Fairyland PTO Says It Can't Get Help From Walker County Schools And Board For Cafeteria Woes

Friday, October 19, 2018

Officials of the Fairyland Elementary School PTO said in recent months, the Fairyland Elementary School cafeteria "has effectively been shut down due to equipment (which broke in June) and consequent staffing issues."

The group said, "As it stands now, all food is 'satellited' in from Ridgeland High School to Fairyland Elementary School for all meals including breakfast, lunch and snack.  This has presented a significant hardship on FES students and staff in a myriad of ways including but not limited to the disruption of schedules, extra work put on teachers and staff as well as stress and nutritional/allergy concerns for children.

"In an email sent on Aug. 21 and in a subsequent meeting on Sept. 27, the PTO formally asked for a plan to be presented about how the aforementioned situation was going to be rectified. On Oct. 15 at 5:44 (16 minutes before the Board Meeting that parents and concerned citizens were attending) the parents received an email from Superintendent Raines via Principal Jeremy Roerdink.

"The current matter has been further aggravated due to the Walker County Board of Education’s failure to have a Public Participation Policy. Concerned parents have emailed and called to ask to have their voices heard and the topic discussed at the Board Meetings only to be told that there is no policy and therefore no way for them to voice their concerns at these meetings. When asked about an implementation date for the policy to be put in place, the response from the Superintendent and Board is that they do not have a timeline, effectively leaving the stakeholders, parents and tax payers of Walker County without a voice in these meetings.

"In Barrett v. Walker County School District et al, 4:15-cv-00055-HLM, U. S. District Judge Harold Murphy of the Northern District of Georgia, ruled that the Public Participation Policy was unconstitutional.  The board in turn, decided to appeal the Judge’s ruling to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

"In a rare unanimous decision, the 11th Circuit upheld Judge Murphy’s ruling stating that the Public Participation Policy was indeed unconstitutional and further awarded attorney’s fees to the plaintiff.  Judge Murphy clearly had pointed out in his 95-page ruling that the board could merely adopt either Catoosa or the Floyd County’s policy which have both passed constitutional muster.

"On Oct. 15, after many weeks of trying to get a formal plan from Walker County concerning issues with the Cafeteria, the parents of Fairyland Elementary School decided to gather together and attend the Walker County School Board meeting in hope that the board would address their concerns.  This effort only ended with the school board walking out of the meeting and not letting anyone speak to them directly.  The school board is elected by the taxpayers of Walker County and we believe that constituents deserve to be heard.  The action of the board cannot go on any longer; therefore, as the parents of Fairyland Elementary and taxpayers of Walker County, we have started a petition demanding the Walker County School Board to establish a Public Participation Policy no later than Friday, Nov. 19.  As of today, we have 407 signatures between the online petition and hard copy petition.  The hard copy petition is currently being delivered to the board.

"To be clear, the PTO at Fairyland Elementary is merely asking for equal treatment and focus for their children.  We want to be able to participate and have a voice in the Walker County Board of Education Meetings and Planning Sessions."

Petition:

On April 4, 2016, in Barrett v. Walker County School District et al, 4:15-cv-00055-HLM, U. S. District Judge Harold Murphy of the Northern District of Georgia, ruled that Walker County School’s Public Comment Policy was unconstitutional. He went on to advise the Walker County School Board to adopt a new policy and to do so in short order. Furthermore, Judge Murphy cited three other North Georgia School Board’s Public Comment Policies, which were found to be constitutional, which the Board could adopt; however, instead of doing so, the school board appealed the ruling to the 11 th Circuit Court of Appeals. On October 2, 2017, in a rare unanimous decision, the 11 th Circuit upheld Judge Murphy’s ruling that the Public Comment Policy was indeed unconstitutional. As of October 17, 2018, Walker County Schools still do not have a Public Comment Policy. This certainly gives new meaning to “short order”. On October 16, 2018, after many weeks of trying to get a formal plan from Walker County concerning issues with the Cafeteria, the parents of Fairyland Elementary School decided to gather together and attend to Walker County School Board meeting in hope that the board would address our concerns. This effort only ended with the school board walking out of the meeting, not letting anyone speak to them directly. The school board is elected by the taxpayers of this county and we believe that constituents deserve to be heard. This action of the board cannot go on any longer; therefore, as the parents of Fairyland Elementary and taxpayers of Walker County, we hereby formally PETITION the Walker County School board to establish a Public Comment Policy no later than Friday, November 19, 2018. If the Walker County School Board fails to do so we reserve the right to take further action. Please be advised we have attached sections of Judge Murphy’s ruling relating to the three North Georgia School Boards as well as Catoosa County Public Policy which was found on their website.


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