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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!

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