CURWENSVILLE — Curwensville Area School Board authorized amending the student handbook to create an additional level of offenses.
At Thursday’s board meeting, High school Principal Bill Hayward told the board an incident of a physical attack on a staff member that occurred in an outside-of-district placement facility that prompted him to reconsider whether aggravated assault was sufficiently covered by district policies.
“They handled the situation through their own policies and legal involvement,” Hayward said. “We are satisfied with that side, however in reviewing our own district policies on assault of staff, we felt it was not adequately covered as a level 3 offense. I believe expulsion must be a potential consequence for this type of incident.”
Hayward said an offense of aggravated assault is currently defined in the student handbook as an attempt to cause, intentionally or knowingly causing bodily injury to a teaching staff member, school board member, other employees or any student attending an institute licensed by the state Department of Education or parochial school while acting in the scope of employment or because of an employment relationship to the school.
Hayward told the board, “We are proposing shifting this offense from a level 3 offense to a level 4 offense. It is our belief that expulsion should be a possible outcome for aggravated assault of a student or staff member.”
The handbook currently states level three offenses require immediate administrative intervention and may be referred to proper law enforcement agencies if circumstances warrant.
The new level 4 are for “acts that pose a direct threat to the safety of others in the school, which are intentionally in defiance of established school policies, or otherwise require a law enforcement referral. Level 4 offenses are so serious that they always require immediate removal of a student from school, intervention of law enforcement authorities and/or action by the board of directors.”
Examples of level 4 offenses include — but are not limited to: assault or battery on a student or staff member; the sale, use or possession of alcoholic beverages, drugs or look-a-likes on school property or buses, school functions or other school function vehicles; terroristic threats’ violations of the district’s weapon’s policy; arson, setting a fire on school property or discharging fireworks and explosives; repeat level 2 or level 3 offenses; and committing any act punishable under the state’s Crime Code.
Consequences options for Level 4 offenses include: 10-day suspension, restitution in appropriate circumstances, law enforcement referrals, placement into an alternative education program or expulsion.
District Superintendent Ron Matchock told the board aggravated assault was something that was not previously addressed in the student’s handbook. “The instance at the other school made us think if that had happened here, we needed to have stiffer options on the table.”
Thursday night’s Clearfield Borough Council committee meeting saw a resident suggest to council that more help is needed in the code department.
Carl Pizzella said every time he calls Code Enforcement Officer Larry Mack about a particular problem, he is always told that Mack is busy.
“I don’t know if the man is real busy because (council and the borough) would know better than me,” Pizzella said. “But I think this is an opportunity to consider possibly giving him some help. You know what his work habits are and whether or not he fills his time properly and if he needs help. Everyday people of the borough like myself — if we have a concern about something in our neighborhood — it’s not being addressed.”
Pizzella said he feels Mack is “probably doing a very good job on the building codes and everything he can do.”
“But if he’s too busy, I think maybe he could either have a secretary part-time or someone to just handle the ‘no shoveling the sidewalks, no mowing the grass, no cleaning the dog stuff up,’” Pizzella said. “Different things like that — the simpler codes that there are to enforce — you find who the property owner is and address it. If we could have something to serve us everyday people a little bit better in those situations, I think it’d be a good thing.”
After speaking to council, Pizzella left the meeting. However, Borough Operations Manager Leslie Stott later said that Pizzella’s issue is property “that I believe the Catholic Diocese has up on High Street that has some overhanging limbs out onto the roadway.”
Stott said the road crew has all intentions on fixing the issue, but there are other items they are currently tackling.
“That is not Larry’s fault, that is more of we just didn’t get it on the schedule,” Stott said. “So as soon as the street crew has time ... that is something the we can do, and we will do.”
Mack said when he talked to Pizzella, he echoed Stott’s statements, stating the street crew is extremely busy but that it is on the schedule for tasks to be completed.