Vandalism, police, and
a new school procedure

October 19, 2000
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana

By Karen Lyncoln
for the Pathfinder


"I think parents need to be notified, with ample time to be present, if the police want to interview a child during school hours," said Bart Peterson, Chair of the Board of Education of the Seeley Lake Elementary School at its October 10th meeting as board members discussed the need for a new procedure concerning such interviews.

The action was prompted because vandals destroyed the roof of the log cabin in the playground during an afterschool event in September. School custodians called 9-1-1, and the Sheriff's Office responded to the vandalism and followed up by interviewing people who had been at the event, some of them students at the elementary school. The mother of one of the children interviewed at the school told the board about how scared her son had been, how upset she was that she hadn't been notified and given a chance to be with her son, and demanded that this not happen again.

Bill Hyde, Superintendent of the district, said that he had come to believe that a school administrator should be present any time the police interview a child and agreed to draft a procedure for board review at its next meeting. Loren Rose noted that the school needed to notify the sheriff's office about any new procedure that affects its officers.

John Devins led board members on a tour of the school grounds to point out recent improvements and gave board members a status update on the physical aspects of the school. Board members inspected the new metal roof of the log cabin and the condition of playground equipment. Devlin opened a discussion of the need to standardize the outdoor lighting equipment and noted that the septic system improvements are working well.

Hyde reported that Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg approved several projects for funding from their grant award this year. The preschool program will be funded to handle between 30 and 35 students. Curriculum development projects include buying educational materials for the fifth and sixth grade looping program, funding the junior high play and the music program, continuing a local history and ecology project, and funding the accelerated math and reading programs. Grant money is also available to buy 400 library books and to assist teachers and staff to attend training programs. Board members expressed their appreciation for the generous grant and discussed its benefits for students and staff.

Members attending the October 10th meeting include Bart Peterson, Chair; Loren Rose; Vicki Jardine; Pam Pitman; and Mark Williams. The next regular school board meeting is scheduled for November 14th at 6:00 p.m. at the elementary school.

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