BAINBRIDGE -- Near the end of the regular North Putnam School Corporation board meeting Thursday night, several parents addressed the board about concerns they had with the corporation. Many of the concerns are a result of the alleged actions of now-resigned teacher Amber Russell.
Leigh Casto, whose son Nathan was the victim of an incident involving the special education teacher, said she is thankful Russell has resigned and hopes her son can begin healing. She also read an apology letter she received from North Putnam Middle School principal Terry Tippin.
"I'd like to thank Dr. Lovejoy for her help with the incident with my son," Casto said of the North Putnam superintendent.
Other parents were concerned that something like would happen again -- and were worried that it would take as long as this incident to be rectified. Paula Shepard, Christine Mitchell, Chris England and Angela Wolf confronted the board about their fears regarding this incident, with some of the parents discussing their own special-needs children.
"I don't know how we are expected to have faith to believe that things are going to be done," Shepard said.
Parents said they would like to see a level of accountability when issues like this arise and also a way to make sure the punishments are sent through the process and handled. Some parents suggested hiring a separate person for this process.
The board agreed that this incident in particular was handled poorly on many levels, and they will soon come up with a plan to prevent this type of incident from occurring as it did. When that will happen and what the answer will be though was unknown.
"We need to work on following things through," board president Charlie Boller said. "We've been put into some bad situations because we find out later."
The board asked that parents have faith in the actions of this current board, with several board members, including Oliver Haste, backing the character of the board members.
Board member Debbie Sillery repeatedly asked for parents to have faith in the board and trust the body will do the right thing when they are aware of these problems. Superintendent Mary Sugg Lovejoy said she would meet with several of these concerned parents on Monday.
"I have been very, very devastated by what's happened in this school corporation," Lovejoy said.
Before the parents spoke, North Putnam High School assistant principal Jason Chew gave a presentation to the board about the alternative and night schools and the P.A.W.S. program -- which stands for Providing Alternative Ways for Success.
"These are the students who are at-risk. They are at-risk of not graduating," Chew said.
Chew said the program is continuing to grow and this year it has helped four students graduate on time. In the future, the program will incorporate service projects for students to give back to the community.