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Parents call for School District 46 Board president's resignation

Published: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 10:30 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 11:53 p.m. CDT

PRAIRIE GROVE – About a dozen parents, one after another, called for the resignation of the School District 46 Board president at Tuesday’s board meeting.

Several parents echoed those calls for the three other board members who ran successfully with board President Margaret Ponga in the last April school board election.

“When you know better, you do better,” resident Pat Greenwald said. “When you know something’s wrong, you say it's wrong.”

Many of the concerns outlined by the 13 commenters paralleled those laid out in an email and website that has been making the rounds.

A 14th speaker, Hadley Tidler, rebutted some of the claims, adding the board members don't have to like each other but they do need to work together.

In a statement that preceded the public comment session, Ponga told those gathered: "I recognize that many of you are here because of the concerns to a call-to-action letter authored by a group known as Citizens for PG46.

"Although this letter mischaracterizes many of the actions taken by the board over the past few months, I understand and respect these individuals' rights to disagree with the board’s actions and the opinion and views of individual board members."

Judy Butler, who has a fifth-grader and eighth-grader at District 46, said she put together the website after comments on Facebook about the way school board meetings were being run raised concerns and she started doing her research.

"How does it feel to be referred to as clowns and that the board of education meetings are a three-ring circus?" Butler said at Tuesday's meeting. "That's shameful. You should be ashamed of yourselves."

School board member Lori McConville added later in the meeting that she agreed with some of the points in the letter.

"It is important for you to continue to voice your concerns, to show up to meetings, even if you take turns with your neighbors," she said. "What happens in here in this small group, it's what happens here. Unless it gets out to you and we get feedback, we can't act appropriately."

While more than one parent worried the issues surrounding the district would prevent it from finding a quality superintendent to replace outgoing Superintendent Lynette Zimmer, one consultant from the firm hired to conduct the search said she guarantees they will find the district a great leader.

In developing a profile for the ideal superintendent, the consultant, Jill Hawk of School Exec Connect, said finding a peacemaker was a common theme among the staff, board and parents interviewed.

The reassurance wasn't enough for Greenwald, who said hiring a new superintendent was like painting a water-damaged wall without fixing the leak.

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