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Proviso Township High School District parents say teacher, bus driver shortages have students suffering

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MAYWOOD, Ill. (CBS) — A school board meeting grew tense in Maywood Tuesday night, as disgruntled parents confronted the Proviso Township High School District over classroom conditions.

As CBS 2’s Marybel González reported, frustrated parents took to the podium at Proviso East High School after nearly two weeks of dealing with what they call teacher and bus driver shortages. They say they haven’t gotten answers, so they showed up to bring their questions straight to the board.

The school district is composed of Proviso East High School in Maywood, Proviso West High School in Hillside, and Proviso Mathematics & Science Academy in Forest Park.

Trena Ellis, a frustrated mom, took video of students she said were crammed in a cafeteria on the first day of school at Proviso West because of teacher shortages.

“Now they’re telling the children: ‘Go to the classroom – even if they don’t have a teacher, go to the classroom and have a seat,’ Ellis said. “You’re looking for trouble when you do things like that.”

Ellis was among the parents and educators who brought their shared concerns to the school board on Tuesday night – and tensions ran high.

Parents like Jenny Barbahen said the shortages are leaving students unattended during school hours – including her son.

“My student didn’t have a full schedule. He was not scheduled for an eighth period. So he kind of just left the building,” she said. “He was unaccounted for, because there was nowhere for them to be.”

Teachers from the district also shared the same concern.

“So what are you doing?” said Proviso West teacher Carissa Gillespie. “Are we educating, or are we babysitting?”

Gillespie said the conditions were caused by a mass resignation following a strike last year.

“A lot of our teachers have gone to other districts in the surrounding areas and even taken pay cuts – not because of the students; we love our students – because of the disrespect and the lack of educational structure,” she said.

Meanwhile, other parents say the district isn’t just lacking staffing inside the classrooms, but also outside of it – including on the school buses, where they say there aren’t enough drivers.

“I have to go to work every day, but I cannot go to work when I’m trying to get the children to school,” said Proviso West grandparent Yolanda Davis. “I’m paying for Uber every day.”

The board heard concerns Tuesday night from a long list of parents who signed up for public comment – ​​but as of 10 pm, they had not responded to the parents’ questions, or our requests for comment.

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