Student’s letter to Preston BOE asks for more access to driver’s ed, monitored lots in wake of fatal accident

KINGWOOD — A Preston High student wrote the Preston County Board of Education, suggesting changes in policies for student drivers in the wake of a recent fatal accident involving students.

Board Member Pam Feathers read the letter, which she said was written by a freshman after a Feb. 6 accident in which four PHS students were injured. Brayden Bishoff, 15, died as a result of his injuries.

The four were in a car driven by one of them from Preston High after school.

“We can take this tragedy and make reforms to improve our school,” the freshman wrote.

He pointed out that “driver’s education classes are limited, due to short staff. As a freshman wanting to take the course as a sophomore, I’m told that I can’t due to the age, and older students have first pick. We need driver’s education for experience on different road conditions and how to respond.”

The student suggested two monitors be placed in student parking lots, the number of students per car be limited and it be verified those riders have parental permission.

“I am not blaming anyone or anything, just saying maybe one change in the events that occurred may have left us with a different outcome. Let’s make tomorrow safer,” the student wrote.

Feathers suggested reaching out to the county commission, sheriff and WVU Extension Service about offering a driver’s education program.

“My goal is to get those lots paved, numbered and gated, and then nobody leaves those parking lots without being let out,” Superintendent Steve Wotring said. Kids leave throughout the day for jobs and other reasons, he said.

One provision of the school levy is to hire a school officer at PHS, Wotring noted.

Wotring said when school is dismissed, “It is a race to beat the buses out. There are cars going everywhere here. It’s crazy.” That should and could be controlled, he said.

Busing question

Also Monday, Janelle Peaslee and attorney Olivia DeVall asked that Janelle and Jason Peaslee’s two children who attend West Preston School be allowed to ride the bus to their home in Kingwood in the afternoon. The bus is not full and would not have to change its route to drop them off, Peaslee said.

Currently, they are dropped off at the road in Reedsville leading to her husband’s business. They try to be there to pick them up but can’t always, she said, and the road is dangerous to walk.

Peaslee said she and her husband own eight homes in Preston County, including one in the Valley attendance district and in Kingwood, where they want the children left off. They like West Preston School, and the children have been successful there, she said.

Wotring said as long as a grade level is not full, out-of-attendance-area students are allowed to attend a school other than that where they live. Last year, that occurred at West, the superintendent said, and Jason Peaslee told him they would claim Valley District home as their residence.

Wotring said county policy is students can’t be bused across school attendance lines. He opposed waiving the policy.

A vote by the board to waive the policy failed, with only Board Members Mac McCrum and Jeff Zigray voting for the waiver. Feathers asked the policy be reviewed at the next BOE meeting.

When the PHS student’s letter was read and comments were made about policies and safety, Peaslee said a policy is keeping her children unsafe. “If something happens, I will come after the board,” she said.

Make up days

Preston students will have to attend school May 28 and 29 to make up missed days, Wotring said.

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