Some parents speak out against Bay District Schools

Say students with unique abilities aren’t prioritized
Some parents who have children with unique abilities are speaking out against Bay District Schools.
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 6:53 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Some parents who have children with unique abilities are speaking out against Bay District Schools.

“Why do I see fancy buildings going up on already nice campuses, and I’m not seeing even the bare minimum of a building for my child and his classmates?,” concerned parent Shannon Cargile-Martinez said. “In my eyes, I feel as though the school district, they don’t care about children with special needs.”

Cargile-Martinez’s son attends Margaret K. Lewis School in Millville. She said the staff there work day in and day out to support her son. However, she’s pointing the finger at Bay District Schools for the learning conditions. Cargile-Martinez said students with unique abilities aren’t prioritized.

“Our children deserve more,” she said. “It’s like they’re second-class citizens in this school district. I drive by and I see a theatre for drama - brand new. I see sports auditoriums, sports fields, a whole thing.”

Millissa Pope’s son also goes to Margaret K. Lewis School. She echoes the same concerns.

“Driving down Harrison Avenue after they built the Art Center for Bay High,” Pope said. “Seeing the money for a pretty shiny new building and then coming here through Millville Cemetery and seeing a school full of kids who desperately need something better.”

Pope also said there’s visible mold on the school’s roof.

“I mean it has a cap on the roof still,” she said. “[There’s been] no new roof since Hurricane Michael, just a cap. There’s mold on it.”

Some parents said they’re worried Margaret K. Lewis School is reaching its full capacity. They said around 175 students go to it.

Bay District Schools didn’t permit NewsChannel 7 on school property. BDS officials also declined our request for an on-camera interview.

However, they provided us with a written statement.

“During the past few years, we have seen an exponential increase in the number of students who are identified as needing Exceptional Student Education (ESE) services. While doing our best to accommodate those needs, Bay District Schools has been conducting a comprehensive evaluation of existing services, service locations, and needs for expansion. To that end, we recently opened Surfside Academy, which is a self-contained special service school on the campus of Surfside Middle School designed to better meet the needs of some of our ESE students who live on the beach. Simultaneously, we are evaluating the options for the expansion/relocation of Margaret K. Lewis School in Millville. While these conversations are just beginning, we are excited to take the next steps to continue ensuring BDS meets the needs of our ESE students in the very best ways possible. We are optimistic about our ability to continue to serve our ESE students through purpose-built facilities in central locations, and we look forward to hosting workshops to further explore these concepts in the near future. The safety of our students and staff will always be our number one priority, and we remain committed to ensuring all students learn in safe, clean, aesthetically pleasing environments and that all school campuses are conducive to teaching and learning.”