PARENTS FILE GRIEVANCE AGAINST SCHOOL BOARD CdA, Hayden Residents Claim Lapses in Ethics
Maben, Scott, The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA)
The Coeur d'Alene School Board is accused of religious discrimination, fiscal irresponsibility and ethics lapses in a grievance filed Thursday by a group of Coeur d'Alene and Hayden residents.
The 20-page complaint, supported by a petition signed by more than 100 residents, was prompted by the board's controversial decision at the start of the school year to eliminate the Primary Years Programme at Hayden Meadows Elementary School.
Nicole Olson and Ashlie Unruh, who helped prepare the grievance, said they would like to see the PYP teaching framework reinstated at the school. More than that, though, they say they want school trustees to follow district and state policies when making decisions.
"If they look at it again and choose to get rid of it ... they need to have valid, supported reasons for removing the program," said Olson, the mother of a first-grader at Hayden Meadows.
She and Unruh said the board's unanimous vote last October to discontinue PYP appeared to stem from trustees' personal dislike for the program and not the result of an open-minded analysis.
"Really they based it on their own opinions and emotions, I think, and not a lot else," said Unruh, who has four children attending Hayden Meadows. "People felt they had no voice and no choice in the matter. I think teachers and parents both felt like, wow, we were not heard."
Designed for students ages 3 to 12, PYP focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and the world outside.
Critics told the board last year that PYP is anti-American and aligned with the United Nations, and board members called PYP a social-political philosophy that has no place in public schools. Several trustees took issue with it for encouraging students to think of themselves as citizens of the world.
The board axed PYP eight weeks after it voted to eliminate the affiliated International Baccalaureate program at Lake City High School, citing low enrollment and lackluster test scores.
The grievance alleges that those decisions "harmed and interrupted our children's education, undermined the skills and authority of our administrators, and demoralized our teachers. …