Written by Eric Killelea
The Wolf Point School District that is struggling to find qualified full-time staff is having even more trouble finding substitute teachers.
“There’s a number of days that teachers miss when the kids do absolutely nothing,” said district superintendent Gary Scott during a school board meeting Monday, Oct. 19.
With school administrators and teachers concerned about meeting state educational requirements and increasing already poor attendance and graduation rates, the district cannot afford to miss productive time in the classrooms.
On average, the school district needs at least three to four substitute teachers each day of the four-day school week.
On Monday, the district searched its contacts for four substitute teachers [two teachers were absent and two attended a teacher’s conference]. But only two substitutes showed up to work.
Without a teacher in the classrooms, these students were moved into the school library.
Offering a solution, Scott requested that the school board hire at least three full-time substitute teachers to fill-in for the “staggering” amount of staff absent or on leave at Wolf Point Junior/Senior High School, Northside Elementary and Southside Elementary schools.
Wolf Point Junior/Senior High School principal Kim Hanks said the substitute teachers could work at each of the three schools depending on the need each day.
She added that her school has not filled several full-time staff positions and her the budget has enough to offer salary and benefits.
“Finding substitutes is one of the most difficult things we do on a daily basis,” Hanks said.
Scott added: “The money is not the problem. The money is in the district budget."
Board chair Mark Kurokawa took issue with the request and the school board voted to send the agenda item to a committee review board.
“I don’t know if hiring is going to solve our problems by providing benefits,” said Kurokawa, who added that the district would still lack substitute teachers despite hiring three full-time positions.
Written by John Plestina
District Judge David Cybulski accepted a plea to a lesser charge by an man alleged to have committed rape and kidnapping in 15th District Court Wednesday, Sept. 30.
Joseph Martin Laturell, 52, an oilfield worker from Florida and recently of
Bainville, withdrew not guilty pleas to three felonies that he entered in March. Those charges are sexual intercourse without consent, aggravated kidnapping and partner or family member assault, third offense.
Authorities say the alleged offenses were committed in Bainville against a 43-year-old Williston, N.D., woman.
According to the charging documents, the incidents occurred in an apartment in a building in Bainville that a oilfield service company rents for its employees.
Laturell was allowed to plead nolo contendere to the partner or family member assault charge only.
Nolo contendere is Latin for “no contest.” In a criminal proceeding, the defendant neither accepts nor denies responsibility for the charges but agrees to accept punishment.
The plea agreement allows for the dismissal with prejudice of the two most serious charges: sexual intercourse without consent and aggravated kidnapping. Each carries a maximum 100-year sentence.
Laturell’s attorney, Kendall Link, told the court the agreement was not a binding plea agreement and that Laturell would have the opportunity to withdraw his plea if the court does not follow the agreement once a pre-sentencing report is completed.
Link also requested that Laturell be released on his own recognizance due to medical issues.
Assistant Roosevelt County Attorney Jordan Knudsen objected to the release without bail.
Cybulski denied the defense request and left bail set at $200,000.
Laturell has been lodged in the Roosevelt County Jail since March 8.
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Laturell at the apartment building in Bainville after responding to a 911 call from a woman that was placed at 3:11 a.m., March 8. The woman who made the allegations was transported by ambulance to Roosevelt Medical Center in Culbertson.
Written by John Plestina
The California man alleged to have been wielding a gun and threatening police in front of Wolf Point City Hall in June withdrew a previously entered not guilty plea and pleaded guilty to lesser charges before District Judge David Cybulski in 15th District Court Wednesday, Sept. 30.
Tyrule Davis, 43, of Los Angeles, Calif., pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of carrying a concealed weapon and disorderly conduct.
Wolf Point Police officers disarmed and arrested Davis on June 26, on the 200 block of Fourth Avenue South after Davis allegedly made threats with a handgun.
He was originally charged with felony assault on a peace officer or judicial official.
Written by John Plestina
A Williston, N.D., woman withdrew previously entered not guilty pleas and pleaded guilty to a single drug charge before District Judge David Cybulski in 15th District Court Wednesday, Sept. 30.
Melissa Ann Jewett, 32, pleaded guilty to criminal possession of dangerous drugs.
She pleaded not guilty in February to felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs and a misdemeanor charge of obstructing a peace officer.
Jewett has a companion case that is not yet resolved.
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Jewett and Joshua Jones, 36, of Williston in a casino near Bainville Jan. 19.
He originally pleaded guilty to felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs and misdemeanor criminal possession of drug paraphernalia. Jones withdrew those pleas in August and pleaded guilty to the charges.
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Jewett and Jones inside the State Line Casino near Bainville. Casino staff had requested that the RCSO remove Jones and Jewett from the establishment.
The RCSO had prior contact with the pair when the Gold Dust Casino, also located near Bainville, called Dec. 31, 2014, telling deputies that Jones was making employees nervous. At that time, deputies told Jones and Jewett to leave the casino. According to the RCSO, Jewett had given a false name and birth date. The RCSO dispatch data center was not operational for checks of suspects.
Jewett’s true identity became known Jan. 19, as well as Jones being on federal probation for a counterfeiting conviction. It was later learned that Jones was off supervised probation.
Methamphetamine and a knife were found in Jones’ pockets.
Both have been free on bond since Feb. 12, one day after Cybulski agreed to reduce bail from $25,000 to $5,000 each with waivers of extraction. They sought bond reductions to return to their jobs.
Roosevelt County Attorney’s Office told The Herald-News in February that the business that employs Jewett and Jones is Skinful Pleasures, a Williston, N.D., tattoo and piercing parlor.
Written by John Plestina
A Wolf Point man who pleaded guilty to felony forgery in July, will serve at least a few years in prison and pay more than $2,000 in restitution and fees.
District Judge David Cybulski pronounced sentence against Daniel Amos Bridges, 39, in 15th District Court Wednesday, Sept. 30.
Bridges might have to serve as much as five years of a 20-year confinement to the Montana Department of Corrections. Fifteen years was suspended, with the possibility of more time suspended if Bridges completes the Nexus methamphetamine treatment program and completes the DOC’s pre-release program. He was also given credit for 306 days served in the Roosevelt County Jail. Bridges must pay $2,037 in restitution and $800 in court appointed counsel fees.
Bridges withdrew previously entered not guilty pleas and pleaded guilty to felony forgery by common scheme July 15. Other charges were dismissed.