I wanted to express that I find the reported “parting of the ways” with Superintendent Dr. Merri Rieger very disturbing, as do many parents of students in the Renton School District with whom I’ve spoken.
Our concern is not because of the short term of Dr. Rieger (which is concerning but does occur), nor the fact that the district will now have to commit both time and resources away from student responsibilities to search for, and hire, a new superintendent.
What parents find most disturbing from the story in the May 22 Renton Reporter is the apparent lack of transparency regarding the resignation, which is said to be due to “differing viewpoints” between the School Board and Dr. Rieger.
As the parent of three children currently part of the Renton School District, it is concerning that there may be substantial enough disagreement as to the direction of the district to cause a leader, who has held the position barely two years, to resign an opportunity she had initially indicated she was “honored to have.”
To make matters worse, the district refuses to comment on the nature of the “differing viewpoints” but rather emails out a weak statement that the district has “entered into an agreement to not discuss the matter.”
Well I’m sorry, but that is simply not good enough for the parents of children in the Renton School District. When it comes to the direction of the organization tabbed with educating our children, parents deserve, no demand, to know what that direction is and what issues cause this amount of disagreement at the highest levels of leadership within the district.
It is not acceptable to hide behind an emailed public relations statement and to not speak to the people in the district whom you’ve been tabbed to serve.
With record numbers of kids being pulled out of public school districts and home schooled; with considerable angst over items such as standards based grading, Common Core, and constantly changing standardized testing of questionable value, it is high time that school boards and school districts stop hiding behind canned statements and theoretical programs and develop complete transparency and a partnership with the parents whose children these programs impact.
The parents of students within the Renton School District implore you to begin to truly open yourselves to real parental feedback, pay attention to concerns about our changing education system, and become more transparent with regard to the philosophies and “differing viewpoints” circulating around the district office.
You can begin with more specific information about the parting of ways with Dr. Rieger.