Six Bartlett Elementary School parents and former employees voiced concerns Monday night about a lack of proper supervision during recess, bullying and a culture of collective punishment at the school.
They spoke during the public comments portion of the Elgin Area School District U-46 school board meeting urging the administration and trustees to address problems with the school's leadership and student discipline.
Parent Kip Murphy said his daughter was being bullied by a boy in her second-grade class who threatened to kick, punch and kill her and bring a gun to school to shoot her. That student also has caused school evacuations, he added.
"She has been out of school for eight days now," said Murphy, adding that he reported it to the principal and filed a police report, yet nothing has been done to remove the student in question. "We are not going to send our daughter back into this environment where she feels physically threatened until he is removed from the school. It's unreasonable. It's not right. And this is second grade."
Murphy urged action in light of heightened awareness about school safety after the recent shootings in Parkland, Florida, and Mount Pleasant, Michigan.
"This kid has shown a demonstrated capacity to be violent in the school where they evacuate the classroom, and he is still there day after day and my daughter is not," he said.
CEO Tony Sanders said the district doesn't expel but could suspend an elementary school student. He said he would follow up with Murphy.
A former school employee said there is a severe shortage of lunchtime supervisors at the school and ineffective leadership by Principal Lorelei Keltner, who was hired in 2015.
Parent Diana Gunsteen, who has a second-grader and fourth-grader at the school, said the school environment has become unwelcoming for students and parents seeking to volunteer.
"The culture has changed in our last five years there and it's not a fun place to learn anymore," she said.
Gunsteen said entire grades are punished because of a few misbehaving children. During recess, students were not allowed to run, balls and equipment were taken away, and essentially the children were told to walk and talk, she added.
"That to me doesn't sound like an elementary school. It sounds more like a jail yard to me," she said. "It's just a hard place to be."
Sanders and school board members said they were unaware of these issues and promised to take steps to address the parents' concerns.