Parents: 'Shocking and Upsetting' - One Edina Elementary School To Start Earlier Than Others

January 10, 2017 10:22 PM

The school year is only halfway over for Edina students, but already some families are dreading next school year and the changes that are coming. The school board approved changing start times for all nine schools in the district.
While the majority of schedules will only shift by a few minutes, the students at Creek Valley Elementary will need to be at school by 7:50 a.m. That's an hour and 25 minutes earlier than they're starting right now.

Some parents said the board's decision is shocking and upsetting.


"We are committed to working with all families on the unique needs for their child, to include specific needs that may need to be addressed through special education or individualized education plans (IEPs),"School Board Chair Leny Wallen-Friedman said in a statement. 

"What I want, is for them to listen to me, as a parent of an autistic child, who trusts them," Creek Valley parent Feroza Mehta said. But Mehta said she doesn't trust Monday night's decision.

The Edina School Board voted 4-3, meaning Creek Valley will start at 7:50a.m. It's the only elementary school with a nearly hour-and-a half change.

"When I heard about this last night I could not sleep," Mehta said. "I learned a long time ago that I am my son's only advocate. My son cannot talk for himself. He cannot ask for things. So I thought, what am I going to do. I'm not going to take this lying down."

Mehta created an on-line petition, calling for an 8:30a.m. or 9:30a.m. start time. She is worried about her son standing at a bus stop when it's dark outside, so early in the morning. 

"We appreciate the concerns parents have raised about the darkness, both in the morning and later in the evening, especially in the winter months when the days are shorter. Safety is always important to the District and we will work with administration and all schools to develop solutions that would mitigate this issue as best we can. There are many competing interests in making any school start/end time decisions and the Board sought to balance those interests, " Wallen-Friedman said in another statement. 

Another Creek Valley parent, Ankita Deka, said her oldest son won't be able to participate in the district's non-profit-run Spanish program anymore.

"Since all of the other elementary schools, are on more or less the same schedule, they are not going to make special arrangements, for one particular elementary school, and that's a great disservice," Deka said. 

They remain cautiously optimistic.

"I'm hopeful that we will be able to rally around, just because it works for your family doesn't mean it works for someone else's. Hopefully that'll bring us together," she added. 

Wallen-Friedman said they'll work to solve any issues that arise with the change.

"The Board changed the start time as part of an overall review of start times in the District for the Fall of 2017.  The new start times were part of the shift of the 9th grade to the high school. The Board’s focus was on establishing start times that would provide overall benefit for District as a whole and did not focus on benefits for a specific school. One potential opportunity for Creek Valley is that there is support for early start times being beneficial for learning."


Brandi Powell

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