Document mentioning closure of Volusia County elementary school was 'mishap,' superintendent says

Volusia County school board members have clarified Read-Pattillo Elementary will not be facing closure after a staff document created confusion and panic.

Last Thursday, a presentation slide, titled "Closure of Read Pattillo Elementary," was uploaded to Tuesday's school board meeting agenda by district staff as part of a document for a board action item about school attendance boundary changes. It listed multiple safety concerns, including the school's roofing and plumbing.

Parents and teachers told FOX 35 on Friday they had no idea the district was considering closing the school and felt blindsided. 

At Tuesday's meeting, several board members echoed their concerns.

"I want to apologize because I had no idea that in the presentation there was a slide that said, ‘Closure of Read-Pattillo.' That was nothing that had been discussed with me as chair, nor, as far as I know, was any of the other board members, because they themselves did not see it," board chair Jamie Hynes said.

Superintendent Dr. Carmen Balgobin apologized, calling the situation a "mishap." 

"As your superintendent, I apologize to you because it does send the connotation with that wording that it's been predetermined or that a conversation has occurred. But from our staff standpoint, I want to assure you that it has not. And I know from a board standpoint, it has not, either," she said.

Read-Pattillo PTA president and parent Danielle Sandhagen was relieved to learn the district didn't intend to close the school down.

"I'm cautiously optimistic that everything happens for a reason and that hopefully we're going to get what we need from it, from the school board, out of this," she said.

Teachers and parents say they've complained to the district about a lack of maintenance at the New Smyrna Beach elementary school. When FOX 35 visited the campus Friday, a piece of rotted wood was seen hanging from the roof.

"We have had many, many issues, many requests, made for things to be fixed, and that has fallen on deaf ears. But I get the feeling that after tonight we're going to see a lot of maintenance people on our campus," Sandhagen said.

Vice chair Anita Burnette wants to find out why it's taken so long to get the school the help it needs.

"Let's find out why the repairs haven't been done. I'd like to know what all the service tickets that have been put in and if they were repaired and if they weren't repaired or why they weren't repaired," she said.

District leaders hope to have future conversations with school staff and parents about the needs of the school.