Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Policy review prompted by arrest of WVW teacher

January 15. 2014 11:24PM
SUSAN DENNEY Times Leader Correspondent

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KINGSTON — Wyoming Valley West School Board President Joseph Mazur said Wednesday night that changes to district policies are being prompted by the recent arrest of district English teacher Lauren Harrington-Cooper.

Harrington-Cooper has been charged in two separate cases of alleged sexual misconduct involving district students.

In regular business, the board passed a resolution to keep any tax increase at or below the state index.

Mazur said there has already been an immediate change to the telephone policy for teachers.

“We will not permit telephone contact between teachers and students,” Mazur said. He added that the rule applies only to calls made from school property.

Mazur said that if a teacher does need to contact a student by phone while at school that an administrator or lead teacher must be present when the teacher makes the call.

Mazur said the board discussed Harrington-Cooper’s situation at length during its closed session on personnel issues. He said the board “will review all our policies.”

Superintendent Charles Suppon said the district’s teachers union has waived a Loudermilk hearing on Harrington-Cooper’s case. A Loudermilk hearing is to provide an employee an opportunity to present his or her side of the story before an employer makes a decision on disciplinary action.

Suppon also said the district’s attorney, Richard Goldberg, and Pennsylvania State Education Association attorney Jeffrey Husisian have come to an agreement and that there will be resolution for the district.

Suppon said a decision about Harrington-Cooper’s status in the district will come soon. He also said the district is committed to doing its part to resolve it.

“We will make sure every ‘i’ is dotted and every ‘t’ is crossed,” he said.

Suppon said that the district is required to file a complaint with the state Department of Education and has done so.

Harrington-Cooper was first arrested on Dec. 18 and charged with one count of institutional sexual assault in connection with an alleged encounter with the 18-year-old student.

In the second incident she was arraigned last week by District Judge Paul Roberts on charges of institutional sexual assault and corruption of minors in connection with an incident involving a 17-year-old boy.

Financial Manager Joe Rodriguez praised the board for its decision in regard to tax increases. He explained the board “has adopted a resolution to not raise taxes above the 2.4 percent cost of living index allowed by the state.”

He also said the district “will scrutinize all expenditures.”

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