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Posts Tagged ‘parent involvement theater’

Take back RCPAC tonight at 6pm at Brandywine Springs

October 21, 2013 Comments off

Parents – come bear witness and lend your voice to take back RCPAC tonight at Brandywine Springs. Arrive a little before 6 if you want to get in some networking, because Lord knows nobody gets a chance to speak once the meeting begins.

The agenda has not been published as is normally done, and the meeting information page is showing information from 2011. But here are the highlights of tonight’s agenda:

Presentations tonight are Parent University pilot by Sarah Kashner-Schmittinger

Kickoff of planning for 2013 Family Resource Fair by Christine Miller

There will be suspense! Who will be named to the Bylaws Sub-committee, which will revise RCPAC bylaws for rubber-stamp approval by the whole body? Will I be shut out again? When will the revised draft be started?

Will there be a rescheduled discussion of the new Parent Involvement policy, which was on the agenda last month but was unilaterally “tabled” by the parent president with no second and no vote? Has anybody found any record of the policy being approved by the Board?

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The immaculate approval

October 14, 2013 4 comments

I’m calling shenanigans on the recent batch of policy updates that were supposedly approved by the Red Clay board last summer. I wrote about this as the documents began their journey through the approval process: Massive document dump from Red Clay’s BPRC

Red Clay now has a published policy (9002 – Parental Involvement) which it firmly insists is approved, but which was partially updated AFTER its printed approval date, with:

NO record of first public reading
NO record of second public reading
NO record of a Board vote on the updates
NO record of the policy updates appearing on the Board agenda.

9002 in particular caught my eye, and that is the one I am tracking. But I believe there are other allegedly “approved” policies in the same undocumented limbo. 9002 currently states that it was last approved on 7/7/2010. However, the document’s internal properties show it had been edited on 7/25/2013, and there were some significant changes.

So I contacted the Red Clay office and asked when the changes to 9002 were approved. The first answer was that they were reviewed by the BPRC (Board Policy Review Committee), and Board-approved over the summer. So I dutifully pored over the minutes of the BPRC, and could not find a mention of 9002. Which was odd, because I had been tracking BPRC activities and had attended the meetings (I missed one though). The summer Board minutes also had no reference to 9002.

Puzzled, I contacted my Red Clay source again, who robustly insisted the Board had approved 9002 at its July 10 meeting. So I went to the minutes for July 10, and here were some policies approved, but no mention of 9002.

Now completely baffled, I asked my source about this. They doubled down and insisted 9002 was approved on July 10, but was on another list of policies that did not appear in the minutes.

Another list that didn’t appear in the minutes? Sorry, that’s a bridge too far. Bad recordkeeping, or shenanigans? I may have to invoke Gray’s Law on this one:

“Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.”

Take back RCPAC – Monday Sept. 16, 6:00 at Stanton Middle School

September 14, 2013 Comments off

Monday Sept. 16 is the first opportunity this school year to take back RCPAC and put the “Advisory” back into the Red Clay Parent Advisory Council.

The meeting is Monday, Sept. 16 at 6:00 pm at Stanton Middle School.

Anybody may come to the meeting under the Open Meetings laws, but if you want to be a voting member, ask your principal to appoint you as a member representing your school.

There are some big changes coming to RCPAC in the 2013-2014 school year. We have a new district liaison – Malik Stewart will be the liaison this year, taking over from Christine Miller, who is assuming additional duties elsewhere in the district in addition to everything else she does. Thank you Chris for your role in RCPAC. Chris will still be organizing the annual Red Clay Resource Fair (this year Saturday, November 16th from 10-1:00PM at John Dickinson HS). Mark your calendars, and email Chris if you can volunteer that morning; it’s a blast!

In addition, it seems that the parent members of RCPAC will have an opportunity this year to revise the bylaws, which have become a bit musty over the years. Perhaps this year we can clarify exactly who the Parent Advisory Group is advising, and get it involved in some issues that haven’t already been decided.

Red Clay’s Article 23 committees

May 25, 2013 16 comments

I always got the feeling that when it came to policy development, parent involvement in Red Clay is mostly window dressing. It seems like the issues brought before the official parent involvement committees have already been decided, and they are just quickly running it by the parents to get their parent engagement ticket punched. Rarely does a meaningful discussion break out or a vote taken. And the issues presented never seem to touch the instructional policies at the heart of the classroom.

But now I am starting to understand why that is. And the explanation was found in the last place I expected – the RCEA contract (the Red Clay teacher’s union). I mean I was really surprised.

Now bear with me because we are getting into the weeds here. Red Clay has four committees in particular that deal with core classroom issues:

Discipline Committee
Grade Reporting and Procedures Committee
Special Education Committee
Technology Committee

These are the kinds of issues parents want to be involved in, right? I know I do. But don’t go looking for information about these committees on the Red Clay website, and don’t expect to see the meeting information posted in advance. For information about these committees, you have to read the RCEA contract (Article 23). And the first thing it says is:

Each committee shall have a maximum of five (5) representatives appointed by the Superintendent and five (5) representatives appointed by the Association President.

See something missing? No parents. Membership is contractually capped, so parents are de facto locked out of representation on these critical committees. Unless that is, you can persuade the union or the superintendent to use one or more of their five picks to put parents on the committees.

(click to enlarge)

The committees and their responsibilities are poorly defined by the contract language, and aren’t defined at all on the Red Clay website. But among other responsibilities, I am pretty sure these committees have advisory input into the policy development process. These committees are the kitchens where the early creative work of policy development takes place and policies are drafted, with root causes discussed, and different approaches considered and batted around. And parents don’t have a seat at the table.

Parent representation would be great, but we all know of committees where handpicked parents are appointed and you never hear from them again. So in addition to parent representation, we need transparency. These four committees are open meetings covered by FOIA, but the district has not been compliant by posting meeting schedules, agendas, or minutes. Even if parents aren’t on the committees, they are at least open meetings and parents should be notified of the time, location, and agenda.

So far I don’t think this is a dark comspiracy to deny parent involvement – it just looks like one. Having first considered malice, now I must consider the alternative explanation. The contract language looks like it was there forever and hasn’t really been reviewed lately. I contacted the District and RCEA, Both committed to review the issue amd get back to me later. To be fair, this is a busy time of year for them. I’ll wait.

Board Policy 9002 – Parental Involvement states:

The expectation set in place by this policy is that the Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education (“Board”) will actively involve parents in the joint development of the District’s parental involvement policies, programs, and activities. This policy must be applied in all instances of District operation. All employees are expected to comply with this policy. If this policy is not implemented, the fundamental concepts of the District’s mission may not be accomplished.

The policy also goes on to state:

This policy is needed to satisfy the requirements of Section 1118(a)(2) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which requires school districts receiving Title I funds to develop for the district a written parental involvement policy that establishes the district’s expectations and specifically describes how the district will meet the required components of the policy.

At this time of year when Red Clay is annually reviewing and resubmitting its Consolidated Grant application, this might be a good time to open up transparency and boast that parents now have a seat at the table on these core advisory committees.

Pike Creek Charter meeting tomorrow, Tuesday May 21

May 20, 2013 1 comment

The proposed Pike Creek Charter Middle School is hosting a public meeting tomorrow, Tuesday May 21 at 7:00 pm at the proposed school location, the current Delaware Swim and Fitness club in Pike Creek at 4905 Mermaid Blvd.

This is the second “town hall” meeting for Pike Creek Charter. The first meeting was on December 13 and was reported here. Tomorrow’s meeting flyer says:

Come join us for our second Town Hall meeting to learn more about Pike Creek Charter Middle School and receive first-hand updates on where we are in the approval process!

The Pike Creek Charter application is here: http://www.doe.k12.de.us/infosuites/schools/charterschools/applications.shtml.

The public hearing for the Pike Creek application (along with other charter issues) is on June 4:

Purpose
What action to take relative from the Final Meetings of Kuumba Academy and MOT Charter modification applications; and the new application of Pike Creek Charter Middle School.

Presumably the vote will take place at the following State Board of Education meeting.

Mermaid Boulevard is off Skyline Drive, right where Skyline makes that sharp turn behind the Acme at the Pike Creek Shopping Center (watch for traffic!). Just keep going up the hill until you see the building on the right. It’s the former Pike Creek Fitness club, now named Delaware Swim and Fitness.

Red Clay parents: Take back RCPAC Monday night May 20, 5:45 pm @Lewis Elementary

May 19, 2013 Comments off

Red Clay parents, we still need more of your voices at RCPAC!

Tonight is the LAST CHANCE this school year to take back RCPAC and put the “Advisory” back into the Red Clay Parent Advisory Council. RCPAC takes a break over the summer and meets again in September (although subcommittees continue working over the summer).

The meeting starts at 5:45 pm in the Lewis Dual Language Elementary School (directions – 920 North VanBuren Street) The meeting will be held in the cafeteria which has a direct entrance on 10th street. There is street parking in front of the school on Van Buren Street as well parking lots accessible from 10th Street.

The main agenda item is sharing fundraising ideas.

Red Clay parents: Take back RCPAC tonight, Monday Apr. 22 5:45 pm at Highlands Elementary

April 22, 2013 2 comments

Red Clay parents, we still need more of your voices at RCPAC!

Tonight is another opportunity to take back RCPAC and put the “Advisory” back into the Red Clay Parent Advisory Council.

The meeting starts at 5:45 pm in the Highlands Elementary cafeteria (directions). The agenda features Delaware’s Secretary of Education Mark Murphy speaking and answering previously submitted questions on the topic of Common Core implementation.

Next month’s RCPAC meeting is May 20 at Lewis Elementary.