School Board hears about security, summer school, surplus

By Ruthann Carr

School’s out for the summer and it shows. The school board meeting on Thurs. (June 9) was quiet and procedural.

Instead of fire-breathing residents threatening school board members or a room packed full of people shouting their dissent, the seats were all but empty. There were no presentations.

The only excitement was a bug harassing board member Gequetta Murray-Key (Rivanna). 

Superintendent Peter Gretz stomped it into submission.

During public comment one woman talked about the importance of hosting foreign students. 

Another said he expected Fluvanna County Public Schools to make their buildings as safe as he does his home. 

Dalton McWilliams said he didn’t think the schools were doing everything possible to protect students. 

McWilliams said he wanted a school resource officer in every school building (currently SROs are in the middle and high schools.)

“And I want law enforcement to drill in our schools in the summer so they’ll know what to do in a school setting,” he said. “If there isn’t more done, I don’t feel comfortable sending my child to Fluvanna public schools.”

Later in the meeting when Gretz suggested putting leftover FY21 funds into the healthcare claims reserves to mitigate future healthcare costs, board member Andrew Pullen had another idea. 

“I’d like to use the money left over to give back to the Board of Supervisors and ask them to give it to the Sheriff to fund two school resource officers,” he said. 

Board member Charles Rittenhouse (Cunningham) agreed. 

No decision was made.

Gretz said summer school was ongoing and attendance was up. 

Several of Fluvanna school students were in Florida participating in the Special Olympics. 

They could be seen in a Coke commercial, Gretz said. He promised to share the link with the Board.

The Board took another look at the policy regarding law enforcement officers interviewing/questioning students and what incidents school officials are required to report to law enforcement. 

Gretz said a “reasonable effort” must be made to contact parents first to see if they wanted to be present during the questioning. If the principal can’t get hold of a parent or guardian, or the parent can’t get to the school, then the principal will stand in for the parent. 

Pullen, Rittenhouse and Vice Chair Perrie Johnson (Fork Union) said they were fine with how the policy was written. 

Chair James Kelley didn’t attend the meeting. 

Murray-Key wanted to include in the policy what’s written in the state law.

Gretz said besides making a “reasonable effort” to reach parents, the law states if law enforcement believes “danger will ensue” if they wait, “they (law enforcement) have a right to do it (question student.)” 

Pullen said he “wanted to make sure we weren’t waiting” to allow law enforcement to question students. 

“There are situations where the police wait until the child goes to school to talk to him.”

The Board will discuss the policy again at the July 14 meeting. 

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