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Parents are angry that teacher’s kids are allowed more in-person classes at Eaton Rapids Public Schools

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 6:11 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Parents of students in Eaton Rapids Public Schools are upset about what they say is a double standard surrounding in-person learning.

“For me, it’s like what makes that kid so much more special to get that spot, when somebody else could benefit it in a different area?” questions ERPS parent Zach Polihonki.

Polihonki’s daughter is a student in the district’s hybrid model of learning. She goes to school in-person two days per week. The hybrid model has existed at the elementary school level for more than a month. Most kids are participating in the hybrid model, except kids whose parents are teachers in the district. Teacher’s children are allowed to take all of their classes in person. The district says this exception was offered to help teachers get back to work in-person.

“We want all the teachers here in the fall, we want all of our talented teachers to be with us, and not leave,” says Superintendent Bill DeFrance.

Polihonki wants to know why his student isn’t in a classroom every day too.

“I personally feel like it should have been based off, who’s struggling the most maybe not financially-- but maybe somebody that has a learning disability, versus a teacher’s kid who has adapted well to the virtual learning,” Polihonki says.

ERPS worked with the teacher’s union to craft this plan. DeFrance says it ensures teachers will want to come back to the classroom.

“We had to figure out how to get our teachers back and have them serve as many kids as possible in person,” DeFrance says.

Defrance estimates about 10-15 students are getting to go to school every day because their parent is a teacher. Polihonki spoke with DeFrance on Monday. Polihonki thinks wanting to make the teachers happy isn’t a good enough reason for the unfair playing field.

“I’m a small business owner, I get it,” Polihonki says. “But at the end of the day, my customers don’t care about the excuse, you know what I mean? I’m the customer in this aspect If I got to sacrifice, I feel like we should all sacrifice equally.

DeFrance says he’s not surprised some parents are upset.

“I don’t get surprised about anything anymore, I mean there isn’t anything that you can do to be able to satisfy everybody.”

The Eaton Rapids Public School Board is scheduled to meet virtually on Wednesday night. A public comment sign-up is available on the district’s website.

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