Why do Chatham parents think the school board doesn’t listen to them?

By Mia Munn

Pittsboro, NC – I was asked the other day “why do Chatham parents think the school board doesn’t listen to them?” My answer didn’t have anything to do with the content of what parents say – I think the person asking was well aware of that. Instead, I gave two examples where the board, literally, was not listening to parents.

1. When there were discussions about returning to in-person teaching, the board meetings were held in the Horton multi-purpose room. The ONLY people allowed in the room were school district staff and the board. The parents and community members were ONLY allowed in 2 classrooms to view the meeting remotely. You could also zoom into the meeting, but parents wanted the school board to hear their voices, or at least see that they were there advocating for their children. Instead, they were sent to a room where they were silent and (literally) unseen. I went to one of those meetings, but didn’t take a seat inside. Instead, I asked Asst Supt Blice for a pad of paper, so the dozens of parents who were unable to get into the meeting due to the limited capacity of 2 classrooms could sign in, to show they were there. I saw the sign-in sheet, and signed it, but that was not shared with the board. The board didn’t know that dozens of parents wanted their voices heard.

At the September 2022 meeting the school board members had their backs to the parents. (photo by Gene Galin)

2. At the contentious meeting at Chatham Grove this fall, where the board KNEW there would be public comment about the incident with the girl and her bible, the room was arranged so that the board and the superintendent literally had their backs to the parents. No one on the board when they walked into that room made a comment – they didn’t apologize to parents for the optics or ask to delay the meeting for a few minutes to rearrange the room. The board just went on with their business with their backs turned to the parents in the room. I’ve never seen a more clear physical manifestation of indifference.

I’m sure I could have come up with other examples, but these were top of mind.

The person I talked to, I think, had an “Aha” moment – the board has by their actions NOT LISTENED to parents. Not the just the content of what the parents had to say.