Whitehall News

Etna Road's dismissal

Parent: Procedures should be revisited


For the second time in as many months, someone has brought safety and traffic concerns to the Whitehall Board of Education in an effort to prevent a tragedy.

Jack Soma addressed the board last week about pedestrian traffic surrounding the new Etna Road Elementary School.

Soma, who lives directly across from the school, told board members he is concerned that students are being dropped off and picked up curbside rather than in designated lanes in front of the school. The practice causes children to dangerously move among and near traffic, he said.

He also told board members he has observed children leaving the building through the back door and has had trouble with students from Rosemore Middle School congregating outside his house, waiting to walk siblings home.

Superintended Judyth Dobbert-Meloy told Soma that in response to complaints last month from residents, she asked officer Spencer Salyers to look into the matter, and she had thought things had improved.

"Our school resource officer went to Etna for several days at dismissal," Dobbert-Meloy said. "He advised me the procedures that are in place for dismissal are working well. I will have him revisit the situation to see if things have changed and provide me with any recommendations that he thinks are needed."

Soma said the recent but brief improvement was a result of the cold weather, saying students are less interested in horseplay when they're cold. He said he feels strongly that the activity would increase again in warmer weather.

Resident Larry Morrison brought similar concerns to the board last month, adding a few complaints about on-street parking that since then, he said, have been addressed.

During last week's meeting, he presented the board and district representatives with a drop-off and pickup plan from Etna Elementary School in Pataskala, where his grandchildren attend, suggesting that it might be a better method than the one in place already at Etna Road Elementary School in Whitehall.

Last month, board member Mike Adkins agreed that sometimes it appears parents are impatient and unwilling to wait in the pickup line, so they try to circumvent the procedure.

Fellow board member Blythe Wood suggested that maybe the procedure should be reviewed with parents.