Great Bend USD 428 Superintendent Brad Reed issued the following statement late Wednesday afternoon:
KWCH recently published and filed a complaint with the Kansas Attorney General’s office asserting USD 428 had failed to follow the Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA). The complaint does not accurately reflect the facts and the District anticipates the complaint will be quickly resolved in its favor.
There appears to be confusion over what the Great Bend School District did and did not do after the incident on the school bus on February 6. The confusion appears to center around the difference between a formally enacted policy and an administrative practice. Policies must be enacted by the Board of Education. In the interim, between Board meetings, administration may decide to revise a practice and follow up with a recommendation to the Board to adopt a formal published policy.
These are the facts concerning changes to bus supervisions practices and the pending revision to policy, following the reported incident on a bus on Saturday, February 6, 2016. On the following Monday, February 8, the students thought to be involved were interviewed by school administrators and, based on the corroborated facts, appropriate disciplinary action was taken. On the same day, the GBHS Activities Director, in consultation with the Superintendent, instituted new practices for coaches and sponsors intended to help prevent future incidents of similar behavior by students on the buses. The practice made it clear that the coaches/sponsors were responsible for monitoring the students and were to sit in the front, back and middle of the bus to observe. That change in practice was verbally communicated to every coach/sponsor involved in bus trips over the course of the next nine days. On February 17, the change in practice was reduced to writing and sent to all coaches and sponsors. Since then, a proposed change to the policy has continued to be considered and revised. The changes to the bus policy proposed by the administration are scheduled to be formally presented to the School Board at the next regular meeting for inclusion in the activities and athletic handbooks.
The allegation that administration has done nothing is simply false. Remedial changes were made to practices immediately at the direction of the administration and a written policy revision encoding those changes is in the process of being finalized and presented to the Board at the next meeting.
The allegation in the KOMA complaint that the Board has already considered the proposed bus policy change in an executive session is simply false. The Board will consider the proposed changes at its next meeting in open session.
In summary, the District – through its administrators – took immediate action intended to improve bus safety by administrative directive and practice. The District – through its administrators – is preparing formal policy changes to reflect the action taken by administration and its recommendations for a formal policy. The District – through its Board – will consider and act upon the proposed policy changes at a future meeting.