August 10, 2005 at 10:32 AM CDT - Updated July 26 at 5:55 PM
Controversial Start to School Year By: Arnold Wyrick
Marion, IL - With just a few days before the new school year begins, tensions run high in the Marion School District. A group of parents, business leaders, and community members have formed the Concerned Citizens of Marion Unit Two. The group plans to police their own school board, and the superintendent.
"I think the outcome will be good. What we want to do, we're not trying to run anybody out of town. We're not trying to get rid of the school board or anything like that," says Darren Holmes President of Concerned Citizens.
But Holmes says what they do want is some answers to their numerous questions about the school district's finances, and changes taking place within the schools.
"The citizens vote on the school board. So they are hired by the community. So I think they ought to be held accountable," Holmes said.
The groups efforts have some residents asking their own questions about what's going on.
"The superintendent comes off to be pretty highhanded. And I wonder what the deal is? Why certain people can do what they want to do? Or is it that superintendent wants certain people in certain places, and that's what it is," asks Dik Null of Marion.
The Concerned Citizens have taken their questions all the way up the ladder to the State Superintendent of Schools, Doctor Randy Dunn.
"We want to get them involved, to come down and check it out. To make sure everything is legitimate. If it is then great! If it's not then what do we need to do to change this," said Holmes.
Meanwhile many parents just want the school board to do what's best for their children.
"There's always room for improvement in every place. But since I'm not in any position to make any changes in anything. I just hope that they utilize the intelligence they have, and make the best decisions for the kids," says Angela Restivo of Marion.
And that's also the goal of the Concerned Citizens members.
"We just want to make sure the kids are in the best interest. And the taxpayers are in the best interest of what's going on," Holmes said.
The Marion Superintendent Wade Hudgens is refusing to talk to the media in person. But he did release a written statement on Monday in response to the groups questions.
Quote"I have chosen not to respond to individual and personal attacks in the press. I have nothing to hide. Rather, I am ready and prepared to defend my actions on the record, before the Courts," end quote.
The Illinois State Board of Education released a written statement on the matter as well. Stating they had been contacted about the issues and concerns in the Marion School District. But that they felt the issues were local, and to be handled by the local district superintendent, and school board.