Transparency at Immaculate Conception School

Transparency at Immaculate Conception School

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Concerned Parents Of Immaculate Conception started this petition to Archdiocese of St. Louis and

April 29, 2021

 

 

 

Dear Father Joe and members of the school board,

 

           

            It has come to our attention that there is a lack of transparency and cause for concern in several areas at Immaculate Conception (I.C.) School. Many parents have expressed that inquiries to the administration and board are never addressed completely or properly. Even more concerning, the inquiries are often completely ignored. Ignoring and brushing aside valid concerns will cause the types of conversations that parents of children throughout the school have been having amongst themselves. Many IC parents with older children rave about the highly qualified staff, professionalism, and environment they encountered years back. To many of those parents, IC is not what it once was. Unfortunately, it appears to have become a rather toxic environment for too many students and parents, and most likely some faculty and administration. We believe the similarity of the issues encountered, and the inevitable discussions regarding those issues, may very well be what is causing the significant drop in enrollment over the last several years. Fortunately, there are lots of parents that only wish to work together to make the school something for all to be proud of once again. That will take the willing cooperation of the administration, school board, and faculty. The families that send their children to IC School deserve nothing less.

 

             

            Before getting into any specific topics, we would like to first address something completely shocking, but that has been brought up by many parents… not just a few. Parents are afraid to speak up and ask questions. They fear they will be labeled “that” family. They fear their children will be treated differently by some faculty and administration. Slamming hands down at questions is not going to benefit our relationships. Defensiveness does not invite constructive conversation that we can grow and learn from. Some who have questioned policies have simply been told that there are other schools they could enroll their children in. And some families have moved on after being demeaned too many times after asking reasonable questions.

 

We hope this petition will allow all parents to be heard. It states very clearly in the school handbook how strongly the Parish feels about professional conduct. None of the administrators, faculty, and staff should ever exhibit unprofessional behavior toward students or parents. We hope to engage in open, non-defensive and healthy dialogue regarding the topics mentioned in this letter and any others that families bring to the attention of IC. Father Joe had a very beautiful message a while ago. It was a video titled “Be Not Afraid”. Father Joe spoke on how we should challenge our minds and have challenging, hard conversations. We couldn’t agree more.

 

            IC is a place of faith and value. Any and all worry should be addressed with grace and mercy by staff, members of the board, Father Joe and parents. Any IC family would surely condemn intimidation, demeaning behavior, and bullying at our school.

 

                       

           


 

Below is a list of some of the many questions/concerns that parents have inquired about. We request that all are addressed in a timely manner.

 

 

1) The IC School Board is quite different than most of the other schools in the area. The IC board members are not put into their positions by a vote of the parish and/or school families. IC families are not allowed to attend school board meetings. For the most part, no one (including faculty members) knows exactly what the school board’s role even is. Until this school year, there had been language in the IC handbook and on the website stating that there was a 2-year term limit for school board members. Most of the current board members have been on the board for much longer than two years. Again, they are kept in their positions without being voted in by the parents who send their children to IC. There have been parents interested in getting on the board for years, but they are told that there are no spots available.

Any parent that wants to be on the school board should get the opportunity to run for a seat.

Why are parents left on the board for several years with no vote?

How are members of the school board currently selected?

Why aren’t school board meetings open to parents?

 
 

2) The majority of public and parochial schools of similar size in the area have some sort of program in place for getting technology into the hands of the students. We saw with COVID that IC was woefully unprepared for remote learning, while other schools in the area either had “eLearning” plans in place already, or were able to use their existing technology programs to adapt relatively quickly. While much of the IC faculty did a great job overcoming the technology hurdles they faced, the lack of technology created an incohesive approach that was an unnecessary additional burden on faculty, students, and parents. It is our understanding that IC turned down funding that would have kickstarted a technology program for middle school students a few years ago. The reason for denying the substantial donation was that the Technology Committee did not feel more technology was needed at the school.

We have been told that there is, or has been, a Technology Committee at IC School. Who is on the Technology committee and what exactly does this committee do?

Are there any plans in place to enhance the role of technology at IC School? If so, please provide details.

Why didn’t IC School use “COVID relief funds” to purchase devices for students as other local Catholic schools did?

 
 

3) Aside from what is in the handbook, there is no way for parents to understand the requirements for teachers or how they are selected to teach at IC School. Much more transparency is needed in this area. There should be a plan in place for rewarding deserving teachers and, just as importantly, disciplining teachers that don’t exhibit the values IC School should demand from them.

What are the requirements to hold a teaching position at IC?

How does IC School determine who they employ? Is the IC School Board involved? Another committee?

Once hired, how is a teacher’s performance measured? How are they disciplined for various issues (i.e. behavior, lack of professionalism, etc.)?

 

 

 

4)Why is IC School not utilizing and/or promoting Dual Enrollment and creating a stronger partnership with the public school system? We understand that some efforts have been made with sports programs and have been effective. What about band and other programs? Special education (including gifted)?

                       

                        *DUAL ENROLLMENT (4204 Archdiocesan Policy) Dual enrollment is a method of providing courses and programs to a student that the school itself cannot provide due to staffing and/or finances. Missouri state law also allows Catholic school students to be dually enrolled in public schools in order to participate in specialized programs or to receive special education or remedial reading and mathematics services.

 
 

5)Why have we moved away from professional lunch personnel and food service providers?

Surely there is a healthier and more affordable option than Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. Do catholic schools not have an obligation to provide healthy daily meals to students as public schools do? Is the Archdiocese aware of the current lunch options? Are other catholic schools in the area doing the same thing?

 
 

6) Does IC School receive funding from the Federal, State, or any local government. From any school district(s)? Are grants awarded to IC?

If so, how are these funds used, and who determines where the funds are allocated?

Does I.C. school have a finance committee? If so, who is on it and how is the application process done for others who may be interested? 

We received a "financial report" this year, however it left a lot unanswered. There was no break down. This is something I think all would want more transparency on. 

 

 

 

We would like to close with this:

 

SCHOOL MISSION STATEMENT: We, as members of Immaculate Conception Catholic School, are enriched by tradition, rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ, and are a community of believers. We are growing together in faith, love knowledge of Christ, service to God, our church, our community, and continually attempt to reach out globally in service to others. We strive to provide a Christian environment that is safe and secure; where students may grow spiritually, physically, emotionally and intellectually where parents are encouraged in their role as a child’s first teacher, where children are provided the opportunity to utilize their gifts and talents to glorify the Lord and where students are empowered to reach their full academic potential.

 

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