When District 118 school board member Gina McGuire addressed her fellow board members Wednesday night, she did so as “an angry and outraged parent.”
Following her emotional comments was additional testimony from four more District 118 parents who voiced similar concerns about how some teachers interacted with their children and other students as well as with the parents themselves.
Superintendent Mark Denman vowed to get to the bottom of the parents’ complaints.
“We’re very responsive. We want to hear what parents have to say,” he said. “I guarantee you we will investigate and look into it.
“I will try my very best to solve any problems,” he said. “As in any family, there will be disagreements.”
McGuire took issue with “the unprofessionalism of a staff member” who teaches her son, a Danville High School junior. She claimed the teacher “harassed” her son about a posting she made on a social media site.
“A district employee initiated a conversation with my son, and my son was offended by what he said,” she told board members.
McGuire claimed the teacher tried to detain her son after class and continued to question him.
“He wanted to know my son’s opinion of teachers and what teachers are paid,” she said. “Why would you single out a child and ask him that? He didn’t understand what was going on.
“I am outraged that someone would use tactics on my son to try to find out how I feel about teachers and their salaries,” she added.
The district already has begun contract negotiations with the Danville Education Association. Two years ago, negotiations broke down and teachers were on strike for several days.
McGuire said the teacher requested to also speak with her “about a comment I posted on a public media site.” She said when she went to meet with the teacher, a DEA representative also was present.
“I was there as a parent, not as a board member,” she contended.
Addressing the audience, McGuire pleaded, “Parents, I ask you to become involved. Know who the people are teaching your child.
“It’s not OK to harass children because you don’t agree with an opinion of an adult,” she said, referring to her son’s teacher.
The Rev. Aaron Foreman, the youth minister at the New Life Church of Faith, also relayed a recent incident in which a
teacher chastised his son when he answered that he thought Barack Obama was the best president.
“He said things to my son that blew me away,” Foreman said of the teacher.
“The teacher shot him down and said ‘Why would you say that? He single-handedly ruined this economy,’” he said.
“I am disturbed at some of the things I hear from other students,” Foreman said. “As a teacher and as a community, we have a bigger responsibility to our children.”
Carmen Day, a parent of South View Middle School and DHS students, said she is involved with her children’s education and periodically sits in on her children’s classes. Day said she recently sat in on a class and couldn’t believe it when she received a phone call from the principal saying she had been “disruptive.”
“They say they want the parents to be involved, but it’s not being (well) received,” she said.
“You ask us to be involved. You say we are welcome,” Day said. “I am concerned. We want our children to succeed.”
DHS parent Terri Davis agreed with Day.
“You have teachers, Mr. Denman, who are not so welcoming.”
Davis claimed a Freshman House teacher is inconsistent with his grading, and it causes her “to question this teacher.
“I am not happy with the performance of some of the teachers,” she said. “Some teachers are using the refocus room as a babysitting room.”
In the middle of Davis’ comments, Sean Burns, the UniServe Director for the Illinois Education Association, stood up and asked, “How long are we going to allow one citizen to disparage the members of the DEA?”
Corey Pullin, vice president of the DEA, said he respected the parents’ opinions, but that “bringing it up again in this forum was wrong, in my opinion.”