|UPDATE - A special meeting of the Calhoun Board of Education has been scheduled a few hours after Judge David W. Nibert ruled he would not continue an injunction preventing the expulsion of eight Calhoun Middle-High School students.|
The special expulsion meeting is set for Friday, May 23 at 6:30 p.m.
The original expulsion hearings were set for April 23, delayed by the temporary injunction.
ORIGINAL STORY 5/20/14 - Judge David W. Nibert ruled, following a lengthy hearing in Grantsville Monday, against continuing a temporary injunction that held off the expulsion of eight Calhoun Middle-High School students who entered Calhoun Middle-High School and Arnoldsburg Elementary School without permission, during a weekend.
The students say they entered the schools, entering without breaking, to play basketball. All were caught by a surveillance camera.
Nibert agreed with attorneys Loren Howley and Tony Morgan that the student's procedural rights related to due process while administrators were suspending the students was flawed.
But then Nibert agreed with the argument set forth by the school's attorneys Bowles-Rice of Charleston, mostly based on case law, which now means that the students are back on a school board agenda for expulsion, if the principals chose to proceed, and they could be facing additional suspensions until the expulsion hearings are held.
Attorneys Howley and Morgan based their argument that due process was denied to students during the school's suspension hearings, that they were not adequately informed about their personal rights.
A number of school administrators, parents and students offered testimony, while the school system's attorneys held firm with the school's position.
STUDENT'S RIGHTS VIOLATED
Most of the eight students involved in the case said they were unaware of their personal rights during meetings with school administrators regarding suspensions.
"The school failed to follow its own procedures," Howley said.
Morgan told the court that several of the students would suffer irreparable harm by being suspended or expelled, and would affect their future education and scholarships.
Howley said the school system, according to authorities, failed to call police when a stabbing and two bomb threats occurred, but in this case, "No harm was done to persons or property, no threats, nor was the functioning of the schools disrupted."
Morgan said an 18-year-old student was charged with vehicular homicide, saying under code he should have been expelled, but the school's attorney said that such an incident would not come under the purview of school administration. Morgan, citing the code, disagreed.
ATTORNEY MAINTAINS INJUNCTION UNNECESSARY
Richard S. Boothby, representing the school, said, "We shouldn't be here (injunction hearing) in the first place," that the school system should being making disciplinary decisions...They've been giving more due process within the school system."
Assistant principal Kelli Whytsell testified that school officials followed policy during meetings with students, which in some cases lasting nearly four hours.
Attorney Morgan questioned the involvement in suspensions by acting superintendent Daniel Metz.
Assistant principal Curt Garretson said the lengthy suspension meetings were related to, "The students stories changing during the process...We knew the truth because of the security cameras."
Acting superintendent Daniel Metz, in a letter regarding the matter, said the students were clearly trespassing, although two students were criminally charged with loitering.
Loitering charges brought against students Mason I. Sheldon, 18, of Grantsville, Ryan Joseph Slider, 18, of Mt. Zion, and Raymond C. Davis, 20, of Big Springs, not a student, have been dismissed in Calhoun Magistrate Court.
The charges were dropped following a motion made by Prosecutor Shannon Johnson to the magistrate with concurrence by the State Police, with individuals required to deliver 50-hours of community service. The motion was made "without prejudice," which means the charges could be refiled.
It appears if the expulsion hearings are approved by the Calhoun Board of Education, appeals will follow.
See JUDGE NIBERT WILL HEAR STUDENT TRESPASSING FIASCO TODAY - Temporary Injunction Halted Expulsions, Calhoun Schools Holding Tight Expelling Eight
JUDGE NIBERT ISSUES INJUNCTION HOLDING OFF EIGHT CALHOUN STUDENT EXPULSIONS - Hearing Set May 19
THREE CHARGED FOR LOITERING AT CALHOUN MIDDLE-HIGH SCHOOL