|What will tonight’s PEVS board meeting reveal?|
|Tuesday, May 20, 2014 8:56 AM|
By JOE SHOUSE • Progress Staff Writer
PAULDING – With the Don Schnepp memorial rock temporarily removed and a community becoming more divided, most are now waiting for what might occur at the Paulding Exempted Village School board meeting scheduled for Tuesday evening, May 20 at 7 p.m.
At the April board meeting, Barry Vance approached the board and made accusations that Schnepp, a junior high teacher, had molested him when he was in the eighth grade. Vance also commented that others had been attacked and encouraged them to come forward.
In recent weeks, a second victim has come forward and is on the agenda to speak at the May 20 school board meeting. Defiance businessman David Kinkade, who also was a student under the teaching of Schnepp, says that he, too, was attacked while in the eighth grade.
An online petition calling for removal of the rock and form new policy regarding teacher-student relationships has been on social media since the April meeting. The petition is no longer open for signatures, but will be presented to the school at the May meeting. At last report, the petition totaled 579 names in support.
School officials had the memorial rock taken from the site on May 10, but indicated that the move may only be temporary.
In the meantime, school superintendent Bill Hanak released a statement early last week that read:
“The board and current administration want to make clear to our school community and members of the public that any reports by students or staff of present harassment or alleged abuse are taken seriously and are investigated in accordance with law and board policy. School officials absolutely do not ignore such matters.
“It is important to understand that the allegations being made by Mr. Vance and concern over events that occurred decades ago in which the current board, school officials and staff had no involvement and in which they have no knowledge of. The district is not able to conduct a meaningful investigation of the truth or falsity of the allegations, as the persons who supposedly had knowledge are no longer employed by the district, and the alleged perpetrator is deceased and cannot be questioned or speak in his own defense.
“The complaining parties graduated many years ago, so there is no action the board could take now that could alter their educational experience. The board is at a loss to understand why this matter is being raised with the board at all, rather than with law enforcement.
“Again, we want to assure our school community and the public that the safety and best interests of our students are of paramount importance to us and we would never knowingly fail to address a complaint of current harassment or abuse in the school setting.”