Parma - A promise broken has led to a local charter school scrambling to figure things out.
Summit Academy, off Stumph Road in Parma, is closed for Tuesday and Wednesday as teachers, and some parents, hit the picket line to strike against leadership from the Akron-Based Summit Academy Management.
The biggest issues, class sizes, not enough staff and deplorable conditions inside the building.
"They are not honoring what they said on the website, which is two teachers to 15-18 kids. His class has 21 kids, and almost all the time it's just one teacher. Between ADHD and Autisim, It's just to much," says parent Christina, who has a son and niece who attend the school. She says they had to leave public school because resources their were not sufficient enough to support the kids. "In the past year, it's just declined so much."
Teachers meanwhile march for the children they try to help guide. Kelly Granda has taught at the school for 15 years, and says she isn't going anywhere. "I know that I could work other places, but I want to work with these kids. We work with special needs kids and their really good kids and have great families who researched for the right school for them and we want to make sure management is held accountable for promises they made to everyone who goes here."
There are roughly 200 students who attend the Academy, and most deal with disabilities like ADHD, ADD and Austism. Reports indicate there are only 25 teachers on staff at the school, which is also lacking in structural integrity.
"My son saw a report on TV going through the halls, and pointed out holes in the wall and other issues," says Christina. Conditions like those, and even having some students have to take trash out to the dumpster, have caused teachers at the school to say enough.
"I got scabies this year. I didn't even know what it was until then. It's just not good," says Granda.
Though negotiations are at a stand still, there is some sort of silver lining. State Representative and former Parma City Councilman Jeff Crossman has talked with city leaders and will have the building inspected Tuesday as the strike continues.
"We just need to make sure we get things up to code, because were seeing reports of building issues, air quality issues. That's not good," says Crossman. "Hopefully getting that part solved makes things move quicker and gets everyone on the same page sooner."
Crossman voiced his support for the teachers as their strike began Tuesday morning. You can see his address to the crowd below.
For now, however, the lines in the sand have been drawn. Classes are cancelled through Wednesday at the school, with things expected to pick back up Thursday, February 21st. If the strike is still continuing, substitutes will take over. That thought concerns Christina. "My son just started new medication. They haven't been around. How are they supposed to know how to handle this situation?"
The strike is significant, mainly because the ideal purpose of charter schools is to avoid issues like teacher strikes and union disagreements. This strike is just the third in charter school history nationwide. The other two came out of the Chicago area.
To see the latest on the strike, via the School's web page, click here.
Photos and video by: Kyle Cornell / WTAM 1100 / IHeartRadio 2019
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