Parents want change in schools
A small group of parents with concerns about bullying, buses and more met Monday night to discuss ways to help the local school district improve.
But if response to a posting on The Star’s Facebook page is an indication, the issues are a hot button item with much of the community.
The meeting at the Grand Coulee Fire Hall, facilitated by parent Heather Downs, drew eight including Downs, plus Grand Coulee Dam School District Superintendent Dennis Carlson, who attended to listen. The parents attending have a total of 15 children in the district.
Downs posted her expectations about the meeting, including keeping discussion positive and using no names.
Parents shared tales of their children being bullied or harassed, of overcrowded buses in which kids sit on the floor, of concerns about the attitudes of some staff. One woman showed photos of a burn on her 5-year-old daughter’s shoulder from an accident she said her daughter was told not to mention to her parents.
Another woman said a kid had thrown a full-size chair at her child, yet no one from the school informed her.
Another parent said she had sent her kids to the Wilbur district, but found the bullying problems increased there due to her kids’ outsider status.
Several parents said teachers tell their kids not to “tattle” when the children attempt to report being bullied.
A lack of communication emerged as a central theme.
Downs and others said some of the problems stem from a lack of help for teachers and bus drivers.
Downs challenged everyone at the meeting to get to the district office and fill out the paperwork and begin volunteering in the district.
A posting on The Star’s Facebook page before the meeting said: “Parents for Change think bullying is a big problem in GCD schools. Do you?”
Within an hour, the post drew 20 comments, some lengthy indictments, others defenses, of the school district.
A 14-year-old freshman, who asked not to be named, said in an interview later Monday night that she will start taking online classes next semester because of what she called “bullying” at Lake Roosevelt High School now and at Grand Coulee Dam Middle School previously.
“I’ve been bullied for three years,” she said. That means “excluding you and making you feel like an outsider, like you don’t belong anywhere.”
The problem is partly related to race, she said. There are two types of people at the school — those who live on the rez, and those who don’t, she said. And she’s doesn’t fit with either crowd.
She said she tried to talk to staff, but would be brushed off with a “kids will be kids” response.
With anxiety about school, she can’t focus there, she said, and will study the rest of the year online.