Home > Uncategorized > Oh my. Now you HAVE to come to the RCPAC meeting on Monday night at Baltz Elementary at 6:00 pm

Oh my. Now you HAVE to come to the RCPAC meeting on Monday night at Baltz Elementary at 6:00 pm

September 23, 2012

 

 

Parent involvement is like freedom of speech: You have to exercise it once in a while if you want to keep it.

Welcome RCPAC members! And Red Clay officials! I am surprised and delighted to hear so many of you are reading this blog. The things a parent has to do to get a conversation started…

On Thursday I posted about RCPAC (Red Clay Consolidated Parent Advisory Council), pointing out what an excellent and under-utilized parent involvement opportunity it is: Red Clay parents: Take back RCPAC

And on Saturday, I received a lengthy email from a Red Clay official (who shall remain nameless for now), copying top Red Clay brass and several others. The email provided so much insight into the District’s thinking on parent involvement that I just have to share it here (see below; the full name-redacted email is at the very end).

Red Clay Consolidated School District, meet the Streisand Effect.

It was hard to choose my favorite quote from the email. It’s a toss-up between:

If they say they are attending based on the information you posted on your blog, they will be informed by district security staff that it is a closed meeting…

and

Time is not available for anyone to “bring their issues” to the meeting.

 
Wow.

Apparently, Red Clay fears my post will incite an army of wild-eyed parents into overrunning the RCPAC meeting like a Viking invasion, raiding the granaries and savagely expressing their parent involvement concerns.

While I admit that image has a certain appeal, and I am flattered that the District thinks I have so much readership and power of persuasion, I really don’t think that is a realistic or even an appropriate concern. In fact I think nearly all the blog hits on that post came from District officials and their friends exchanging panicky and/or indignant emails linking to the post.

As shown in the email, Red Clay’s antipathy and fear toward parent involvement, along with its obstructive, controlling behavior toward parents, is shameful and needs to be brought into the sunlight.

I think it is clear in this email how the District considers the Parent Advisory Council a captive organization and just one more wholly-owned player in its stage-managed Parent Involvement Theater. ™ I strongly urge the District to rethink its attitudes and practices regarding RCPAC before Federal Title I authorities and RTTT monitors become aware of these parent involvement practices.

By the way, did I mention that the meeting is in the Baltz Elementary library at 6:00 pm on Monday, September 24. Baltz Elementary is at 1500 Spruce Avenue, Wilmington, DE (302) 992-5560 (right off Faulkland Road, click here for a map)?

If you do go for the first time, please be aware that only enough food and child supervision is available for the number anticipated, so please be considerate. Also, like any public meeting, don’t speak out of turn. Members and non-members alike should make sure they are recognized by the chair before speaking.

The full email is below, but first, some highlights:

Red Clay email highlight #1

If [attendees] say they are attending based on the information you posted on your blog, they will be informed by district security staff that it is a closed meeting and only those names listed on the sign-in sheet and the presenters will be permitted to partipate in the meeting…

Oh my. This Red Clay official is apparently unaware of the Open Meetings provision of Delaware’s FOIA law: “(a) Every meeting of all public bodies shall be open to the public except those closed pursuant to subsections (b), (c), (d) and (h) of this section. “ To my knowledge, the RCPAC meeting does not meet any of the exception criteria.

On Monday, anybody I hear stating that RCPAC is a closed meeting will be specifically named in my FOIA violation report to the Attorney General.

Red Clay email highlight #2

“…to my knowledge you were not authorized to provide a general open invitation.”

Well now you know. Nobody needs authorization to publicize a public meeting – GOT IT? The fact that this official thinks I do is an appalling attitude and lack of appropriate knowledge for a District administrator with parent involvement responsibilities. The District should have publicized the meeting better itself, and should be grateful and open to the potential for increased parent involvement.

Red Clay email highlight #3

The RCPAC monthly meeting does not have sufficient time for an open forum that allows for anyone to dominate the evening with their personal issues. Time is not available for anyone to “bring their issues” to the meeting.

And there you have it folks, Red Clay’s expression of its REAL parent involvement policy.

Let’s be clear here though – by custom and courtesy, members and non-members alike should ask to be recognized and introduce themselves before they speak. And also by custom and courtesy, they should ask the RCPAC chairman for the floor – NOT the District liaison. If you don’t do this, you may be deemed disruptive and kicked out of the meeting – which is also specifically allowed by Delaware’s Freedom of Information Act. Although frankly, that would be one heck of a spectacle that would be a PR disaster for the District, especially if it happened to be videotaped.

I don’t see disruptive attendees being a problem though. We’re just regular parents, not the barbarians feared by the District. Although I can certainly understand how the prospect of dealing with RCPAC parents who aren’t on the District payroll takes them out of their comfort zone.

Red Clay email highlight #4

It is greatly appreciated that you adjust your blog immediately to accurately reflect the expectation of the monthly RCPAC meetings.

Consider it done.

Red Clay email highlight #5

Speaking of being invited to serve on RCPAC, I have received no communication from either [principal’s name redacted] or [principal’s name redacted] regarding their support of you representing and serving as the liaison for their school

I am currently a voting member of RCPAC, according to RCPAC bylaws. This District official is clearly unfamiliar with the bylaws of the organization he/she is charged with facilitating. He/she already has a copy of my RCPAC appointment by a Red Clay principal, which means that I am a voting member of RCPAC. I will send him/her another copy in case he/she has misplaced it.

There is NO provision in RCPAC bylaws that causes a voting membership to expire annually or at any time, or to require any renewals. There is also no limitation on the number of appointed members who may serve, regardless of which school their children attend.

The District may WISH it could expire RCPAC members, or require annual renewals, or limit membership to two parents per school, but it may not. If they want the bylaws changed to permit those things, they will have to ask the parents to vote on those changes. And I suspect such an effort will be mounted shortly, and will be successful, given the number of District employees in the membership and the control of speaking time exerted by the District. But if such a thing happens, I will make sure the District’s effort to lock parents out will be well documented.

There is currently NO PROBLEM of too many parents attending or voting at RCPAC meetings. Red Clay should consider itself fortunate if more interested parents show up, and should not be reacting defensively to lock parents out.

Let’s be clear: RCPAC is a parent organization, not a District-owned captive appendage. District officials may not make up the rules as they go along, especially not by distributing District opinions by email.

The bylaws only say two things about RCPAC appointments [emphasis mine]:

Criteria of Membership

  • A parent or guardian of a child currently attending or previously attending a Red Clay school or a school in Delaware.
  • Appointed by building administrator or serving at the request of the Superintendent.
  • The district reserves the right to invite additional community members who are concerned Red Clay residents.
  • Membership is voluntary.
  • Each Red Clay school shall have at least two representatives with one serving as an alternate.
  • Voting privilege shall be granted to membership appointed by a building principal.

and

Red Clay building administrators are to submit two names each school year.

 
The 9/22 email (names redacted to protect the innocent and guilty alike)

Good morning Mike,

I have received numerous communications from RCPAC members regarding your blog and the inaccurate information that has been posted regarding the upcoming September RCPAC meeting. Since I am not a blogger, I had to search the web to find your comments. Obviously you are free to state your personal opinions regarding RCPAC. However, you made a few comments that are inaccurate, and I wanted to be sure you post the correct information to avoid confusion and personal embarrassment.

You have provided a general invitation for “come one, come all”. Please be advised that as we do encourage families to come and experience the opportunity of RCPAC, prior communication has always been the courtesy and expectation of anyone new attending either by their own personal communication or by the individual bringing them as a guest. RCPAC is NOT an evening for anyone and everyone to just come, eat and have homework assistance provided for his/her student(s). RCPAC members are either invited by their principal to represent their school, by the superintendent or with the approval of the superintendent and are affiliated with an organization that also supports parent engagement. Food and refreshments are not ordered to accommodate a mass number of off the street attendees; especially now, as the Title I parent engagement allocation has a very limited budget, and we are actively engaging in creative ways to provide funding for the meals being served each month.

Please be aware that if there is a significantly large number of unexpected attendees as a result of your open invitation, “come one, come all” on your blog, they will not be able to receive food and will receive no childcare. If they say they are attending based on the information you posted on your blog, they will be informed by district security staff that it is a closed meeting and only those names listed on the sign-in sheet and the presenters will be permitted to partipate in the meeting and partake of the food and childcare. The information was misleading on your blog, and to my knowledge you were not authorized to provide a general open invitation.

Speaking of being invited to serve on RCPAC, I have received no communication from either [principal’s name redacted] or [principal’s name redacted] regarding their support of you representing and serving as the liaison for their school, [school names redacted].

Please remember it is the responsibility of RCPAC members to provide two-way communication with school administration and their school parent association. Please tell me which school you represent as I have had many parents who wish to continue as a an active member of RCPAC, but their school affiliation has changed due to the fact that their child now attends a different school. We also have new members as well, so this information is very important to avoid duplication of responsibilities.

Lastly, please be advised, that RCPAC has a planned agenda for each monthly meeting designed by the president and reviewed with the other officers before the meeting takes place. Then, after receiving the agenda from them, I am able to duplicate the necessary number of handouts needed for the meeting. The September meeting has two presenters; 1. Red Clay Transportation, at the requests of RCPAC members at the May meeting, and 2. Wesley College staff members addressing a wonderful opportunity for parents to participate in a certificate training program designed specifically for promoting effective parent engagement. The RCPAC monthly meeting does not have sufficient time for an open forum that allows for anyone to dominate the evening with their personal issues. Time is not available for anyone to “bring their issues” to the meeting.

I look forward to seeing you at Monday’s meeting. It is greatly appreciated that you adjust your blog immediately to accurately reflect the expectation of the monthly RCPAC meetings.

Thank you,

[Red Clay official]

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  1. September 24, 2012 at 9:20 am

    hmmmmm, RCSD thinks it’s chaffing now? I am going to repost this about tonight’s meeting. I can’t go myself having a meeting in Newark at 5PM.

    I know that the Red Clay Charter DCPA called police over a few DSEA members leafletting parents last week at the public school property. Will RCSB be big enforcers tonight if parents show up persuaded by a blog post to do so?

    THESE PEOPLE ARE NUTS. I wish you’d given the author’s identity.

  2. John Young
    September 24, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Mike, a very well written piece. Of all the very important points you make, I find myself bemused by this gem:

    I strongly urge the District to rethink its attitudes and practices regarding RCPAC before Federal Title I authorities and RTTT monitors become aware of these parent involvement practices.

    I will try to stop laughing by tomorrow, but it is going to be hard. “RTTT monitors” cracks me the F up.

  3. September 24, 2012 at 11:52 am

    @john – it was worth a shot.

  4. John Young
    September 24, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Mike, all time A+ for effort on that one!

  5. September 24, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Oh my. Does Red Clay have a district security staff? What/Who exactly is RCCD’s security staff?

  1. September 25, 2012 at 9:06 pm
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