By Amantha Garpiel
TIPP CITY — The Tipp City Exempted Village Schools Board of Education voted to approve a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to hire full-time School Resource Officers (SROs) and to increase insurance rates for the remainder of 2023.
The MOU between the City of Tipp City, the Board of Education and the Tipp City Police Department was tabled from the Feb. 27 meeting and then discussed again at the March 7 work session and brought before the board for a vote during the Monday, April 24, meeting. The MOU draft, provided to the public on the board’s BoardDocs website, alleviates concerns of board members Anne Zakkour and Theresa Dunaway who both previously raised concerns regarding the legal action against students and SRO access to student records.
According to the MOU, SROs will follow all school policies when dealing with misconduct on school property by conferring with building administration before taking any action regarding a report of misconduct or an observation of misconduct by the SRO. The other concern, access to school records, is clearly laid out in the MOU document.
The document states, “The board has not designated SROs to be school officials who have a legitimate educational interest in any student record or other student personally identifiable information, other than directory information. Therefore, except as otherwise authorized by law, and notwithstanding paragraphs 8 and 10 under the police department’s duties and responsibilities above, SROs shall not have access to student records or other personally identifiable information, other than directory information. This includes student records and personally identifiable information in all forms, including without limitation electronic form.”
The document goes on to elaborate that no SRO shall ask for or attempt to obtain any student information other than directory information, and in the event an SRO does receive personally identifiable information the SRO is to notify administration and should not copy or share in any way the information.
As for discipline as related to the addition of SROs in Tipp City schools, SROs are not to act as school officials in disciplinary actions and should only take action when a law is broken or upon request of building administration. SROs will not be allowed to interview or search students as a part of law enforcement investigations of possible criminal or delinquent conduct and school administration shall not conduct an interview or search on behalf of the SRO of other officer. If the interview or search relates to an SROs investigation, independent of the police department, the interview or search may be allowed. However, in order to complete an interview or interrogation, school administration must be present with the SRO and should first attempt to contact the students’ parent or guardian. More detailed information is available in the MOU document attached in the board’s agenda from Monday, April 24.
The agenda can be found at https://go.boarddocs.com/oh/tipp/Board.nsf/Public.
Next, the board discussed and approved a 15% increase in insurance premiums for staff in the district. According to board President Simon Patry, the board has been lax the last couple of years and has not steadily increased rates each year at anywhere from 6 to 12%. The lack of increases has caught up to the district. Due to an increase in claims, the health fund for the district is negative by $104,000.
Due to the failure to increase rates, according to the insurance company and the Benefits Committee, the district needs to have a total of a 24% increase. Rather than commit to the 24% increase all at one, Treasurer Melanie Fox was able to negotiate for a 15% increase in premiums beginning in July and expects another increase, how big of an increase is unclear, in the fall of 2023.
Along with the increases in premiums, the board approved an advance of $150,000 from the general fund to the health fund to bring the health fund out of the negative. The advance will be paid back from the health fund as the fund is built back up over time.
In other business:
• The board approved the creation of a new student activity account for the Tippecanoe Hope Squad. The Hope Squad is both an organization and a class where students learn to peer mediate and identify students in crisis mode. The Hope Squad is requesting their own account to be more self sufficient in using the money raised via fundraisers.
• The board approved the sale of the tiny house, which is no longer needed for school purposes, at auction. The tiny house is estimated to be worth more than $28,928. The resolution to authorize the sale instructs the board to advertise the sale of the tiny house at public auction, including the “as-is” nature of the sale. The sale will not be final until accepted by the board.
• The board accepted three donations: an anonymous donation of $1,000 for the Florida baseball trip for the Tippecanoe High School baseball team; a $300 donation from the Tipp City Rotary Club for the use on a Tippecanoe Middle School activity for St. Vincent de Paul in Dayton; and a donation of $2,334 from the Tipp Foundation, $699 for the Tippecanoe High School Harmony Director and $1,635 for the Nevin Coppock Elementary Author and Illustrator visit.
• The board approved 205 students from the class of 2023 for graduation.
• The board approved administrative staff for the 2023-2024 school year.