Parents want better communications from I-S
By Jane Myhra
An online bomb threat has raised concerns for student safety in the Iola-Scandinavia School District.
Several parents expressed displeasure at the school district’s failure to inform parents about the threat.
“We want to assure you that everybody is safe,” School Board President Kristen Hoyord stated prior to hearing public comments during the school board meeting on Monday, Jan. 9.
Hoyord said the matter was handled according to the district’s safety policies for a non-credible threat.
Among the parents making comments was Alysha Jarosh, who said she found out about the “bomb threat” after it happened. She said parents have a right to know when their children are in danger.
“You don’t have the power to take our rights away as parents,” Jarosh told the board. “A threat endangering students is not minor. Your lack of communication endangers our children.”
“It was considered a non-credible threat by law enforcement,” said High School Principal Sara Anderson.
On Wednesday evening, Jan. 4, the Portage County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call of a possible threat.
As a precaution, the Iola Police Department was present when school resumed on Thursday morning.
The following statement was sent to parents and staff from Business Manager Sarah Thiel on Tuesday, Jan. 10.
“We are aware of concerns regarding the recent safety concern at the middle/high school. We apologize for not providing a broader statement from the start and we hope this message helps answer questions you may have.
“Last Wednesday evening, we were made aware of snapchat messages shared. These messages have had some of our students, parents and staff feeling uneasy. This situation was immediately assessed by our administration as well as both local and county police in accordance with district safety protocols. Please be assured that safety is a priority in our district.
“It was determined by trained professionals, there was no credible threat to the students or staff based on conversations that took place on Wednesday evening. (Iola Police) Chief (Robert) Prahl was present on Thursday morning as a precaution; not because there was a credible threat.
“As mentioned previously, safety is a top priority in our district. The district has a safety committee which includes district personnel, local law enforcement, fire and EMS personnel and meets regularly to review and address safety issues and concerns to stay current on best practices and protocols. If you have questions or concerns for the safety committee, please contact Stacey Wester, elementary principal, who will relay the information at a safety committee meeting taking place next week.
“Due to HIPAA and other state and federal regulations in place to protect individuals’ rights, we are not able to discuss the details of this situation. We apologize for any frustration and concern this has caused and thank you for your patience. We also encourage you to contact school leaders with any questions or concerns you may have.”
Tennis court update
In an effort to update information on the proposed tennis court project, the Buildings and Grounds Committee invited Iola tennis group representative Keith Williams to its meeting on Jan. 9.
The committee, chaired by Ken Wavruk with members Bruce Beyersdorf and Kristen Hoyord, had previously decided to hold off on the tennis court and parking lot projects until 2018.
Williams reported that the tennis group has raised $78,285 toward the project. He said the total construction start-up cost is about $69,770.
Williams is holding off on final plans and more fundraising until closer to actual construction.
“We are in a tough spot,” Hoyord said. “It’s not that we don’t want a tennis court, it’s just the timing of it. The capital (referendum) projects have to be a priority for us.”
“It’s a perfect plot of land next to the school,” Hoyord said. “We need a baseball field, green space and more parking. Is there somewhere else we could put a tennis court?”
“We are certainly willing to cooperate,” Williams said. “But we would like it to be an asset to the I-S Community Fitness & Aquatic Center and to the community.”
Later, during the regular board meeting, Hoyord said the tennis courts are on hold for now, with future meetings to occur.
“It is in the best interest of both parties to wait,” she said.
The board noted the tennis court project is funded entirely through donations.