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Madrone parents claim concerns being 'ignored'

Dozens of Madrone Trail Charter School parents continue to quarrel with the school's leaders, hoping changes can be made before the Medford School District moves forward with the school's charter renewal.

Parent Cliff Beneventi said last week that he and a group of parents had asked the charter school board twice this month, on Dec. 13 and Dec. 18, for a public meeting to discuss parent concerns, though a meeting still has not been set.

"While we have attempted to work with the Madrone Trail board for years, time and again our requests are simply ignored," Beneventi wrote in an email to the Mail Tribune.

More than 50 parents turned out to a Medford School District work session about the Madrone Trail board on Dec. 10, presenting a 40-page packet of concerns about the school's board, bylaws and fundraising efforts to Medford board members.

Parents asked the Medford School Board to intervene and insist that changes are made before the district renews the school's charter.

The 200-student school opened in 2007 and operates under a contract with the Medford School District, which will decide in the next two months whether to renew the school's charter for five more years.

The board's bylaws, written when the school was founded, ambiguously describe who should be a part of the board, leaving board Chairman Doug Breidenthal and other board members to interpret the rules differently than some parents.

While parents believe that more Waldorf educators need to be on the board, Breidenthal believes that board members who have some training in Waldorf methods are sufficient.

The school submitted a letter of intent this month to have the Medford School District renew its charter with the school, and the district has until early February to decide whether to move forward with a renewal process.

Breidenthal said Friday that he was willing to work with parents and address their concerns about the school board.

"I am asking you to please be patient," Breidenthal said in a letter to Beneventi, which was also sent to members of the Madrone Trail Board, the Medford School Board and several other parents.

He told parents that a work session to address their concerns would be scheduled sometime after the holidays, he said.

Breidenthal declined to comment on this story Monday.

In his letter, Breidenthal also invited Beneventi and parent Lorraine McDonald to consider serving on the Madrone Trail Board, which can add new members only by recommendation of current members.

Neither Beneventi or McDonald are Waldorf educators.

The Medford School District will hold a public hearing about the charter renewal at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4 at the district boardroom.

As required by Oregon charter school law, the district must notify the school if it plans to renew the charter within 10 days of the public hearing, and make a final renewal decision within 20 days.

Reach reporter Teresa Ristow at 541-776-4459 or tristow@mailtribune.com.