Dual language, anonymous reporting app and vacant seat discussed at Dare Board of Ed meeting

Published 9:57 am Friday, January 24, 2020

On Tuesday, Jan. 14, the Dare County Board of Education met at First Flight Elementary School. The agenda included a demonstration of the newly-introduced Dual Immersion Program, a presentation on the implementation of the “See Something Say Something Anonymous Reporting App” and a discussion about their vacant board seat.

To begin the meeting, board member Joe Tauber addressed the large audience by saying how impressed the board was during their tour of the school earlier that day. “We’re in the business of making our children successful,” he said.

Tauber said he felt a “community effort” put forth from the school system and the proof lies in the children that attend First Flight.

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To showcase how this effort has impacted the students, Maria Rosas and Xoshilt Romero, kindergarten teachers at FFES, presented their students enrolled in the new Dual Language Immersion Program.

Dare County Schools is the only system in North Carolina to have a DLI program in all county elementary schools. Kelly Flora, elementary education director, said she has witnessed the students teaching their parents new Spanish vocabulary words daily. “I see engagement and it is fun for the students,” Flora added.

Rosas and Romero brought their class up to the board to demonstrate how they learn and review vocabulary in class. The kindergarteners played “Around the World,” built Spanish sentences together and sang a vocabulary review song about animals.

Chair Bea Basnight commented on how wonderful it was to see such young people learning at the rate they are. “Very, very impressive,” she said.

DCS is currently implementing another new program utilizing the “See Something Say Something” app. John Donlan, director of administrative services, introduced the app and informed the board that it was developed and is run by Sandy Hook Promise.

“The partnership with Sandy Hook means it costs nothing to us,” Donlan explained. The SS-ARS app is a digital platform that allows users to submit anonymous tips about safety concerns. The goal of the app is to intervene and prevent hazardous and life-threatening issues.

Designed for students in grades six through twelve, the app sends the submitted tips to a 24/7 hotline that processes and triages the tips to be sent back to district school teams and, if need be, the police.

“It teaches the youth how to recognize warning signs and how to report it anonymously,” Donlan said. So far, out of the 28,000 tips received nationwide, 6,000 have life-saving preventions. Students are currently being trained on how to use the app from their teachers.

The last main order of business that was addressed during the meeting dealt with the vacant seat on the board of education.

Five applications were received from candidates wishing to join the board. Board member Frank Hester suggested the board conduct interviews with the five applicants.

The board agreed to conduct interviews in an open session and Superintendent John Farrelly suggested the interviews be held at the Nags Head Elementary School media center, which the board was in favor of.

After a recommendation from Tauber, he, Hester and Vice-Chair Mary Ellon Ballance formed a committee to generate questions for the applicants.

At a follow-up meeting on Saturday, Jan. 18, the board met again after an allegation was made that the board held an “illegal” meeting pertaining to selection of a new board member.

Basnight addressed this allegation by saying that was not the case. “No illegal meeting was held. The allegation results from a conversation between board member Joe Tauber and one of the candidates, to which Mr. Tauber advised who he thought different board members favored for the position based on some perceptions and discussions he has had. No votes were ever taken or considered.”

The committee has been disbanded and the interviews will now be held on Wednesday, Feb. 5 from 8 to 11:45 a.m. at NHES. The candidates will be chosen at random for which interview slot they receive. Questions will be submitted to Basnight, Ballance and attorney Richard Schwartz from all board members to be consolidated and used in the interview process.

During the Tuesday night meeting, Farrelly informed the board that DCS had been awarded a $150,000 grant which will go towards the School Resource Officers and support resiliency/mental health training. DCS also accepted a donation from Knights of Columbus for the Exceptional Children’s program in the amount of $11,325.

Two retirement resignations were noted: Valdimir Duro, custodian at First Flight Middle School, and Mary Koenig, finance officer at FFES. The only non-retirement resignation noted was for Ermira Saliasi, PT school nutrition assistant at FFMS.

There were nine employee approvals made, including Rachel Benton, the new principal of Cape Hatteras Elementary School. Four transfers were approved and over 70 coaches joined the DCS system for the 2019-20 spring season.

For more information, visit the DCS website at www.daretolearn.org.

Editor’s Note: For more on the January 18 special meeting of the Dare County Board of Education, see page 1A.



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