School District 2 officials expelled a middle school student over safety concerns during a special meeting last week. It is only the third expulsion from the district since 2006.
During the meeting, the board voted to accept the superintendent’s recommendation after a closed session of about an hour. The recommendation was not released at the time. Trustees were trained on student disciplinary procedures before the public was barred from the meeting because of student privacy laws.
Superintendent Terry Bouck confirmed Monday that a student was expelled last Wednesday. Trustee Rob Rogers said the student was a seventh-grader who was expelled for reasons that “would have affected school or student safety.”
“We felt like it was the right decision,” Rogers said. The Wednesday vote was unanimous. Trustees Gordon Klasna and Susan Layton didn’t attend the closed session or vote on the proposed action because they represent high school districts.
“It was pretty gut-wrenching,” Bouck said.
Neither student’s name has been released, nor has the school been identified.
The last time a student was expelled was in 2012. Trustees unanimously voted to expel that student over offenses relating to violence, drugs and theft.
An expulsion hearing is typically the last stop in a line of disciplinary actions meant to help students reform their behavior and become more productive members of the student body.
In an expulsion hearing, trustees examine the evidence against the student and can call witnesses. If the student or family chooses, they can argue in their own defense or elect to have legal representation at the hearing. The student and two parents attended Wednesday’s meeting.
The recommendation to expel comes from the superintendent and is then heard by the board. While school staff members and administrators have the authority to suspend students or take other disciplinary actions, only the school board can expel.
One reason expulsion cases are treated seriously is because children in Montana are promised access to public education by law.
“We want to keep kids in school,” Bouck said.