DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. - Parents want transparency and answers.
Some say their children have special needs and I-E-Ps. Still their school district gave them only one business day’s notice that their children were being forced to change elementary schools due to overcrowding.
They want to know why their children were chosen and why they didn’t get more notice.
The notice came at the end of the school day last Thursday.
Dearborn Heights District number 7 hired an additional 2nd grade teacher at Pardee Elementary because of higher than expected enrollment at its three elementary schools.
Some children were told they would be transferred to that new class effective Monday.
For Keyana Washington’s son it meant he had to leave Bedford Elementary, a school he loved.
“When he found out he began to cry and didn’t stop,” said Keyana Washington.
“I didn’t want to move. I had been there since kindergarten and 1st grade,” said her son Zion.
Washington says she went to the administrative offices on Friday morning to see if her son could avoid the change.
She was told no.
She told him Friday would be his last day at that school. He says he spent much of the day crying.
On Sunday night he got upset, had an asthma attack and had to be rushed to the hospital. He was admitted for treatment.
“Crying and getting worked up definitely impacts his attacks,” said Washington.
She said if she had known a couple weeks in advance, she could have found a way to break the news in a less rushed and emotional way.
She could have taken him to the new school and looked at it. She could have found out if any of his friends were also changing schools.
“He is a child of routine. Even if I am putting him to bed, I don’t just say go to sleep now. I prepare him.”
Washington says she wonders if there is a reason she didn’t have much notice. Was it about making sure the school received some funding.
“I did find the timing suspect because that Wednesday, the day before, was count day,” said Washington.
“Count day doesn’t even come into play,” said Superintendent Jennifer Mast.
Mast said 'Count Day' is actually a 10 day window during which students are counted.
She said if students are not present during count day, the district can file paperwork to receive funding for when they are there.
“The last thing we want to do is move kids after they are comfortable with a building and a teacher,” said Mast.
Mast said the district simply received higher enrollment than expected in the second grade and had to act for the good of children.
As a result they had overcrowded classrooms in all three schools.
The district hired a new second grade teacher to work in a classroom at Pardee Elementary. Some children had to be transferred from other schools within the district to make sure class sizes were best for learning.
Notice was given to parents as soon as the classroom was ready.
“Honestly I think it is going to be better in the long run. Those classes are smaller now. I hope parents can trust us and bring their children to that class. We will work our magic and show them that this is a great classroom to be in. They will thrive and make friends,” said Mast.
Mast said she has been in the classroom every day this week checking in on how students are adjusting.
Washington has kept her son home for now, due to the asthma attacks. She says she is not sure what she is going to do.
She says the timing of the notice leaves her with limited options, as school of choice deadlines have passed at many schools.
She says she is speaking out to make sure in the future more consideration is offered.
“I want to see him stay in the building, but if that doesn’t happen I want to see this doesn’t happen again for future students,” said Washington.