UPDATE - A contentious issue over the expulsions of Calhoun Middle-High Schools students over improperly entering CM-HS and Arnoldsburg Elementary School to play basketball, could come to a head tonight during a special meeting of the Calhoun Board of Education.|
The school's law firm Bowles Rice says the expulsions are based on "bedrock principles" related to trespassing, citing case law and state rules, while the students attorneys say no harm was done.
Judge David W. Nibert eliminated two students from being expelled, issuing a permanent injunction regarding their expulsions Wednesday, both seniors who have already graduated.
That leaves six others on the expulsion list.
The expelled students and their parents brought legal action against school administrators, which temporarily halted the expulsions set for April 23.
The hearings, which are generally held in executive session, start at 6:30 p.m.
JUDGE ISSUES AMENDED ORDER OVER EXPULSIONS OF TWO CALHOUN HIGH SENIORS
By Bob Weaver
5/21/14 - Judge David W. Nibert has partially changed his decision after a 5-hour hearing Monday in Grantsville, where eight Calhoun High School students were being recommended for expulsion, related to the students entering Calhoun Middle-High School and Arnoldsburg Elementary to play basketball without permission.
The students were recorded by surveillance cameras at both schools.
Nibert ruled Monday to not continue an injunction that had prevented the student's expulsions for 30 days, with the expulsion hearings then back on track for a school board meeting Friday evening.
The expulsion hearings were originally set for April 23.
Wednesday, Nibert clarified his decision, issuing an order granting a permanent injunction for two of the students, Ryan Slider and Mason Sheldon, both 18-year-old seniors who just graduated.
Slider will now be able to participate in a state track meet.
Bowles and Rice have appealed to the WV Supreme Court regarding the judge's decision.
Slider and Sheldon had earlier been charged with loitering, a criminal charge, but those charges were dropped in Calhoun Magistrate Court, each sentenced to provide 50-hours of community service.
Attorneys Tony Morgan and Loren Howley, during Monday's hearing, maintained that several of the students would be irreparably harmed if expelled, affecting their future academic life and loss of scholarships.
The mother of an underclassman, Denise Davis, testified it was automatic her son would lose his HSTA science scholarship if expelled. Davis was among several parents and students who testified at Monday's hearing.
During Monday's hearing, Nibert agreed with attorneys Howley and Morgan that the student's procedural rights related to due process while administrators were suspending the students was flawed and improper, but then ruled against continuing the injunctions, apparently agreeing with positions put forth by the school systems attorneys Bowles and Rice of Charleston.
So far, all the legal actions are based on the student's suspensions being moved for expulsion by acting superintendent Daniel Metz, who in a letter regarding the case, said these are clear violations of school policy related to trespassing, the board is yet to deal with the issue.
In issuing the permanent injunction for Slider and Sheldon, Judge Nibert said he announced from the bench that the school violated the due process of the students during the suspensions, now citing irreparable harm to Slider and Mason.
"The court further indicated, however, that the issue (related to Slider and Sheldon) was likely moot as the court did not see how (the school system) could expel the seniors after they graduated the previous week," Nibert said.
Nibert, in the decision, further said he could not "find irreparable harm as to the remaining (students), there is time in which to pursue other available avenues to appeal such expulsion."
The expulsion hearings for the remaining six students are set for 6:30 p.m. Friday.
In two other high-profile cases a few years ago, related to the behavior of students that appeared to be assault and battery of other students in the football program, the school system did not expel students involved in the incidents, essentially the school system defended their actions as "horseplay" or "boys will be boys."
The school, in one case, had the players sit-out a football game as punishment.
Now, the system appears to be moving toward a policy of enforcement of rules in the student handbook and rules designated by the WV Department of Education.
The school's law firm says these are "bedrock principles" related to trespassing, citing case law.
It appears if the expulsion hearings are approved by the Calhoun Board of Education, appeals will follow.
WCHS-TV was in Grantsville Wednesday interviewing parties involved in the dispute.
See UPDATE: EIGHT STUDENTS HEADED TOWARD EXPULSION HEARINGS FRIDAY - Judge Nibert Denies Continuation Of Injunction