As a parent of a child in District 97, I am deeply concerned how removed the administration and some board members are from what does happen in our schools. According to this paper, Carolyn Newberry Schwartz commented about the proposed civility policies that she was "missing the storyline" to why they were generated by the District 97 Education Council. These civility policies were first introduced to the board in the summer of 2004, over 8 months ago, giving Mrs. Newberry Schwartz ample time to investigate why our teachers felt they were not being protected "in ways they deserve to be protected." Parents have met with Dr. Fagan about this, have brought concerns to the board, and teachers have apparently talked with their union about it. The storyline is not very hard to find here.
Furthermore Mrs. Newberry Schwartz commented that her concern was with how a policy would characterize our relationships in the district. I would hope the initial concern of our school board vice president would be to find out why teachers are feeling unsafe in this district and how to rectify it, not with how it may appear. Last week, a few teachers at Brooks spoke to this paper under the condition of anonymity that morale is still low at their school. Dr Fagan said he was unaware of any problems, and that there is a grievance procedure in place for teachers. If teachers don't feel safe and protected by their administration, are afraid of "witch hunts," how effective is that procedure? We have fabulous teachers in Oak Park; if their basic need of safety can not be provided by the school system, we will lose them, and have difficulty replacing them. As a parent, I would embrace a policy that would make the teacher of my child feel supported and protected if they ever need it. A civility policy would not chill the many positive relationships in the district, but reinforce that these relationships are important enough to be protected.
There is mistrust for District 97 administration, not only from parents, but teachers as well. Hopefully with our new superintendent and board members, a new trust can be founded.