RAPID CITY, S.D. — The Rapid City Area School District is pushing again – for at least a 12 months – its deliberate Lakota Immersion courses, as a result of they will’t discover certified lecturers.
The District made the announcement final Thursday.
“In June, after I got here on board, we had no licensed…State-certified, certified candidates,” mentioned Nicole Swigart, the RCAS Interim Superintendent/CEO.
Swigart says the PAC was notified in June that the District was “very involved about discovering workers members,” and that the July deadline was set collectively.
“Qualified” means they’ve each a Ok-thru-5 Teaching Certificate and a Lakota Language and Culture Certification.
“When the e-mail got here out and the communication in regards to the Lakota Immersion closing, after all, my first thought was they don’t worth Lakota language [or] tradition,” mentioned Dr. Valeriah Big Eagle, who serves on the RCAS Parent Advisory Committee (PAC).
That response was shared amongst mother and father whose kids first piloted the Lakota Immersion Program within the Rapid City Area School District.
Dr. Big Eagle’s personal son participated within the pilot program final 12 months. She says the District must be extra versatile to meet the wants of Indigenous college students.
“Western modalities of educating and studying aren’t essentially aligned with Lakota Indigenous methodology, proper? So our elders’ expertise and data, that is form of a level in itself, you realize? Right now what it seems like is that they simply gave up, and that’s the way it feels,” she mentioned.
Swigart says no certified candidates utilized and confirmed up for an interview by the end-of-July deadline. Big Eagle disagrees, saying a certified candidate from Rosebud did apply, however the District “failed to talk.”
Privacy insurance policies stop the District from discussing particular person candidates, nevertheless, Swigart mentioned that any candidates which may have come ahead after the deadline couldn’t be thought-about, as the choice was already made and households notified.
Big Eagle asks why the District couldn’t present waivers to these concerned with educating the identical method they do for different topics.
Swigart says the Lakota Immersion Program is partially funded with federal ESSER money, that means the necessities for lecturers are extra stringent.
RCAS known as every household in this system to notify them of the closure. The PAC additionally pushed the District into making a proper, public announcement – one thing Big Eagle says wanted to be executed within the identify of transparency.
“I’m devoted to being clear and getting that info on the market,” Swigart mentioned. “I personal the truth that we didn’t do it instantly.”
Swigart says it’s the toughest resolution she’s made in additional than 30 years of educating.
“I didn’t need to shut it,” Swigart mentioned. “I would like to do all the pieces that I can this 12 months to guarantee that it opens with a number of grades subsequent 12 months. I can solely achieve this a lot.”
RCAS says this system isn’t closing completely, and that they’re working with schools and different packages to recruit certified lecturers. Swigart says they’ll be working by the Title VII Indian Education Office, in addition to Human Resources, to broaden their connections and have a long-term rent to present stability to this system. She says they’re competing for educators with not solely different faculties and different states, however different professions as properly.
“As an authorized, accredited faculty district, I’ve to observe the State tips which might be given to us,” Swigart mentioned. “At this level – the final Friday in July – we couldn’t fill that requirement to the State, and we had to make that decision.”
Until then, college students should return to their outdated faculties, and Indigenous households are left ready.
“I’m simply so upset about it,” Big Eagle mentioned. “Let’s simply say the college district simply wants to do a greater job, as a result of if it’s going to be like this, they don’t deserve our youngsters.”
Dr. Big Eagle encourages anybody who desires to converse in regards to the Lakota Immersion Program to attend Tuesday evening’s School Board Meeting. That assembly is in City Council Chambers at 5:30 p.m. Closure of the Lakota Immersion Program is Item 8-M on the agenda.
Swigart says different packages are struggling cutbacks as properly due to teacher shortages, together with the Career and Technical Education program. RCAS has more than a hundred open positions listed on their website as of the time of writing.
We’ll have extra on RCAS’s teacher shortages later this week on NewsCenter1.