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Tensions in Wyola School boil over; Native Week activities cancelled

Wyola Parent Sign
Posted at 5:38 PM, Oct 05, 2023

WYOLA — Certain school activities were canceled this week in Wyola, as a conflict between parents and school staff brought law enforcement to the school several times.

Parents claim that teachers and administrators at the Wyola School on the southern edge of the Crow reservation have engaged in abusive conduct towards students, but the school says it's the parents who are out of line.

Thursday's Native American Week parade was canceled, but parents at odds with the school organized their own event in protest. Hours after the parade, some parents were given letters of ejection by the school, banning them from school grounds.

That includes Nina Hill, who has three children attending the K-8 school.

"When comments started coming in with my children saying certain things about verbal abuse, physical abuse, that was enough," Hill said.

Parents say examples of this abuse include staff members grabbing students by the arm and calling them degrading names.

"As parents, uncles, and aunts, we expect our children to go to a safe school, a great school," said Taylor Real Bird, a former board member whose nephew is currently a student at Wyola School.

Both the school and the parents say they're being met with aggression as response to the conflict.

Wyola School leadership said it would not speak to MTN on camera at the advice of the district's attorney, but will be providing MTN was a response when it can.

MTN has reached out to the Office of Public Instruction (OPI) and the Big Horn County superintendent on this matter, but has not received response as of Thursday afternoon.

Update 7 p.m. The Montana Office of Public Instruction provided the following statement:

"As the safety and security of students is the Superintendent’s top priority, she contacted federal, state, and county law enforcement and local education officials with concerns about student and staff safety as well as the effect on learning.

"OPI has received second-hand accounts of issues in Wyola. There have been no formal complaints filed with our office."