UPDATE: 8:47 a.m.: A meeting for parents of fifth grade students being moved to Claude Chester from Kolnaski Magnet is set for tomorrow, Wednesday, June 26 at 10 a.m., at Claude Chester School, according to an email from the interim superintendent.
ORIGINAL: The moms starting filing in early, some with kids in tow, only to learn pretty quickly that they wasted their time; there would be no discussion of at Monday night’s special Board of Education meeting. The matter was never on the agenda and it was unclear in any event just who was responsible for the automated call urging parents to attend and speak up.
was quick to apologize but explained that parents could come to the July 9 BOE regular meeting because not only would he put it on the agenda for then, but that meeting has a public comment portion.
But this option didn’t sit well with a number of the parents Patch spoke to before and after the meeting.
And at least one parent, Anne Aldinger, mother of 10-year-old Cameron, who has attended the magnet school “since day one,” confronted the board directly before leaving: “Well, when can we discuss this? How were you able to go into the fifth grade class on the last day of school and tell them? Kids were notified before parents? That’s okay to do? What gave the Board of Education the right to do what you did?”
She was told that the Board could not comment, as much as some members said they would like to have, including member Beverly Washington, since the issue was not on the agenda, but it was suggested that she and other parents could meet with Collins in advance of the July 9 meeting if that would “help.”
Aldinger and fellow parent Marie Tomkins, who was accompanied by her daughter Haley, 10, an also soon to be a displaced 5th grader, agreed they were “upset over the unfairness.”
“The kids were told by the principal on the last day of school, who came in quickly we were told and left quickly. Kids were crying. It was a mess. Chaotic,” Tomkins said.
Aldinger said she “found out on Patch.”
“We weren’t told by the Board of Education, by the school,” she said. “We came tonight because we thought we could talk about this. Guess not.”
Another parent came armed with paperwork and said she was “disappointed” in the Board and asked Collins how the word would be “spread about the chance for us to talk.” She said that “not everyone has the Internet or speaks English or is on Facebook.” Collins said he’d give it more thought.
“While this is a disruptive and unfortunate decision and I would prefer not to make it, I can see no other plan that would be less intrusive,” he wrote.
He explained that the move is a “temporary solution and we will need to address the long-term plan through redistricting.”
Collins has tried to mitigate the impact by making the before and after school program at Kolnaski available to the 5th grade kids being moved, creating a system where 5th grade students who have siblings who also attend the school have the option to have brothers and sisters also attend Claude Chester and, he said, the district would reach out to parents to let them know which Kolnaski teachers will be moving to Claude Chester in an effort to “provide some reassurance that there will be familiar faces and someone …who knows their child from ‘day one.’”