Probationary teacher policies examined following controversial June resignation

By Ralph Echtinaw

The St. Louis school district’s policy for ensuring that probationary teachers succeed was reexamined in the wake of the forced resignation of high school science teacher Charles Bunce last month.

Bunce had marginal evaluations and was given a choice of resigning or not having his contract renewed. For more on that story FOLLOW THIS LINK.

Superintendent Jennifer McKittrick gave a brief report to the school board July 18 and clarified her comments in an email.

The district already had Educational Development Plans for probationary teachers, who are evaluated twice a year. Probationary teachers also have assigned mentors.

The district encourages probationary teachers to attend professional training with the Gratiot Isabella RESD. But they can’t be forced to attend.

“We can always improve in the areas of retainment by supporting our staff and providing the necessary resources for them to effectively do their job,” McKittrick said.

The superintendent also praised students Abigail Conn, MJ Kenneth, Carson Butcher and Sammantha Simmons, who got up and spoke favorable about Bunce in June.

“I am very impressed with our students who spoke up to advocate for one of their teachers,” McKittrick said. “We should be proud of our students exercising their rights to address the Board of Education.”

Food service van

Board members approved the purchase of a 2020 Chevrolet Truck Express Cargo Van for $53,000 to work in food service.

Wrestling trip

As many as a dozen high school wrestlers travel to Atlantic City, New Jersey this week for a national tournament hosted by Harrah’s resort. Coach Kevin Kuhn drives the van.  

New staff dress and grooming requirements 

Board members codified the school district’s existing professional dress expectations for staff. However, the new rules won’t be released until Neola publishes the official language, McKittrick said.

“Neola is the company we work with our legal team to provide us with updated board policy,” she said at the July 18 meeting. “When they get adopted they get put into our online system anyone is able to search for a web site.”

Chromebook abuse

The district will publish existing fines for damaging or breaking school-issued Chromebooks.

The fines range from $20 to $200, depending on what was damaged or broken.

“Students are not allowed to personalize their Chromebooks,” McKittrick said. “We’ve had a lot of students that are using markers and sticking stickers and pulling up bar codes, so we want to educated our students to not do that because we need to continue to reuse those (Chromebooks).”


Indoor painting at Nikkari has been completed, and Carrie Knause is next. McKittrick said all classrooms and some hallway and bathrooms will be painted.
Big Brother is watching

McKittrick told the board a little about new surveillance capabilities in school buildings. The system can follow one individual as he walks through the school and zoom in if needed. “Yes, it is suppose to be a more efficient way of us being able to investigate a situation,” McKittrick said. “Once the system is up and running I will be able to better speak to its capabilities.”

Additions and subtractions

The board approved resignations by high school special ed teacher Summer Nobis, sixth grade science teacher and middle school girls track and field coach Marlo Kubinski and seventh grade boys basketball coach Jeff DeRosia

The board approved the hiring of high school science teacher Matthew Albano (an Alma College grad), fifth grade teacher Dawn Russell (a CMU grad), middle school geography teacher Joshua Kaylor, high school athletic administrative assistant Sara Shattuck, JV girls basketball coach Starr Hansen (SLHS grad) and JV boys basketball coach Paul Barnaby (worked in district before).

Shattuck was already employed by the district but goes from clerk to administrative assistant, allowing the district to work her in summer.

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