A controversial charter school opened its doors to community leaders Thursday morning after parents expressed concerns over how students are being treated at the school.
Cornerstone Preparatory School took over the old Lester School this year to help improve student performance, but not everyone is sold on some of the school's policies. For some, those concerns escalated after students complained of not getting bathroom breaks and having their shoes taken away as punishment.
School administrators took time to explain the procedures related to these issues. But, some parents are still not satisfied.
"I'm tired of having to come up here every other day, having to leave my job to come up here and check my daughter out of school," said concerned parent LaShanna Rogers.
For the second straight day, Rogers says she was called by Cornerstone Preparatory School because her daughter, a second grader, didn't make it to the restroom in time.
The number of bathroom breaks is just one of the many concerns parents have expressed about classroom rules at the new charter school. Thursday, school leaders explained the results of an internal audit on school procedures to community leaders, and how the rules work.
"So, the process is, if a student needs to go to the restroom during instruction, they give the signal, the teacher would say do you need to go to the restroom and they would say yes. They're allowed to go," explained Executive Director of Cornerstone Preparatory School Drew Sipple.
But, Rogers says parents aren't happy with the results of the audit or the school's explanation.
"Why are there all these different signs like you're in the military boot camp? I don't understand that. These are babies," said.
"Parents are seeking legal representation on the matter as well as the community in general," added Chan Dougles, community supporter.
Pastor Keith Norman, President of the Memphis NAACP, says the tension stems from Cornerstone Prep not communicating well enough with the community.
"Cultural sensitivity would suggest we sit down together and we talk about what the common issues are, why they exist and the best way to attack those things. Anything other than that becomes a dysfunctional attempt to rescue something or someone that's in trouble but the process by which you're trying to bring them out is not working," he said.
"It's not an us versus them," refuted Cornerstone Principal Lisa Settles. "We're not foes. We're not enemies. We have their babies in the building and they're our babies and we love them and support them and we teach them but we want to do a better job of embracing and bringing everyone in."
Still, it seems not everyone is interested in being embraced by the new leadership at the school, and working as a team could still be a long way off.
"I wish they'd just leave our neighborhood! Go! Lester was fine. Just go!," exclaimed Rogers.
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