PLEASANT GROVE — A parents group concerned about discipline and the math program at Manila Elementary got their requested meeting with Alpine School District administrators.

Meanwhile, other parents are rallying around the school's administration and teachers, saying a small group of disgruntled parents is hurting Manila's reputation.

About 15 parents and Alpine administrators John Burton and Gary Seastrand talked for about two hours Friday afternoon.

The parents contend discipline at the school is too harsh and that the math program — Investigations in Number, Data and Space — is overemphasized at the expense of children who learn better using traditional math programs, said Scott Belliston, a parent who attended the meeting.

"They said they have already been discussing things with people at Manila Elementary, and they're taking it very seriously," Belliston said.

Burton did not return a message left by the Deseret Morning News on Friday.

Parents sent a letter to Superintendent Vern Henshaw and distributed copies to members of the Board of Education on Tuesday. They have said that they don't like discipline measures such as requiring children to eat lunch sitting on the floor in the principal's office.

At the Friday meeting, Belliston said the district officials agreed to set up a meeting between parents and teachers to talk about the math concerns.

School ends May 27, but district officials said they will begin to address the concerns now and continue into the beginning of the next school year, Belliston said. They will call concerned parents and discuss any proposed changes.

"I'll have to wait and see if it gets better. Talking doesn't make anything better," Belliston said. "They appear to be starting a good-faith effort."

Emily Varney, a parent with children at Manila, said she talked to many people throughout Friday who felt the exact opposite about the administration and math program.

"Each of these (complaining) parents have individual issues. The issues are solvable ones," she said, adding that the group should have tried to communicate differently before going to the school district officials. Sometimes there aren't chairs for all the students, but if parents explain to the principal that their child is sensitive about being forced to eat on the floor, the principal wouldn't make them, said Varney

Varney is a school volunteer and stands behind the principal's discipline philosophy.

"When kids are a discipline problem and they are disturbing the entire classroom to the point where the teachers can't teach but have to muddle through, (principal) Canda (Mortensen) says, 'I believe in my teachers. I want the kids in my school to learn. When a child is disruptive, send them to my office,' " Varney said.

Varney also said students are performing better on standardized tests since the introduction of math Investigations districtwide in 2002.

Investigations caters to every child's learning needs, Varney said.

"Some kids are visual learners. Some are tactile," she said. "With investigations, no one has to be stupid in math."


E-mail: lhancock@desnews.com