Rec district unresponsive to parents

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By The Staff

In response to a letter from the Evergreen Park and Rec District board in the Nov. 5 Courier, we would like to clarify our position with regard to the tae kwon do classes in the district.

The board took the liberty to summarize the conduct of several parents at the Oct. 28 meeting in a way that made parents’ comments sound like an attack on district executive director John Skeel. The manner in which individual opinions were expressed should be honored as free speech. Parents attending the meeting were not a “few individuals who find the operational decisions made by Skeel unpopular.” Parents present shared the views of many of the 47 who signed an earlier petition regarding the tae kwon do program. This petition was simple but uncovered issues and concerns with Skeel and the board. These issues include lack of communication by Skeel that was compounded by the lack of action on the part of the board.

This situation arose when a case of plantar warts broke out at Buchanan Rec Center in March 2008. The matter was handled in an unprofessional and abrasive manner, resulting in “indefinite cancellation” of classes. Following this cancellation, a petition was drawn up with the express intent of getting classes reinstated at Buchanan, as well as some issues resolved at the Wulf Rec Center. Board meetings were attended, as well as meetings with parents, staff and Skeel. Unfortunately, due to lack of communication, and an executive director who put the responsibility of resolving this matter with an employee, matters escalated. Skeel took measures to prevent the program from returning, even though he had assured parents at the meetings that classes would resume.

In December when the new brochure came out, we noticed that Master Spratt’s name had been omitted, although tae kwon do classes were advertised at both rec centers. On Dec. 11, we requested the BOD notify us as to who would be instructing the classes when the new sessions began in January. Board president Allan Casey told us that someone would call and clarify this point, so that parents could be notified of the instructor before enrolling their children. Facility supervisor Kendra Hinkson did call and said she didn’t know whom the instructor would be and would call once Skeel returned from vacation on Dec. 16. On Jan. 5, after no follow-through from anyone at EPRD, we called Skeel. He confirmed that a contract between EPRD and Master Spratt had been drawn up, but had not yet been signed. Skeel is fully aware how important this issue has been, and yet we had to wait 25 days for an answer, but only at our prompting.

A situation that could easily have been resolved with little effort has escalated over the past 10 months. It seems apparent that there are many dissatisfied community members, not to mention employees and contractors, at EPRD. We are reaching out to the community requesting your involvement as taxpayers. Please attend monthly board meetings and write the board at www.evergreenrecreation.com.

Tracy Collins and Julie Rosen are concerned parents and Evergreen residents.