To The Daily Sun,
We have turmoil on our Alton School Board. For more than a year, parents, community members and staff have been trying to sort through a debacle created by the School Board that hired a superintendent whose actions have been damaging our school. The superintendent, Maureen Ward, who evidently was also controversial in the Franklin School District, can be seen walking out of the April 4 School Board meeting in a video. One of the two School Board members who followed her out of the meeting, Stephen Miller, was the previous chair and made national news in 2013 when he pulled out a knife at a school board meeting.
In February, a very well-attended School Board meeting made several news channels when students protested outside the school, supporting the teachers and looking for positive change. A petition of no confidence in the superintendent, principal and special education director had been signed by 250-plus community members. The board did not respond. We have a pile of complaints regarding violated policies, noncompliance with Right-to-Know requests, lack of response to emails, and outright lies. At the end of this heated meeting (which can be found on the Alton Central YouTube channel) the board canceled the previously scheduled March meeting due to "lack of business."
At the March elections, two new board members, supported by a large group of parents and clearly the majority of the community, were elected — Peter Leavitt and Michael Ball. In an effort to bring urgent and time-sensitive issues in front of the board, 130 Alton voters signed the below noted petition requesting a March meeting. The chair at the time, Stephen Miller, turned to legal advice without consulting the rest of the board and essentially stonewalled the meeting. Then, when the newly elected members finally reached the table, they are blindsided by a clearly preconceived plan between the other two members and the superintendent. We are looking into the legality of how the meeting was recessed and the next steps to electing a chair.
After months of trying to work with the School Board and administration to correct issues taking place in the district, parents have had enough.
We've presented a survey outlining parental and teacher concerns regarding to curriculum changes and were completely ignored.
We've presented a vote of no confidence in the superintendent, principal, and special education director which the board and administration dismissed as only a fraction of parental concerns despite it having 240 signatures. (https://www.change.org/p/alton-school-board-vote-no-confidence-in-the-acs-superintendent-principal-and-special-education-director)
After the board's refusal to schedule a March meeting (which they normally would have) we presented a petition requesting a special March meeting to discuss parental concerns related to eight specific topics. (https://www.change.org/p/ask-the-alton-school-board-to-stop-damage-now?recruiter=61950604&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink)
Also noteworthy is that our local teachers' union recently worked with the National Education Association (NEA) to gather teacher union member feedback and the administration and board have also disregarded this feedback: (http://ata.neanh.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2016/03/march2016_ata_survey_results.pdf)
We conducted weeks of research to find out why they're making the changes that they're making and found nothing but one misleading statement after another. This information is publicly (available) on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/supportAltonSchools/.
Ultimately, as parents our main concern is that the administration is non-renewing and reducing staff, making programming changes, making false accusations about test scores and enrollment, and hiring staff or extending contracts without sufficient evaluations. When we reached out to the SAU with a Right-to-Know request asking to see a copy of the documented and approved plan that aligns with these actions, the then-chair of the board advised that there is no "document" that they can make available as part of my Right-to-Know request. He stated that the plan is more of "ongoing philosophical discussions" between the board and administration. This is completely unacceptable.
Tonight, it all culminated in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K39-sTWy_R0&feature=youtu.be. In short, the superintendent failed to fulfill her duties yet again. Per our district policies, she is required to chair the School Board meeting until a chair is elected. Rather than working through a 2-2 vote for a chair, she walked out. As parents and taxpayers, we've decided that enough is enough. These people have done enough damage to our district and it has to end. We're reaching out to all media channels to create awareness on this pressing issue in our community as the board and administration continue to deteriorate the future of our children's education.