Bittinger returns to Tippecanoe Schools

TIPP CITY — Michael Bittinger, a Tippecanoe student who was told earlier this month he would not be able to continue his education at the district due to not meeting residency requirements returned to the high school this week after the Tipp City Board of Education reversed its decision in a meeting on Monday, Oct. 12.

“I’m really thankful for it honestly and that I get to keep making more memories at Tippecanoe High School,” Bittinger said.

Bittinger’s fight to continue his senior year at the district came to a head last week in the form of a peaceful protest his friends organized in front of the Tipp City Board of Education building after Bittinger was notified on Oct. 5 that he would have to transfer to a school in the district where his parents reside effective Oct. 11 due to not qualifying under district policy 5111.

The policy allows students ages 18 to 22, whose parents do not reside in the district, but who meet specific criteria, to attend schools in the district. In Bittinger’s case, the board had questioned whether or not he was able to support himself.

The board met in executive session following a work session. When the board returned from executive session, board member Simon Patry moved to “approve a student under 5111 based under newly provided financial information and expenses that was provided during executive session.”

The motion passed by a unanimous vote.

At Monday’s work session held by the Tipp City Board of Education, the board discussed student enrollment under policy 5111.

“What I would like to focus on, is, moving forward, we need to create an administrative guideline that is going to lay out how this policy will be used by students that feel that it applies to them, including a timeline of when to apply, what documents — you know, they need a list of what is expected of them to submit with that, where to submit it, dates that we will then have a turnaround, a timeline that we’re gonna look at it and turnaround back to them,” Tipp City BOE Vice President Corine Doll said. “I think that, as this policy is being crafted, we can have these fine discussions on specific points, but I think the movement here is, let’s have a clear road map to applying this policy to any student that would like to access it.”

Board members and Superintendent Mark Stefanik were in agreement toward working on a more formalized process in regard to the policy, including specific documentation and information accepted, as well as a timeline for submission.