Mother: Son’s punishment at school was inappropriate

By Ashley Luthern


A mother of a Market Street Elementary student addressed the school board about what she felt was inappropriate punishment given to her 7-year-old son.

Heidi Thompson wrote the board a letter saying her son, a first-grader at Market Street Elementary, was sent to a conference room off the school office as punishment for twisting a spoon wrapper in another students’ face.

Her son remained in the conference room without any learning materials, such as a book, for about five hours until Thompson arrived at the school at 1 p.m. for his school picnic June 8, the last day of school, Thompson said.

“The thing that I find the most irritating is there was an announcement made that morning that said if anyone [was] caught misbehaving, they would be sent home,” Thompson said in an interview with The Vindicator.

“I’m not against discipline. My thing was being appropriate with it and being fair and consistent,” she continued, saying the parents of other children who misbehaved were notified and could pick their children up early.

Her son, who was allowed to leave the conference room to use the bathroom, was “shaky and upset” when she picked him up, Thompson said.

Thompson asked the school board Monday night for a response to her letter, and board President Fred Davis said he had mailed his reply earlier Monday.

“We agreed with [the principal]. We didn’t see any neglect on his part. There was adult supervision,” Davis said.

Davis asked Thompson to read the board’s letter and make an appointment to meet with him, the superintendent and the school’s principal.

Thompson said she planned to do that, but that she was not satisfied with the board’s response Monday.

She said her son is planning to attend a different Boardman elementary school in the fall.

In other business, the board approved a three-year contract for Cynthia Fernback to serve as high school assistant principal.

Fernback has 22 years’ experience in education, teaches high school English and is the current summer-school principal in Boardman.

As assistant principal, she will draw an annual salary of $65,780.

With the hiring, the high school will have two assistant principals again.

The position was eliminated at the end of the 2010-11 school year when the person who had the post retired, said Tim Saxton, high school principal.

“Through other retirements and shuffling of other positions, we were able to reinstate that position with a $35,000 savings,” Saxton said.

The two assistant principals handle disciplinary problems for the high school’s roughly 1,600 students, Saxton said.

Fernback said she looks forward to taking the position and also serving as a role model for female students.

“My goals are really to assist the other administrators and to help take care of the little things, like tardiness and dress code,” she said.

The school board also scheduled a 6:30 p.m. July 12 special meeting to discuss finances.

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