Forrest City school board expels fourth student this month

FORREST CITY (Times-Herald) - The Forrest City School Board expelled its fourth student this month during a special meeting on Monday, bringing the total of expelled students this year to 13.

The meeting was the fourth called by the board this month. Three of the meetings were to consider student expulsions, and the fourth was an employee grievance hearing.

At Monday's meeting, the board considered the expulsion of a sixth grade student at Lincoln Middle Academy of Excellence who was in trouble for fighting. Board member Glenn Shepherd was the only member who did not attend.

The meeting opened to the public, but was closed after the board's attorney, Brad Beavers, announced that the parents of the student had requested a closed hearing.

After the hearing, the board deliberated on the matter. When the meeting reopened to the public, the group voted unanimously to accept the recommendation of interim superintendent Joye Hughes to expel the student for the remainder of the school year.

According to figures provided by the FCSD, last night's expulsion was the 13th issued by the board this semester, which ends Friday, Dec. 21. Information provided by the FCSD shows that for the entire 2011-12 school year, the board expelled a total of 14 students.

The majority of the expulsions over the last two years were for students from Forrest City High School. All 14 expulsions from last school year were high school students, along with 10 of the 13 issued this year. Including last night's expulsion, two students have been expelled from LMAE and one from the junior high.

Hughes spoke this morning about the number of expulsions this year as compared to last year.

"I do not believe we are having more incidents than we did last school year," said Hughes. "I believe that our principals are following the process more efficiently this year. What happens is the principals recommend expulsion to me, I review the situation and then I bring my recommendation to the board."

Hughes said she does not want to expel any student, but it is sometimes necessary.

"We never want to send any student home, but we have to do it when students just can't behave," Hughes added. "It is a last resort. We try to work to avoid having to suspend students. Only after we can't do anything else do we bring an expulsion to the board.

"And every case is different," she continued. "No two are the same even if they look alike on the outside. We look at every case and see what can be done."

The board will hold its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, Dec. 20, at 5:30 p.m., at the junior high school.

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