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Batavia parents voice concerns on Hoover-Wood Elementary School program

BATAVIA – A group of parents whose children attend Hoover-Wood Elementary School are calling on school officials to make changes to the newly enacted program for students with behavioral and social-emotional challenges.

The Social-Emotional Academic Learning program – or SEAL – which started at Hoover-Wood at the beginning of the school year, is designed to provide instruction to students with behavioral and emotional issues. Several parents attended Tuesday’s Batavia School District 101 board meeting to voice their concerns about the program.

“I am not sure if Hoover-Wood is the proper venue for this,” Hoover-Wood parent Carol Cadle told school board members. Cadle has five children who attend the school.

Cadle said she is concerned about the proximity of the program’s two rooms to the rest of the school. She wrote a letter to the board earlier this month.

“My first-grader says he can hear screaming from one of the rooms coming down the hallway,” Cadle states in the letter. “My second-graders reported the same, and have also witnessed teachers holding the door closed from the outside while a student screams.”

Molly Garcia, social worker/wellness teacher at Hoover-Wood, wrote a letter to Hoover-Wood parents and guardians explaining the program. In the letter, Garcia explained that the school has two quiet rooms where upset students “can have time away from excess noise and stimulus so they can utilize the skills needed to calm down.”

“Hoover-Wood has staff that is trained to help in these situations to make sure all students remain safe,” the letter states. “When you see a student in the quiet rooms, they are not in trouble or danger. They are using that room to calm down.”

Batavia Superintendent Jack Barshinger said he didn’t have firsthand information about the incidents Cadle talked about.

“I don’t think it is appropriate to comment about special needs students,” Barshinger said, citing confidentiality.

At the very least, Cadle said she would like to see the SEAL program moved to another area of the school to protect the dignity of the students in the program along with preventing other students from being traumatized about what they see and hear.

“I think that it is very scary for them,” she said. “They don’t know what is going on on the other side [of the door].”

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