Parents speak on school district communication concerns

Local News

URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — A large group of parents showed up to the Urbana School Board meeting saying they’re unhappy with the lack of communication between the district and families. 

Tensions rose as parents tried to explain their concerns. Much of it centers around the way the district has handled student discipline. Many said the district hasn’t been as transparent as it needs to be.

During public comment, one parent said, “We demand that you, our elected officials, take immediate action to restore transparency, honesty.” 

Another parent said, “This past year there has been a great lack of communication between administrative staff and parents: unreturned phone calls, unanswered emails in regards to school policies.” 

The issues they feel have gone unexplained include the overhaul of the district’s disciplinary code and the communication between staff, students and parents.

Parent Scott Dowds says, “An example I can think of would be the deans being transitioned out of their positions at the high school and middle school. There wasn’t much information given about that transition.” 

Earlier this year, the district announced six deans will be moving into faculty positions as part of a change to school’s discipline practices. Some are upset parents didn’t have a say in what happened. Parents also said they were left confused when two principals recently resigned. Urbana High School principal Matthew Stark and Urbana Middle School principal Scott Woods are both leaving.

Dowds says,”It was very surprising. Turnover in the area is probably going to happen, but to see both principals and vice principals and a number of teachers at the buildings all leaving does give a sense that there might be something more going on.” 

The school district won’t comment on resignations citing personnel issues. Parents say they understand privacy, but it doesn’t help when other questions go unanswered. 

“We will not tolerate the fractured relationship between administration and staff, and likewise administration and parents.” 

Parents say the main issue comes down to working with the school district to solve the problems parents have noticed. 

The school board didn’t give a response to the parents’ concerns brought up at the meeting, but Superintendent Donald Owen says when it comes to hiring the two new principals, they will try to include families in the decision process. 

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