Parents whose children attend Kankakee High School say the academic year has gotten off to a rough start, citing a lack of teachers and scheduling problems that have led to students staying in their home rooms every school day.
Classes have been in session for less than three weeks, and Dr. Genevra A. Walters, the superintendent of Kankakee School District 111, told NBC 5, "It's absolutely not going as planned at all."
The high school is in process of implementing a new "flexible schedule" that was designed to improve inequities and give all students a voice, the superintendent explained. But, she said, the schedule isn't ready, so students are sitting in their home rooms all day.
While teachers are present to help with assignments, some parents say they're concerned about their teens' education. Parents also referenced a video that shows students sitting on the floor.
"It just sounds like complete disfunction in the school," said Jolane Walenga, a parent of two teens who go to the school. "My kids don’t even want to attend."
The new schedule, Walters explained, won't necessarily restrict students to traditional class periods and will have time built in for students who need additional support. But given the current situation, some parents want the district to employ a more typical schedule.
"There’s no assignment for where to go during certain hours of the day, no classroom assignment," said parent Matthew DeYoung. "It's sort of like taking the shock of 2020 and then multiplying it times 10 with the decisions that were made about the high school schedule."
The superintendent acknowledged no one "likes the idea that we haven’t had a schedule yet," but said the school's scheduling team is working hard to resolve the issue.
To complicate matters, the high school is also dealing with a teacher shortage following the resignations of 18 teachers in recent months.
"There are multiple reasons why teachers resigned," the superintendent explained. "We are committed to really, truly figuring it out and solving that problem, but again, that’s been a problem for the last seven, eight years."
Walters said the schedule should be running more smoothly by Tuesday, but added it will take longer to improve some of the built-in inequities.
"I think the issue now is that we’re trying to create equity in the schedule, which is impacting...students that never had to worry about that before," she stated.