NORTH ENID, Okla. — Nearly 100 people were left standing against walls and sitting on the floor as they filled the conference room for Chisholm Public Schools’ board meeting Wednesday, seemingly many in support of teachers who quit their jobs earlier this week.
Two kindergarten teachers, Carly Maly and Lauren Haney, resigned the same day from Chisholm Elementary School, following the Thanksgiving holiday break, Superintendent Chad Broughton said.
The elementary school is now without full-time teachers for two of its three kindergarten classes.
Board member Geri Ayers, a retired Chisholm educator, said the elementary school had four kindergarten classrooms last year. After the district couldn’t find a fourth teacher, classes were cut to three.
With two certified teachers now gone and other full-time faculty having resigned earlier in the year, Ayers said, “That concerns me,” which was followed by smatterings of applause from the room.
“And I’m figuring out this is why so many people are here,” she said. “We had a culture for Chisholm schools that we took a lot of pride in, and that culture we see going downhill, and I’m frustrated.”
Maly, who had been a kindergarten teacher for the last eight years at Chisholm and an educator for 15, said during the public comment of the board meeting that she felt she was being treated as replaceable, all while during a massive teacher shortage across the state.
“As a devoted teacher in this district, I’m saddened that my success as an educator is being overlooked and that the judgments have been faced harshly,” Maly said. “This is not what I wanted to do, but something I was pushed to do as the environment is no longer safe for me.”
Chisholm parent Tara Simpson said in public comment that her two children had a hard time the last two days since hearing about their teacher’s resignation.
Simpson said the teacher had helped her daughter overcome her father’s death.
“I don’t know what’s going on with drama — I haven’t asked and I don’t want to even know, I just want to speak only to her character and who she’s been for us,” Simpson said. “And as a teacher, she took two years with Hadley when she was unable to socialize correctly and she helped her, and I give her a lot of credit for that. …
“She is nurturing and loving. She helped heal my kids in a time that I even had trouble doing that.”
Maly said after the meeting that she was advised to not give comment when asked why she had resigned. Chisholm Elementary Principal Darla Smith also declined to comment about the two resignations.
An open position for kindergarten teacher is listed on the district’s job webpage.
Chisholm board members said they would figure out a date for a special meeting to discuss the district’s recent slew of early year resignations, as well as how to hire more full-time staff.
Fellow board member Andrew Ewbank said a workshop program from Oklahoma State School Boards Association (OSSBA) would develop and disseminate staff and community-wide surveys and provide intensive work for a year. He said he’d support a similar program that would cost much less than OSSBA’s.
“But that’s $40,000,” Ewbank said. “That’s a teacher.”
“But we’re losing teachers,” Ayers replied.