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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"Unlimited" Schools of Choice in CCS?!?! (submitted letter to the editor of Clarkston News 5/29/12)

Unlimited Schools of Choice” in Clarkston Community Schools?

Dear Editor,

It is with frustration and sadness that I advise that Dr. Rod Rock, with the help of the CCS School Board President, Cheryl McGinnis, has instituted “unlimited” Schools of Choice in CCS in the four current SoC programs in the district, including “Project Lead the Way”, which allows for the acceptance of anyone of the appropriate age who applies from outside of the district.  It was approved at the 5/21/12 CCS Board meeting. 

PLTW is a Schools of Choice "program" for 10th - 12th graders that requires the applicant write a minimum 2/3 of a page hand written essay of "why the student wishes to enter the program and describing how past experiences in school have prepared them for the program", signature from a parent or guardian, and that the student has passed 8th grade Language Arts and 8th grade Math (for a 10th to 12th grade program!).  It requires the students take one two trimester program class per year, allowing the students to fill the remaining 13 trimester classes per year with non-PLTW program classes.

Last year Dr. Rock insisted on including verbiage in the Resolution for PLTW SoC Program that “the superintendent shall have the discretion to accept students who have been suspended in the last two years, have a felony on their record, or have been expelled from another school”.  Several other parents, board members, and I sent emails and spoke during the board meeting where this was voted on in 2011.  We tried to talk the Board into deleting that verbiage in order to keep students out who had "histories of suspensions, felonies, or expulsions”, but Dr. Rock advised he wanted the right to accept those students and his four rubber stamp board members voted to retain the verbiage put in by Dr. Rock.  Therefore, the program allows the superintendent to accept students who have previous histories of suspensions, felonies, or expulsions”. 

There was not one communication from Dr. Rock this year asking the public how they felt about making the SoC PLTW Program “unlimited” and the only place one could have seen any reference to it was in the 5/21/12 Board packet that was posted to the district website on Friday afternoon, 5/18/12, before the Monday meeting. Dr. Rock was full of public communications when it came to try to get the $20 million bond passed.  He (or someone from the district) attended and spoke at many public meetings; had videos created (many created by students during class time) and posted them on YouTube, the district's website, and Channel 22 on Comcast; sent out multitudes of “eblasts”; put out multiple “Words from the Superintendent” in the Clarkston News; and snail mailed two of "The Link Newsletters" home (one 100% dedicated to the bond, the other about 50% dedicated to the bond), but there was nothing about "unlimited" Schools of Choice...

Per "District Policy 5113 and Board Bylaw 0131.1, the Board must review, determine, and publish their SoC Program Policy annually and changes to District Policies require the School Board to discuss any proposed changes in a Board meeting prior to the Board meeting in which it is voted on.  The 5/21/12 meeting had the Board voting on the change to make SoC "unlimited" AND to vote on it.  When advised by several Board members of the violation (not discussing it on a meeting before it was to be voted on), Cheryl McGinnis (with the power of the "rubber stamp" majority), overruled them, kept it as the scheduled vote, and Dr. Rock’s rubber stamp majority Board Members approved the change and the renewal.

As of 5/29/12, the district still has not posted the contentious 5/21/12 Board meeting on the district website, nor on Comcast channel 22, for the public to see how ugly and wrong the meeting was.  The 5/14/21 meeting is still being broadcasted on the website and Comcast channel 22.  The district is now only broadcasting the meeting three or four times a day instead of looping the video.  What possible reason could the district have for not posting the video of the meeting?    

Dr. Rock’s annual evaluation will be during a closed session on June 18th, 2012, with the final written evaluation presented at the June 25th meeting.  Please let Dr. Rock and the School Board know how you feel about unlimited Schools of Choice in the PLTW Program in Clarkston High School and how you feel about the Board violating their own Board Bylaw by voting on the SoC Policy change without a prior board meeting "discussion".  Let them know if you think it's disturbing that the district chose to not engage the public on the SoC change.  Their email IDs are:;;;;;;; .

Thank you.

Dawn Schaller

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