Richmond parents lack a unified voice 0
In the final segment of our back-to-school series, 24 hours looks at what parents in Richmond are doing to communicate their ideas and concerns.
The voices of Richmond parents are scattered without a functional communication process between advisory councils and the umbrella group that’s supposed to represent them, according to some local parents who say it’s time for change.
“I spend half my time chasing down parents. That’s why we have a Facebook site, a website up, and I’m constantly bugging school unions to get better feedback to parents,” said Byron Stevens, head of the Richmond District Parents’ Association.
“It’s a little disheartening when only three or four parents show up.”
Stevens was appointed two years ago to represent each Richmond school’s individual parent advisory council. But folks who spoke with 24 hours said his title is largely toothless —far more people attend individual school PAC gatherings than the overseeing RDPA meetings.
“Maybe they need to be more visible. Maybe the (RDPA) executives need to start visiting schools, doing more outreach, possibly attending a PAC meeting at individual schools,” suggested Trixie Cruz, a Woodward Elementary PAC member.
“Trying to get to your own school meeting is a feat in itself, to commit another night to go to another district meeting is almost impossible.”
With nearly 50 schools in Richmond, no clear way to start conversations, and the lack of a permanent meeting place, Stevens said he’s left with constantly sending emails that aren’t replied to.
Gail Odorico, Burnett Secondary PAC vice-chairwoman, said email is part of a larger problem of “impersonal” communication.
“When my daughter was at an elementary school, we had a representative go to all the monthly (RDPA) meetings and report back … but not since I’ve been at Burnett.”
Marcie Gray, a Homma Elementary PAC member, said the responsibility to reach out rests with each individual parent.
“The RDPA is trying its best. I think parents need to step up more and join in. The parents that want to be there are doing it.”