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Senators, community discuss gaps in Omaha education system

Posted at 7:57 AM, Aug 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-13 15:26:56-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — As students are heading back to school, community members and local leaders want start thinking more proactively about how to bridge the gaps some students face when it comes to education.

On Thursday night, state senators Tyrrell McKinney and Lyn Walz held a listening session, in the hopes of bring some community input back to Lincoln.

“How are they falling through the cracks and what are we doing not only within our schools, but in our community to lessen the stress and everything else that leads to a kid coming to school and not caring?" McKinney asked.

Educators, community organizers and parents shared where they are seeing the gaps for students in Omaha.

Some parents say they feel out of the loop when it comes to knowing how their child is doing in school or when their child is facing discipline.

“Kids are getting expelled and suspended for really minor things," said B.K. Dailey, founder of Positive Productive Black Fathers. "And if a parent is not understanding what’s going on, that parent gets upset because they’re not being heard.”

Some say they want more community resources in the schools for kids, but those who have worked with OPS like Nicole Seymore, executive director of GOALS Center say OPS’ interpretation of student privacy presents a roadblock.

“Their interpretation of FERPA creates a process that gets in the way of service that it does not in any other school district that we serve," Seymore said.

Others, like Nathan Zingg with Learning Community, feel the school district should be stepping up more to provide these resources.

“One social worker for a school of 2,000 kids?" Zingg said. "Just listing their names is a full-time job — just keeping track of them, much less solving any problems.”

The senators encouraged the community to keep trying to fill in those gaps while they take some of these concerns back to Lincoln.

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