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Assault, hazing alleged at Lehighton middle school

Published January 11. 2020 06:08AM

 

An online petition started Thursday is requesting the Carbon County District’s Attorney investigate a recent alleged sexual assault and hazing incident at Lehighton Middle School.

According to the petition, which can be found on www.change.org and was started by Melissa Dieter, it is aimed at “making sure our children are safe at school.”

“Our kids should not fear going to school,” Dieter said in the petition. “We need to be the voice for our children. We need to step in as a community and get this sorted out.”

On Friday, the district released an updated statement regarding the investigation.

“The investigation is still ongoing and any additional information that has been received regarding the incident has been and will continue to be reviewed by the district,” Superintendent Jonathan Cleaver said. “The district considers any concerning allegation regarding students or staff with the utmost seriousness, and will complete a thorough investigation within the guidelines of the policy and procedures. The district continues to make every effort to assure all students and staff have a safe and healthy learning environment.”

Cleaver said previously, “The LASD Administration was forwarded information of an incident that involved several middle school students. Immediately after the administration was notified, Lehighton School Police were contacted, along the Lehighton Borough Police.”

Borough police chief Brian Biechy said the investigation was not complete.

Dieter wrote that she started the petition because, “a lot people come to me and say many different things, from one extreme to the other.”

“A lot of you feel as if someone, whether it’s the school/school board, teachers, coaches, local police, students and/or parents are hiding facts, blowing things out of proportion, lying, sweeping it under the rug, being threatened to keep quiet, etc.,” she wrote.

As of Friday afternoon, 200 people had signed the petition including Margaret Breiner.

“I’m signing this because I worry about my child’s safety,” Breiner said.

Even when the investigation is complete, Cleaver said, the amount of information able to shared publicly will likely be minimal.

“Again, policies regarding matters of student conduct and discipline protect the privacy of students records, and federal law limits when details related to student conduct investigations may be disclosed or shared with individuals,” he said. “The district will continue to gather and/or investigate any information that comes forward.”

 

Comments
3 Directors requested the School Board President call a Special Meeting on these issues. While certainly no details could be disclosed, it would have afforded an opportunity for parents and others in the community to voice their fears for the safety of the students in LASD. It would also have afforded the Administration to answer questions on how these issues could be avoided in the future. What safeguards are being put into place to avoid future incidents of this type? The PA School Code (law) states that if 3 Directors request a special meeting be called by the President, it shall be called. And if it is not, 5 Directors can call a Special Meeting. The President did NOT call a Special Meeting and no other Director stepped up to include their voice to call one out of respect for the students, the parents and the community? Shame on them! This involves student safety, hold the Board and the Administration accountable! Here s what the Law states, "

(c) President and Vice-President.

Section 426. President to Preside; Calling Special Meetings.--The president shall preside at all meetings. He may call special meetings at any time. He shall call a special meeting whenever so requested, in writing, by any three members of the board of school directors. Should he fail or refuse so to do, a special meeting may be called at any time by a majority of the legally qualified and acting members of the board. " Shame on the President and the others on the Board for not following the Law! While we have seen this a number of times in the past with circumventing the law, it is up to the community to hold them accountable.
Absolutely ridiculous that this board majority failed to listen to the people.

And, worse apparently chose to listen to those they were hired to oversee.

Government board is supposed to ensure the protection of the students.

Sad that 200 people needed to sign a petition to get the attention they deserve, and the majority board still apparently ignores them.

Sincerely,

Citizen David F. Bradley Sr.
A Formal Written complaint is outlined in LASD Policy (The law at the local level). Filing one ensures the board answers concerns.
Read the policy, specifically where the 10 days is referenced.

Sincerely,

Citizen David F. Bradley Sr.
A petition is a lobby effort, and does not obligate the board to act. A formal written complaint does.

Sincerely,

Citizen David F. Bradley Sr.
Who does this Superintendent think "the district" is with a statement like this?

“The investigation is still ongoing and any additional information that has been received regarding the incident has been and will continue to be reviewed by the district,” Superintendent Jonathan Cleaver
A special meeting would address many concerns and ensure the government is in compliance with proper policy and laws, and protect student Privacy. Lawful transparency is a responsibility of the board.

Mandated reporter compliance?
An incident - was this just a one time thing?
Is hazing new to Lehighton?
Is Policy discipline being properly applied and does the board have proper oversight?
Why is the board hiding from lawful transparency?

The victims and perpetrators have civil rights and rights to privacy.
A student in a public school should have the same constitutional rights in a public school as they have on a public street, public park and public library.

The stakeholders and students have a right to be safe. A special meeting, and public discussion, would ensure the LASD Policy (011) requiring the board to SEEK stakeholder input is being followed, reducing further liability. Stakeholders should not have to petition or lobby a government of, by and for the people to be heard. Do the lobbyist have full access to these silent board members that appear to be hiding from the need to host a special meeting. Does board members with family and friends on staff at the district not see the need to provide lawful transparency, and accountability to the people they swore an oath to serve.

Rubber-stampers, blindly trusted this administration, ugh. Who was actually ensuring the students were safe, properly supervised and properly educated?
And, as the minority board seeks to honor the oath of office and provide oversight and accountability, they are chastised, blocked, censured, sued or sanctioned.

Prayers to the victims and perpetrators, as none of this should have ever been allowed to happen in our government run institutions. It has been proved time and time again that with proper goverance and proper board oversight, such autrocities need not occur.

The rubber-stampers should resign, so a government of, by and for the people can be restored.

Sincerely,

Citizen David F. Bradley Sr.
Book
Policy Manual
Section
900 Community
Title
Public Complaints
Code
906
Status
Active
Legal
24 P.S. 510
Adopted
August 24, 2009



Authority



Any parent/guardian, resident or community group shall have the right to present a request, suggestion or complaint concerning district personnel, programs, or operations of the district. At the same time, the Board has a duty to protect its staff from unnecessary harassment. It is the Board's intent to provide a fair and impartial manner for seeking appropriate remedies.



Any misunderstandings between the public and the school district shall be resolved by informal, direct discussions among the interested parties, following the established organizational structure. Only when informal meetings fail to resolve the differences shall more formal procedures be employed.



Delegation of Responsibility



Any requests, suggestions or complaints directed to individual Board members and/or the Board shall be referred to the Superintendent for consideration and action. If further action is warranted, based on the initial investigation, such action shall be in accordance with established guidelines.



Guidelines



Matters Regarding a Staff Member



First Level - A matter specifically directed toward a district staff member shall be addressed initially to the concerned employee, who shall discuss it with the complainant and make every effort to provide a reasonable explanation or take appropriate action within the employee's authority.



As appropriate, the staff member shall report the matter and the resolution to the building principal or immediate supervisor.



Second Level - If the matter cannot be resolved satisfactorily at the first level, it shall be discussed by the complainant with the building principal or the employee's immediate supervisor.



Third Level - If a satisfactory solution is not achieved by discussion with the building principal or immediate supervisor, a conference shall be scheduled with the Superintendent or designee. The principal or supervisor will provide to the Superintendent or designee a report that includes the specific nature of the complaint, and a brief statement of relevant facts, how the complainant has been affected adversely, the action requested, and the reasons why such action should be taken.



Fourth Level - Should the matter not be resolved by the Superintendent or designee or is beyond his/her authority and requires Board action, the Superintendent or designee shall provide the Board with a complete report.



Final Level - The Board, after reviewing all material relative to the case, shall provide the complainant with its written decision and may grant a hearing before the Board or a committee of the Board.



The complainant shall be advised of the Board's decision, in writing, no more than ten (10) days following the hearing.



Matters Regarding a Program/Operation/Instructional Materials



A request, suggestion, or complaint relating to a matter of district or school policy, procedure, program, operation or instructional materials shall be addressed initially to the building principal or the department head who is directly concerned and then brought to higher levels of authority in the manner prescribed in this policy.



Matters Regarding Student Progress/Well-Being



In the case of a complaint directed toward this area, the guidelines specified in this policy shall be followed.
Need to vote all the incumbent directors out. Better oversight needed.
God Bless you, Joe.

But, in the last election, three of the incumbents, Rita Spinelli, Larry Stern and Unky Wayne Wentz were all re-elected for another term. Blocking lawful transparency for years.

Now, the people could use the recent display of poor goverance to seek their resignation and recall the hometown mistake. Immoral members of the board that fail to provide oversite to the very administration they were elected to oversee, should resign, for the safety of the students. Proper oversight only makes sense.

Sincerely,

Citizen David F. Bradley, Sr.
Teach your kids not to be victims. Don’t advocate for aggression, but teach them to defend themselves. This is a tough world, and there’s not always going to be police, or staff, around to protect them. Bullying and hazing have been around a long, long time and, sadly, I doubt it is going anywhere.
Maybe there should be some policy changes Mr. Cleaver, so the children will be SAFER and protected!
Middle school alleged assaults
Elementary Center injuries

When will the district put the students safety first?

Why didn't Larry Stern call for a special meeting when asked by three directors? Was he following the superintendent's email, the Schwab letter, or lobbyist? The stakeholders that started a petition appear to be ignored by the board majority that swore an oath.

Why didn't Rita Spinelli, Wayne Wentz and Nathan Foeller request the special meeting to ensure the policy is being followed and the students are being protected?

Who was responsible for supervising these students on school property?

Did any mandated reporters hear anything, or know anything about these incidents?

This board needs to meet and the stakeholders should hold them accountable to ensure safety is a priority.

Protect the students and save the community.

Sincerely,

Citizen David F. Bradley, Sr.
I agree! This has been out of hand! When will there be accountability!
When the people realize they run the district, they elect the public servants, those public servants, hire all the staff and set all the rules as a government of, by and for the people.

If the public servants play dictator, the stakeholders need to kick them to the curb at election time. If they fail to honor their oath of office, seek their resignation, if they neglect their duty, even ONCE, ten stakeholders can file to have them removed. The stakeholders run the district.

Stakeholders - elect directors
Directors report to the stakeholders
Directors hire staff and admin
Staff report to admin and Board.
Admin report to people and board.
The meetings are the government's means to report to their boss, the stakeholders, and do the bidding of the stakeholders in the Sunshine of a public meeting. The board CAN NOT TAKE A SINGLE ACTION WITHOUT FIRST SEEKING STAKEHOLDER INPUT AND PUBLIC COMMENT.

That's the law. Want it enforced? Follow it, and use it to your advantage to reform the governments public schools. Protect the students, save the community. Legally remove the rubber stampers, that gave their blind trust to the very people they were elected to oversee.

Legal, lawful transparency. The fact Larry Stern failed to call a special meeting weeks ago, is disrespectful to the injured students, perpetrators, and the community.

The directors should be held accountable for the actions they take and failed to take. This, like so many other lack of proper governance issues, sickens me.

My prayers to all involved. A lot to sort out here, injured students should not be common place in a government public school.

Sincerely,

Citizen David F. Bradley Sr.

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