Newly created advisory panel meets for first time regarding new lice procedure

The group, made up of several people, met for the first time behind closed doors on Tuesday night.

Posted: Sep 4, 2018 10:45 PM

VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - You may remember Stephanie Stonebraker. She's been on the front lines, advocating for Vigo County Schools to change its new lice procedure.

"It's important to be an advocate," said Stonebraker, "Not to just listen to what you're being told, but actually do the research yourself and find out if what you're being told is accurate."

Stonebraker and other parents were introduced to the new procedure at the beginning of the school year in August. It would allow students with live lice or nits to remain in class.

Since then, Stonebraker has been doing her own research on the matter, as well as taking her concerns to school board members and administrators.

"I have contacted 24 of the different school corporations, just a random number from around the state, some of them local, some of the larger school corporations within the state," she said, "and of those, 18 do not allow live lice and only six do. So this is not something that everybody is doing."

Recently, Stonebraker took her findings and concerns as a member of the newly formed advisory panel. Administrators announced last month they would form a committee to revisit the new lice procedure. 

The group, made up of several people, met for the first time behind closed doors on Tuesday night. It took place at the school corporation building at 6 p.m. and lasted a little more than an hour and a half.

"Both sides brought issues to the table that made sense," said Stonebraker, "and so I'm curious to see how this progresses in the future."

Administrators said the panel is made up of medical experts, teachers, community members, and parents.

"There's just parts of the procedure that we want to look at a little more closely," said Tom Balitewicz, "So we're going to do that."

Balitewicz, who is the director of student services for the school corporation, also serves as the spokesperson for the new panel.

He said the discussion included valuable input from all sides of the issue. With this panel, Balitewicz said he wants parents to know they are taking their concerns seriously.

"Just talking to experts in the field, and medical professionals, parents, community members, nurses and getting everybody's opinion," he said, "Then we'll assimilate those opinions and look at our procedure to decide where we go next."

Balitewicz said this will be the first of several meetings as he plans to get more input from the committee before making any decisions related to the procedure.

As for Stonebraker, she's happy to have a seat at the table. She said she's advocating for not only her family but others in Vigo County.

"I think it's hard enough being a parent today," she said, "and I think it's one more thing parents have to worry about or might have to address, and so I would like to reduce that not only for myself but for other parents as well."

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