Parents Take Safety Concerns to St. Johns School Board

By: Josh Sidorowicz Email
By: Josh Sidorowicz Email

Many of the parents worried about their kids' safety because of a student they describe as disruptive and violent aren't happy with the lack of answers they're getting from the district.

Monday night many of the parents packed into the St. Johns school board meeting looking for answers but instead came away disappointed with what they say is a lack of communication on the district's part.

"The lack of any response from... this school board here or the superintendent is almost like they're telling the parents physical violence is okay," said Jerry Benson who has several children who attend Riley Elementary.

For Benson and many of the other parents at Riley Elementary the biggest problem hasn't been a disruptive second grader but a district's failure to address the situation in a timely manner.

"Unfortunately our second grade daughter's education continues to be compromised due to disruption and violence," said one parent who spoke during the meeting.

Parents hoping to get a clearer picture from the district of what was being done to address the issue left with more questions than answers.

"We're still waiting to see if our children actually are going to be safe or if there's going to be another physical altercation," Benson said."

From our previous reporting on this story, parents we spoke to said in the past few weeks there have been several incidents involving a second grade student disrupting class, screaming and being physically violent with other students.

One parent who spoke to us said her child had been punched in the back by the student and had to seek medical attention.

Stephanie Dimmick said she expected the board to respond to specific issues expressed by parents.

"It was addressed but I don't feel like the board responded," Dimmick said. "It took awhile to get a response to having these parents here tonight I don't know if it's going to make a difference."

St. Johns Superintendent Dedrick Martin stood by his assurance that the situation was being addressed.

"We have a great school, we have a great staff, we know that we will rally abound them and do what's best for all our kids," Martin said.

Though parents were hopeful.

"If we work together as a team and as a community I think we can really do good for all our elementary schools" said. Christie Williams.

But for Dimmick, it was all too little too late.

"I feel its being addressed but it is too late and there have been too many children hurt because of this," she said.

Parents we've talked to have said the student in question is a student with an individualized education plan, or IEP student but the district would not confirm.

District officials also wouldn't confirm is the student is back in class saying they would be violating the privacy and legal rights of the student.

On Thursday the principal of Riley Elementary, Jessica Gillard, resigned though it's unclear if it was because of this incident.

Martin would only say she resigned for "personal reasons."

The district is bringing in an interim principal until a permanent replacement can be named.

The district has also hired a new parent pro for Riley Elementary though the district would not confirm if it was specifically related to the situation.


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