A group of distraught Arlington parents, angry that their second graders at Jamestown Elementary School have had three teachers in less than two months of school, will appear before the School Board next week to ask that the board change a school policy that allows teacher transfers during a school year.
At a meeting last week called by the school's PTA, a group of 25 Jamestown Elementary School parents told school Principal Lionel Seitzer that their children have had to endure a disruptive and somewhat traumatic first six weeks of school.
"We have seen nothing good come out of this," said one mother who did not identify herself. "I've lost a lot of faith." The class of 24 second graders at Jamestown started out the school year with Peggy Walthall, according to Seitzer.
A school spokeswoman said Walthall has been teaching in the Arlington schools since 1968.
But 14 school days into the year, school administrators created a position for an additional third-grade teacher because there were about 25 more students than they had expected in the primary (kindergarten through third) grades, Seitzer said.
Walthall told school administrators she would prefer to be a third-grade teacher and asked to teach the new class, Seitzer said.
On Sept. 23, Jan McConnel, a teacher at Taylor Elementary School, was moved over to Jamestown to teach the second graders, he said.
But on Oct. 11, after three weeks with the children, McConnel learned of a new job opening at her old school and on Oct. 14 she informed school officials she would like to return to Taylor, Seitzer said.
Last week, the second graders were introduced to their third teacher, Meg White. Seitzer said White has been a teacher in the District's schools and has also taught summer school with the Arlington schools.
According to Henry Gardner, assistant superintendent for personnel for the Arlington schools, the transfers were permissible under current policy.
But at last week's meeting, parents angrily denounced the policy.
"I am shocked, stunned and dismayed," said a woman, who declined to be identified. "I will never get over this."
"I think we ought to go to the board and let them have it," said a man, who also did not wish to be named.
One mother said her child cries at home frequently now.
Other parents said they are worried that all the disruption has caused their children to lose valuable learning time. "I have no feel for where my child is now," said a woman, who did not identify herself.
Kitty Champlin, who left the meeting early, said the situation had made her so upset that she was looking for a private school for her daughter.
By the end of last week's meeting, which lasted about 1 1/2 hours, the parents decided to ask the School Board at its Nov. 7 meeting to create additional classes earlier when a school is overenrolled, to prohibit teachers from transferring to another school once the school year has begun and to discourage personnel switches during the school year.
Jamestown Elementary School PTA president Mary Alice Gray said she hopes the board will be receptive.
"I think they will at least take a closer look at the policy," she said.