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9/11/2018
Probe update on agenda: Board to hear report on Edwards investigation

By ALAINA BARTEL
Daily News Staff Writer

The Ketchikan School Board on Wednesday is scheduled to hear an update on the ongoing investigation into the district for its handling of the Douglas Edwards matter. Edwards is a former teacher and pastor who was arrested in June and admitted to sexually abusing a child on multiple occasions, and has since pleaded not guilty.

Acting School Board president Kim Hodne said in that report, the board is not going to hear anything other than how the investigation is going. He said the investigator will be back in Ketchikan again on Sept. 24.

“People are cooperating extremely well; it’s been a good response to this point, and it’s working,” Hodne said. “It’s going on pace as we hoped that it would.”

Also Wednesday, the board will consider approving an administrative contract for Robert Hewitt as the dean of students. The School Board meeting agenda states that he will serve as the dean to assist the superintendent, Bob Boyle, and other administrators from Aug. 20 through Dec. 13, for a total of 80 days. The position was budgeted for $43,920.

According to the agenda, Hewitt has “extensive administrative experience” in the Ketchikan School District at multiple levels. His career in the district began in 1979 and he retired in 2012. Since his retirement, he has “continued to support the district” as a long-term administrative substitute in several capacities, and he is certified in the state of Alaska as a teacher and administrator.

Hodne said the position was created by Boyle, who saw a need for such a role after he had to take a step back from handling certain issues because of a complaint filed against the superintendent in regards to the Edwards case.

“To maintain good continuity and communication for the staff and students, Bob Hewitt was brought in and he is now the point for all those type — harassment, bullying — all those things that Bob (Boyle)  now has had to step back from,” said Hodne.

Also Wednesday, the Ketchikan School Board is scheduled to:

• Recognize former board President Trevor Shaw for his nearly six years of service and leadership on the board.

• Hear an update from the charter school memorandum of agreement committee.

• Hear an update from the Ketchikan Indian Community Education committee.

• Hear an update from student member Chris Brown, and a report from superintendent Boyle. Boyle plans to speak about the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development approval of the district’s FY19 budget.

• Consider approving a teaching contract for Marie Fitts as the counselor at Ketchikan Charter School, at a budgeted amount of $112,109.00. Fitts has a bachelor of science in elementary education from Crown College and a master’s of education in school counseling from the University of Alaska Anchorage.

She has more than 20 years of experience in schools across the state of Alaska as well as in the Lower 48, according to the agenda. Fitts is currently certified as a school counselor in the state.

• Consider approving a change in rent calculation for the charter school MOA.

• Consider approving a strategic planning workshop presented to members of the School Board, district administrators, parents and students by the Association of Alaska School Boards.

• Consider establishing a policy committee because district policies need updated, revised and reviewed, according to the meeting agenda. The committee would be charged with providing advice and recommendations to the board regarding current board bylaws; an annual review of new policy recommendations from AASB relevant to new Alaska statutes or federal policies; revisions to current policies and administrative regulations; and other duties.

• Discuss nominations for AASB awards and elementary schools specialist.

• Convene in an executive session to discuss Ketchikan Education Association negotiations. Hodne said the board will get an update about the Sept. 11 meeting between the district and KEA.

“We’re all hopeful that things there are going to keep moving forward; we seem to have a good path going,” Hodne said.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the White Cliff Building.