Archive for Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Committee hopes to keep teachers in Piper

March 20, 2002

A recently formed committee of parents and former students in the Piper School District are concerned with one thing retaining the teachers at the high school.

"Our primary concern is to keep the teachers we have," Piper resident Leroy Stevens said. "What can we do to keep the teachers in Piper? We believe that if we don't do something we are going to lose our teachers."

The 12 members of the committee have begun gathering information about the controversial situation surrounding the Piper School Board.

In December, Piper High School biology teacher Christine Pelton gave 28 sophomore students failing grades for plagiarizing a research assignment, which was worth 50 percent of their overall grade.

After taking parent complaints, school board members overturned the grades and forced Pelton to decrease the value of the project to 30 percent.

Pelton resigned following the school board's action.

More teachers could follow Pelton at the end of the year, Stevens said.

PHS principal Mike Adams, who supported Pelton, has told staff members he will resign at year's end, according to reports.

Adams has not said if he is resigning because of the plagiarism incident.

The Wyandotte County District Attorney's Office has filed a civil petition against the Piper School Board accusing its members of violating the Kansas Open Meetings Act.

The Piper School Board has said it went into executive session because it was discussing non-elected personnel, and it also wanted to protect the privacy of students.

The committee of parents and former students is exploring an option to pursue a recall petition. If the committee could gather enough voter signatures to have a special ballot, voters would then decide whether to remove a portion of the school board from office.

According to Kansas law, 50 percent of the board minus one can be recalled. The Piper School Board has seven elected members, so three can be recalled.

Stevens said no decision has been made on whether to pursue the recall petition or which board members would be recalled.

For now, Stevens said the committee is taking part in a "purple ribbon campaign" to show appreciation for the teachers at PHS.

"The fact of the matter is that we want teachers to stay here," he said. "That's where the rubber meets the road.

"I haven't ever seen a school board member teach a student."

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