Parent appeals student placement, to no avail

By Emily Gillette

Contributing Writer

FRYEBURG — Not all parents were pleased with the SAD 72 school board’s decision to move seven incoming Brownfield Denmark Elementary School (BDES) kindergarten children to Snow School in an attempt to regulate class size for the 2014/15 school year.

One parent, Bobbi Perreault, asked to appeal their decision to send her child to Snow School after she observed both kindergarten classes at Snow and BDES.

“I was disgusted with the way she (the Snow School teacher) ran her classroom,” Perreault said. “She allowed the kids to cheat or copy off other students’ paperwork.”

Perreault says when she went to BDES she was far more pleased with the teacher and showed more respect toward the instructor.

“I don’t want my daughter to go to C.A. Snow because I don’t feel she’ll get the proper education,” she added.

Perreault went on to say that she was notified of the board’s decision through a letter from Principal Mark Schrader that stated her daughter was chosen according to her proximity to Fryeburg, and siblings with students already at BDES were exempt. The letter also suggested that if she had concerns about the placement, she could appear before the school board to appeal the decision.

“I think it’s really unfair to hear comments like that about a teacher because every classroom has its off days,” said Principal Schrader. “I have a lot of confidence in all three kindergarten teachers I work with.”

Carol Brooks, a selectman from Brownfield, questioned the fairness of the selection process, pointing out that six of the seven students assigned to the Snow School were from Brownfield. Brooks suggested, to be fair, that half the students should come from Brownfield and the other half from Denmark.

At the last school board meeting, directors looked at numerous alternatives to deal with the pressing issue of having a 26-student kindergarten class at BDES. After much discussion about what would work best, the board decided on moving the seven closest students without siblings already at BDES to attend Snow School, most of whom were from Brownfield.

Directors did not want to separate siblings.

“This is complicated,” said Superintendent Jay Robinson. “Part of what Mark and I are looking for is clarity on how to move forward in a fair manner.”

Robinson and Schrader drove to the homes of the 13 families with kindergarten students and logged the mileage from those residences to Snow School — identifying the seven closest. Letters were then sent out to all kindergarten students regarding their placement this fall.

Currently, there are 18 kindergarten students at Brownfield-Denmark, and a class of 15 and 16 students at Snow School.

Superintendent Robinson says he understands that due to proximity it appears unfair to Brownfield residents, but that he isn’t sure what a more equitable solution would be.

“The reality is we can’t have a kindergarten class size of 25, we have to have more manageable numbers and part of what we accept as being a school district is that town lines are arbitrary.”

There is currently no appeal process for student placement. All new registrations will go to Snow School.

Next: The next school board meeting will be Wednesday, Aug. 27, at 7 p.m. in the Molly Ockett Middle School cafeteria. All are welcome to attend.

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