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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Unanswered questions and lack of transparency in Clarkston, MI schools - email exchange with school board president, Cheryl McGinnis

Here is an email exchange I had in October 2012 with Cheryl McGinnis, the current CCS school board president who is running for re-election for the CCS School Board.  As of 10/28/12, I still have not received a response back from her on the remaining issues she failed to address on 10/22/12 after my original email to her on 10/13/12.  I believe that it reflects that: 
  • Cheryl McGinnis intends to make sure that the double, non-microphoned (so not heard on the video and not heard by the attending public unless they are right next to the tables), non-recorded for the minutes, and material usually not included in the board packet roundtable discussions will continue as is, ensuring that:
  1. The board members have no documentation of the discussions from a video or the minutes of the meetings to address what was presented to the board by administration.
  2. The public has no idea what was presented to the board due to no documentation of the discussions from a video or the minutes of the meetings to address what was presented to the board by administration.
  3. The board members may receive similar presentations, but the questions raised in the two different roundtables naturally results in different information/communication being given to the two groups (which also can include the public that chooses to attend the roundtable discussions).
  4. The public will be kept totally in the dark about the discussions.
  • Cheryl McGinnis must support the district removing the video recordings of the contentious board meetings in which there was discussion that Administration doesn't want the public to see because she has failed to address that.
  • Cheryl McGinnis must support Dr. Rock violating policy by dismissing me when I was speaking during the public comment portion of the board meeting because she has failed to address that.
  • Cheryl McGinnis must support the district's HR director, Anita Banach, being unprofessional and getting up after I spoke and saying I was "making stuff up" because she has failed to address that.  
  • Cheryl McGinnis must support the board illegally violating policy by refusing to allow any member of the public from addressing the board more than once during a meeting unless they are one of administration's shills (such as Kelli Horst and the other pro-$20 million bond PTA moms) because she allows it to happen and she failed to address that.
  • Cheryl McGinnis must support the public being given little to no ability to publicly address administration by limiting communication during regular board meetings and failing to address the fact that the district has no "public meetings" for the public to address administration.
  • Cheryl must support allowing the HR director getting a huge raise during the same time frame when all other employees have had either huge pay cuts and then multi-year pay freezes, or multi-year pay freezes as she is still failing to address the contract for the directors and administrators where it appears that administration intends to give the HR Director a raise of almost $15,000 a year (by giving her a promotion to "Executive" Director of HR / "CO Executive Director"), even though she used to be the public relations director, has only been doing HR for two years, does not have a Master's Degree, does not manage multiple departments, and her Bachelor's Degree is not in Business or Human Resources.      
Please DO NOT return Cheryl McGinnis to the school board on November 6, 2012.  Please also do not vote for Kelli Horst (puppet for Dr. Rod Rock), nor Theresa Adriaens (absentee candidate and Dr. Rock puppet wanna-be).

PLEASE DO VOTE FOR "BPR", SUSAN BOATMAN, JOAN PATTERSON, AND BETTY REILLY.

************************************************


HERE IS THE EMAIL EXCHANGE:

From: Dawn Schaller
To: Cheryl McGinnis
Cc: Steve Hyers, Barry Bomier, Elizabeth Egan, Rosalie Lieblang, Joan Patterson, Susan Boatman
Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 1:59:09 PM
Subject: Re: CCS 10/08/12 Board meeting and unanswered questions/concerns

Mrs. McGinnis,

I am glad to see that the district has finally decided to post the board packets on the district website again.  However, I noticed that there are board meeting videos that have been removed from the district's Ustream account.  The district has taken down the following board videos (removed in the last few weeks):
  • 10/10/11 (2011 audit presentation with many questions from Lieblang, Boatman, and Patterson that were not answered),
  • 10/24/11 ("Mrs. Patterson asked for clarification on board approval and pilot projects. Mrs. McGinnis noted there may be various “pilot-type” projects that teachers try in their classrooms. She believes the superintendent has some flexibility in allowing these projects to happen, but that curriculum changes do come before the board for approval" (denial of the need for board approval for pilots), ugly "Board goals" discussion in which Cheryl McGinnis looked bad, many questions and requests for discussion rather than action on board goals, and my comments on missing FOIA documents and missing backup documentation from the board packets),
  • 11/28/11 (Review of Facility/Technology Planning with much discussion, Barry Bomier missing, approval of foreign language curriculum, bus purchase approval, discussions on replacement costs for student management system,  discussions on FRN conference, Betty Reilly and I spoke and Dr. Rock rebutted my comments by saying, "He stated there are no improprieties on the transparency report, and he will continue to make bold statements for the students we serve." *say what??*),
  • 12/12/11 (Dr. Rock's Capital Needs/Funding Discussion with the details of the non-qualified bond and many questions from Boatman, Lieblang, and Patterson, I commented about the missing data on the transparency report, Anita Banach got up and contradicted my statements), 
  • 2/13/12 (request from Lieblang that a discussion item be added for "District Information" be added to the agenda (3:4 - denied), reports on new format of Q2 budget with the Q2 budget, discussion on the fact that there was missing budget information and Lieblang asked for the information she had asked for several times, bond ballot language, Hyer claimed that the board does not have to approve pilots because they are not curricular changes, Mr. RJ Naughton from Stauder-Barch spoke to the board about the bond, discussion on the bond election dates, McGinnis shut Pattterson down from speaking after Hyer had a prepared speech and McGinnis called a recess, Joan then allowed to speak and she said that she was concerned about a lack of a well thought-out plan regarding technology costs, risk, and technology plan requirements. discussion on the May bond date, discussion on the meeting where the attorney for the district, Mr. George Butler, publicly ripped on certain members of the board regarding "board member conduct"),
  • 7/9/12 (board voting on new officers in which Hyer, Bomier, McGinnis, and Egan made sure they were each officers and Lieblang, Patterson, and Boatman were not elected to officer positions, discussion on new position for grant writer, cutting back on board meetings with discussion regarding fewer dates with the guise of "saving money for the district" after spending $35,000 on the failed bond, authorizaiotn of district board memberships, appointment of Board of Education Contracted Services Representatives, board self-evaluation discussion),    
  • 8/6/12 (never filmed because the video was filmed on 8/5/12 instead in error (question mark for over three hours on the videos), capital needs vote, Board/Administrator Workshop that could not be heard  - IF it had been recorded),
  • 8/27/12 (special meeting to approve personnel changes and ugly discussion regarding the purchase of wireless technology for Clarkston High School not being on the budget). 
You said, "As chair I will continue to work so that presentations at these workshops are audible and visible for the attending public."  What exactly does this mean?  Will you have the content of the board workshops recorded in the minutes of the meeting?  Will you have microphones so the discussion can be heard on the video?  Or are you saying that you are only going to be sure that "the attending public", those actually at the meeting, can hear what is being discussed? 

You failed to address the HR Director, Anita Banach, getting up after I spoke and saying I "was making stuff up".  If it is "unprofessional" (your words from a board meeting) for Board members to make any comments on what a public speaker has said at a meeting, how is it OK or "professional" for a district director (Anita Banach) to get up, rebut me, and basically say I was lying?  By the way, I wasn't lying.   

You failed to address my request regarding my concern about only allowing the public one two-minute speech when CCS Board Bylaw 0167.3, "Public Participation at Board Meetings", "Section F, clearly allows the public to speak more than once.  I said, "Can you ensure that the practice of allowing members of the public to speak at board meetings be changed to reflect the state of the Board Bylaw that allows members of the public to speak for up to two minutes on any and all subjects and allows the members of the public to speak more than once on the same subject as long as all others have had a chance to speak.  This would match the state of the posted Board Bylaw to reality." and you said nothing about this.

You failed to address my request about my concern about Dr. Rock interrupting and dismissing me when I spoke at the 10/8/12 meeting.  I said, "Can you ensure that the school board's only direct employee, Dr. Rock, is made aware of the bylaws that only give the Board President the right to dismiss members of the public in a school board meeting?", and you said nothing about that either.

You failed to address the fact that there are no "public community hearings" in the Clarkston School System.  Is it because the district doesn't want to know what the public wants and doesn't want to hear from the public?
Can you address these issues please?

Thank you.

Dawn Schaller

http://acrosstheboard-clarkston.blogspot.com/
 


From: Cheryl McGinnis
To: Dawn Schaller
Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 12:13:14 PM
Subject: Re: CCS 10/08/12 Board meeting

Thank you for contacting the Board of Education. 

Much time has been spent by the Superintendent reviewing the district’s capabilities of providing additional transparency to our community.  Effective immediately, the board packet will be posted to the district web site.  At times, there will continue to be elements of the packet that will not be available until after the board meeting for many reasons, however, this will be minimized as best possible.

We appreciate your patience during this time of the packets not being posted directly to the web site and only emailed.  The board looks forward to continued evaluation of district information that can be posted for public view in addition to those that are required by law.

The board will continue to conduct it’s meetings in a format that adheres to all legal requirements while providing board members with access to information and dialogue that allows them to seek all necessary information to make decisions on behalf of the students of Clarkston.  As you know, these workshops are board meetings in public and are not a community hearing.  As chair I will continue to work so that presentations at these workshops are audible and visible for the attending public.

The Chair stands committed to accommodating all board members’ business and personal schedule when they communicate conflicts ahead of confirming their availability for their elected board work.  I can not behold myself to anyone board member over all the others.

Regarding the 10/8/12 board meeting, during the roundtable workshop sessions; as you know I specifically asked that presenters to speak up so that our citizens could hear and I heard a confirmed “thank you”.  I believe we all could work more productively for our students and community if we could stay working on what is right for kids. 

As always, your comments are appreciated. 

--
Cheryl McGinnis
President, Clarkston Community School Board of Education
Home of Inaugural National Green Ribbon School 2012, Clarkston High School
“If you wait to do everything until you’re sure it’s right, you’ll probably never do much of anything.” – Win Borden


From: Dawn Schaller
To: Cheryl McGinnis
Cc: Steve Hyers, Barry Bomier, Elizabeth Egan, Rosalie Lieblang, Joan Patterson, Susan Boatman
Sent: Saturday, October 13, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Subject: Re: CCS 10/08/12 Board meeting and unanswered questions/concerns


Mrs. McGinnis,

I wanted to cover a few things that happened at the 10/8/12 school board meeting with you. 

As you know, I spoke at the 10/8/12 board meeting during Action Item 5.2/5.3.  I discussed my opinion of the subjects of the inaudible roundtable workshop sessions (Discussion Item 6.2 of the meeting) and Action Item 5.2 (moved to 5.3), the "Supervisors and Administrators contract".  Starting at 35 minutes, 59 seconds of the first video (available on the district website) and continuing until 38 minutes, 28 seconds) I had advised:
  1. That the HR Director salary was set at around $86,000 when it was offered to the current HR Director in 2010. 
  2. That according to a FOIAed document I received last year from the district, that the HR Director's annual salary for the 2011/12 school year was $90,600. 
  3. That there was no category in either the existing or the new "Supervisors and Administrators contract" for "HR Director" or just "Central Office Director (minus the "Executive" level) at the $90,600 salary range.
  4. That the HR Director had been calling herself the "Executive Director of Human Resources" for the past year although the board had not been asked to approve a promotion or pay raise for her.
  5. That the only job category I could find on the contract that could have fit the HR Director was the "CO Exec. Dir" (Central Office Executive Director) job category that had a step 1 salary of $105,901, progressing to $118,699 at step 5 (year 5). 
  6. That would have meant that unless the "HR Director" job classification was just "missing" from the proposed new contract, that it appeared that the district was trying to change the job classification of the HR Director from "Director" to "Central Office Executive Director", resulting in a salary raise from $90,600 to $105,901 ($15,301 per year increase), or more if the district was going to grant second or thrird .  However, the board had not been asked to approve a pay raise for the HR Director.
  7. That the HR Director told me after a meeting in June of 2012 that she felt that she "deserved" the "CO Executive Director" salary and level. 
Dr Rock then interrupted me and dismissed me from continuing my comments saying I was "making specific statements about people and I don't think that's appropriate at this time", and then when I disagreed and said I thought it WAS appropriate, he interrupted me and said "I think probably your two minutes are up" and dismissed me. 

Shortly after I was dismissed by Dr. Rock and the board had discussed the issue some more, the HR Director, Anita Banach, got up to the podium at one hour, 7 minutes, 0 seconds to discuss the contract with the board.  This was recorded in the meeting.  She then basically said that she deserved the higher pay that the "Central Office Executive Director" position showed on the contract.  She got personal against me.  She specifically named me and said that I was "making stuff up".  I take offense to her personal attack as I was not "making stuff up" as she said and I also consider that unprofessional of her as a school district "director".  I had not attacked her personally, I had simply brought up issues regarding the salary schedule of the HR Director position on the contract that was in front of the board for approval and I stated history related to the HR Director position and pay.  As much as it may have been personal for her because her pay would be personal to her, it was not a personal attack. 

I have two concerns and a two requests regarding what happened when I spoke and was dismissed by Dr. Rock. 
  • Concern 1 - According to CCS Board Bylaw 0167.3, "Public Participation at Board Meetings", "Section F., No participant may speak more than once on the same topic unless all others who wish to speak on that topic have been heard."  Currently the board is refusing to allow any members of the public from speaking more than once at a meeting (unless that member of the public is Kelli Horst).  What the Board Bylaw means is that members of the public have the right to speak to the board more than once at the board meetings and they can even speak on the same subject more than once after all others wishing to be heard on that subject have been heard.  I was speaking on two subjects, but was limited to only one two minute speech, and there were no other members of the public who wanted to speak at the meeting, so I should have been allowed to speak twice on the two subjects and if I ran over on the time, I should have been given an opportunity to speak again to get my point across.   
    • Request 1 - Can you ensure that the practice of allowing members of the public to speak at board meetings be changed to reflect the state of the Board Bylaw that allows members of the public to speak for up to two minutes on any and all subjects and allows the members of the public to speak more than once on the same subject as long as all others have had a chance to speak.  This would match the state of the posted Board Bylaw to reality.   
  • Concern 2 - According to CCS Board Bylaw 0167.3, "Public Participation at Board Meetings", "Section I., The presiding officer may: 1) interrupt, warn, or terminate a participant's statement when the statement is too lengthy, personally directed, abusive, obscene, or irrelevant;".  I do not believe that my comments were "personally directed, abusive, obscene, or irrelevant" as they were regarding the pay scale for a particular job category for the HR Director from the proposed contract that was on the agenda and the Board members had not been able to get a clear answer on this same issue from Dr. Rock during their previous discussion.  The "presiding officer" of the Board meeting was you, Mrs. McGinnis, but Dr. Rock dismissed me from speaking and he had no right to dismiss me.  After watching the video of this exchange from the meeting, I found that I HAD spoken beyond the two minute limit, but Dr. Rock was not the person who had the right to stop me from speaking, ONLY YOU HAD THAT RIGHT, and you didn't do it. 
    • Request 2 - Can you ensure that the school board's only direct employee, Dr. Rock, is made aware of the bylaws that only give the Board President the right to dismiss members of the public in a school board meeting?
After Anita Banach sat down and right before the round table workshop session, Dr. Rock made a comment in which he commented about the "positive feedback regarding the roundtable discussions" (only partially true), said that several members of the board had asked for more opportunities for discussion before a vote (true), and that the round table workshop session was the way the district was allowing "discussion".  That is just just wrong on so many levels.  With the roundtable discussions split into two tables, the board members hear different questions and answers (resulting in incomplete interpretations) and they also result in a lack of transparency for the public and the board.

At the beginning of all of the board meetings, the president always makes the following statement:
 “This meeting is a meeting of the Board of Education in public for the purpose of conducting the School District’s business and is not to be considered a public community hearing. There is a time for public participation during the meeting as indicated in agenda items 3 and 8.” 

The above comments say that the board meeting is to conduct the school district's business rather than being a public community meeting/hearing.  Therefore, there is some public participation allowed, but it is not a public community hearing.  I get it and that makes sense.  However, one of the problems in the Clarkston school system is that THERE ARE NO PUBLIC COMMUNITY HEARINGS IN THIS DISTRICT...  This frustrates the public.  This community NEEDS public community meetings in order to get buy-in to changes the district is considering (if there are proposed changes), instead, the district is:
  • getting the rubber stamper board members to vote (usually with a 4/3 vote) to approve things the public neither knows about, nor would be interested in having implemented by not providing information to the public about it and limiting availability to the board packet information until the day of the meeting,  
  • not asking for public opinion (the public survey from last year does not count, because it was illegitimate - asking for public opinion on subjects with insufficient information and wording the questions in certain ways in order to get a particular results and because there were no where near as many actual phone responses as the survey results reported),
  • regarding Board Packets:
    • not providing the board packets on the Fridays before the Monday meetings any longer,
    • not putting the board packets on the district website for all to view on the Fridays before the Monday meetings,
    • not including all of the backup documentation in the Board Packets,
    • and only providing the board packets to those who specifically ask for them to be sent to them via email on the day of the meeting (preventing any real analysis of the document).
  • and providing less transparency to the public by addressing critical issues in the "roundtable workshop sessions" that are not recorded in any way.     
I believe that the CCS school board is dysfunctional and changes are needed.

Per the Center for Public Education, an initiative of the National School Boards Association, (available here), they say:

"The local school board is a critical public link to public schools. Whether elected or appointed, school board members serve their communities in several important ways.


  • First and foremost school boards look out for students. Education is not a line item on the school board’s agenda—it is the only item.
  • When making decisions about school programs, school boards incorporate their community’s view of what students should know and be able to do.
  • School boards are accessible to the public and accountable for the performance of their schools.
  • School boards are the education watchdog for their communities, ensuring that students get the best education for the tax dollars spent."

I wish that the Clarkston Community Schools School Board would actually become a group of seven professional adults representing the wants and needs of the public, focused on the direction and control of the school system in order to ensure that the students are educated safely and to the best possible degree given the funds the district has to spend on that endeavor.  That is what the school board is supposed to be doing.  I see Joan Patterson, Susan Boatman, and Rosalie Lieblang living up to those school board responsibilities.  On the other hand, I see you, Steve Hyer, Barry Bomier, and Elizabeth Egan ignoring the wants and needs of the public, not requesting the proper data from administration (financial and program data especially), and allowing your employee, Dr. Rock, to take over the board's responsibilities to direct and control the school system and the board, to ignore the public's comments and desires, to refuse to supply the board with data needed to make proper decisions, and to keep himself and the school board as inaccessible as possible from the public. 

I am very disappointed with the current dysfunction on the school board.  I hope that the public does the right thing on November 6th and votes in the board members that will redirect the board to perform the functions the board is supposed to be performing. 

Please respond to the questions and concerns I have above.

Thank you.

Dawn Schaller

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

CCS bond debt rating was "negative" when the $20 million bond was proposed


 Here are my prepared comments for the 10/22/12 CCS board meeting:

"Regarding the technology priorities that were proposed tonight, I STILL have a problem with the proposal for district wide Wi-Fi.  Wi-Fi is proven to cause tumors and other serious health conditions from prolonged exposure and the impact is worse on young children, pregnant women and their unborn children, and men in their reproductive years.   I believe that the district is proposing using the employees and students as guinea pigs.  The district could opt for a wired option that would prevent these health risks.  I would like to see the district look into this.

On pages 68 and 91 of the board packet, which are pages 9 and 32 of the district’s audit, under “Capital Assets and Debt Administration”, and “Note 7 – Long Term Debt”, it shows::
       the district has $128 million in general obligation bonds. 
       the district’s “general obligation debt rating” was revised from “negative” last year to “stable” this year.
       and the district has $32.8 million owed to the school bond loan fund (where they have had to borrow money from the state to pay the general obligation bond payments that they were short from property taxes for the old bonds).  
This leaves me with two questions:
       Why did the district not inform the public at the time they were proposing the $20 million bond that the district’s general obligation debt rating was “negative”?
       What would the district’s general obligation debt rating be today if the $20 million tech bond had passed in May given it was already in a “negative” state at that time?

I wanted to thank the district for restoring some of the transparency that it had removed in the last few months.  The board packets for the school board meetings had been posted on the district website, but were removed and the district failed to put the new board packets on the district website citing a security breach that I was informed did not actually exist.  Today, the district has posted the previous board packets on the website and promised to post the board packets on the Fridays before the Monday meetings.  Thank you for going back to what the district had been doing.

However, in the last week or so, the district removed some of the most contentious board meeting videos, thus removing some of the transparency they were bringing back.  The videos for seven board meeting dates are not on the district’s Ustream account website.  Those meeting dates are:
  • 10/10/11  - October 10, 2011
  • 10/24/11  - October 24, 2011
  • 11/28/11  - November 28, 2011
  • 12/12/11  - December 12, 2011 
  • 2/13/12  - February 13, 2012
  • 7/9/12  - July 9, 2012
  • 8/27/12  - August 27, 2012
Thank you."

********************************************************************

After I spoke, Dr. Rod Rock spoke during his "Superintendent's Update".  He informed the public (directed at me) that the district made it clear to the public that the school district's bond rating was negative when the bond was proposed.  I am looking through district documents on the bond and I have yet to find that anywhere...  Neither board members nor the public can respond to what Dr. Rock says during the superintendent's update.  Isn't that special? 

If anyone can find a district document or a speech made by the district that advised the public that the district's bond rating was negative while they were trying to get us to say yes to the $20 million bond, I will take this back and stand corrected.  

Friday, October 19, 2012

"Transparency? We don't need no stinkin' transparency!", version 2

Well, I thought Dr. Rod Rock couldn't remove any more transparency in the district.  Boy!  Was I wrong!

A message to Dr. Rod Rock, Clarkston (MI) Community School System Superintendent:

Dr. Rod Rock, why did you remove a bunch of board of education videos off the district's Ustream website (available here)?

Were you afraid that the community would see/hear the:
  • out of line comments and actions of school board president Cheryl McGinnis and the rest of your rubber stamp school board members (Steve Hyer, Barry Bomier, and Elizabeth Egan)?
  • the attorney for the school district, George Butler, when he inappropriately and publicly "ripped" certain members of the school board in a public board meeting early February 2012 in which you and Cheryl McGinnis blind sided the board about the reason for his presence at the meeting and what was to be discussed?
  • the public's comments at the school board meetings (including my comments, school board candidate, Betty Reilly's comments, and other comments by the public, both for and against the $20 million tech bond that was rejected by a ratio of 2:1 by the voters)?
  • the valid questions or requests for information being asked by Susan Boatman, Joan Patterson, or Rosalie Lieblang and ignored by you, Dr. Rod Rock?
  • evidence of the board bullying with the 4 to 3 votes to pass your proposals with either insufficient information to justify a vote, hidden information not being supplied to the board, or just flat overruling the board members asking questions with a forced vote and a 4:3 final win for whatever you wanted?
It is true, Dr. Rock, that you "work for" the school board.  Technically, all you "need" is four members of the board to support what you want in order to get anything passed.  However, the school board "works for" the public that voted them into office and they must be "open meetings". Therefore, the public DOES HAVE a say in what you do.

We (the public) can do something about your 4:3 blockade of the board by not returning Cheryl McGinnis to the board and making sure that Kelli Horst and Theresa Adriaens are not elected. Then you will only have the remaining rubber stamp board members (which would no longer be a majority) on the board and the "proper" school board business will be transacted at the board meetings.

What you are doing is not appreciated by the public.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

email to Cheryl McGinnis regarding the decrease in transparency in the Clarkston Community Schools sent 10/12/12

Mrs. McGinnis,

In regard to my previous requests and the district's changes to district transparency and openness, I have concerns because I see things getting more hidden and "opaque" than ever before.
  1. You never responded to me in regard to the non-affiliated contracts that were missing from the 9/24/12 board packet (although they were finally in the 10/8/12 board packet).
  2. Your comments show that you actually back Dr. Rock's change to be less transparent and less timely in making board packets available to the public.  Not supplying the board packets on the district website and waiting until the day of the meeting to send out the board packets solely to the people who have specifically requested the board packets limits the availability of the information to the public and does not allow the public sufficient time to study the data.  
  3. Dr. Rock is abiding by the minimum legal requirements of the Open Meetings Act when he was previously more transparent.  This is not a positive move for the school district (or the community at large) and does not bode well for your candidacy for re-election to the board in November, because, as president of the school board, you are allowing it to happen.  
  4. If you and the remaining three rubber stamp majority of the school board prefer the "video-recorded,-but-no-audio-and-inaudible-to-anyone-who-is-not-at-the-round-table" discussions (per your responses to me below) during the meetings, then you are apparently in favor of making sure that no one hears about the subjects discussed in the round table discussions.  Shame on Dr. Rock, you, and your fellow board members and supporters of this form of communication (Steve Hyer, Barry Bomier, and Elizabeth Egan).  In the last month, those subjects have included:
    • Building Reports (CJHS & CHS)
    • Secondary Scheduling
    • Standards Based Grading & Pilot Program
    • Technology Strategic Plan
    • Thinking Together
    • Building Reports (PKE & AE)
    • Non-Affiliated Contracts
    • Technology
    • Title I/At Risk Interventions    
As I had already advised you on September 24th, I reviewed the two versions of the 9/24/12 board packets.  I stand corrected on the addition vs. removal of your unprofessional, confrontational, and non-collaborative (to use Dr. Rock's third most favorite term) comments that you stated before the September 11th Board Self Evaluation.  I also feel that the inclusion of all of your inflammatory comments in the minutes instead of the normal shortened summary minutes was also totally unprofessional.

I found that the "discussion" during the "Discussion Item 7.4, Board Self-Evaluation Follow-Up" at the 9/24/12 meeting regarding the September 11th Board Self Evaluation was childish and is was a clear example of bullying coming from the very top of the district.  The Board Self Evaluation discussion meeting had been delayed for over two months due to the inability to find a day when Barry Bomier's and Elizabeth Egan's vacation schedules could be accommodated.  Sue Boatman advised you of her inability to attend the meeting a week before the scheduled date.  You should have rescheduled the meeting at that time, period.  However, you chose not to do that.  The last I checked, you board members were all adults.  A board member's reason for why they cannot make a meeting is not up for scrutiny for the "legitimacy" of the reason for the inability of a board member to attend.  As it was, Barry Bomier was not in attendance for that regular, 9/24/12, board meeting and it had been scheduled for months before hand.  He was not given the third degree about the reason why he was not at the meeting.     

Here were your word-for-word comments that were reflected in the 9/11/12 meeting minutes:

"As you already know, I have heard from Sue Boatman that she is unable to attend our Board Self-Evaluation scheduled for tonight due to a social conflict that arose after we all confirmed in a public meeting that we were available tonight.  Subsequently Rosalie Lieblang communicated that if everyone could not attend, that she would not make herself available to participate. Finally, this morning I received a communication from Joan Patterson suggesting that we cancel the meeting and schedule it after the elections and that she also would not participate tonight.

Several months ago this board discussed in open session our desire to proceed with the Self-Evaluation process. To this end, this evaluation has been put off for many reasons. Prior to the August 20th board meeting, all Trustees were directed to bring their calendars to said meeting to re-confirm their availability for the September 11th date. With unanimous consent, September 11th was confirmed and communicated to Oakland Schools. That confirmation put in motion the posting of the meeting, Oakland Schools scheduling a facilitation team to be available, planning on the team's part for the retreat and booking a room. Also, as recent as last night’s board meeting this date and time were reconfirmed without any comments from board members in public that they could not attend. It is the chair’s intention to conduct business tonight and not let one board member’s social schedule defer us from our obligation to this community as elected School Board Trustees."

I hope that you will begin to make the changes that are needed in communication between the district and the public and administration and the board.  It is long overdue.

Thank you.

Dawn Schallerhttp://acrosstheboard-clarkston.blogspot.com/


From: "Cheryl McGinnis"
To: Dawn Schaller
Sent: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 4:38:21 PM
Subject: Re: Revised Board Packet (CCS 10/24/12 Board Packet issues)

Mrs. Schaller,

Thank you for contacting the Board of Education.  Your continued interest in the Clarkston Community Schools is appreciated.

Currently, Dr. Rock is in compliance with the Open Meetings Act (OMA) which governs notice of meetings to the public.  The OMA also states that the public notice may, but is not required to, include an agenda, unless a public hearing is included as part of the meeting.  At this time, it is the recommendation of the Superintendent to not load board packets to the district web site until our technology is brought up-to-date.  I am confident that Dr. Rock will continue to evaluate district compliance to full public transparency as required by law.

At this time, I am unaware of any citizen that has requested a copy of the board packet whether printed or electronically that has not been given it.

Feedback from many board members has been extremely positive in regards to the workshop format of the first meeting of the month.  This is an opportunity for the board to work together in a less formal setting and is for conducting the school district’s business and not intended to be a public community hearing.  Citizens are welcome to attend these workshops; however, citizens will be given seating away from the workshop tables in designated areas just as provided for at Regular Board Meetings.  As always the board will provide time for citizen’s comments in items #3 and #8 at these workshops.

As I know you are aware, your comments in item #2 in your communication regarding the action of the chair are incorrect and your understanding of what was changed in the board packet is also incorrect.  I do appreciate your understanding of oversight in including the BAR to Item 5.2, as we are all human and make mistakes.  I know an honest effort to adjust and move forward is the desire of all involved.

As always, thank you again for contacting your Board of Education.

--
Cheryl McGinnis
President, Clarkston Community School Board of Education
Home of Inaugural National Green Ribbon School 2012, Clarkston High School
“If you wait to do everything until you’re sure it’s right, you’ll probably never do much of anything.” – Win Borden


On Mon, Sep 24, 2012 at 4:03 PM, Dawn Schaller wrote:
Dr. Rock, Mrs. McGinnis, and Mrs. McClain,

I received the first Board Packet this morning at 8:38 AM and the updated version at 11 AM for tonight's board meeting.

I was very disappointed, but not surprised, by what I found.  Two things stood out when I viewed both versions of the Board Packets... 
  1. "Board Action Item 5.2. is called "Approval of Non-Affiliate Contracts: Anita Banach".  There are no attachments for the Non-Affiliate Contracts on either of the 9/24/12 board packets.  On 9/10/12, the contracts were discussed on camera, but there were no microphones at the round table discussions (how convenient), so no one could hear those discussions on the video recordings.  No one would have known about it (besides the board members) if Betty Reilly and I hadn't attended the round table discussions at the 9/10/12 board meeting, but the contracts were not on the 9/10/12 board packet either (nor were any of the subjects of the "Item 6 Roundtable Workshop Sessions" from 9/10/12). 
  2. The 11 AM change to the 9/24/12 Board Packet was to delete the following comments in blue italics from page 6 of the Board Packet for the minutes of the 9/11/12 workshop meeting for the Board Self-Evaluation.  However, I recall Board Members saying the 9/11/12 date for the Board Self-Evaluation was not convenient for them in previous meetings.  I have a feeling that the below statement was actually part of the meeting, but someone checked a past video and realized that the statement was false...  If, so, shame on Mrs. McGinnis for saying this at the 9/11/12 meeting in front of the Oakland Intermediate School District representatives, Dr. Vickie Markavitch and Dr. JoAnn Andrees.  This meeting should not have been scheduled if all of the board members could not be present.  The comments removed were: 
    • "Several months ago this board discussed in open session our desire to proceed with the Self-Evaluation process. To this end, this evaluation has been put off for many reasons. Prior to the August 20th board meeting, all Trustees were directed to bring their calendars to said meeting to re-confirm their availability for the September 11th date. With unanimous consent, September 11th was confirmed and communicated to Oakland Schools. That confirmation put in motion the posting of the meeting, Oakland Schools scheduling a facilitation team to be available, planning on the team's part for the retreat and booking a room. Also, as recent as last night’s board meeting this date and time were reconfirmed without any comments from board members in public that they could not attend. It is the chair’s intention to conduct business tonight and not let one board member’s social schedule defer us from our obligation to this community as elected School Board Trustees."
Along with the district continuing to not load the board packet to the district website (as it had done prior to July, 2012), sending out the PDF versions of the board packets only upon request, and not sending the board packets until the day of the meeting (when the board packets are sent to the board members several days before the Monday meetings), are all evidence of a lack of transparency to the public that is growing within the district.
Please provide the Non-Affiliate Contracts.

Thank you.

Dawn Schaller
http://acrosstheboard-clarkston.blogspot.com/





From: "Heidi Mcclain"
   To: "Heidi Mcclain"
Sent: Monday, September 24, 2012 11:01:08 AM
Subject: Revised Board Packet

Tonight's board packet has been revised with an update to the September 11, 2012 Board Workshop minutes (item 2.3).  The revised packet is attached.

Thank you,
Heidi


--

Heidi S. McClain

Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent and

Board/Superintendent Communications

Clarkston Community Schools

email to Cheryl McGinnis about the disgraceful 10/8/12 CCS school board meeting (sent 10/13/12)


Mrs. McGinnis,

I wanted to cover a few things that happened at the 10/8/12 school board meeting with you. 

As you know, I spoke at the 10/8/12 board meeting during Action Item 5.2/5.3.  I discussed my opinion of the subjects of the inaudible roundtable workshop sessions (Discussion Item 6.2 of the meeting) and Action Item 5.2 (moved to 5.3), the "Supervisors and Administrators contract".  Starting at 35 minutes, 59 seconds of the first video (available on the district website) and continuing until 38 minutes, 28 seconds) I had advised:
  1. That the HR Director salary was set at around $86,000 when it was offered to the current HR Director in 2010. 
  2. That according to a FOIAed document I received last year from the district, that the HR Director's annual salary for the 2011/12 school year was $90,600. 
  3. That there was no category in either the existing or the new "Supervisors and Administrators contract" for "HR Director" or just "Central Office Director (minus the "Executive" level) at the $90,600 salary range.
  4. That the HR Director had been calling herself the "Executive Director of Human Resources" for the past year although the board had not been asked to approve a promotion or pay raise for her.
  5. That the only job category I could find on the contract that could have fit the HR Director was the "CO Exec. Dir" (Central Office Executive Director) job category that had a step 1 salary of $105,901, progressing to $118,699 at step 5 (year 5). 
  6. That would have meant that unless the "HR Director" job classification was just "missing" from the proposed new contract, that it appeared that the district was trying to change the job classification of the HR Director from "Director" to "Central Office Executive Director", resulting in a salary raise from $90,600 to $105,901 ($15,301 per year increase), or more if the district was going to grant second or thrird .  However, the board had not been asked to approve a pay raise for the HR Director.
  7. That the HR Director told me after a meeting in June of 2012 that she felt that she "deserved" the "CO Executive Director" salary and level. 
Dr Rock then interrupted me and dismissed me from continuing my comments saying I was "making specific statements about people and I don't think that's appropriate at this time", and then when I disagreed and said I thought it WAS appropriate, he interrupted me and said "I think probably your two minutes are up" and dismissed me. 

Shortly after I was dismissed by Dr. Rock and the board had discussed the issue some more, the HR Director, Anita Banach, got up to the podium at one hour, 7 minutes, 0 seconds to discuss the contract with the board.  This was recorded in the meeting.  She then basically said that she deserved the higher pay that the "Central Office Executive Director" position showed on the contract.  She got personal against me.  She specifically named me and said that I was "making stuff up".  I take offense to her personal attack as I was not "making stuff up" as she said and I also consider that unprofessional of her as a school district "director".  I had not attacked her personally, I had simply brought up issues regarding the salary schedule of the HR Director position on the contract that was in front of the board for approval and I stated history related to the HR Director position and pay.  As much as it may have been personal for her because her pay would be personal to her, it was not a personal attack. 

I have two concerns and a two requests regarding what happened when I spoke and was dismissed by Dr. Rock. 
  • Concern 1 - According to CCS Board Bylaw 0167.3, "Public Participation at Board Meetings", "Section F., No participant may speak more than once on the same topic unless all others who wish to speak on that topic have been heard."  Currently the board is refusing to allow any members of the public from speaking more than once at a meeting (unless that member of the public is Kelli Horst).  What the Board Bylaw means is that members of the public have the right to speak to the board more than once at the board meetings and they can even speak on the same subject more than once after all others wishing to be heard on that subject have been heard.  I was speaking on two subjects, but was limited to only one two minute speech, and there were no other members of the public who wanted to speak at the meeting, so I should have been allowed to speak twice on the two subjects and if I ran over on the time, I should have been given an opportunity to speak again to get my point across.   
    • Request 1 - Can you ensure that the practice of allowing members of the public to speak at board meetings be changed to reflect the state of the Board Bylaw that allows members of the public to speak for up to two minutes on any and all subjects and allows the members of the public to speak more than once on the same subject as long as all others have had a chance to speak.  This would match the state of the posted Board Bylaw to reality.   
  • Concern 2 - According to CCS Board Bylaw 0167.3, "Public Participation at Board Meetings", "Section I., The presiding officer may: 1) interrupt, warn, or terminate a participant's statement when the statement is too lengthy, personally directed, abusive, obscene, or irrelevant;".  I do not believe that my comments were "personally directed, abusive, obscene, or irrelevant" as they were regarding the pay scale for a particular job category for the HR Director from the proposed contract that was on the agenda and the Board members had not been able to get a clear answer on this same issue from Dr. Rock during their previous discussion.  The "presiding officer" of the Board meeting was you, Mrs. McGinnis, but Dr. Rock dismissed me from speaking and he had no right to dismiss me.  After watching the video of this exchange from the meeting, I found that I HAD spoken beyond the two minute limit, but Dr. Rock was not the person who had the right to stop me from speaking, ONLY YOU HAD THAT RIGHT, and you didn't do it. 
    • Request 2 - Can you ensure that the school board's only direct employee, Dr. Rock, is made aware of the bylaws that only give the Board President the right to dismiss members of the public in a school board meeting?
After Anita Banach sat down and right before the round table workshop session, Dr. Rock made a comment in which he commented about the "positive feedback regarding the roundtable discussions" (only partially true), said that several members of the board had asked for more opportunities for discussion before a vote (true), and that the round table workshop session was the way the district was allowing "discussion".  That is just just wrong on so many levels.  With the roundtable discussions split into two tables, the board members hear different questions and answers (resulting in incomplete interpretations) and they also result in a lack of transparency for the public and the board.

At the beginning of all of the board meetings, the president always makes the following statement:
“This meeting is a meeting of the Board of Education in public for the purpose of conducting the School District’s business and is not to be considered a public community hearing. There is a time for public participation during the meeting as indicated in agenda items 3 and 8.” 

The above comments say that the board meeting is to conduct the school district's business rather than being a public community meeting/hearing.  Therefore, there is some public participation allowed, but it is not a public community hearing.  I get it and that makes sense.  However, one of the problems in the Clarkston school system is that THERE ARE NO PUBLIC COMMUNITY HEARINGS IN THIS DISTRICT...  This frustrates the public.  This community NEEDS public community meetings in order to get buy-in to changes the district is considering (if there are proposed changes), instead, the district is:
  • getting the rubber stamper board members to vote (usually with a 4/3 vote) to approve things the public neither knows about, nor would be interested in having implemented by not providing information to the public about it and limiting availability to the board packet information until the day of the meeting,  
  • not asking for public opinion (the public survey from last year does not count, because it was illegitimate - asking for public opinion on subjects with insufficient information and wording the questions in certain ways in order to get a particular results and because there were no where near as many actual phone responses as the survey results reported),
  • regarding Board Packets:
    • not providing the board packets on the Fridays before the Monday meetings any longer,
    • not putting the board packets on the district website for all to view on the Fridays before the Monday meetings,
    • not including all of the backup documentation in the Board Packets,
    • and only providing the board packets to those who specifically ask for them to be sent to them via email on the day of the meeting (preventing any real analysis of the document).
  • and providing less transparency to the public by addressing critical issues in the "roundtable workshop sessions" that are not recorded in any way.     
I believe that the CCS school board is dysfunctional and changes are needed.

Per the Center for Public Education, an initiative of the National School Boards Association, (available here), they say:

"The local school board is a critical public link to public schools. Whether elected or appointed, school board members serve their communities in several important ways.


  • First and foremost school boards look out for students. Education is not a line item on the school board’s agenda—it is the only item.
  • When making decisions about school programs, school boards incorporate their community’s view of what students should know and be able to do.
  • School boards are accessible to the public and accountable for the performance of their schools.
  • School boards are the education watchdog for their communities, ensuring that students get the best education for the tax dollars spent."

I wish that the Clarkston Community Schools School Board would actually become a group of seven professional adults representing the wants and needs of the public, focused on the direction and control of the school system in order to ensure that the students are educated safely and to the best possible degree given the funds the district has to spend on that endeavor.  That is what the school board is supposed to be doing.  I see Joan Patterson, Susan Boatman, and Rosalie Lieblang living up to those school board responsibilities.  On the other hand, I see you, Steve Hyer, Barry Bomier, and Elizabeth Egan ignoring the wants and needs of the public, not requesting the proper data from administration (financial and program data especially), and allowing your employee, Dr. Rock, to take over the board's responsibilities to direct and control the school system and the board, to ignore the public's comments and desires, to refuse to supply the board with data needed to make proper decisions, and to keep himself and the school board as inaccessible as possible from the public. 

I am very disappointed with the current dysfunction on the school board.  I hope that the public does the right thing on November 6th and votes in the board members that will redirect the board to perform the functions the board is supposed to be performing. 

Please respond to the questions and concerns I have above.

Thank you.

Who to vote for - Clarkston School Board

I believe that the CCS school board is dysfunctional and changes are needed.  The public can do something about that when they vote on November 6th, by voting for the board members that will redirect the board to perform the functions that all school boards have an obligation to perform.  Please vote for Susan Boatman, Joan Patterson, and Betty Reilly for Clarkston School Board.  A vote for them will result in the changes to the school board that the district needs.  You can learn more about them at electbpr.comI also believe that Craig Hamilton is also worth voting for.  I have spoken to Craig at school board meetings and I believe that he also sees the board's dysfunction and wants to see the changes that the district needs.

Conversely, it is key NOT to vote for:
  • Cheryl McGinnis, the top current rubber stamp board member up for re-election who supported the $20 million tech bond and open schools of choice in the district,
  • Kelli Horst, the top Dr. Rock cheerleader who has publicly sided with the current rubber stamp board members and Dr. Rock on anything being promoted by Dr. Rock, and was one of the ring leaders of the "Say Yes to the $20 million bond" group as well as supporting open schools of choice in the the district,
  • and Theresa Adriaens, the "absentee candidate" (not attending any board meetings and off the radar at the schools) who is a staunch Dr. Rock supporter.
Per the Center for Public Education, an initiative of the National School Boards Association, (available here),

"The local school board is a critical public link to public schools. Whether elected or appointed, school board members serve their communities in several important ways.


  • First and foremost school boards look out for students. Education is not a line item on the school board’s agenda—it is the only item.
  • When making decisions about school programs, school boards incorporate their community’s view of what students should know and be able to do.
  • School boards are accessible to the public and accountable for the performance of their schools.
  • School boards are the education watchdog for their communities, ensuring that students get the best education for the tax dollars spent."

I wish that the Clarkston Community Schools School Board would actually become a group of seven professional adults representing the wants and needs of the public, focused on the direction and control of the school system in order to ensure that the students are educated safely and to the best possible degree given the funds the district has to spend on that endeavor.  That is what the school board is supposed to be doing. 

I see Joan Patterson, Susan Boatman, and Rosalie Lieblang living up to those school board responsibilities.  On the other hand, I see Cheryl McGinnis, Steve Hyer, Barry Bomier, and Elizabeth Egan ignoring the wants and needs of the public, not requesting the proper data from administration (financial and program data especially) that they should have before making decisions on those subjects, and allowing their direct employee, the superintendent, Dr. Rock, to take over the board's responsibilities to direct and control the school system and the board, ignore the public's comments and desires, and to keep himself and the school board as inaccessible as possible from the public.  Mrs Patterson, Mrs. Boatman, and Mrs. Lieblang have requested data they are not only entitled to as board members, but the data should have been supplied to them prior to being asked to make decisions for the district.  Time and again, Dr. Rock has ignored or refused their requests.  A change in the board is what is needed to stop this behavior.    

Monday, October 1, 2012

"School board's deficit is irresponsible"

Great letter to the editor of the Clarkston News, Clarkston, MI, 9/26/12

See letter here:  http://www.clarkstonnews.com/Articles-Opinion-i-2012-09-26-248902.113121-sub14473.113121-Letter-to-the-editor.html

"School board's deficit is irresponsible"

September 26, 2012 

Dear Editor, 

At the Clarkston School Board meeting on June 25, the board approved the 2012-2013 budget by a 4-3 vote. The budget that was approved by four board members authorizes the administration to spend $3.2 million more from the general fund than it will take in.

At the time this budget was approved, it extended a track record of six out of the last seven years in which the district spent more than it has taken in by the following amounts: 2007, $4 million; 2008, not available; 2009, $3.8 million; 2010, $7.2 million; 2011, $135,000; 2012, projected $2.7 million; 2013, projected $3.2 million. The track record of deficit spending may be even longer; data for years prior to 2007 was not immediately available.

That's a total deficit of $21 million over six years. While it is well-known revenues have been falling, the board had seven years or more to reduce expenses to match declining revenues; however, they failed, a majority of four members choosing instead to draw down the general fund reserve.

For the long-term financial health of the district, the board has the responsibility to produce and live within a budget in which spending is less than, or at worst equal to, income just as every household does. And the answer is not to go back to the community with requests to incur additional debt and raise taxes.

Three board members understand that; the other four do not.

However, because those four board members constitute a majority and have shown a lack of interest in, or a lack of skill regarding, being fiscally responsible, it is the community's duty to elect people to the board who do understand the need to more properly manage the district's resources to benefit students, parents, teachers, the community and to ensure the long term financial viability of the district. Regrettably, fiscal responsibility is only one aspect of the poor leadership exhibited by these same four board members.

In November you will be asked to elect four school board members. Two of those four board seats are currently occupied by the individuals who continue to manage ineffectually.

While one of those, Mr. Barry Bomier, has wisely chosen not to run for re-election, this is an opportunity for voters to excuse the other, Ms. Cheryl McGinnis, from a responsibility that appears to be either beyond her ability or beyond her level of caring and to elect people who understand the need for effective school district stewardship and open communication with the community to whom they are responsible.

Two other incumbents are also running for re-election – Susan Boatman and Joan Patterson. These two fit the profile of effective leadership and open communication. The same can be said for one new candidate – Betty Reilly.

If you review events of recent years, I believe you will decide to re-elect Ms. Boatman and Ms. Patterson, and to elect Ms. Reilly, because they represent the district's best prospects for a successful future.

Lawrence Matta

Independence Township