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Massive document dump from Red Clay’s BPRC

June 3, 2013 Comments off

Red Clay has revealed a large number of documents to be reviewed by the Board Policy Review Committee, normally the first public appearance of a new or revised policy. After the BPRC review, the revised draft is read once at a full Red Clay Board meeting, then voted on at a subsequent Red Clay Board meeting. The BPRC last met in September 2012, and normally reviews policies one or two at a time.

It moves quick, so get your comments in ASAP starting now, and plan on coming to the meetings if you can.

There are two upcoming BPRC meetings: June 25 and July 9 at 5:30 pm, at the District Office at Baltz. Note that you can send in your written comments and they will be read into the minutes of the meeting.

Most of the revisions are non-controversial and don’t change the content, consisting only of reformatting to align with the updated policy manual format. However, there are also some new policies and some policies with content revisions. Click the links in the list below for lists of policies for review:

The Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education recently reviewed and reformatted their policies. The policies are listed below and the board would like to have public comment.
Two sessions are scheduled for the public to meet and provide feedback for board consideration. Click here for meeting information.

To submit feedback on a Board policy under review:

  • Email feedback to boardpolicy@redclay.k12.de.us. Feedback received by 12 PM noon on the day of the Board Policy Review Committee meeting will be summarized and presented to the Board Policy Review Committee for discussion.
  • Voice feedback during the public hearing portion of the next Board Policy Review Committee meeting.
  • Voice feedback during the public hearing portion of the next regularly scheduled Board meeting.

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.