Flint residents protest conditions at Southwestern Academy, other schools

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FLINT (WJRT) (4/30/2018) - Parents are fed up and disgusted with conditions at Flint Southwestern Academy and other schools in the district.

They gathered Monday morning to protest a teacher shortage and other problems they see with Flint Community Schools.

Organizers, who say they know students and teachers inside the school, believe 13 classes had not had a teacher for the past 3 months, leaving students wandering the halls and sitting in the auditorium.

One person even said students are staying with teachers during their planning periods. Others say there is no structure or accountability when it comes to student attendance.

Organizers of the protest, who include community members and parents of students, say they want a countywide audit done on Michigan Lottery funds to see where the money is going.

"What you have is teachers overworked, understaffed and the students are paying the price," said Abel Delgado.

Syr-ron Williams said the school's problems show the community has given up on the schools.

"Everyone's so caught up in their cliques. You're for the mayor, against the mayor, for the council, against the council for the concerned pastor, against the concerned pastor," he said. "This is the result when people stop paying attention to the children."

Flint school officials say they engaged the protesters in conversation Monday morning to gather questions and provide some feedback to their concerns.

A statement released by the district acknowledges a shortage of substitute teachers is a problem across Michigan. But administrators deny leaving students unattended during the school day.

“When substitute teachers are not available, counselors and school administrators provide support with curriculum, grading and attendance reporting, ensuring students stay on track," the statement says.

Flint Community Schools is looking to hire several permanent teaching positions and working with the district's substitute teacher staffing provider to augment their efforts. Anyone interested in becoming a substitute teacher can call 810-760-1218.

Organizers say they are planning to continue their protest during the next Flint Board of Education meeting.

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