identify other school districts that also do this and examine their policies. She noted that she has searched the meeting agendas and policies of several other school districts looking for this type of hiring authorization. Mumford noted that the title “emergency authorization” suggests that this is not the type of thing that should be standard procedure. I reviewed Kokomo and Southmont school district policies and their meeting agendas (as well as many other school districts) and I found no evidence that they give their superintendent emergency authorization to hire. Other school districts follow the normal hiring procedure where offers of employment become official once approved by the board at the next meeting. Teachers are used to this procedure and it doesn’t seem to cause problems in other districts. I’m concerned that the school board wrote a policy that gives the superintendent “emergency” power with no time limit. Shouldn’t we have to specify what the emergency is in order to authorize an emergency exception to the standard practice? 

Motion to table failed

Voted 2 out of 6 (Austin, Marley, Schott, and Witt opposed; Yin abstained) 

Motion to grant emergency authorization to hire passed

Voted 5 out of 5 (Wang and Mumford abstained) 

8:04 – Greiner asked for approval of two field trip requests for Robotics Competition and Robotics World Championship. Yin shared a concern that this is a long bus trip and asked if there would be 1 or 2 drivers per bus. Witt said, “I am quite certain that Mr. Caldwell ensures our children’s safety in transportation.” Greiner said they are actually using Lafayette Limo. Yin said that she was worried that the students would be traveling all that way on one of our corporation’s school buses. Over the past two years on the board, Yin was frequently told that she should just trust the administrative team and not ask questions. My view is that it is the school board’s job to ask questions.

Voted 7 out of 7

8:06 – Greiner asked for approval of the Personnel Report. Wang asked about sharing staff personal information in the report. Witt clarified that the personnel report shared with the community is just the main page and staff personal information is only shared with school board members. Marley said he was abstaining because his wife is listed on the report. The new orchestra teacher, Wesley Mui, is a 2014 Jr/Sr WL graduate who participated in the orchestra program. I am so excited that he will be teaching here!

Voted 6 out of 6 (Marley abstained)

8:10 – Cronk asked for approval of the Accounts Payable for WLCSC and Accounts Payable for WVEC. She also shared the Credit Card Statement, Finance Update, and Claims Docket Object Breakdown

Voted 7 out of 7

8:12 – Wang had asked to add a discussion on our school district’s high ability program to the agenda. He noted that Indiana Code 20-36-2-2 requires that, “a governing body shall develop and periodically update a plan to provide appropriate educational experiences to high ability students.” He pointed out that our policy 2464 states that it is the superintendent rather than the school board (the governing body) who develops and updates this plan. He recommends that we adjust this policy to align it with Indiana code. Witt said that it does align and that she had already explained this at the meeting last month (8:16). Wang said that the school board should have responsibility for setting the high ability plan and asked if there is a committee with a school board member assigned. Greiner said that Yin serves with Roth on this committee. Greiner said that the school board delegated the responsibility for the high ability to him and that he has delegated it to Roth. Wang asked where he can find the report that we are required to submit to IDOE. Roth said that she completed the document and submitted it to the state. Wang asked Roth if she would share that document and she said that she would. Wang said that the policy requires school administrators to encourage participation in the high ability program and he asked how this is done. Roth said all students are tested as required by the state and then WLES and WLIS administrators identify those who qualify for the high ability program. Parents were notified during spring break letting them know if their student qualifies or not. Roth said that parents who have questions or think their child should have qualified should contact the principal and follow the appeal procedure. She noted that there are also other ways to assess students who are twice exceptional. Wang asked if the placement falls under the high ability committee’s responsibility and said that he feels that more information about the placement procedures needs to be shared. Witt said, “one of the most important jobs that we do as board members is to refer parents with questions or concerns to the school leadership who can help them; that is not us.” Wang clarified that he is talking about the policy, not about an individual parent concern. Witt said that the policy was reviewed by legal counsel and that she will send it to them again, but assured Wang that our policy is in compliance. Wang shared that our policy is different from those adopted by other school districts and said that he believes that the other districts are following Indiana code. Wang concluded by saying that many parents have met with Roth to discuss high ability placement and said that they are grateful that she has been willing to meet with them. I’ve looked at the high ability program policy used by several other school districts and ours is the only one that replaces “the School Board” with “the Superintendent” when indicating who is responsible for forming the plan. I agree with Wang’s concern that our school board appears to have abdicated its responsibility with regards to the high ability student plan. In other school districts, it is the school board that is responsible for crafting the plan and it is the superintendent’s responsibility to implement the plan.

8:23 – Board Committee Reports:

  • West Lafayette Schools Education Foundation – Schott shared that the Wall of Pride events will take place this week; the Scarlet and Gray dinner is Saturday, April 22nd with 10 tickets remaining to meet their goal of selling 200; 8 teacher grants were awarded at a total cost of over $8000.
  • High Ability Program – Yin shared she has met with Roth and discussed soliciting family feedback about the high-ability program, setting up the committee, and the frequency of the committee meetings. Roth will share the information after she discusses it with building administrators and teachers. Yin said that she is grateful to have had the opportunity to share her input with Roth. 
  • Wang said that he recently participated in the ISBA new member training on Indiana’s Open Door law and school board policies. He shared the recommendation to make meeting agendas more flexible and easier to add items for discussions or just to share information. He also shared the recommendation to allow public comments on any topic at the beginning of the meeting rather than limiting it to just the current agenda items. This way individuals who want to make a comment on any topic won’t have to wait until the end of the meeting. Wang said that he also attended the presentation by Renae Azziz from Virtuoso on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. I agree with Wang’s recommendation about allowing all public comments at the beginning of meetings. I also attended the ISBA trainings as well as Renae Azziz’s presentation, which were all helpful. 
  • Public Schools Foundation – Mumford shared that Laura Falk was awarded a grant and will be recognized at the Spring Grant Reception on May 3rd, 5:00-6:30 pm at Rush Pavilion at Columbia Park. The Public Schools Foundation is preparing for the cupcake run this fall and looking for ideas for the teachers’ booth to provide a service or something else that would be valuable for the teachers who attend. 
  • Wellness Committee – Mumford shared that the committee agreed to actively invite parents and students to serve on the committee in the future. Fitzsimons was organized and efficient in running the committee meeting and agreed to have the committee meet yearly if desired instead of just doing it only every three years as required.
  • Diversity Roundtable – Mumford attended and noted that the Diversity Summit is April 20th.

8:29 – Mumford made a motion that the school board hold a work session in April to discuss the upcoming referendum and how to prepare for it. Witt said that the school board leadership has scheduled to meet with consultants hired to help with the referendum and that the meeting is scheduled for April 25th. After that meeting, she plans to bring information to the rest of the board. She said the board officers would meet separately to prepare and streamline this information. Mumford said that she had sent a request for a work session to the board and superintendent, but the only response was that the leadership would meet. Mumford said with the date of the leadership meeting now scheduled for the end of April, the work session could be in May, but would like it scheduled so that there can be public discussion on the referendum. Witt said, “the referendum discussion has been taking place for two years, so this isn’t a new discussion and we are following a timeline.” Greiner said that over Spring Break he met with Cronk, Mike Reutter (financial consultant), and Jane Herndon from Ice Miller. The board is going to have to decide if they are going to run the referendum a year early, in November 2023, because if we wait until November 2024 that would be a presidential election. He said legal counsel is working on a calendar for us to follow after learning the outcomes of the legislative session. Greiner said that May would be a better time to hold a work session. Mumford said that she would like to change her motion from holding a work session in April to holding a work session in May and noted that this information had not previously been shared with the other board members. Witt said, “that is not something we need to vote on because that is something we are already doing. I would encourage you if you have questions that you want answered that you put those questions in the Box [on board chair notes] so they can be answered and prepared for in advance of the meeting. I will repeat yet again that we will not conduct board business via email. If you email me questions, it is true I will not answer them. Our community deserves a level of transparency from us.” Witt said there does not need to be a vote because they are already planning to have a work session in May. This plan to have a work session in May had not been shared with the rest of the board, so this was good to hear. Over the past several years, I have been paying close attention to every school board meeting (you can read my summaries on my website) and this was the first time I’ve heard anything about a plan for the referendum. There has been no public discussion. I don’t think these discussions should happen behind closed doors. Witt has been pushing for board members to discuss school issues in an online version of her board chair notes on Box. My view is that discussions should happen in public meetings. To help others prepare for meetings, I email them my questions, errors I’ve found in the minutes, and the motions I plan to make in advance. I appreciate it when other board members do the same and especially when they share schedules and other information in advance of the meeting, so it isn’t a surprise. However, the discussion should all happen in the public meeting.

8:34 – Mumford asked Greiner to share about the proposed changes to the WLIS music program. Greiner shared that Psarros, WLIS principal, said that they are working on the master schedule as they typically do this time of year. She asked staff members to bring questions, suggestions, or concerns to her. Psarros gave the staff some music program options and she is looking into those options, but no decisions have been finalized. Mumford said that she understands that the proposed options involve changes to the after school music programs which affect parents and that it is more than just rearranging the schedule during the school day. He didn’t disagree. I heard from others that after the school board meeting, Psarros decided against making the proposed changes to the music program for 2023-2024. Hopefully she will seek input from teachers and parents if changes are needed in the future. 

8:36 – Board report on legislation was shared by Austin. She said that her daughter and her daughter’s friends started the first chapter of Students Demand Action which will be an official club at the high school next year. She also attended the teacher discussion meeting and Renae Azziz’s presentation. Legislation updates include that SB12 will most likely fail, HB1002 was amended and will likely pass, and HB1483 is about how schools report bullying.

8:38 – Referring to the state legislature, Greiner said that this is the “year of the vouchers.” He said that the legislature is giving a large budget increase to education, but noted that a third of the increase is for vouchers, a third is for curriculum materials, and that all in all it may be a decrease in funding for our schools. He is particularly concerned about a proposal to change the revenue formula for the operations fund that would reduce our revenue and require us to rely more on the referendum to cover operational expenses like transportation, custodial, maintenance, and technology. He also noted that SB380 requires changes in reporting graduation rates and limits to graduation waivers. 

8:41 – Greiner said that there have been some discussions about the future of Happy Hollow. The current plan is to continue with the current tenants. Also West Lafayette parks and recreation is considering renting Happy Hollow in the summer of 2024 to provide more summer camps. We are also brainstorming ideas for future use in regards to preschool. 

8:42 – Witt said she appreciates Greiner’s willingness to let board members serve on the committee. She said, “many school corporations do not have board members who serve on committees. We are very substantially represented on various committees in our schools. This is optional and can be discontinued if at any point or time we find it to be burdensome, we can reduce our engagement in committees and committee work. This would simplify the matter quite a bit.”

8:43 – No community members signed up to speak on non-agenda items (those who had signed up before the meeting began). 

8:44 – Yin asked, “Now that the policy is changed, when will we be able to release the packet before the meeting.” Witt said, “We will not release the packet before the meeting. Dr. Greiner will release information as the policy is written so he will follow the policy.” This wasn’t really an answer because the policy doesn’t say if the school board packet will be released several days before the meeting or the day of the meeting. I hope that Greiner will choose to post the packet several days in advance so people will have the weekend to review the information before the Monday meeting. Rather than speaking for him, Witt should let Greiner answer questions that are directed at him.

8:45 – Meeting is adjourned

Location: Happy Hollow Building, LGI Room

Streaming: WLCSC Regular Board Meeting April 10, 2023

Future Meetings (calendar link)

  • Regular School Board Meeting – Monday, May 8 at 6:30pm at Happy Hollow LGI Room (enter from North side/pool side of building)

This document is my summary of the public school board meeting, not the official meeting minutes (which will be released one month from now). My personal thoughts and opinions are given in italics and represent my own views which do not necessarily reflect those of any other member of the school board. I identify myself as Mumford in the summary but use first person when describing my personal thoughts and opinions. Previous agendas, minutes, and audio recordings can be found at the WLCSC website.

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