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State Superintendent weighs in on Wyola School closure

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Posted at 12:21 AM, Oct 13, 2023

WYOLA - Confusion continues in Wyola as school has been closed for four days and students will miss a full week of class.

It all stems from an ongoing conflict between parents and school staff - but now the parents are growing frustrated.

There was word that the school board would meet on Thursday, but that has not been confirmed.

No information has been coming out about why the school is closed.

The Office of Public Instruction has offered its assistance but also has no information.

Wyola School is on a four-day week and was closed for a holiday on Monday.

It was expected to open on Tuesday but never did and has been closed ever since.

"We have no clue why they're closing school," said Nina Hill, a Wyola parent.

Hill heard on the news that county superintendent said the school would be open on Thursday.

However, it remained closed.

"I really didn't put my hopes up high," Hill said. "We're waiting for the school to reopen."

County Superintendent John Small says he has not investigated and his office does not have jurisdiction over Wyola school.

"We can give advice on policy and so on," Small said. "But as far as the control, that is right there in the hands of those trustees and that administration to ensure that those mandates, a safe positive teaching environment and a safe positive learning environment for the students."

State Superintendent Elsie Arntzen also says it's up to the Wyola School trustees, not the State Office of Public Instruction.

"They are governed by a local board," Arntzen said. "And we would like to honor that. I want to make sure that the board is the one that makes the determination, not the state."

She has heard rumors and tried to get information from the school district, but it has not received a response

"We have reached to the federal law enforcement authorities, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the sheriff there in Big Horn County, county superintendent," Arntzen said. "Our legal has reached out to Wyola's legal and has tried to have some communication with them."

Earlier this week, two OPI employees went to the school to help with federal grants unaware of the situation.

"When the law enforcement came, we asked for our employees to leave so that they weren't part of whatever might be there," Artnzen said.

Q2 contacted the school on Thursday but no one has offered any explanations.

Meanwhile, Arntzen is optimistic that the kids will get back to school.

"I believe that community does have children in their heart and education of course in their heart," Arntzen said. "So it's challenging at this time, but I believe a resolution can be made. "

"Just concerned about our kids," Hill said. "They need their education. This shouldn't be happening right now."