Pike Township parents petition to remove superintendent after staffing issues cause kids to stay home again

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INDIANAPOLIS — Students at MSD of Pike Township had a remote learning day Wednesday due to 32 high school teachers calling out.

A Facebook post from the district said “Pike High School, Freshman campus and Pike Preparatory Academy will have a remote learning day due to staff absences.”

Elementary and middle school classes were still in person.

Wednesday is the second consecutive day some students will undergo remote learning. On Tuesday, MSD of Pike Township held a remote learning day for ALL students due to a bus service shortage.

The schedule changes follow a closure last week due to multiple staff absences. It came as the Pike Township Schools administration and the Pike Classroom Teachers Association, or PCTA, have been negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement.

Parents say they are “fed up” with the failure to reach a deal.

“Our teachers are overworked, underpaid. Our bus drivers are stretched to the max and nobody wants to come work here because would you come and work somewhere that you know you’re gonna be treated like nothing,” parent Jennifer Mitchell said.

Parents like Kristi Keller, who has a freshman in the district, say their children’s education is suffering.

“I do worry about is he going to be prepared for college is he going to be ready if he even going to be able to get through freshman year,” Keller said. “So I do have a lot of concerns with him staying home.”

A petition currently circulating online is calling for the immediate removal of MSD superintendent Dr. Flora Reichanadter. You can see it below.

Courtesy of Change.org

MSD of Pike Township parent Jennifer Rubenstein says she, along with several others parents, are simply fed up with what is happening in the district.

Being part of this school system for more than seven years, she says she’s watched problems build up within the last 18 months.

The petition claims the superintendent is a hindrance for successfully negotiating fair pay for teachers and bus drivers, as well as failed Indiana’s parents bill of rights.

Rubenstein says it’s not about targeting anyone, but more so holding the leader of the district accountable.

“This isn’t a witch hunt for Dr. Flora by any means. She very well could come across this as someone who is completely innocent and not neglectful. However, the perception right now is she is being neglectful by her silence and by her lack of acknowledgement,” said Rubenstein.

We have reached out to district officials for comment on the petition but have yet to hear back.

“The recent disruptions to instruction are entirely unacceptable. The School Board, my team, and I are working very hard to resolve the outstanding issues that have resulted in insufficient staffing. 

In the last few weeks, members of our administrative team have had several productive conversations with our bus drivers. We have apologized for the confusion caused by a change to the pay schedule, attempted to clarify the confusion regarding the stipend pay eligibility, and introduced a new Operations and Retention stipend. We have a new Transportation Improvement Team and are working closely with them to create further improvements within the department. We continue to provide opportunities for drivers to ask individual questions and share concerns.

In addition to that, I’ve provided members of the school board a recommendation to provide a stipend to show appreciation for our drivers who have been going above and beyond to cover additional routes and keep our schools open in spite of challenging circumstances. I’ve also requested an increase to the hourly rate drivers receive.

I understand the confidentiality involved in the negotiations process can be frustrating and lead to a lot of confusion. I sincerely wish it could be more transparent; however, that is legally prohibited. Ultimately, there are only a handful of people who actually know what has transpired. However, I am hopeful that we will be able to shed additional light on the process in the near future. In the meantime, please know that I am encouraged by our shared passion for and commitment to our students, families, and community, as well as a desire for all of the employees of this district to be fairly compensated and feel adequately appreciated for the critical work they do. 

To help ease the strain on our drivers, representatives are hosting walk-in interviews at the Transportation Center on Tuesdays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and on Thursdays from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. We currently pay a starting salary of $20 an hour to contract drivers, provide highly competitive health insurance, a $55,000 life insurance policy, and make annual contributions to the Public Employee Retirement Fund. Additionally, although this is a part time position with a five hour, 183 day contract, drivers have the opportunity to make additional money by picking up extra routes. Pike provides free training to obtain a CDL license.”

Pike Township Schools Superintendent, Dr. Flora Reichanadter

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