MEMPHIS, TN— Things became so heated Memphis Police were called during a community meeting in Binghampton concerning Cornerstone Preparatory Elementary School. That's the private, state-run elementary school. It is not the quality of education that has parents outraged but the way teachers discipline the students.
A child's words can be powerful.
"I started to urinate on myself and I started crying,” said 7-year old Cornerstone student as she addressed the crowd at the podium.
That power is multiplied when repeated by other children.
"One time I urinated on myself and I had to go really bad,” said another elementary student.
"I soiled on myself because I tried to raise my hand and he (my teacher) said no,” said another student.
Parents are outraged at Cornerstone teachers. The state took over low performing Lester Elementary this year. Since then, student grades are up and they're making the honor roll. That's not the problem. It's teachers not allowing enough bathroom breaks. The school says they've corrected the issue and the kids are allowed 5 bathroom breaks. Parents say that's not true.
"It's going beyond saying no, they’re getting physical,” said a parent Lashanna Rogers. “They (teachers) physically stopped her (my daughter) instead of walking with her to the restroom."
Other parents tried defending Cornerstone's actions but they weren't allowed at the podium and some stormed out of the meeting. Memphis police were called in to cool tempers.
"Cornerstone is still forming. I don't want them to bash Cornerstone before Cornerstone even gets off their feet. Bash Lester. Lester was not looking the same before Cornerstone walked into this school,” said a parent and a Lester graduate Joia Brown. Her son now attends Cornerstone. “Kids can be manipulative and kids need discipline and that’s one thing I think Cornerstone does do."
"I don't think a few bad apples should spoil it for everybody,” said another parent defending Cornerstone Airwrecka McBride. “If there’s a disciplinary issue then that’s a school board issue not a charter issue. The school is doing a great job."
State Representative G.A. Hardaway says the state started this mess and will have to clean it up. “The way things are looking right now we're going to have to have a state investigation into this to get all the facts lined up so that we can make a fair assessment where we are,” he said.
Representative Hardaway says he will meet with school officials next week then report to the state. Former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton was also at the meeting and says he wants to meet with Governor Bill Haslam to discuss the problems at Cornerstone.
Other issues brought up at Saturday meeting: there are no black teachers at the predominately black elementary school.