Students protesting budget cuts escorted out of Hazelwood School - KMOV.com

Students protesting budget cuts escorted out of Hazelwood School Board meeting

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Credit: Alexis Zotos, KMOV reporter Credit: Alexis Zotos, KMOV reporter
NORTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOV.com) -

Two students were escorted by police out of a Hazelwood School Board meeting on February 16.

Officials say more than 500 people showed up to the meeting to protest the Hazelwood School District’s budget cuts. Even local lawmakers say they were shocked to learn of the budget crisis in Hazelwood.

Parents are angry the district plans to cut parts of the elementary school music programs. 

One family said the elementary band and orchestra programs have had a big impact on them.

The Gonzalez family said it could start a family band thanks to the programs because Elizabeth Gonzalez has been playing violin since fourth grade and her younger brothers all now play instruments as well.

“Without elementary school music, I don’t know if half the people in my orchestra would be there, I know I wouldn’t be there,” said Gonzalez.

Elizabeth, like a majority of the crowd that showed up, was unable to get inside the meeting because the room was so crowded.

“We were waiting for about an hour and they wouldn’t let is in,” said Gonzalez.

After waiting, Gonzalez says she finally got into the building.

In video filmed from the feed, in the overflow room where nearly 200 people were forced to watch the meeting unfold, Gonzalez attempted to plead her case to the board. But quickly, Gonzalez and another student were shut down.

Dr. Ingrid Clark-Jackson, interim superintendent of the Hazelwood School District said, “I’m not going to tolerate this. Please escort these people. I’m not apologizing.”

Jackson had police remove both students from the room.

“It affects the students more than it affects everybody. The fact that they wouldn’t let the students have input is beyond my imagination,” said Gonzalez.

State representative Alan Green says he was also surprised by the meeting. He and Rep. Keith English were in attendance and are looking at the possibility of crafting legislation that might bring more money to the district.

Gonzalez says she hopes that will help ensure band and orchestra remains in the elementary schools.

“I still saw ways that it could be rearranged. I still think there’s a way to fit it in there,” said Gonzalez.

Jackson stopped by Gonzalez’s school on February 17 for a one-on-one conversation to listen to her concerns.

The school district would not respond to News 4's questions about whether they plan to alter the cuts following the meeting. They are facing a $15 million dollar shortfall. The proposed cuts are expected to save about $6 million.

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