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Indianola Elementary Parents Hoping for Discipline Changes in ’17-’18

INDIANOLA, Iowa  --  Students and parents are counting down the days until summer break, but the parents at Wilder Elementary in Indianola want this year to be over more than ever.  

“We have Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Tuesday and I hope my child doesn’t get seriously hurt,” said Kristen Graham.

One by one, parents got up and shared horror stories, all of them about what their kids have dealt with in the classroom this year.

The parents finally had enough and started a petition to get some answers. In the letter, the parents shared almost everything that happened to the kids: assaults, verbal death threats, and even teachers getting punched. The ones accused of these crimes are mere elementary students with behavioral issues. Parent like Kristen Graham say these kids are out of control, and something needs to be done now.

“This is so wrong,” said Graham. “When I have to look at my child and ask her, 'can you go to school today? Do you feel safe?’ She looks at me and doesn’t know.”

More than 80 parents signed the petition, and many of them made it to the school board meeting Monday evening to voice concerns. They raised concerns about the class sizes being too high or the amount of special needs kids in each class. The biggest concern they have is with the staff, who they say is not trained properly to handle these troubled students.

Tiffany Money is among the staff members, and agrees with this view. 

“I am a first-year staff special ed associate at Wilder. I absolutely love the student I am working with. I received no training. None,” said Money.

Art Sathoff is the superintendent of the district, and Monday is the first time he was able to address all the parents about the issues. He couldn’t go into specifics because of privacy, but he did tell the group they are working on resolving these issues soon, with big changes on the way. 

“We are redesigning our behavior program and that is going to be under new leadership. We’ve hired a new teacher there, a very experienced teacher that we think will do a great job,” said Sathoff

He says the director of the new program comes from a success school in Des Moines. In addition, they will be evaluating training procedures. However, for now, Sathoff is asking parents to be patient and know they are working on this.

“There are changes that are going to evolve over time as you start to tackle those big things like we've been talking about." 

Sathoff said they hope to have more answers and a better understanding of what the program will look like next year at the next boarding meeting in June.