In September of 2013, one year before my oldest child entered pre-k, I created the Facebook group, Beacon School Parents, in an attempt to foster collaboration and fill the communication void between parents and the district.
I have also been on the PTA at South Avenue Elementary school for two years now. It has been a very rewarding experience, and I am grateful for the support of the principal, teachers, staff and parents at the school. I feel lucky to have a front-row seat to the magic that happens there every day.
What I am saddened to say, is that this is happening in spite of a culture of dysfunction, retaliation, secrecy and nepotism at the district level.
From refusal to take responsibility for the botched APPR of 2012-2013, to the lack of respect I witnessed during board meetings toward the former superintendent Paul Dorward, to his quiet resignation, to the former BTA president approaching a group of parents that included myself and Jodi McCredo, during executive session and telling us how glad she was that Dorward was gone; that he seemed to be “not good with people; almost autistic or on the spectrum.” And how happy she was that Dr.Walkley was the superintendent. To the failed attempts of the Beacon Parent Teacher Partnership, also led by the former BTA president, which continue to be praised by the district administration and some board members to this day, for seemingly no other reason than to protect a friend.
Earlier this fall, after Dr.Walkley denied the request for a personal meeting with a group of parents to speak about the teacher transfers, held a controlled forum in its place, and refused further communication unless a moderator was used, my husband and I decided to meet with her on our own. I heard nothing about how the Facebook page had generated enthusiasm for board meetings or interest in programs in the district. I was not thanked for volunteering my time to monitor the page, take notes at board meetings, lead meetings for parents or be involved on the PTA. Instead, I was told that “negativity” on the page would turn away potential worthy candidates for superintendent down the road. When I questioned why someone would be turned off by concerned parents mobilizing to make their school district better, she had no answer. I replied that the type of superintendent many of us hoped to attract was someone who would be moved and motivated by the action and dedication of parents in their school district.
Dr.Walkley, I think that day you were alluding to the real elephant in the room. That this district does not attract people because you don’t pay them highly enough, you don’t value them enough, and leadership has let personal interests dominate its decision making. It is time for a change. And the change begins now.
Over 350+ parents, teachers, students, and stakeholders remained in the auditorium. Board Members Anthony White and Bill Zopf remained in attendance along with Deputy Superintendent Ann Marie Quartironi.
We thank all of those that stayed and listened to the speakers.