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Students will meet with administators

by Merrie Leininger, staff writer

Douglas High School students unhappy with the cancellation of occupational education courses agreed to meet with school district administrators today in lieu of a threatened walkout.

Principal Charlie Condron met with junior Katie Fricano who had been distributing fliers encouraging students to leave their 5th period classes Monday. She said she was frustrated after students’ petitions and personal appearances at the Sept. 12 school board meeting did not result in the immediate rehiring of occupational education teacher James Archdekin.

However, after meeting with Condron, Katie agreed students’ concerns could be better dealt with in a meeting with district administrators, which Condron arranged for this afternoon at the high school.

“We let them know the audience they will reach by (walking out) is not the audience who makes the decisions and they should be focusing their energies in other areas,” Condron said.

Archdekin taught two construction tech classes for the school district and three auto classes – two auto tech and an auto body class – through a Western Nevada Community College grant.

The classes were scheduled, then cancelled after school started because of a change in the grant.

Students were shuffled into other occupational education and elective classes. Some were placed in internships after an attempt failed to create a class students would pay for.

When Archdekin found out the three WNCC classes would not be offered, he decided he could not afford to continue teaching with only two classes on his schedule.

Katie said she had also been sending e-mails encouraging students to walk out to protest the lack of response to students’ concerns.

“After we tried the petitions and speaking at the school board meeting, they didn’t seem to be doing anything. They pretty much ignored us,” Katie said.

Katie, who was in Archdekins’ auto tech class last year planned on taking auto body class this year, said she thinks the district could afford to pay Archdekin to continue the classes and would like to see the classes reinstated immediately.

She said she agreed with Condron that a meeting was a better way to communicate her feelings and did not walk out of her class Monday. She said after Condron set up the meeting, she tried to spread the word through e-mails that the walkout was canceled.

Condron said many of the seniors who were most affected by the loss of Archdekin and his auto classes would not be present during 5th period because they have been placed in internships to replace their class.

Condron said he felt many students who never met Archdekin would have seized the chance to skip classes if the administration had not made it plain they would pay the price.

Condron said students absent from class would be considered truant and be required to follow through with the school district’s penalties for truancy. He said students who left school could have been suspended.

“One of the reasons we have to be tough is we can’t have any of the students put in potentially unsafe scenarios. Kids who don’t have a clue who Mr. Archdekin is are just going to jump on the chance,” Condron said.

Condron said he has been speaking regularly with a core group of 25-30 students who are upset by the loss of their teacher and are frustrated by the district’s response.

He said he has also spoken with many parents who have called with concerns.