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Parents Fight to Keep Teacher

Parents in the Riverside School District are demanding answers after the district did not renew the contract of an experienced teacher.
(ELWOOD, Kan.) Kelli Libel is one of many parents in the Riverside Unified School District that filled a board meeting on Wednesday, fighting to reinstate a teacher.

"I'm a concerned parent and I'm questioning the decisions that our school board is making," said Libel, a parent with three children in the district. "I'm questioning the value they place on the experience that our teachers have."

The parents are upset that pre-school teacher Dawnelle Rohde's contract was not renewed after nearly 25 years as a teacher.

"They asked that in three years she get early childhood certification," Libel said. "She does have teaching certification for K through 9th grade which is the Kansas state requirement."

But Libel said the number of pre-school students has grown exponentially in the past three years.

"Last year out of the 90 pre-schoolers we had at Riverside, she had 63 of them that she was responsible for," said Libel.

The parents say because of that large number, Rohde was unable to get the certification.

"I'm thankful that it was more important to educate my child than get a piece of paper," she said.

Libel has spoken to multiple people at the state level who said in Kansas, the state does not require that she have early childhood certification. At Wednesday's meeting, the parents and Rohde herself attended to demand answers.

"That's what we want is just answers," said Kelli Nelson, a different concerned parent. "We don't know what's going on and we just want answers."

The parents say they have called different board members and the superintendent, but have been told they can't talk about the issue.

For now, the parents are simply asking for help.

"To be honest, the communication between the school board members and the public has not been good and we feel like nobody really knows why the decision is being made," Libel said.

The district held an executive session for several hours on Wednesday night. Because of those meetings, KQ2 did not receive comment from them regarding Rohde.

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