Zion-Benton News staff
The citizen's comments at the Zion District 6 School Board meeting keyed in on issues important to students and parents and they were allowed to speak longer than the three minutes that are regularly stipulated.
A student from Zion Central Middle School was allowed to speak after first being told by Board President Craig Bennett to hold her comments for the closed session to follow the regular meeting. Then the board's attorney learned she was not going to talk about individuals.
The girl had first brought her problems about being bullied to the board in January. “It seems like you guys were afraid of what I'd say,” she began. “I'm a little confused. I thought school would be a safe place. I came to the board in January, and this has been going on before Christmas break and it just gets worse.
“Now I'm less patient. Am I going to have to drop out? It's not fair that I come to school to learn and teachers come at me like I'm the bad person. Staff doesn't get me to classes (as was agreed upon in January).”
“They tell me, 'We're not going to take your word for it because you're a kid.'“ She said she was permitted to go to the dance but teachers said, 'Oh, they let fighters go to the dance.'
“That makes me feel bad. I walked off,” she said.
“It seems like you're trying, but you're not. We have to come together. It's a community thing.”
Kids ask her if she's OK after a fight, but teachers don't . “They say to 'Walk it off.”
“I'm the one getting blamed. I had six people on me. You're lucky there wasn't any blood,” she said.
The girl explained that kids aren't going to fight right under the camera.
Zion resident Pam Idleburg said she was looking for an answer to the allegation that a principal grabbed a child and screamed in his face. “I never heard an answer. Was that principal disciplined?”
Bennett said, “We investigated.”
Lack of certification
Zion resident Clyde McLemore asked the board why they allow a current administrator who does not have proper certification to be an administrator. “She is deficient in her special education license,” he said. “What time did you - let me finish (when interrupted) – what time did you know she wasn't qualified? Who has a correct license?
“I'm here to tell you that an investigation is not necessary,” McLemore said. He handed out the requirements for the license in question as well as a page about the employees licensure information as stated by the State Board of Education.
“All special education should be suspended. You have been put on notice,” McLemore said
Closed session request
McLemore asked if he could speak to the board in the closed session. He was told by Bennett that the decision had to be made by the whole board.
Zion resident Al Rogers said he was concerned about the question raised at the last meeting about racial misrepresentation. Clyde McLemore had asked about the abnormally high number of African American children who were placed in special education classes.
“Were the numbers correct? We come month after month and get no answers,” he said.
“Enough is enough. You want us to play by the rules, but when is the board going to play by the rules? I'm not coming here to be insulted.”
Rogers said he was about ready to display some civil disobedience.
McLemore added, “Nobody said nothing for two months. When can we expect an answer? We're prepared to take an action that you don't want to see.”
An Hispanic mother spoke of a different special education problem through a translator. She complained that some teachers don't pay attention ti the kids who need to be placed in special education and don't say anything until the middle of the year.
“That's why some kids are bullied because other kids know they need special help,” she said.
In the 11 minutes of the business portion of the board meeting, the board approved : the consent agenda, which included items about employment recommendations, financial reports, board and legislature policy reports, the presidents report, the superintendent's report and division head reports.
There was no old business on the agenda. The new business was all recommendations made by the superintendent and approved by the board.
Superintendent Keely Roberts recommended preparing the 2017-2018 budget, a recommendation for hazardous roadways, no registration fees for the 2017-2018 school year, to request bids for food service products, approve an expenditure of $426,000 regarding bids for the Pre-Fab Maintenance/ Technology Building,m removal of asbestos at a cost no more than $35,000, approve board agreements and the authorization of an IMRF agent.
There was no discussion of these items. The meeting ended and a closed session was to follow.