From left, Jamie Malley, Karen Peroulis and JoBeth Tupa discuss school issues Thursday afternoon at Centennial Mall. The three were part of a group of parents who met recently to talk about ongoing issues with schools in Moffat County.

Photo by Noelle Leavitt Riley

From left, Jamie Malley, Karen Peroulis and JoBeth Tupa discuss school issues Thursday afternoon at Centennial Mall. The three were part of a group of parents who met recently to talk about ongoing issues with schools in Moffat County.

Parental group meets to talk about Moffat County schools

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Sunset Elementary School Advisory Committee meeting

6:30 p.m., Jan. 14

Sunset Elementary library

— The monthly meetings are a chance for parents and staff to discuss topics pertaining to the school.

Concerned Parents of Moffat County School District held its first public meeting Thursday afternoon in the commons area of Centennial Mall.

About 20 people came out for the meeting for the purpose of discussing their grievances with the area schools attended by their children, as well as to share information on how to address the issues they feel are not being received by the school district.

Karen Peroulis, one of the meeting’s organizers said she would have liked to see a larger turnout, ideally as many of the parents who have joined the group on Facebook, with a membership of 183 as of Thursday evening.

Those who attended were talkative about some of the points of contention they have had with MCSD. The group’s formation came about two weeks ago partly because of the resignation of Sunset Elementary School third grade teacher Pam Williams, which has upset a number of parents.

Neither Williams nor a Sunset or district representative could be reached for comment about the circumstances surrounding her departure.

Sunset Elementary came up many times in conversation between parents, some of whom also mentioned the school’s policy of handling student entry into the building on days when the weather is below freezing, known as “red flag days.”

Jamie Malley, mother to a Sunset second-grader and fifth-grader, said she did not understand the protocol of having children walk around to sections of the school, which, because of the layout, offer separate doors into the classrooms that can only be opened by Sunset staff. She also questioned whether or not the system — implemented to avoid the entire student body crowding the front door at the same time and run the risk of an intruder gaining entry to the school — was secure.

“I don’t think that’s necessarily any safer because, one, there’s no adults back there making sure kids aren’t just being kids playing (in extreme weather) and two, most of those doors don’t have windows, so how do you know it’s a kid banging on the door?” she said. “Worst case scenario, the door doesn’t close right away, so someone puts their foot in it and now they’re in the building.”

Both Malley and fellow parent JoBeth Tupa said they have felt unwelcome Sunset Elementary as parents. Malley added that she felt like the channels between parents and administration have not always been open.

“There’s really been a lack of communication,” Malley said.

Tupa said the perception that parents don’t understand all the issues of education is a damaging one. She recommended parents attend School Advisory Committee meetings whenever possible — the soonest one for Sunset being Jan. 14.

“It’s not that hard to get up to speed, and it’s certainly not that hard to stay up to speed,” she said.

The important thing is for parents who have similar objections at any Moffat County school to make sure their voices are heard, Peroulis said. The MCSD website, moffatsd.org, readily offers a form for those with comments or complaints, available under the site’s “Policies & Regulations” tab.

“We want anybody from any school with a complaint be it about the coaches or custodians to write in,” Peroulis said. “One person writing in won’t make a difference, but if a lot of people do, then (the district) will have a stack of papers about a subject and they’ll have to do something about it.”

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

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