Parents concerned over high turnover rate at Piedmont Elementary

By KBJR News 1

June 12, 2014 Updated Jun 12, 2014 at 6:42 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com)---Parents of students at Piedmont Elementary are concerned after half of the teachers at the school left their positions at the end of this school year.

Piedmont Elementary was identified as a "focus" or "priority" school in 2012, meaning they have some of the largest achievement gaps, and among the lowest proficiency levels.

In August of 2013, a new principal, Becky Gerdes, was hired at Piedmont, and Superintendent Bill Gronseth pointed to the academic achievement gap as the reason for bringing on a new principal.

Tim Sworsky, head of human resources for the Duluth School District, says that ten of the schools twenty teachers have accepted other positions in the school district.

Sworsky says some of the movement is a result of disciplinary and focus requirements that changed when new administration was brought in and more job openings in the district.

He also tied it to some teacher's not being on board with the philosophies of the principal.

Sworsky confirmed that there have been complaints filed regarding the philosophy changes, but would not say how many or go into specifics.

Parents of Piedmont Elementary Students say they are worried their kids will fall behind with all of the switch-ups happening at the school.

"I still don't know what changes happened. I still don't know why. I heard sixteen teachers are going to be leaving, so it's just a bit concerning. I just want answers," said concerned parent, Carley O'dell.

"I'm really worried what will happen to my children next year in the Piedmont because those teachers who are leaving, they are good teachers, they are professionals, they are family for children," said parent Tina Gjessing.

O'dell says she is considering transferring her children out of Piedmont Elementary because of the unrest.

We reached out to the chair of the school board, and they declined to comment saying this is a personnel issue.

Our requests for an interview with Principal Gerdes were also declined.

Written and posted to the web by Raeanna Marnati