The Atlantic Community School Board met last night and offered the public an opportunity to make comments about the recent alleged strip-search of five Atlantic High School students. Members of the media, by far, outnumbered those in attendance. Only a few residents cameto speak, or listen.
Shelly Pottebaum, whose 18-year-old daughter attends A.H.S., was the only one to step forward and address the board. Pottebaum says she doesn’t think enough facts pertaining to the case have come out entirely and that it’s too early for the public to make a judgment based on what’s been said or written. She asked the school board to act quickly to resolve the matter.
The school district’s administration and Board of Education have received intense criticism since the Des Moines Register first reported Saturday five girls were striped-searched by the school guidance counselor in a locker room over the matter of a matter of $100 reported missing by another student. The money was never found.
Some have commented that the incident — which some experts say was illegal — amounted to nothing more than sex abuse and the school administration should be placed on the sex-offender registry. Others have called for board members, those in the district’s administration, and recently-appointed interim Superintendent Dan Crozier, to resign.
It’s been reported that at least three of the girls’ families have hired an attorney to deal with the matter, and a fourth was considering it. On Monday, Crozier confirmed a school administrator was placed on leave pending the results of an internal investigation. Board President Phil Hascall appeared to choke up as he read a statement toward the end of the public comment period regarding the decisions they’ve made with regard to students’ welfare at the school.
Hascall said the board "has always tried to do what’s best for the students and children put in our care. This is going to be solved. It’s going to be a long investigation, but they’re going to take their time to they do it right, by policy and by law." He went on to say he appreciates the public’s patience and support. At the conclusion of regular business, the board went into a closed session to discuss a personnel matter.
Board member Jody Lorence, who earlier this summer announced she was not running for re-election, and who was attending her last meeting as a part of the Board of Education, made the motion to adjourn into closed session. Her statement left little doubt as to what the session would be dealing with.
She said it was to discuss strategy with legal counsel in matters where "litigation is imminent, and where its disclosure would be likely to prejudice or disadvantage the position of the school district in that litigation."