In response to new state laws foused on school safety, South Pike school board members approved crisis response plans for the district’s campuses at their monthly meeting Tuesday.

The plans outline in detail the various response procedures and designate faculty members as members of Crisis Response Teams.  

The plans outline how officials should respond to an abduction or student runaway, an accident, serious injury or illness, an assault on a student, bomb threats, severe weather, building collapse, a bus accident or a confrontation with a person in possession of a weapon.

The details include the contact information for each facility and provide a profile of the buildings at each of the campuses.

The plan details the responsibilities of each faculty member and administrator in the event of a crisis.

The move is in step with the passage of Mississippi House Bill 1283, which goes into law on July 1 and requires schools to adopt such plans.

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In another matter, resident Owen Royal said the school district should invest in hiring a master’s degree-level counselor, expressing concerns about students having access to mental health services and emotional support. He was particularly concerned about students who might experience abuse or neglect.

He also argued for the development of a better alternative to expulsion or suspension, saying that this sort of punishment is often counterproductive.

Leslie Hurst expressed frustration with a perceived lack of communication and cooperation between the school district and the community at large. She said the community has many helpful resources that the school district should be more willing to take advantage of.

She also expressed concern regarding the fairness of the search for a new superintended to replace Johnnie Vick, whom the board voted to replace earlier this year after two years on the job.  

Some residents were concerned about the distict’s ability to sustain its budget.

“South Pike financially, we’re in really good shape,” said board president Sam Hall, whose daughter DeLorean Hall is the district’s financial adviser.

In other business, the board:

• Heard attendance reports from Eva Gordon Lower Elementary School’s Kim Daniel and Eva Gordon Upper Elementary’s Dr. Geneva Holmes.

• Accepted a $500 donation from Craddock Oil Co.  for Eva Gordon Lower Elementary School, $50 from Velma Burris for the Eva Gordon Upper Elementary Beta Club and $100 donation from Fernwood Grocery, $200 donation from Handy Hardware and a $300 donation from Scott Rimes for high school athletics.

• Approved a request from Holmes for the student council to sell first day of school T-shirts as a fundraiser and a request from high school Principal Camita Dillon for the varsity cheer squad to sell T-shirts.

• Approved changes to the credit recovery policy.

• Approved a request from South Pike Junior High School Principal Warren Eyster to hold a summer school program.

• Approved the student handbook and the band handbook.

• Approved the transfer of 25 students who have parents working within the South Pike School District, the transfers of 11 students who have parents employed by other school districts and the transfer of five students coming into the school district due to special circumstances and the transfer of two students leaving the school district due to special circumstances.

• Denied one out-of-district transfer due to special circumstances.

• Approved the Consolidated Federal Program Application, which details the cost and management of various academic programs.

• Hired Kendra Fortenberry as a part-time secretary in the transportation department and cafeteria worker Charlene Hackett, Adelia Weatherspoon at Eva Gordon Upper Elementary, bus driver Genice Spinks and teachers Camri Robichaux-Stutzman at Osyka Elementary and Detria Redding at South Pike High School.

• Accepted resignations from Osyka Elementary School secretary Lisa Brown Pierce and mechanic Eric Sandifer.

• Approved coaching staff recommendations for fiscal year 2019-20.

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