With over 60,000 people (and counting) reached, according to the statistics on our Facebook page, regarding Part I of the two-part “Bigger Picture” (Times, Sept. 24 and 26), it is clear readers are interested in what is happening in the Geneva City School District.

The Board of Education also took notice, requesting to submit another statement for better “context” in the story that alleges there are morale issues and a toxic work environment in the district.

The statement reads as follows:

“(Superintendent) Dr. Patricia Garcia was hired at the height of the pandemic. While three of the district’s unions initially requested the superintendent vacancy be filled with a temporary leader, the Board felt that the district needed secure leadership because of the pandemic. All union leaders were included in the interview process, the result of which was strong union support for Dr. Garcia’s candidacy.

“It is unfair to portray the school district in disarray or not serving our student population. The district has had many successes under Dr. Garcia’s leadership, included among them, full-time, in-person instruction K–5 and hybrid instruction 6–12 throughout the 2020–21 school year, a robust review and ongoing building of curriculum, and extensive community outreach. Our dedicated and talented staff work tirelessly and successfully for our students every day.

“It has been a challenging year in education nationally — resignations are very high everywhere because of Covid fatigue, retirements, and the advancement opportunities created by such resignations. Substitute shortages were high in Geneva long before Dr. Garcia’s leadership.

“The Board received its first anonymous complaint in late July 2021. We immediately took steps to address the issues raised. The anonymity of complaints received severely limited the Board’s ability to assess their veracity or investigate. While we understand that signing your name to a complaint may seem difficult, the law and district policy protect people who come forward with complaints.”

The board scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday morning. It was not known what was on the agenda, although it did say there would be an executive (closed-door) session.

I want to remind readers that the heart of the situation, and a major reason for the two-part series, was that some employees feel there is a hostile work environment — which is not addressed in the board’s statement. I have since received more emails echoing much of what was said in the series.

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