Dear Editor:

As most already know there was a school board meeting on June 10, 2019. Many concerned parents, grandparents and citizens attended this meeting to express concerns about a lack of discipline for students that cause room clears, support for teachers and bullying in our school system. I was genuinely shocked by the way all of us were treated by certain members of the board as well as the superintendent. Our concerns were met with eye rolls, scoffs, interruptions and condescension. For a group of people that are supposed to show support and care, the general consensus among the crowd was that they don’t care at all.

Susie Meade, the school’s superintendent, rolled her eyes when people voiced concerns about the way things are being handled or lack thereof. Jeff Nicholl, the school board president, was extremely rude to almost everyone that spoke, and talked down to everyone there as if he thinks he’s better than everyone in town. Jared McDonald interrupted folks on multiple occasions and also rolled his eyes when individuals expressed concerns. This is not the behavior that most would expect from a group of people that are in charge of our children’s well being and education. 

It was said many times that people were simply spreading rumors. They had statistics prepared on their projector for all to see showing how great they think they are. For a group of people that initially claimed they “didn’t know we were coming”, they were very prepared with their rebuttals. The superintendent even had a statement prepared that she read before they allowed public comment. So, for the lady that seems to think she can talk her way out of any situation, here’s my rebuttal to your “facts”.

Fact # 1 – Room clears do not fix the problem.

Room clears might get the other students out of the classroom, but it also is exactly what the student causing the room clear wants. Students causing disruptions and destroying the classroom aren’t punished. Instead they are rewarded with play time and iPads. If this isn’t reinforcing bad behavior, I don’t know what is. I witnessed this on multiple occasions this school year with my own eyes. I heard students say that going to the principal’s office was not something that bothered them. They knew they weren’t going to get in trouble.

Fact #2 – You don’t support all of your teachers.

Teachers have tried to let you know in the past about issues with the current elementary school principal and instead of helping them, they were disciplined for speaking up. So please explain why many teachers at that school tell members of the public that they fear for their jobs if they speak up? I bet they’re lying, right?

Fact #3 – Every student doesn’t receive a safe learning environment.

You can claim to have supports in place and talk about laws in place that dictate what you can and can’t do, but, if there is no discipline whatsoever, none of your supports will work. When my child, as well as many other students, come home every day saying that their classroom is an absolute nightmare to be in, your supports aren’t working. When my child wakes up every morning begging me not to send him to school because he doesn’t feel safe, your supports aren’t working. Many children were physically assaulted this year, mentally abused and emotionally tortured. Some to the point that they said they wanted to commit suicide. Think about that for a second. Eight years old and talking about suicide with your child because they were tormented so bad at school and nothing was done to stop it. Your supports aren’t working.

Fact #4 – Your investments aren’t paying dividends.

You can list off all of these “investments”, but myself as well as others are here to tell you, they are not paying off. Consequences for actions would pay off better than anything you’re currently promoting. You’ve created an environment where kids are learning that bad behavior is rewarded and good behavior is ignored. 

The bad news is, you definitely showed us that you are committed to ignoring concerns and dismissing parents and students as liars. We’re just spreading rumors. It’s hard to be a rumor when we’ve seen it with our own eyes. Many of us volunteered at Winterset Elementary School this year. We tried to help. Unfortunately, as some parents told you at the meeting, they were asked why they were there. Or told they weren’t needed. So you asking the community to volunteer, while they’re actively being turned away, seems pretty ridiculous on your part. I fully intend on contacting legislators, DHS and the Department of Education about how things are at Winterset Schools. You can count on it.

Lastly, the accusations made towards yourself and board members were valid given your behavior. The parents that attended and expressed concerns have followed the proper channels and did things the way you’ve said to do them. Yet nothing has changed. You acted like teenagers that were being scolded by their parents and didn’t really care to listen. Which is really sad for a group of “adults”. Our children are our future, so actually showing concern and instilling some sort of discipline while they are at school would work wonders at making sure they have a bright and productive future.