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JACKSON ELEMENTARY Mother refuses to send children to city schools



Published: Tue, July 6, 2004 @ 12:00 a.m.



Another mother said she also has fears for her child's safety.

By JoANNE VIVIANO

VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- A mother who faced criminal charges when she refused to send her three children to Jackson Elementary School says she will not allow them to return there in the fall.

Michelle Macovitz said her children are afraid to go to school after her oldest, 11-year-old Curtis Daye, was involved in a fight on the school bus in early May. The youngsters missed the last five weeks of school.

After being called to a juvenile court hearing to answer for their absences, Macovitz said she's fed up with the Youngstown School District and will keep her children home, schooling them through the Maumee-based Ohio Virtual Academy, a state-funded Internet community school.

"I feel like it's the only safe way," she said. "How can you learn in school if you're worried about getting jumped? How can you concentrate on your classes?"

Missed days

Macovitz appeared in Mahoning County Juvenile Court last week after being referred to the court by the school district. Court documents show Curtis missed 30 days of school and his two younger sisters missed 25 and 28 days.

If a child misses more than 12 days of school without a medical excuse, it is a violation of state law, court documents show. After her court hearing, Macovitz was ordered to provide proof of her children's enrollment in an accredited program with certified teacher by Sept. 7. The case also was referred to a court mediation program.

"They act like I don't care about my kids' education," she said. "I feel like the only thing that hearing was for was to threaten to put me in jail."

Ron Schulay, the school district's supervisor of attendance and discipline, said he felt the hearing was worthwhile.

"They were encouraged to attend summer school and to sit down with the new superintendent, Dr. [Wendy] Webb, and resolve any outstanding issues," Schulay said. "There are a lot of options we can look at. There's no doubt this can be resolved in a positive matter."

Transfer issues

Macovitz, in May, said she had asked district officials to transfer her children to Paul C. Bunn Elementary School or to send their work home. Then-Superintendent Benjamin L. McGee said such transfers are made only under extreme circumstances and that sending work home would only condone truancy.

Schulay last week said a school transfer for next school year remained a possibility.

But Macovitz said her patience with the school district has run out. She will keep her children at home until the family moves out of the district to Campbell as planned.

Macovitz said her children had been harassed on the school bus throughout the year, and because officials failed to remedy the problem her son was attacked in May.

District officials have said the matter was handled appropriately.

But Macovitz's complaint has brought at least one other mother into her corner.

Second voice raised

Melissa Herubin said her son, too, was attacked by children from his bus.

Warren Kettering, 15, a Hillman Middle School pupil, had a fractured ankle at the time of the December episode, and his three attackers beat him on the head and back with his own crutches before attempting to push him into oncoming Midlothian Avenue traffic, police reports show.

The boy said he blacked out during the attack, and his mother said he suffered broken ribs and a black eye and had to get braces on his teeth as a result of the beating.

She said she also tried unsuccessfully to have her son transferred to another school.

School suspensions and juvenile court referrals for the attackers were made in each case, but both mothers say they were unsatisfied with the outcomes, and they suspect there are more mothers out there worried about their children's safety.

"Things like this shouldn't be tolerated," Herubin said. "These kids are afraid to go to school."




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