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Friday, June 24, 2011

My input on Dr. Rock's performance - sent to the entire board

CCS Board members,

I think that Dr. Rock is trying to become "King Rock of Clarkston Schools" and that he has an agenda that goes far beyond Clarkston Schools.  I think that he believes he is the next "Horace Mann" - that he will be the "Savior of Public Schools in America", but that couldn't be further from the truth.  I believe that his performance since he came to CCS is sub-par at best. 

I believe that Dr. Rock believes that he only needs to satisfy four people in order to get anything approved that he wants (four board members) and he apparently thinks that is all that is necessary.  I don't believe that he cares what the parents of CCS students have to say.  There is no accepted/acted upon input from the public - so much for collaboration (his favorite word after "learning" and "learner").

I believe that Dr. Rock believes that he is the be-all and end-all in the district and that he has decided he wants to take over the role of the board - to set policy.  Actually, it's his job to carry out the policies set by the school board. 


The School Board president, Mr. Steve Hyer, and Dr. Rock control the school board agenda and I believe that they manage by bullying.  Is it any wonder we have a bullying problem in Clarkston Community Schools?  If the bullying starts at the top, it will "trickle down" as former President Reagan used to say regarding economics. 

I believe that if Dr. Rock remains as the Superintendent of the Clarkston Community School System, he will make changes (including expanding school of choice/open enrollment to students from outside school systems), ruin the school system, move on to something else, and leave us with the shattered remains of what once was an excellent school system.  I know many people moved to this area because of the schools.  They wanted to be able to feel safe about sending their kids to their local public schools instead of having to send them to private schools.  I fear that if Dr. Rock gets his way in starting the decline of the school system with the schools of choice, that it will be the beginning of the end of the Clarkston Schools as we know them and it will prompt many parents to decide to put their kids in private schools, which would be a terrible shame and a financial hardship on the parents.

Dr. Rock has not moved his family into the district and his kids don't go to school here...  He may call OUR kids, "his kids", but in reality, "his kids" are 50 miles away from here in another school district and he doesn't care how unsafe the conditions are for our students.   

Here are specific reasons why I believe Dr. Rock has not done a good job since he has been in CCS:

  • Disingenuous use of the agenda to ignore board norms and put items on the agenda as "action" (to be voted on) items that should have been "discussion" items.
  • Packaging board packets so they are too large to be transmitted via email and must be picked up at the administration office to disguise the fact that there are questionable items on the agenda and to keep the public uninformed until after votes have already been taken.  What easier way would the district have to limit public knowledge about a plan to vote on a program to implement school of choice in their school system than to limit prior knowledge about it before it was to be voted on?  The only reference on the agenda for the first time this happened that was sent out on the Friday before that meeting was, "Resolution to Approve Career Immersion Pathways as Open Enrollment Programs:  Rod Rock (att)  Roll Call Vote".  However, several of us who received the agenda on Friday saw what was on the agenda and struggled to get the word out
  • Dr. Rock's refusal to change the following from the school of choice wording to a confirmation that no students would be accepted that were trouble tells a lot about his character.  It said, "the Superintendent or his designee shall have the "DISCRETION" to refuse to enroll a nonresident applicant if the applicant is, or has been within the preceding two years, suspended from another school".  It also said that "the Superintendent or his designee "shall have the "DISCRETION" to refuse to enroll a nonresident applicant if the applicant has ever been expelled from another school or convicted of a felony at any time".  This really does not protect against the superintendent (or his designee) from accepting potential school of choice candidates that have been suspended in the last two years, expelled from another school, or convicted of a felony - it's at at their "discretion".
  • Dr. Rock has refused to expand upon the employment contracts on the transparency reports.  There are six employment contracts on the transparency reports (seen here: http://www.clarkston.k12.mi.us/education/components/scrapbook/default.php?sectiondetailid=38950& ), but there are at least two other contracts, plus the :letters of understanding".  I asked Dr. Rock to include all of them in the transparency reports, but Dr. Rock ignored my emailed requests (would not even respond) and Anita Banach informed me that the district had no obligation to post any more than what is on the district website.  Anita Banach also advised at a recent board meeting that there are multiple "letters of understanding" that the district has against various employment contracts and she also let slip that the board has never seen them (so the board obviously never approved them).  Therefore, the contracts posted to the Transparency Reports on the district website are incomplete. 
  • After I spoke in front of the board in April and called the district out for not including some specific employment contracts on the transparency reports on the district website, not reporting "Medicare Wages" in the over $100k pay report (of the previous school year), and not definitively saying one way or the other that Wes Goodman would or would not be entitled to an hourly pay of $95.73 under any circumstances (in addition to his annual salary of $108k), the board and Dr. Rock sat there mute.  Anita Banach then stood up and refuted my claims and misstated the requirements for the transparency reports.  She was the last person to speak.  It made me look like a crackpot, but she was the one who was wrong.  When I went up to Anita after the meeting was over to inform her she was wrong in her retort to my public comments, she told me, "I told you 3 months ago that the $95.73/hour pay for Wes Goodman was a mistake".  I advised her that she was mistaken.  She had said she did not know, but she didn't think it was right, and she would get back to me on it...  She never did get back to me about it, so I emailed Dr. Rock about it on multiple emails and he never bothered to answer me either.  After I advised her of that, Anita told me, "Neither Dr. Rock, nor I, have any obligation to explain anything to you or answer any of your questions." 
  • As you all know, neither the superintendent, nor the board has any obligation to answer questions brought to them by the public during board meetings.  A parent asked a question at the 5/9/11 board meeting and she was advised by Mr. Hyer that the board had no obligation to answer her question...  And they didn't.  The woman was incredulous.  I have long known that fact.  If answers are not given at the board meeting, they SHOULD be followed up with communication from the district, but it never happens.  It shows the disdain the district, especially Dr. Rock, has for the public.
  • Dr. Rock needs to know how the finances work in the district and saying he doesn't know the difference between a 610 and 110 account code at the last board meeting is admission that he doesn't know the most important half of his job, the district finances.
  • The "Calls to Action" Dr. Rock has published are an embarrassment to Dr. Rock and the district.  Dr. Rock works for the CCS district, not "all children of the world".  Here are other things I have comments on.
  • He said, "Locally controlled schools; excellent teachers; engaged, globally connected students; and collaborative communities & parents."  The communities and parents can be as "collaborative" as they want to be (or think they are), but it doesn't mean the superintendent is going to listen to, consider, or act on any of of their input.  I believe that Dr. Rock had his own idea of what "his" school district was going to be long before he even became a superintendent in Clarkston and he is trying to push his ideas through, no matter what WE want.  Dr. Rock never asked the community or the parents what they thought about or how they felt about "Schools of Choice" (SOC)...  He just put a School of Choice action item (to be voted on) on the 5/9/11 school board agenda.  He also did not ask on his phone survey what people thought about schools of choice. 
  • He also said, "Local communities must control their school systems.  You can take this two ways.  I think Dr. Rock interprets this as control of anything in the school district must come from him, rather than Lansing.  The second way this could be interpreted is that locaI community members should have input into/control what happens in their school districts, but I don't see this happening in CCS currently.  The communities vote in their school board members who are supposed to vote the "will of the people" to direct the superintendent on school issues.  I see the "will of the people" coming out in comments and votes by three of the school board members (Mrs. Boatman, Mrs. Lieblang, and Mrs. Patterson), but they need a majority (4 of 7) to make policy.  They are overruled time and again by the four board members (Mr. Hyer, Mr. Bomier, Mrs. McGinnis, and Mrs. Egan) who always vote the "will of the superintendent".   It does not appear that those four board members are looking out for the "will of the people" in the local community.  
  • He also said, "One size does not fit all—children, families, teachers, schools, communities, people, alligators, onions, fruit trees, fingernails, political parties, transmissions. Schools require different options, depending on their needs." (What IS this?!?!?  Alligators?  Onions?  Fruit trees?  Fingernails?  Political parties?  Transmissions?  What does this have to do with the school funding or education?
Give me a break!

Thanks!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tell me what you think of Dr. Rod Rock's performance so far?

The CCS school board will be evaluating the superintendent, Dr. Rod Rock on June 20th at 5 PM.  It will be a closed session, but you can express your opinion of Dr. Rock's performance and why you feel the way you do to the entire board before they give him their evaluation.


What do you think of Dr. Rod Rock's performance so far and why do you feel that way? 

Your posts can be anonymous.  Please respond. 

My opinion:   

I think that Dr. Rock is trying to become "King Rock of Clarkston Schools" and that he has an agenda that goes far beyond Clarkston Schools.  I think that he believes he is the next "Horace Mann" - that he will be the "Savior of Public Schools in America".  

If School Board votes count to show anything, then Dr. Rock appears to have apparent full control over four members of the school board (Mr. Steve Hyer, Mr. Barry Bomier, Mrs. Cheryl McGinnis, and Mrs. Elizabeth Egan) who have so far voted for anything Dr. Rock has proposed.  Based on this scenario, Dr. Rock has gotten anything passed that he has wanted so far.  Therefore, Dr. Rock need only satisfy four people in order to get anything approved that he wants and he apparently thinks that is all that is necessary.  I don't believe that he cares what the parents of CCS students have to say.  There is no accepted/acted upon input from the public - so much for collaboration.  

The School Board president, Mr. Steve Hyer, and Dr. Rock control the school board agenda and I believe that they are the head bullies in the school system/School Board.  Is it any wonder we have a bullying problem in Clarkston Community Schools?  If the bullying starts at the top, it will "trickle down" as former President Reagan used to say regarding economics.  I have heard that Dr. Rock manages by fear, because if you are an employee and hold an opinion contrary to Dr. Rock, you should be afraid for your job (similar to how it was under Dr. Roberts, but worse).

I believe that if Dr. Rock remains as the Superintendent of the Clarkston Community School System, he will make changes (including expanding school of choice/open enrollment to students from outside school systems), ruin it, move on to something else, and leave us with the shattered remains of what once was an excellent school system.      

Saturday, June 18, 2011

June 13, 2011 Board meeting - UGLY and school administrators getting 9 extra vacation days?

The board meeting was ugly, but then again, most of them have been for the last seven months or so.

This was the last meeting before the board has a closed session on June 20th at 5 PM to discuss Dr. Rock's performance evaluation.

Here were some of the concerns:
  • Action item 5.5 - "Approval of Board Operating Procedures: Steve Hyer"
1.      This was a project to look at the possibility of utilizing some of the Berkley School District's Board operating norms. This was a problem for Mrs. Lieblang, Mrs. Boatman, and Mrs. Patterson because the current and proposed changes to the board operating procedures/norms call for items to be officially discussed in an open meeting before they are brought to the board for a vote, but Mr. Hyer and Dr. Rock brought this complete package forward at this meeting for a vote although the board had not discussed the final document previously.  The Board members had been asked to email Mrs. Lieblang with the list of the five or fewer Berkley School Board norms they could not live with implementing in CCS.  They were not allowed to have issue with any more than five items.  Mrs. Lieblang forwarded the combined list of all of the "can't live with" items to Mr. Hyer.  Mr. Hyer then took the list of norms and included some of the items that Board members had said they absolutely could not agree with.  Mr. Hyer said that he showed an asterisk identifying the items that Board members had identified as the items they could not live with, but some Board members said that there were no asterisks against some of the items that they had identified as "can't live with" items...  After much heated discussion, this document was approved by the board with the understanding that the items that were asterisked would be removed and that the document was a working document and there would be changes in the future due to Board member concerns with items on the list.  I foresee issues in the future with Mr. Hyer refusing to reconsider items on the list "because they were already approved" and because it will take four members to agree to the changes and the four "rubber stamp" Board members will vote against the changes...  I can see it now.  This reminds me of a kangaroo court.
  • Action item 5.1 - Approval of Personnel Changes: Anita Banach" (plan is to vote on the item)
1.      bringing back seven teachers and two part time clerks,
2.      a resignation of one employee and a deceased employee,
3.      and the hiring of three full time "behavior interventionalists" for each of the middle school, junior high, and high school and showing a reason of "Work with At-Risk students, Level 1 discipline, intervention strategies" to be funded from "Title I and general fund".  There was no job description for the "behavior interventionalists", no explanation of who these individuals would work for in the schools, what the reasoning was for bringing them into the schools, what their educational/experience backgrounds would be, etc.  With all of the cost cuts in the district, there was concern about why there was no dialog with the board about bringing in these three new positions, nor about what priorities there are about bringing back personnel in the district as funds become available.  Mr. Sean Ryan, the deputy superintendent, explained that the district believed this was necessary due to all of the counseling, building aides, and social workers cut in the schools in the last year and the increases in behavioral issues that have resulted.  I know there were increases in bullying in Clarkston Junior High.  Also, per the federal government's website, available here, Title I funds are supposed to be used for low income kids to:
  •    "Title I is designed to help students served by the program to achieve proficiency on challenging State academic achievement standards. Title I schools with percentages of low income students of at least 40 percent may use Title I funds, along with other Federal, State, and local funds, to operate a "schoolwide program" to upgrade the instructional program for the whole school. Title I schools with less than 40 percent low income students or that choose not to operate a schoolwide program offer a "targeted assistance program" in which the school identifies students who are failing, or most at risk of failing, to meet the State's challenging academic achievement standards. Targeted assistance schools design, in consultation with parents, staff, and district staff, an instructional program to meet the needs of those students. Both schoolwide and targeted assistance programs must use instructional strategies based on scientifically based research and implement parental involvement activities. This means that Title I funds are supposed to be used to help low income students achieve academically with instructional strategies based on scientifically based research and implement parental involvement activities...  What does this have to do with "behavior interventionalists"?  After questioning by the Board, Mr. Ryan advised that they had made a mistake about the Title I funds...
  • Action item 5.2 - "Approval of Project Lead the Way Program: Rod Rock"
At the last board meeting, the superintendent was asking for approval for the "Project Lead the Way" program for an additional year due to the second (and probably final) year of grant funding from four different sources.  It was converted to a discussion item because there were many unanswered questions and comments from board members, especially due to far superior engineering classes available at OakTech Center (from the Oakland County ISD), so the district was to get answers for the board members and bring the answers to the June 13th board meeting and it was to be voted on at that time...  This time, Dr. Rock and Mr. Hyer set up the agenda item asking for a vote for PERMANENT approval for the classes, although funding is expected to end after the fiscal year 2011/12.  At the previous board meeting, the rubber stamp members of the board overrode a request to hold off voting on school of choice for the "Project Lead the Way" program (requested because the program had not yet been approved for next year - cart before the horse) and they voted to accept open enrollment/school of choice for "Project Lead the Way". 

Mrs. Cheryl McGinnis went on a rant about how disappointed the kids might be if they had been accepted in the "Project Lead the Way" program and it were rejected.  I was expecting to hear violins playing...  Mrs. Patterson reminded Mrs. McGinnis that this was just a few elective classes and not a true "program".  Mrs. Lieblang said that the district did not seem to have the same level of concern about the students in the "gifted and talented program" or other programs that had to be canceled due to funding issues.

Mrs. Elizabeth Egan then went off on Mrs. Lieblang in the most disrespectful rant as I have ever seen in a public official outside of the Detroit City Council or the Detroit School Board.  The whole audience was speechless...

Mrs. Rosalie Lieblang then reminded Mrs. Egan that multiple new board norms they had approved as a working document in that meeting had already been violated in the meeting relating to professional/courteous behavior and not voting on any issue that the board members had not had sufficient discussion on to render a decision.  I looked them up and found the following violations:  Operating Procedure 1.3.1.A stated, "Board members will maintain professional and courteous behavior throughout the meeting."  Operating Procedure 1.3.1.B stated, "Board members will demonstrate respect to fellow Board members and public participants through the following behavior: listen and treat each other respectfully, be cordial when disagreeing, refrain from condescending or critical comments to members of the staff, public."

They had also violated the new (and existing) Code of Ethics standard, that "as a Board member: I will assist in making policy decisions only after full discussion at publicly held Board meetings, and I will render all decisions based on available facts, and I refuse to surrender judgment to individuals or special groups" (due to the placement of the "Project Lead the Way" action item for a vote for "permanent" approval after discussion had only been for extending the classes in the 2011/12 school year while grants covered the expenditures for the classes).  However, this is not a new phenomena as I have seen this happen time and again with Dr. Rock and Mr. Hyer in control of the agenda and that Board Norm has been in place for some time in CCS (it's not a new requirement)..
  • Action item 5.4 - " Approval of Paving Projects: Wes Goodman" (plan is to vote on the item)
Estimate of $46,216 in "safety issue" paving repairs at six schools, but no actual  bid information because the bids were due in the the district at 10 AM on June 13th (the day of the meeting).  Funds were to come from the Building and Site fund 2003 (fund #471) and the General Fund - Contracted Maintenance and Repair Budget.  None of the Board members questioned this and they approved it, so I believe they must have received the bid documentation, but I was not sent this information as a follow on to the Board Packet I had received on Friday, June 10th.

Other items discussed at the Board meeting:
  • Mrs. Rosalie Lieblang pulled the request for approval for the Team Rush trip to Washington, DC out of the Consent Agenda and had it voted on separately from the Consent Agenda items.  Mrs. Lieblang wanted to be certain that all of the expenses for the trip would be covered by "610" (student/parent/Team Rush club funds) and not from school operating expense funds as happened in 2009 as she had been advised by a letter with backup documentation that I sent to Dr. Rock (as Superintendent) and Mrs. Lieblang (as Board Treasurer) back in March of this year.  I had received the evidence of this violation of school funding laws in my various FOIA document requests.  This request for Board approval for the trip was being voted on in the evening of June 13th for a trip that was to begin on June 15th and attendees included the School Board president, Mr. Steve Hyer.  The approval for the trip was granted after confirmation was received that 100% of the funds for the trip would be coming from non-school funds.   
  • Mrs. Susan Boatman asked about the "summer hours" for school/Central Office administration, stated to be 8 AM - 4 PM Monday to Thursday during the summer.  Mrs. Boatman had a problem with those salaried employees who would not be working on Fridays who would be getting nine additional vacation days via that change and that the Board would have to be asked for approval to grant additional vacation days.  There was discussion back and forth after that, but it didn't make any sense.  I don't know what Dr. Rock is trying to do with this.

Superintendent evaluation 6/20/11 at 5 PM at CCS boardroom - closed session

The CCS school board will be evaluating the superintendent, Dr. Rod Rock on June 20th at 5 PM.  It will be a closed session, but you can express your opinion of Dr. Rock's performance and why you feel the way you do to the entire board before they give him their evaluation.

Here is information on board member email addresses to let them know what you think of Dr. Rock's performance:  It's not safe to post email addresses on the internet, so I won't do it here (replace the "at" with "@" and the "dot" with a period), but all of the board members and the superintendent have email addresses at clarkston dot k12 dot mi dot us with the exception of Cheryl McGinnis.  Here are the individual email short names at the CCS email system: Dr. Rod Rock: rdrock ; Steve Hyer: hyers ; Elizabeth Egan: eganee ; Barry Bomier: bomierb ; Joan Patterson: pattersonj ; Sue Boatman: boatmans ; and Rosalie Lieblang: lieblangrCheryl McGinnis' email address is at cpijobs dot com and her email short name address is Cheryl.McGinnis .

You can also copy and paste your opinion into a comment here in my blog if you wish also.  Your input can be anonymous here.

Since he has arrived in our district, without getting parent/public buy in (collaboration - his favorite buzz word, but least likely actual action), Dr. Rock has pushed through the following changes in the district:
  • Dr. Rock has implemented a modified teacher "developmental days" program.  It will now be two full days in August, three full days during the school year, and on two Wednesdays a month from October to May (15 days during the school year) teachers will arrive 10 - 15 minutes early and work for an hour.  Students will arrive 50 minutes late to school on those 15 days a year.  In the 2010/11 school year, there were three total developmental school days during the school year and they were scheduled to provide students/parents with three extended weekends.  That three full day schedule remains in the 2011/12 school year, but they add 15 late start days during the school year to inconvenience parents. 
  • While cutting kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade aides and laying off teachers and media center personnel, Dr. Rock has pushed the rubber stamp members of the board to approve a "permanent" addition of "Project Lead the Way" elective classes for 'pre-engineering" in the high school, even if the current funding for the classes is not renewed in the future, and even though there are superior classes available at the OTC (Oakland Technical Center) and all of the cost for the classes at OTC are borne by the Oakland Intermediate School District (completely free to CCS).
  • Dr. Rock has pushed the rubber stamp members of the board to approve school of choice for students to come into CCS if they are accepted into the "Project Lead the Way" curriculum.  The curriculum currently consists of three possible classes, but only requires one class over two semesters per year for two years (four credit hours over three years when 45 credit hours are normally taken). They require the students have passed 8th grade math and language arts, but this is for a 10th to 12th grade program...  The program had been presented on 5/9/11 as excluding any students that had been suspended in the previous two years, or had been convicted of a felony or expelled from another school.  However, the resolution in the board packet said, "The Superintendent or his designee shall have the discretion to refuse to enroll a nonresident applicant" even if the student had been suspended in the previous two years, or had been convicted of a felony, or had been expelled from another school.  That means the Superintendent (or his designee) can overrule those parameters...  It was addressed by me and certain board members in a board meeting that there were inconsistencies on the official board resolution vs. the publicly presented material and would the superintendent agree to remove from the resolution the superintendent's ability to accept out of district students into this program who had been suspended in the previous two years, had been convicted of a felony, or had been expelled by another school.  Dr. Rock refused to accept that change.  Obviously, it was not a mistake that there was contradictory information in regard to the publicly presented false information and what the reality was to be.  The rubber stamp members of the school board (Mr. Hyer, Mr. Bomier, Mrs. McGinnis, and Mrs. Egan) approved it that way, while being rejected by Mrs. Lieblang, Mrs. Patterson, and Mrs. Boatman fro several reasons.  In my opinion, Dr. Rock cannot be trusted.         
Dr. Rod Rock was quoted as saying in the Clarkston News' 5/18/11 edition, "Our local community, I argue, should be able to make decisions about what they want for their children.Collaboration is defined as 'working together to achieve a goal'.  Collaboration seems to be Dr. Rock's favorite word, yet he does not practice what he preaches.  If he is serious about that, then he should listen to the parents, residents, and taxpayers of the Clarkston Community Schools area (all 60 square miles worth of us - quoting Dr. Rock, "with first, middle, and last names").

Unfortunately, Dr. Rock also said, "I'm trained as a researcher, and I feel that I have the best perspective, along with our teachers, principals, and other administrators, to make informed decisions about what is best for our kids. We will base these decisions on research and data. I serve our teachers, community, and children. I will do all I can for them. I will not back down from my commitment to them, no matter how much pressure and press comes from those who oppose my perspective."    Do you see the contradiction of the two statements?  You can't have it both ways, Dr. Rock.  He also calls OUR CCS students, "my kids" and "our kids", but interestingly, he still has not moved his family to this district and "his kids" go to school in another district 50 miles from here...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Important!! June 13, 2011 Board Meeting PLEASE ATTEND!!!

The board packet for the June 13, 2011 meeting is 121 pages long, yet it was formatted to be too large (according to Dr. Rock's secretary) to be sent via email and had to be picked up at the district central office.  This is the second time this has happened in the last three meetings, yet it has never happened before that and I have received board packets via email for around a year and many were well over 200 pages long previously...

PLEASE COME TO THIS SCHOOL BOARD MEETING FOR MANY REASONS (see below).

This will be the last meeting before the board has a closed session on June 20th at 5 PM to discuss Dr. Rock's performance evaluation.

However, in addition to that, there are issues I have identified from what I have of the board packet for the 6/13/11 meeting.  They are (by order of importance):
  • Action item 5.5 - "Approval of Board Operating Procedures: Steve Hyer" (plan is to vote on the item)
This is composed of a Vision Statement, Mission Statement, and Learner Profile previously discussed at board meetings and a total change of the Board Policies and Operating Procedures that was never discussed at board meetings or Policy Committee meetings previously.  In my opinion, it totally changes the board procedures allowing for the superintendent and the school board president to control much of what is currently vested in the entire board, to prevent/limit communication between school board members and the press or residents, and to limit the voice of the people in board meetings. 
Currently on the district website under board bylaws (although I don't believe this is the most recent version of the bylaws), "0140 Membership, 0144.2 Board Member Ethics", it says,
"As members of the Board of Education, Board members will strive to improve public education and to that end they will:
  • recognize that they should endeavor to make policy decisions only after full discussion at publicly held Board meetings;  
  • render all decisions based on the available facts and independent judgment, and refuse to surrender that judgment to individuals or special interest groups;
  • communicate to other Board members and the Superintendent expressions of public reaction to Board policies and school programs;
  • and encourage the free expression of opinion by all Board members, and seek systematic communications between the Board and students, staff, and all elements of the community;
  • avoid being placed in a position of conflict of interest, and refrain from using their Board positions for personal partisan gain;"
However, in the new "Code of Ethics", it removes the "avoid being placed in a position of conflict of interest", removes much of a board member's "free expression of opinion by all Board members and seek systematic communications between the Board and students, staff, and all elements of the community", and also appears to remove many responsibilities from the board and vest them in the superintendent.  There are many more changes, limiting the public's right to request a topic be put on the agenda, allowing the Board President to have the authority to terminate an individual's remarks if he/she decides if the individual's comments are "frivolous, repetitive, or harassing in nature".  THESE ARE VERY DANGEROUS CHANGES!  Come to the meeting and express your concern before this is voted upon and approved by the rubber stamp members of the school board.
  • Action item 5.1 - Approval of Personnel Changes: Anita Banach" (plan is to vote on the item)
  1. bringing back seven teachers and two part time clerks,
  2. a resignation of one employee and a deceased employee,
  3. and the hiring of three full time "behavior interventionalists" for each of the middle school, junior high, and high school and showing a reason of "Work with At-Risk students, Level 1 discipline, intervention strategies" to be funded from "Title I and general fund".  However, per the federal government's website, available here, Title I funds are supposed to be used for low income kids to:
"Title I is designed to help students served by the program to achieve proficiency on challenging State academic achievement standards. Title I schools with percentages of low income students of at least 40 percent may use Title I funds, along with other Federal, State, and local funds, to operate a "schoolwide program" to upgrade the instructional program for the whole school. Title I schools with less than 40 percent low income students or that choose not to operate a schoolwide program offer a "targeted assistance program" in which the school identifies students who are failing, or most at risk of failing, to meet the State's challenging academic achievement standards. Targeted assistance schools design, in consultation with parents, staff, and district staff, an instructional program to meet the needs of those students. Both schoolwide and targeted assistance programs must use instructional strategies based on scientifically based research and implement parental involvement activities. This means that Title I funds are supposed to be used to help low income students achieve academically with instructional strategies based on scientifically based research and implement parental involvement activities...  What does this have to do with "behavior interventionalists"?    
  • Action item 5.2 - "Approval of Project Lead the Way Program: Rod Rock"
    At the last board meeting, the superintendent was asking for approval for the "Project Lead the Way" program for an additional year due to the second (and probably final) year of grant funding from four different sources.  There were many questions and comments from board members, especially due to far superior engineering classes available at OakTech Center (from the Oakland County ISD), so the district was to get answers for the board members and bring the answers to the June 13th board meeting...  This time, the district is asking for PERMANENT approval for the program, although funding is expected to end after the end of fiscal year 2011/12.  At the last meeting, the rubber stamp members of the board overrode a request to hold off voting on school of choice for the "Project Lead the Way" program (requested because the program had not yet been approved for next year - cart before the horse) and they voted to accept open enrollment/school of choice for "Project Lead the Way".
    • Action item 5.3 - "Approval of Lawn Mower Purchase: Wes Goodman" (plan is to vote on the item)
    No backup documentation provided for the purchase of a Toro Groundsmaster 5900 "lawn mower" for $59,995.00, to be purchased with remaining 2003 bond money.
    • Action item 5.4 - " Approval of Paving Projects: Wes Goodman" (plan is to vote on the item)
    Estimate of $46,216 in "safety issue" paving repairs at six schools, but no actual  bid information because the bids are due in the the district at 10 AM on June 13th (the day of the meeting).  Funds to come from the Building and Site fund 2003 (fund #471) and the General Fund - Contracted Maintenance and Repair Budget.

      Saturday, June 11, 2011

      Dr Rod Rock - Collaboration? It sure doesn't look like it to me...


      I have been investigating the district since March of 2010.  I was not happy with Dr. Roberts.  I saw some financial considerations/decisions that did not make sense back then.  I knew that where there was smoke, there most likely would be fire and I was right.  Dr. Roberts left and the search for a new superintendent was on. 

      The two final superintendent candidates were Dr. Rock (Saginaw ISD administrator) and Dr. Gary Richards (Imlay City school district superintendent).  I believe the board chose the wrong final candidate.  We didn't (and still don't) need a "curriculum specialist type" superintendent.  We need an experienced fiscally responsible superintendent to guide us through these financially troubled times.  We need someone who has the experience and aptitude to manage everything in the school system while keeping control of the finances.  I sat through all of the superintendent finalist interviews and talked to Dr. Richards.  Of all of the candidates, I was most impressed with Dr. Richards.  When the board split on the candidates and the "rubber stamp" board members chose Dr. Rock over Dr. Richards, I was disappointed, but I figured I would make the best of it.  Unfortunately, I am less happy with Dr. Rock than I was with Dr. Roberts.

      Dr. Rock claims he is collaborative, but he has not collaborated with the people in regard to the changes he has implemented so far in the district unless you consider the second definition for “collaborate” that I found below…  He comes up with an idea and pushes the board to approve it before the public can find out about it to complain.  Here are the two definitions of “collaborate” from the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
      “1. To work together, especially in a joint intellectual effort.
        2. To cooperate treasonably, as with an enemy occupation force in one's country.”

      Dr. Rock needs to follow the district policies and administrative guidelines, as well as follow board norms.  He treats the board members as if they were kindergartners with lectures when he makes presentations at board meetings (maybe a throwback to his teaching lower elementary days?) – it’s embarrassing to watch…  What Dr. Rock doesn’t seem to “get” is that the board members are also intelligent, professional people who are his bosses!

      It is said, “the board makes policy and the superintendent administers policy”.  Apparently Dr. Rock thinks he has taken over the role of the board and the superintendent… 

      The last time I checked, Dr. Rock was working for the board…  He doesn’t seem to get that…  It appears that if he can get the four rubber stamp board members to agree with something he wants, that is all he needs...  What the rubber stamp members of the board don’t seem to “get”, is that they are working for the “people”.  Therefore, “we, the people” are the ultimate head of the school district, with the board members representing our interests and directing the superintendent.  I see board members Joan Patterson, Sue Boatmen, and Rosalie Lieblang representing the interests of the people.  I wish I could say the same about Steve Hyer, Elizabeth Egan, Cheryl McGinnis, and Barry Bomier.  Maybe a recall is in order for the rubber stamp members of the board.  

      Voice your opinion to the superintendent and the board.  It is not safe to post email addresses on the internet, so I won't do it here (replace the "at" with "@" and the "dot" with a period), but all of the board members and the superintendent have email addresses at clarkston dot k12 dot mi dot us with the exception of Cheryl McGinnis.  Here are the individual email short names at the CCS email system: Dr. Rod Rock: rdrock ; Steve Hyer: hyers ; Elizabeth Egan: eganee ; Barry Bomier: bomierb ; Joan Patterson: pattersonj ; Sue Boatman: boatmans ; and Rosalie Lieblang: lieblangrCheryl McGinnis' email address is at cpijobs dot com and her email address is Cheryl.McGinnis .

      You can copy and paste your opinion into a comment here in my blog if you wish also.  Your input can be anonymous.

      Thanks.

      Wednesday, June 8, 2011

      Dr. Rod Rock's non Clarkston Schools work - violation of his CCS contract?

      In addition to being the district superintendent, Dr. Rock is the president of the MSDC Learning Forward Michigan Executive Board.

      The MSDC is the Michigan Staff Development Council, an affiliate of the National Staff Development Council, also known as  Learning Forward Michigan.  He was the president of that group before he became the superintendent in Clarkston and according to their website, he still is the president. 

      Here are the MSDC (Learning Forward Michigan) requirements for Dr. Rock as President of the board of that organization:  

      ARTICLE III - GOVERNANCE
      Section 3.01 - LEARNING FORWARD MICHIGAN BOARD

      The Board of Learning Forward Michigan shall consist of the President, the President-Elect, the Immediate Past President, the Secretary, the Treasurer, and twelve (12) members- at- large.
      All Board members are expected to:

      • be a member in good standing in Learning Forward Michigan and MSDC Learning Forward,
      • attend and participate in four (4) Board meetings annually,
      • actively support Learning Forward Michigan’s and Learning Forward’s mission statements and activities,
      • chair or serve on at least one standing committee each year,
      • study and/or research recommendations to establish appropriate policies and procedures for Learning Forward Michigan,
      • represent Learning Forward Michigan at the request of the President,
      • perform other duties as requested by the President,
      • contribute to the newsletter by writing articles and/or contacting contributors,
      • act in accordance with the norms of the Learning Forward Michigan Board, and
      • promote membership and Learning Forward Michigan services to members.
          "Section 3.02 - OFFICERS
          Learning Forward Michigan officers shall consist of a President, President-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer and the Immediate Past President. The officers shall be elected by current members of the Board by March 1. All officers shall hold their respective offices as indicated or until their successors are duly elected or qualified. To be eligible for an officer position, one must have been a member-at-large for at least one year and be in good standing as a Learning Forward Michigan and Learning Forward member. The officers shall perform the duties listed in accordance with Section 3.01 in addition to the specific duties assigned each officer."
          1. "President. The President shall:
          i. preside at an annual membership meeting,
          ii. preside at all Board meetings,
          iii. designate a presider in the event of the President-Elect’s absence,
          iv. appoint committees in accordance with Section 4.02,
          v. be a member of all committees by virtue of the office,
          vi. serve one (1) year as President, and
          vii. submit a contribution for each newsletter."
          However, on Dr. Rock's employment contract with Clarkston Community Schools that is dated October 6, 2010, but signed on September 28, 2010, says,
          "2. The Superintendent agrees that he shall not have tenure as Superintendent of Schools or any other administrative position to which he may hereafter be assigned or cover and he agrees that by virtue of this Agreement, he shall not be deemed to be granted continuing tenure in any administrative or assignment capacity."
                    and
          "4. The Superintendent warrants, represents and affirms to the School District: (c) that he will faithfully serve and be regardful of the interests of the School District during the term of this Agreement and will undertake no other employment, except during vacation periods, without the approval of the Board of Education."
          Here is info on the MSDC.  Here is another link to the board of directors of the MSDC. It shows Dr. Rock is not just the President of the MSDC Executive Board, but he is also on the Communications Committee.  He posts his CCS school email address as the email address to contact him in regard to MSDC business.  Therefore, if he receives emails via MSDC business, he receives it via his CCS email. Appropriate?  


          I believe that Dr. Rock's continued involvement with the MSDC/Learning Forward is a violation of his employment contract with Clarkston Schools.

          Monday, June 6, 2011

          Results of my two surveys - drum roll please!

          Well, my surveys were answered by only six people...  Although I would like to say the results represent the will of the people (since the majority answered the same way I feel), I can't actually say that the results represent the opinion of anything more than six people... 

          Here were the results: 

          Question 1:  See the article about developmental days and then answer. How do you feel about the 2011/12 teacher developmental days schedule?

          I don't like it at all
            4 (66%)
          I don't like it, but I can live with it
            0 (0%)
          I don't care
            1 (16%)
          I like it
            1 (16%)

          Question 2:  Are you in support of School of Choice in Clarkston High School?

          No                                                                                                                            3 (50%)
          Yes, as long as quantities are limited                                                                           1 (16%)
          Yes, unlimited                                                                                                            2 (33%)

          As you can see, I received various answers, but they were fair, non leading questions - something the district did not do in their phone survey questions regarding the public's opinion of a new school bond and/or sinking fund.  You also cannot expect that a survey of just a few people can possibly represent the opinions of thousands.