LEE CO., Fla. — As one school superintendent steps down, the search for a new one begins.
But how do parents feel? It’s the headline that has an entire school district talking- the retirement of its superintendent. After serving as superintendent of Lee County School District for five years, Dr. Greg Adkins will be stepping away June 30th. It’s been a week that has seen the school district go through a lot, not only for its students but parents as well.
“I’m a little sad, because I’ve actually been really happy with how things have gone this year,” says Martine Macneil, a mother of students in the Lee County School District.
Adkins announced he will be retiring at the end of his contract on June 30. The move comes after a turbulent year, navigating school policies amid a pandemic.
“Especially with Covid, seeing that our students were able to go back to school at the end of August," said Macneil. "I saw so many friends up north and other school districts who were not even allowed to have the option and some of them were still wondering if they were going to be allowed to go back to school in person next year. So I was really happy with everything going on in our district.”
But the same can't be said for all.
“I wasn’t surprised," says Lauren Ring, who is also a mom to students in the Lee County School District. "There’s a lot of heavy issues going on in the school system right now and if he was going to make a decision to exit, I think now would be the best time.”
Issues such as revising the current mask mandate. As well as the recent call for change over the year-old LGBTQ school policy discussed at Tuesday night’s school board meeting.
“There’s a lot of hatred going on and I don’t think that we the people have the ability to be heard," said Ring. "No. I think that it’s kind of being squashed down and minimized where the microphone gets turned off at the end of your minute. That’s how we’re being treated.”
This week, the Florida Education Commissioner said schools should make mask use voluntary. In response, Lee County Schools said they will take the commissioner’s guidance into consideration.
“It’s something where I have very active children- it’s a complaint," says Macneil. "As we’re getting out of Covid and more people are becoming vaccinated, I love that the kids will have the ability to choose next year and that we’ll have that option as parents.”
It all boils down to one concept for these parents...
“Just being included in the process of educating our children as much as we can," says Macneil. "We do trust those in the district to do it, but being welcomed into the process to share our voices is important to me. I would hope that that continues.”
Ring said, “My hope, first and foremost, is they find somebody that will advocate for the children like they’re their own.”