Battle Creek schools’ families voice concerns amid social media claims | #socialmedia

Community members are calling for increased transparency and accountability from Battle Creek Public Schools in the wake of social media allegations involving a staff member at Northwestern Middle School.

The staff member has been placed on administrative leave while the district conducts a full investigation into the allegations, district officials announced Thursday, but some residents say they’re not satisfied.

Gathered outside the district’s administration office at 3 W. Van Buren St. Monday afternoon, about 10-15 people voiced frustration regarding the district’s lack of transparency and perceived lack of action in its handling of complaints of inappropriate behavior by the staff member toward students.

“We want to make sure (students) know that not all adults are going to fail them,” concerned parent Triska Winchester said. “We do stand up for them and we do hear them.”

“It’s a shame the kids cannot come forward and be heard,” local resident and sexual abuse advocate Jennifer McLeod added.

Community members wear customized shirts to a Battle Creek Public Schools board meeting to show support for students in wake of an investigation concerning a staff member's alleged inappropriate actions on Monday, April 11, 2022.

The conversation shifted inside the administration office at 5:30 p.m. as the district’s board of education convened for a work session.

“Our students are (our) number one priority. Without them, none of these people would even have a job,” said Latesha Griffin, whose 13-year-old niece filed a complaint against the staff member in January. “To not even consider their safety, even now after you know, they’re not considering it … I just want them to open their eyes and actually care.”

Latesha Griffin stands for a photograph before addressing the Battle Creek Public School board regarding a staff member's alleged inappropriate interactions with students on Monday, April 11, 2022.

Griffin went public with her concerns about the Northwestern staff member on April 6 after she said school officials failed to act promptly regarding her niece’s complaint, which included multiple allegations of inappropriate remarks made by the staff member toward the 13-year-old.

Griffin said she was never notified by the district about the complaint, and was only made aware after a nurse from Grace Health called her March 25 with news of its existence. The nurse had been reviewing the 13-year-old’s school file amid her repeated complaints of back pain and headaches during a particular class when she found the complaint, Griffin said.

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