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Hartland School Board Expels Student Over 'Non-Violent Offense'

New board member says he thinks district expulsion process works well.

The Harland Board of Education expelled a student Monday for the reminder of the 2011-12 school year in what an administrator said after the meeting was a "non-violent offense."

Scott VanEpps, Hartland's assistant superintendent of personnel and student services, declined to provide any additional specifics about the offense or the student's grade or school, citing the closed disciplinary hearing requested by the student's family.

Superintendent Janet Sifferman recommended the expulsion based on the hearing, which included statements from the student's parents, the student and a school administrator, according to the board's resolution.

The student could reapply to the district next year.

It is the first expulsion this academic year. Last year, there , which was slightly higher than district norms for the 5,500 student population, according to officials.

Following the vote, Bill Gatewood said he was impressed by the process and wanted to discuss what he learned, especially because several students were attending as part of a class requirement. He said the district's discipline approach strikes a fair balance.

"For the students, I just want you guys to know that your administrators and your principals and everybody kind of agonize through this and they really put a lot of effort into this and really give you a lot of opportunity to get it right," he said. "But it also sends a message that if you screw up there will be consequences."

Expulsion is the final stage in the district's disciplinary hearing process — which routinely attempts an intervention to help troubled students address the underlying problems that cause the behavior. Historically, there have been 40-60 of these hearings a year.

The board vote was 5-0. Board Treasurer Charlie Aberasturi and Trustee Michelle Hutchinson were absent.

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