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Parents call Cleveland charter school 'chaotic' and 'dysfunctional' amid teacher shortage

Lakeshore Intergenerational School in Collinwood.
Lakeshore Intergenerational School in Collinwood.

A group of parents and teachers say they are alarmed and are calling for help after the first weeks of students being back in class at Lakeshore Intergenerational School, a non-profit charter school in Collinwood.

The group alleged in a press release that the ongoing teacher shortage and administrative mismanagement has meant bullying of children is going unaddressed, parents aren’t being notified of serious incidents like fights involving their children and multiple school closures have happened due to call-offs by staff.

“Children are being bullied and attacked by peers,” the release reads. “Teachers are unable to teach. There are no disciplinary actions put in place. Children are fearful of going to school. Many children don't feel safe.”

Robyin Craig has two children at the school and represents the parent-teacher group. She says current teachers are “struggling” and “stressed” and don’t have the support they need. Meanwhile, she said teachers are being hired who have no K-12 experience and don’t have teaching licenses.

“I’m worried about sending my child tomorrow; I don’t know who’s going to be in his classroom,” Craig said.

Intergenerational Schools' Executive Director Brooke King said in a statement that these are normal “beginning of the year challenges.” But they’re compounded by a “unprecedented national teacher shortage.” She says the school’s safety protocols have been updated, and the school is ramping up staff training.

“We have met with parents and teachers and continue to have an open dialogue,” King said. “With their valuable feedback, we’ve updated our safety protocols and added more professional development days for staff training and support.”

Craig said multiple parents have reported the front door of the building being “propped open,” allowing anyone to walk in. She said that was alarming considering the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas that occurred in May.

The press release claims the lack of experience among new staff – and significant staff turnover – has made for a difficult first few weeks of class.

“The teachers are unable to control their classroom, unable to teach the children and there is no curriculum in place,” the release reads. “The classrooms are unorganized, dysfunctional, loud and chaotic.”

Craig, the parent, said she is a big supporter of the school and its teachers, and said many of these issues weren’t present last year or in previous years that her children attended. She and the concerned group of parents laid some of the blame at the feet of a new principal, Beth Hampton, who was hired a few weeks before the new quarter started.

Several current teachers at Lakeshore reached out to Ideastream Public Media, but asked for anonymity out of fear of losing their jobs. One, who has been at Lakeshore for several years, said teachers begged the administration to delay opening until new staff could be trained, but that didn’t happen.

“There was a new hire who asked for two weeks of training, and was told, ‘I’ll give you two days,’” the teacher said. “Their first day was a s*** show.”

King said the district continues to hire “licensed teachers and substitute teachers,” but said the district faces districts with “larger budgets recruiting our teachers in higher-than-normal numbers.”

Craig did provide an email she received from the Lakeshore administration notifying parents of multiple days now planned when the school will be closed for staff training in September.

Conor Morris is the education reporter for Ideastream Public Media.