Writer encourages parents to attend meeting


Editor:

In the days following the Parkland, Florida school shooting, the Eaton Community Schools received several threats. The details of those threats were not released, but the Eaton Police Department investigated.

Like most parents, I am always ready to protect my children from harm. I want to know what I can do to ensure the safest environment for all students, from the bus to the school and back home again. With those thoughts in mind, I called the Eaton Community Schools Superintendent.

We discussed the many questions I had regarding safety at our schools. I also stated my intent to organize a “Town Hall” type meeting on school safety. The superintendent referred me to the school’s attorney with my questions. The attorney asked me to email my questions to him (which I did on March 1st) and then the board would read the answers at the next regularly scheduled board meeting.

Shortly thereafter, the school board announced the date of a special meeting regarding school safety. I found it very interesting that once I stated my intent to hold a town meeting on school and bus safety, the board announced a special meeting on the same topic. I suspect that the board preempted my meeting so they could have control over the conversation.

On Monday, March 26, the board held this special public meeting on school safety. Only a handful of people attended, including myself. At this meeting the board reviewed their safety procedures and partnership with the Eaton Police Department. The board president proceeded to read the answers to my questions, which I had submitted to the school’s attorney.

In my opinion, my questions were not answered in full and only led to additional follow-up questions, but the president continued on. She invited input from those present, but added that the board had voted not to answer any questions at tonight’s meeting.

I approached the podium on several occasions and asked questions while the board remained mute. My final question, “What does the school board want the community to do to help?” was also met with silence. This was not a meeting. This was only a lecture from the school board.

I found this to be an outrageous and unproductive way to handle a public meeting. If I had asked inappropriate detailed security questions or questions that violated the privacy rights of a student then I would have understood the board’s behavior, but this was not the case.

In closing, I would like the school board to explain why they hosted a special public meeting on school safety, but refused to answer questions or provide a follow-up meeting to answer questions. I would also like to point out my frustration at the lack of attendance from the public. In fairness to the board, I may be one of only a few parents with questions.

My original intention was to hold a town meeting regarding school and bus safety. Based on the small number of parents at the board’s meeting I don’t believe enough people are interested. I hope that I am wrong. Again, I sincerely would like to know what we as a community can do to help make our schools and buses safer?

The next Eaton Community Schools school board meeting will be held on April 9, 6 p.m. at Hollingsworth East Elementary. I hope that the board will be more accommodating to the public at this meeting.

Mike Halderman

Israel Township