Hearing set for wrestling coach Bobby Miller; Multiple teachers resign

by Jordan Green

The Blackwell Board of Education met Monday night to schedule a due process hearing for a district coach and to accept the retirements of several longtime educators. The meeting began at 6 p.m. A larger-than-normal crowd, including two police officers, was in attendance.

After approving the consent agenda and handling other matters, board members set April 17 as the date for a hearing regarding Blackwell High School teacher and assistant wrestling coach Bobby Miller. The hearing, which will take place in the school board’s meeting room, will begin at 5 p.m.

The planning of the hearing comes shortly after the high school wrestling team’s recent state championship.

The hearing was called for “upon receipt of the recommendation for the dismissal of Bobby Miller from employment,” according to the meeting agenda.

No other information was provided, and officials gave few details about the nature of the hearing.

Board member Rich Cantillon addressed the audience after the vote. “I just want to make it known – I don’t know any of the details,” Cantillon said. “People that are calling me, we’re not allowed to discuss it, so please don’t call. We can’t discuss anything. I don’t even know the details. I would just like to make that known. We’ve got a pretty packed class.”

Wrestling coach Connor Cline, who sat at a table with Miller, asked the board: “When will we be able to discuss it, as far as if I want to get on and address the public?” Superintendent Shawn Haskins replied: “I will let you know.”

After scheduling the hearing, the board accepted the resignations of Blackwell Middle School teacher Candi Holt, Blackwell High School teacher Coleen Blevins, Blackwell Elementary School counselor Kim Shoffner, elementary school teacher Lori Buesing, elementary school paraprofessional Katrina Brown, high school teacher and coach Josh Swain and elementary school paraprofessional Tianna Tattershall.

Board members expressed their appreciation for the teachers. Haskins said the loss of the veteran educators was “a big hit” to the district. The board also voted to hire Kay County native Jeff Ray as the new high school softball lay coach. His tenure will begin in the next fiscal year. In the principal’s reports, Blackwell Elementary School Principal Melissa Moore said the school’s Fun Run fundraiser brought in more than $62,000 this year.

The money raised will be used to purchase new sound equipment and seating for the school cafeteria, allowing it to be used as an auditorium for school events, Moore said.

Moore said the school has conducted tornado, fire and intruder drills, and it has added a new type of drill: seizure response.

“We have had just an increase in seizures this year with children,” Moore said. “We’re not really sure what’s going on. We’re having more children having seizures in our building than we’ve had in the past. So, we decided we’re going to do two seizure drills.” The drills teach staff how to care for students experiencing a seizure and when to call 911.

In other news at the elementary school, teacher Misty Lusk has been selected to attend a teacher’s institute in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, and Mindy Tripp was selected as the Elementary District Teacher of the Year.

For the middle school, Principal Becky Miller said students recently heard from two guest speakers, and the school hopes to bring in another speaker in the fall.

“We’re just making sure the kids know that there’s more than what’s in Blackwell for them,” she said. “The possibilities are endless. … It’s good for them to get to hear from somebody else besides us.”

Miller added that Holt’s retirement “will be a huge loss.” “She’s a mentor for teachers. I wish you all had voted ‘no’ on her resignation,” Miller said with a laugh. “We’ll have some big shoes to fill for sure.” Holt was named the district’s Secondary District Teacher of the Year.

The secondary level includes teachers at the middle and high schools.

Blackwell High School Principal Gerry Magin said the school is preparing students for the ACT and using its social media platforms to highlight achievement in all the school’s various programs, including the arts and athletics.