Volusia teachers, parents call on school district to be more transparent about COVID-19 cases

District says it’s releasing all COVID-19 information it can without violating privacy laws

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – A small but determined group of teachers, staff and parents silently protested outside the school district’s headquarters on Tuesday, demanding change to the COVID-19 response in Volusia County Schools.

“I’m hoping this protest helps the board to understand the necessity for transparency with the public,” Kate Cumiskey said.

Cumiskey is a former teacher for Volusia County and spoke with News 6 before the protest, claiming school leaders are not releasing enough information about COVID-19 cases. She said they’re also demanding the district’s controversial cleaning company be fired.

[DATEBASE: Tracking coronavirus in Central Florida schools]

“It’s more of an issue now. It’s a critical health issue due to COVID now,” Cumiskey said.

She said the group wants the interim superintendent to be removed, as the school board is currently discussing a salary increase and pushed for board meetings to be reopened to the public.

“Since the school board has mandated face-to-face education, we want them to open the board room back up -- with safe guidelines, of course -- to the public,” she said.

News 6 spoke with Volusia County School Board Chairwoman Ida Wright minutes before the afternoon school board meeting to address the protesters' concerns.

“Now that we’re hearing from parents that they’d like to attend or teachers, we are planning on opening up by next meeting,” she said.

[TIMELINE: The spread of coronavirus in Florida]

Wright said the school district is releasing all the COVID-19 information it can without violating privacy laws. She also said the board isn’t discussing the interim superintendent’s raise but, rather, her stepping into the role as superintendent.

“She will be taking Dr. Fritz’s position temporarily, but again, she will then be assuming that salary because we will be bringing in a new deputy superintendent,” Wright said.

Cumiskey hopes the protest pushes the school board in what she believes is the right direction.

“In the past, I have found this board to be incredibly responsive. I hope that they check themselves and do the right thing and do the things the public is asking for, so we don’t have to protest,” she said.

To keep up with the latest news on the pandemic, subscribe to News 6′s coronavirus newsletter and go to ClickOrlando.com/coronavirus.

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