Parents speak out on forced transfers from JoCo schools

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - A group of more than a dozen angry parents cornered Shawnee Mission School District Superintendent Dr. Jim Hinson after Monday night's school board meeting, upset over a proposal to force some students to transfer out of two overcrowded district elementary schools.

Hinson told the board and parents that Briarwood Elementary and Brookridge Elementary were each overcrowded. He described it as a good problem for the district to have, with more new parents moving into the district than officials had anticipated.

But the overcrowding must be addressed, Hinson said during the meeting, and the district, in consultation with school-level "site councils" is in the process of figuring out how. The most likely options appear to involve redrawing school boundary lines and moving students to other schools, removing recent transfer students in a kind of last-in, first-out option, or a combination of both.

Angry parents of Briarwood students, many of whom learned of the proposal, which would go into effect next year just this week, called that unacceptable.

"My family has owned property here, worked here, paid taxes here since the 1950s and we will not accept this proposal," Emily Phillips told the board. "We will continue to make our voices heard as long as the threat of removing our children from Briarwood continues."

And make their voices heard they did. When Hinson concluded an interview with 41 Action News after the meeting, more than a dozen parents were waiting for him.

They peppered him with questions and at times, voices were raised. Hinson urged them to talk to members of the site councils at their schools. Hinson said communication problems with parents should be attributed to the site councils, not to him or the board.

"My question to the site council is show me your communication out to the parents to see if that's been occurring appropriately," he told 41 Action News in an interview.

When Hinson left the impromptu parent conversation, several parents said they were still upset and would fight to keep their children in the schools many of them moved there to attend and support financially or as volunteers. 

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