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Statement From Hope Public Schools Superintendent Bobby Hart

By Staff, 02/7/17 3:22 PM

HOPE – Hope Public Schools Superintendent Bobby Hart released this statement February 7, 2017:

“Several Hope High School (HHS) students were recently expelled by the Hope School Board, following a fight in the HHS main office on January 17, 2017. This statement is intended to provide clarity regarding Hope Public Schools’ (HPS) discipline process.

The expulsion process is governed by both state law and school district policy to ensure fairness to the parties involved and protection of the minor students. Arkansas Code Annotated 6-18-507 authorized a school board to suspend or expel any student from school for violation of the school district’s written discipline policies. The Arkansas School Boards Association (ASBA) creates and makes available to its members uniform school district policies, including policies covering student discipline. HPS is a member of ASBA and has adopted the organization’s policies covering student discipline and expulsion.

When a student is accused of conduct that violates district policy, school administrators investigate and make a recommendation to me regarding appropriate punishment. I examine the evidence and determine whether or not the punishment is appropriate. If I find that the recommendation is appropriate, I adopt the recommendation and notify the student, the student’s parent/guardian and the school board.

The student may appeal my recommendation to the school board. The student and administration the present their evidence in a hearing held before the school board. Both the administration and the student may be represented by attorneys. HPS occasionally employs an independent attorney to conduct the hearing and advise the school board on procedural issues. School board members have the opportunity to question both the administration’s witnesses and the student and his or her representatives. The student’s representative also has the opportunity to question the administration’s witnesses. The board deliberates in closed session, without the student or the administration present. Following deliberations, the student and his or her representatives, and members of the administration return. The board the votes on whether to accept, reject or modify the superintendent’s recommendation. Details regarding the board’s decision are not publicized because access to records of student disciplinary is specifically prohibited by federal law.

To the best of my knowledge, the process by the Hope High School administration, HPS administration and the school board is similar to that followed by districts statewide. From my perspective as both the superintendent and a parent, the process is heartbreaking to carry out. However, we must be willing to carry it out when necessary to ensure the safety of our students.”image

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