Arizona school district battles angry parents, makes it difficult for students to leave

Jul 15, 2016 by

PHOENIX – Parents in the Murphy Elementary School District have heard enough excuses for students’ dismal academic performance, and a growing number are now moving to withdraw their children to pursue something better.

A “swarm” of angry parents in Phoenix descended on the district offices in Phoenix Wednesday to demand answers from superintendent Jose Diaz, who was “in a meeting,” The Arizona Republic reports.

The parents argued with a district secretary while demanding forms, in Spanish, to withdraw their children from the district’s schools, which are among the worst in the state.

“Long-standing frictions in the Murphy community in southwest Phoenix have spurred animosity between parents, the district’s governing board, its administration and other stakeholders,” according to the news site.

“As a result, the predominantly Hispanic district has seen a decline of nearly 1,000 students over the past decade. Murphy’s enrollment – the main currency in Arizona’s school-finance system – continues to decline.”

Parents came to the district office to raise numerous issues that have festered for years, they said, including class sizes of up to 40 students, reliance on long-term substitutes to fill teaching positions, and a lack of communication from district and school officials.

The district has been on the state academic watch list for years, yet only a mere 16 percent of students pass state math and English exams, or roughly half the rate of the state average.

Diaz attempted to downplay the parental outrage to The Republic, alleging the protesting parents – which numbered more than a dozen – are a mere fraction of the district’s parents, implying that the others are satisfied with their child’s lackluster education.

He claims district officials are “about to” make everything all better.

“It’s sad because they (parents) have never given the district a chance,” he said. “They are not giving us the opportunity to show them what we’re about to do.”

Parents at the district offices Wednesday, who toted signs reading “enough is enough” and “Murphy discriminates against parents,” were directed to individual schools to withdraw their children. Diaz was too busy with more important things to address their concerns in person.

“They also waited to speak with Diaz, who was in a meeting with members of the media,” The Republic reports. “He later said he invited some parents in to talk.”

Regardless, parents and grandparents demanding change at district headquarters told The Republic they’ve been waiting for the district to take action for years, so now they’re taking matters into their own hands.

Murphy parent Araceli Franco said she’s looking into private schools because many other school options are full as it gets closer to the 2016-17 school year.

“I want a better education for my child,” she said, “ … people are willing to pay to get out of the school district.”

Franco’s mother, Anita Franco, told The Republic she’s dealt with the same ongoing problems in the Murphy Elementary School District for 35 years.

“There’s been too many years of bad education,” she said. “That’s why the children don’t end up graduating, and they end up in the streets.”

Source: Arizona school district battles angry parents, makes it difficult for students to leave | EAGnews.org

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