BELOIT - Beloit students and residents were out again Tuesday registering objections to issues they say are harming the School District of Beloit, ahead of a special board of education meeting.
A group of around 10 residents associated with the Coalition of Concerned Black Citizens in Beloit met at 5 p.m., with a group of around 15 Beloit Memorial High School students protesting at 6 p.m.
Both the residents and students say they object to a lack of transparency in the district; to the board's handling of the demotion of former assistant superintendent Darrell Williams; to the abrupt resignation of former superintendent Don Childs; and to the response to an ongoing sexual assault investigation tied to a BMHS band trip to Orlando, Florida. Two girls claimed a freshman boy assaulted them while on the trip earlier this month.
Student protesters claimed the boy was suspended for three days from the high school but is now attending classes, with the students questioning the punishment's severity.
Coalition member and district parent Anjanette Sherrod said she and others want a leadership change on the school board, with the board yet to hold reorganization this year following the April 3 election. Protesters present said they support John Winkelmann being voted president, saying they had lost all confidence in current board president Pam Charles. Charles said Wednesday the reorganization vote would come April 30.
Winkelmann previously served several terms on the board, and held the office of board president for several years.
"There needs to be some changes and there needs to be transparency and we are not seeing that," Sherrod said. "It's still an issue and if there are students protesting, we really need to pay attention and we need to listen and the board needs to give honest answers and an honest response."
Students present at Tuesday's protest said the board's response to the Orlando sexual assault investigation was "the tipping point," and what spurred the students to act.
Beloit Memorial High School seniors Harley Stevens and Makaylynn Meiers said the lack of stability within the district's administration is a huge problem for student morale, and something that ultimately impacts quality teachers in leaving the district.
"Our class (2019) hasn't had a principal (at the high school) that has stayed for an entire year," Stevens said. "The only positive role models we have are our teachers and the few good ones we have aren't going to put up with things that are going on in the district."
Meiers added, "It's frustrating as a student watching all of this happen and having no say in it. I think that's where a lot of the frustrations are coming from."