The Montpelier Village Board of Education met in regular session in the Montpelier School Auditeria on the evening of April 7. Called to order by Board President, Mr. Larry Martin, the floor was opened to the public by District Superintendent, Dr. Jamison Grime. Ms. Kristene Beck stood to address the Board about what she claimed was an ongoing issue referencing the treatment of her son, Wyatt, in a series of events that took place between March 11 and March 18. The result of these events would later be described by Mr. Bengie Beck as “a grudge,” “bullying,” “harassment,” and “retaliation.”
Ms. Beck referred to an e-mail that was mistakenly forwarded to several people, the contents of which she claimed to be embarrassing to her son, as well as the entire family. “I would like to know if anything has been done about the e-mail that was mistakenly forwarded to all of the baseball players, their families, their parents, and some people that aren’t even associated with Montpelier Baseball. It was a direct insult to not only my son, but the entire family.”
Ms. Beck then posed a second complaint, this one referencing High School Principal, Ms. Su Thorp, saying, “I would also like to address the situation in which my son was accosted in the hallway by Su Thorp, in response to a verbal rule that you had implemented, and were told by Dr. Grime would be ended.” The root of this complaint, according to the accusations made by Ms. Beck, was a verbal rule regarding mandatory fundraising by the junior class for the prom. According to Ms. Beck, her son was told by Mrs. Thorp that because he did not participate in the fundraising, he did not deserve to go to the prom. “This was told to the students,” said Ms. Beck. “This was not told to the parents; I did not know anything about it. Upon hearing about it, I protested. I found that Dr. Grime knew nothing about the verbal rule, and the rule was stopped so that the kids do not have to sell something in order to go to prom. I believe that it was outright retaliation by Su Thorp that my son was accosted in the hallway after class – finger shaking and head bobbing – telling him that he had earned the right to go to prom. Is that not true?”
Dr. Grime gave the initial response to the statements addressed to the Board. “When I received the e-mail from you,” he said, “I immediately called Mrs. Thorp and told her that that was a practice that I was not willing to support, and neither was the Board of Education. We got that taken care of. Essentially what I told Mrs. Thorp was that from here on out, to let Mr. (Steven) Brancheau deal with issues, or anything that may arise with Wyatt, so that we can avoid this. It’s not healthy for any of us to go through what you guys are going through, and what we’re going through.”
Ms. Beck then turned to Mrs. Thorp and said, “You’re saying you didn’t do that, Su? You’re going to tell me, to my face, that you did not say anything to my son in the hallway?” Mrs. Thorp replied, “I think that we need to take this behind closed doors,” but Ms. Beck disagreed, saying that this was a matter to be brought before the Board. “Okay;” Mrs. Thorp replied, “Your son had gone around bragging to other people that he got to go to prom, and I just questioned him on that. That’s what I questioned him about.” Mrs. Thorp was asked if she had heard him make those statements, to which she replied that she had not. Ms. Beck said that these statements were made in a single classroom, and that they were addressed to his girlfriend to inform her that he was going to be able go to the prom.
After further discussion, Mr. Martin said, “I agree; the problem should not have been handled that way. We all went to Jamie (Dr. Grime) and said, ‘What is this? We can’t have this.’ Jamie said, ‘I agree. I am taking care of it.’ When we found out about it, we responded to it. In part of your e-mail, there was a statement or comment made about coming to the Board and not being heard. I will tell you, from day one, our very first Board meeting when John Kaylor and I were first elected, my comment to the people was ‘You’re going to speak.’ We’ve been talking on this for quite some time; you’ve not been cut off. You’re going to be given the time that you need, but we’ve made the extra effort to be sure that people will be heard…not cut off, ridiculed, or complained about. Once we know what’s going on, once it’s brought to our attention, I can tell you…it doesn’t sit there.
“My point is,” Ms. Beck continued, “I believe that my son has a target on his back. A lot has happened in just the last few weeks. I do not condone bad behavior, and if my son, or any of my kids gets in trouble in school, they face severe consequences at home. The comment from (Varsity Baseball) Coach (Lance) Thorp regarding ‘how the Becks handle things’ (sic) was a direct insult to the entire Beck family, and not just my son. Quite frankly, we handle things very well, very professionally. We have met face-to-face, when required.” Turning her attention to Mr. Thorp, Ms. Beck said, “What you did in that e-mail, what you forwarded to several families in the community, I’ve heard over and over again from other people. Again, it was a direct insult, and you obviously hold a grudge against this entire family, and it’s reflecting on my son.”
When asked later if he had a response to the allegations, Mr. Thorp said, “I obviously made a mistake, and I’ve talked with each one of you about the mistake that I’ve made. I have had conversations with Wyatt also about the mistake that was made, and I’d like to move forward with it. I don’t see anything that I could say that can undo what has happened. With all due respect to the parties involved, I have talked with each one of you individually – I talked with Kris; I did not talk with Bengie – I admitted that I made a mistake.”
“What about the community,” asked Ms. Laura Beck. “What about the whole baseball team? What about everybody that saw that e-mail? That made a huge impact. Yes, you talked to us, but that’s a complete reflection. We are all supposed to be on the same team here in Montpelier.” Mr. Thorp replied, “I would be lying if this were a situation where I knew exactly how to do that, with respect to your family, the other kids families as well that I’ve talked to and the other people that the e-mail directly affected. Once again, it was a mistake on my part.”
“Have you apologized,” Coach Thorp was asked, to which his immediate reply was, “I have apologized. I have said that I am sorry. I would like to move on from it. I know that it has been said that I have a grudge against Wyatt. I can say this as a baseball coach…I’ve always been up front with my players. I’ve pulled every kid in to talk about their roles and their expectations. I try to be up front and honest with the kids about where I see them, knowing that it could change as the season goes on. I’m not perfect. I try giving the kids different opportunities in different situations, and my goal, my responsibility is to be a good example and set expectations. Sometimes I make decisions maybe people don’t agree with, but I always put forth the decision that I feel is best for our team in that moment.”
Mr. Martin asked if the Beck family felt that they were given ample time to voice their grievances. Mr. Bengie Beck replied, “Yes. There are no answers yet, but it will come.”
Moving into the business portion of the agenda, the Board approved the financial statements and investments for March 2015, including the following donations…
$800 from the Montpelier Music Boosters to Locomotion
$300 from the Montpelier Civic League to the FIRST Club
$300 from the Montpelier Civic League to the Archery Club
$100 from Fackler Monument to the Class of 2016
$200 from Montpelier Firefighters Association to the Class of 2016
$25 from the Black Swamp Arts Council to Art K-12
$100 from CK Technologies to the Musical
In matters pertaining to Certified staffing, the Board extended three-year limited Administrative contracts for the 2015-2016 school year to Monica Brigle and SuAnn Thorp, and extended two-year limited contracts for the 2015-2016 school year to Gabriela Almeida, David Apple, Christiana Bauer, Jennifer Carpenter, Khrysta Coleman, Katy Corkle, Paul Diaz, Stacy Guelde, Fara Neff, Sara Nowaczyk, Jimmie Phillips, Brandon Shoup, Marjory Snyder and April Thompson. The Board tendered a one-year limited contract to James Lee, approved Jill Altaffer as an intervention specialist at a Bachelor’s Degree and zero years experience level for the 2015-2016 school year, and approved E. Bess Cooley as a high school business teacher at a Bachelor’s Degree and zero years experience for the 2015-2016 school year. The Board approved a contract addendum for John Dalrymple for the 2015-2016 school year, and approved Brooke Gearig as a JV softball volunteer for the 2014-2015 school year.
Referencing Classified staffing issues, the Board agreed to extend two-year limited classified contracts for the 2015-2016 school year to Karen Benner, Cathy Bowman, Troy Christman, Linda Cummings, and Taccara Gibbs, while offering one-year limited contracts to Kathy Lehman, Michael Martinelli and Trent Shoup.
The Board accepted the retirement of bus driver Dorothy Rumple, effective July 1, 2015, and approved Dan Hand as an assistant JH track coach for the 2014-2015 school year. The Board consented to approve Max Lamberson as a JV softball volunteer coach for the 2014-2015 school year, and approved Susan Cliffton as a summer custodian for the 2014-2015 school year.
The Board moved to approve several revised, replaced and new Board of Education Policies, and approved a service contract with the Edon Northwest Local Schools for psychology services for the 2015-2016 school year.
In other business, the Board agreed to the Locomotion and Jazz Band trip to Nashville, Tennessee from March 26 to March 28, 2015, and approved participation in the National Robotics Challenge in Marion, Ohio from April 9 to April 11, 2015. The Board gave their consent to participation in the National Archery Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky from May 7 to May 8, 2015, and approved the Teacher Appreciation Week Proclamation.
The Student Achievement Liaison Report of Board member Darrell Higbie cited seven elementary students for exemplary performance. Those students included Emme Miller – K, Aaliyah Jordan – 1st grade, Dottie Austin – 2nd grade, Greyson Saneholtz – 2nd grade, Reese Hand – 3rd grade, Angel Star Perez – 4th grade and Andre Aguirre – 5th grade.
Mr. Higbie cited the members of the Montpelier Junior High Science Olympiad team, noting their accomplishments at the February 28 competition at BGSU. members of the team included Bailey Ward, Dakota Benner, Cameron Null, Hannah Bumb, Kimme Engels, Gabby Cox, Cole Dewire, Elizabeth Fritsch, Tristen Halferty, Alexis Marihugh, Alison Lamontagne, Roman Sommer, Andy Sandoval, Brock O’Neal and Lydia Grime. Alternates for the team were Trinity Bennett and Chance Miller.
Plenty of hard earned medals came home with these students. Hannah Bumb and Gabby Cox received first place in Crime Busters, and third place in Disease Detectives.
Bumb then teamed up with Dakota Benner to take third in the Bio-Process Lab. Cameron Null and Kimme Engels placed second in Wheeled Vehicle competition, and the team of Engles and Tristen Halferty placed first in Anatomy and Physiology.
The Board retired into executive session for the purpose of the discussion of appointment, employment, dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion or compensation of an employee or the investigation of charges or complaints against an employee, official, licensee or student. No actions were taken as a result of the closed door session.
Timothy Kays can be reached at
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