Industrial ISD residents want accountability

By Jessica Coleman

Contributing Writer


     The Industrial ISD Board of Trustees heard from concerned citizens during their August 14 meeting. Larry Mikulec, an Inez resident, addressed the board asking for accountability for an April incident in which four senior baseball players were accused of assaulting a younger player on a bus following a baseball game.

     Industrial ISD has been widely criticized for what many residents believe are inappropriately lenient consequences by the school for what eventually lead to criminal indictments for the four accused assailants.

     A Jackson County grand jury indicted all four for engaging in Organized Criminal Activity, but at the time of the incident the players received in-school suspension and were allowed to continue to play baseball and walk the stage at graduation.

     In addition to expressing disappointment and anger the school seemed to many to take the issue lightly, Mikulec asked for accountability from someone – anyone.

     “There has been zero accountability,” he said. “Not from a coach, not from an administrator. I think the $64,000 question is who ultimately decided on the punishment after the incident occurred?”

     Mikulec also pointed out much steeper punishments for nonviolent offenses.

     “We just had a meeting, and the football coach told us if a kid is caught vaping, it is ten days ISS,” he said. “But I guess it doesn’t apply if there is an assault on a bus, or maybe if you have the right last name, because Industrial has a long history of doing that.”

     Mikulec is not the only one in recent weeks who has criticized the district for what they see as favoritism. Comments sections across social media have accused the district of doling out harsher consequences for some students than others.

     Mikulec was met with applause as he finished.

     “I guess the ultimate question is, who ultimately made the decision on the punishment,” he said. “That’s what we would all like to know because all we have heard is pushing it off. There is nowhere where the buck has ever stopped. Not with this board. Not with an administrator. Not with an athletic director or coach. For once, I would just like somebody to step up and make the call that ‘that was my decision. I made it.’ Because then we would have somewhere to, I guess, direct our criticism.”

     Delana Childs asked whether the district planned on adding bus monitors or chaperones to help prevent similar incidents in the future, and raised questions about things like students bringing blankets in the winter, which could potentially help cover up illegal or harmful activity.

     The Open Meetings Act prevents trustees from addressing items not on the posted agenda if they’re mentioned in the public comments section of the meeting, but parents and concerned residents are unlikely to let this issue die any time soon. At least one resident missed the deadline to speak at August’s meeting and expressed her intention to return to the next meeting to speak.

Jackson County Herald Tribune

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