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West De Pere extends expulsion officer

By Lee Reinsch

DE PERE – The district’s expulsion-hearing officer received unanimous approval from the school board for another school term at the board’s regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 11.

For the past dozen or so more years, the West De Pere School District has used an expulsion hearing officer to moderate expulsion hearings.

Dennis Rader, retired attorney with the law firm Davis & Kuelthau, is the expulsion-hearing officer and has served in the position for more than a decade, according to West De Pere School District Superintendent John Zegers.

Involving an expulsion hearing-officer rather than leaving expulsion proceedings to administration, teachers or the school board alone takes much of the negative emotion out of the process, Zegers said.

“Obviously, it’s embarrassing for parents to have to go through this, and (having an expulsion hearing officer in place) keeps them from that kind of situation,” said Zegers. “It keeps the school board from the emotion of such a traumatic event in a school, as well.”

When a student is being considered for expulsion, the principal provides the hearing officer with the student’s information and offense(s), the family and student are asked to present their side, and the hearing officer makes a determination of whether an expulsion is warranted.

The school board needs to approve.

“This way is much less stressful situation for the family, in that they aren’t having to appear before the sitting school board,” Zegers said.

The district also provides what it calls an abeyance program to postpone or prevent a full-blown expulsion.

Some students who get into trouble in school can avoid being expelled by choosing to earn their school credits through an alternative school program, with classes that take place right in the West De Pere School District Building on Reid Street.

Or they can earn their school credits through online programming monitored by a teacher in the district, Zegers said.

These students are separate from the general students and can’t participate in school activities such as sports, or attend events like school plays or football games.

“That’s been a very successful program for us,” Zegers said.

In the last six years, some 58 students have graduated through the abeyance program.

“They are not allowed to attend outside activities but we do provide them with an opportunity to get an education,” Zegers said.

In other West De Pere School District news, upon request from taxpayers, the district is making more detailed information available related to the two West De Pere School District referendums to be on the ballot Nov. 6.

Together the two referendums total $74.7 million. They will appear separately on the ballot.

The four-page fact sheets give site plans, aerial maps, and delineate what amount of money the district feels is needed for each of five schools affected and for what purpose.

The fact sheets are now available in schools and at the district office at 400 Reid Street and will be mailed to all residents in the district.

The referendum fact sheets include information about:

• Question 1 on the ballot: $64.8 million for improvements at four schools, Westwood Elementary NEW Intermediate School, West De Pere Middle School, and West De Pere High School (for plumbing, heating, a two-story classroom addition, auditorium expansion, locker room additions and site improvements including parking lot expansion), and

• Question 2 on the Ballot: $9.9 million for West De Pere High School for a new indoor multipurpose addition and improvements to the stadium.

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