School board halts student performance
Jazz band’s concerts at wine bar questioned
By Holly Neumann
A local resident wants the Little Wolf High School Jazz Ensemble to stop performing at The Winemaker’s Daughter.
Bill Ropke criticized the concerts during the Dec. 19 Manawa School Board meeting. He said the performances violate both school district policy and city ordinances.
According to the public performance by students’ policy, the board of education endorses such performances when they constitute a learning experience that contributes to the educational program and when the circumstances of the event do not pose a threat to the health, safety and well-being of the students involved.
All requests for student public performances require the approval of the principal. Administrative guidelines require parental permission before students’ participation, protection of students’ interests, and their safeguarding against exploitation.
“I would like to argue that allowing students of LWHS to participate in an event at The Winemaker’s Daughter does not meet this criteria,” Ropke said.
He noted that The Winemaker’s Daughter holds a liquor license from the city of Manawa.
“To uphold their license they must meet certain demands,” he said. “One of those being that children need to be supervised by a parent of legal guardian to be allowed on the premises. This eliminates most of the student body from viewing this public performance.”
Ropke said that unless every member of the band is accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, the business is jeopardizing their responsibility of holding this permit and that is it opening up the students to further legal action.
“Permission slips are not a substitute for accompaniment in the eyes of the law,” he said.
Ropke questioned who benefits from this show.
“It is my understanding that the LWHS band program does not receive any funds for their performance at The Winemaker’s Daughter,” Ropke said. “Some would argue that it gives the band program exposure and fills the requirements of constituting a learning experience which contributes to the educational program. I will argue that the only benefactors of this show is The Winemaker’s Daughter. They will be providing beverage sales before, during and after this event. Is this not the definition of exploitation? It is this type of exploitation that the district administration should be protecting our students from.”
Ropke said he did not believe that performing in a lounge enriches the students’ quality of education.
“We preach to our children about the dangers of drinking and driving,” he said. “Yet we are willing to drive those same children to a lounge, have them perform for us while we imbibe on the fruits of the vine and then drive them home after they have sufficiently performed, for the benefit of a business’s coffers. Exploitation plain and simple. What is up next for the Little Wolf High School? Bar gigs for the choir at Steve and Michelle’s Tavern? Band gigs at TK’s Bar and Grill?”
The Jazz Ensemble was scheduled to perform again at The Winemakers Daughter on Wednesday, Dec. 21. District Administrator Melanie Oppor said that this event had been cancelled to give the Policy and Human Resources Committee time to discuss this matter.
In other business the board recognized Dave Marcy and the high school Drama Team.
Marcy has retired as a Manawa bus driver after more than 22 years of service and the Drama Team recently won an All-State award for their performance of “Happily Ever After” at the 2016 State Theater Festival.
Oppor gave her report on the open enrollment data study.
“One of the things the board has been curious about is do we have a sense of why some families choose to open enroll out of the district,” said Oppor. “There are a couple of patterns. The two most noteworthy patterns are, parents saying it’s for the convenience of where they go to work. And the other, slightly larger group, is bullying or harassment as the reason that they are leaving.”
Oppor said that for each of those cases, Principals Dan Wolfgram and Michelle Pukita, referred to Skyward data base, and there was no evidence to support that any of those students ever had a bullying or harassment report.
“If it’s not officially reported, then it’s very hard to address that concern,” Oppor said.
She stated that this information will however open up conversations, so that in the future these issues can be minimized.
According to Oppor, the most common reason for students open enrolling into the district was for bullying and harassment at the school they were coming from.
The next meeting will take place at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 16, 2017.