EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (KMOV) – The East St. Louis School District’s decision to close three elementary schools and lay off hundreds of teachers has parents so upset, that many protested by keeping their students out of school on Tuesday.
“I think the whole bottom line is it's just the way they went about doing [the closures and layoffs],” says parent Michael Parks. Parks says the district gave no warning about the closures.
The protest got the attention of the superintendent, who met with several parents, but did not make any promises. It is unclear how many students were out of class.
“There are no easy answers to living life and there are no easy answers to the situation we're in,” says East St. Louis Superintendent Theresa Saunders. “The state owes us money...we have a declining enrollment base.”
The district says the state of Illinois owes it about $5 million.
The Illinois State Superintendent Chris Koch says fewer than 20 percent of the students in District 189 have been meeting standards for the past seven years, which is one of the reasons why the state could step in for a takeover.
"It's pretty bad,” says Koch. “Those are our lowest performing schools in districts. And so the state has a real interest and need to intervene in those cases.”