Superintendent Search/Community Forum Transcripts November 12, 2014

2014-11-12 SB Mtg Community ForumThe Colville School Board had a meeting on November 12, 2014. The agenda states the purpose of the meeting as “Superintendent Selection Process”. I want to show the public how our school board really works, and this meeting is a perfect example. This is just a verbatim transcript. I will extrapolate important details and comments in another post.

Please accept my apologies for any mis-spellings, or complete blotch up jobs on anyone’s names. If you contact me, I will correct any errors.

Since this was an official school board meeting, you can get a copy of the digital recording of the meeting. To do this, you can put in a Public Records Request. See the post, How To Put In a Public Records Request to learn how to do that.

TRANSCRIPTS OF MEETING

Call to Order

Pledge of allegiance

1. Sid Green I’d like to thank everybody for coming tonight. Before we get started, I know there might be people in here who don’t know who the board is. My name is Sid Green, I’m the president of the board, Dr. Sandy Moore, Vice President, Krista Ohrtman, Sarah Newman, Dr. Rob Sumner.

2. So without further ado, I’m going to call on Krista to give us an update on the state of the schools.

3. Krista Ohrtman Thank you for coming, I’d like to echo that, it’s great to see so many faces. Turn me up if you need to, my voice is kind of small. There, hows that? Can any of you hear me way in the back? And if I make a face like this, it’s not because I’m upset, the lights are just bright.

4. So – how’s that? (Sandy Moore steps up to adjust the microphone). So I’ve been on the school board about 18 months. I’m probably still, I’m the second least experienced member of the board. One of the things I’ve noticed is that when there is bad news about the schools, or the work that the school board is trying to do, it goes like this (spreads arms dramatically apart) and spreads like crazy, which is ok. But when we have good news, it is a lot harder to get that word out to the folks. So right now I’m going to share with you sort of what the board has been working on the last few months and some of it is good news. I’m not going to go into a ton of detail, because we want to get your input tonight, not necessarily listen to us talk. But I want to share some information with you and if the comments that I share bring up questions or you’d like more details, please talk to me after, and if I don’t have the answers, I will help you get them. Continue reading

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Documentation for Questionable Interim Superintendent Hiring

This post contains additional documentation showing proof of information in previous post.

April 7, 2014 Pete Lewis was put on paid leave in Fairbanks, Alaska.

http://www.k12northstar.org/sites/default/files/14-0407-minspmtg-employmentclaims.pdf

Here is the text of the meeting minutes that is applicable:

Lewis Placed on Leave Fairbanks MinutesMay 13, 2014 Michael Cashion announces resignation to ESD 101

2014-05-13 Cashion resignation email to ESD copy

May 15, 2014 Michael Cashion writes resignation letter

– Letter is placed in the Statesman Examiner and you can view it here http://www.boarddocs.com/wa/colsd/Board.nsf/files/9KCTP35D6902/$file/Resignation%20Letter.PDF

May 16, 2014 Michael Dunn from ESD 101 sends Sid Green Pete Lewis’ resume and contact information.

2014-05-16 Dunn to Green PL Resume copy

May 16, 2014 Sid Green responds to Michael Dunn saying he went online and read all the information about Pete Lewis.

2014-05-16 Sid response to Dunn PL resumeContinued conversation from Mike Dunn to Sid Green Continue reading

Questionable Interim Superintendent Hiring

images_openclipart.orgThere is some question as to how our interim superintendent was hired. I have been a part of a parent group that has attended school board meetings for five years. After Superintendent Ken Emmil left the district, the board promised a full and open superintendent search.

Typically a full search takes three months and includes the public in the selection process. Colville’s process from posting the position to hiring Mr. Lewis took less than three weeks, or to be exact, 19 days.

Here is the timeline of the hiring including some items that could be considered either shady or down right illegal:

April 7, 2014 Pete Lewis was put on paid leave in Fairbanks, Alaska.

May 15, 2014 Michael Cashion writes resignation letter

May 16, 2014 Michael Dunn from ESD 101 sends Sid Green Pete Lewis’ resume and contact information.

May 16, 2014 Sid Green responds to Michael Dunn saying he went online and read all the information about Pete Lewis.

– Is it proper to research an applicant for a job position before all the applicants have applied?

May 21, 2014 Colville posts a job opening for superintendent stating  applications being accepted until June 5th.

Notes:

– The board is the only entity that can authorize the school to put up the job opening for superintendent. There was no board meeting authorizing this. Where did the administration office get it’s authorization? Was the school board (or an individual school board director) acting outside of their legal protocol?

– At this date, the board has not even accepted Michael Cashion’s resignation.

May 28, 2014 School Board accepts Michael Cashion’s resignation in legal school board meeting.

May 28, 2014 In email correspondence (received through a public records request) Michael Dunn ESD 101 asks Sid Green if he can interview Pete on June 6th

– Sid Green responds he will set it up for June 9th

– Michael Dunn says “Thanks for doing this as quickly as you can”

May 30, 2014 Michael Cashion writes letter to Michael Dunn stating he spoke with Pete Lewis about hiring employees.

Note:

– The board has not interviewed any applicants for this position. It is highly irregular for an employee to be discussing any aspect of business with ANY applicants.

June 9, 2014 Colville School Board Meeting to Evaluate the qualifications of one or more applicants for public employment in an executive session.

– The agenda item says “applicants for public employment”, they didn’t even have the decency to let us know they were interviewing superintendent candidates. Why? Usually, it is advertised to the community, so that everyone who wants to be there can come, but we didn’t even know it was for the superintendent position until after we were in the meeting. Was the board trying to keep it from the public?

– We were told by the Teachers Union President who the applicants were, so the teachers knew it was a superintendent interview and who the applicants were, but the public did not. Why?

– The meeting opened, the board announced “We are going into executive session for about three hours to interview three candidates” and then left the room.

– We sat there for three hours waiting for them to come out of their session and when it was over, they told us that Pete Lewis scored best on their worksheet.

Notes:

– The board has refused to release all the names of the other applicants even to this day.

– The board held all interviews behind closed doors.

– The board held all conversations about all applicants behind closed doors.

– The public has no idea how they came to their decision.

June 9, 2014 Pete Lewis was fired from his position in Fairbanks (see below links for very informative details)

June 11, 2014 Pete Lewis was officially hired in Colville as Interim Superintendent

Pete Lewis was hired 2 days after he was officially fired from Fairbanks. Does anyone else think this is odd?

Continue reading

Veterans Day

I'll_Miss_You_Dad_by_Cecilio_M._Ricardo_Jr_en.wikipedia.orgI would like to thank each and every veteran. To those who dedicated a portion of their lives, and to those who sacrificed all. I would like to thank everyone who loves a veteran for all you’ve given so that they could serve this beautiful country and protect our freedoms.

God Bless you all.

Autodidacts

3349415603_ba35b8e672_z_flickr.comAutodidact has nothing to do with automobiles, it simply means “A self taught person”.

While this is a web page for parents of Colville school children to learn the truth about our school system, it should be noted that I am not a huge fan of public education. I am a fan of education, just not education that involves forced learning systems on captive residents or extraordinary amounts of money.

I am self taught in many things, so I hold these types of individuals in high esteem. I am a high school drop out. It wasn’t that I didn’t like school, I loved it as an escape from other things in life, but when I encountered bully teachers, school had to go so that I could keep some of my sanity.

7171947998_6285b80e08_flickr.comI then found a job and tried a short college stint where I found my husband. Shortly after our marriage we started our own business on what could loosely be termed a shoestring budget and found that every aspect of that business was our own responsibility. Long before we even knew the word Autodidact existed, we were teaching ourselves things like accounting, photography, sales, merchandizing, printing, web page design, customer service, customer complaints, shipping, maintenance and repair, international sales and service, purchasing, product design and development, invoice design and implementation and file management, among many other things.

Oh and did you know that starting a business with your spouse is one of the leading causes of divorce? So we had to learn marriage management because we were together 24 hours a day. The good news is that if you survive, you will actually strengthen your marriage. So next time you hear about a small business, try to think about how much those individuals actually accomplish in a days work.

8681295983_98e6eb2404_b_flickr.comStudents are now struggling with the highest college costs in the history of our country and, might I say of the world. But the good news is that in today’s information age, it is so much easier to find ways to self teach than it was a mere generation ago (I learned the old fashioned way). It’s much less expensive for Autodidacts than it is for a college student. It’s also a lot easier because you don’t have to take an overabundance of classes, so you spend more time learning what you need.

The purpose of this post is to give people hope. Those who don’t have the first hope of affording a college education can take comfort in knowing that there are other ways to live the life you want. Don’t be fooled, you don’t always need college to get to where you want to be. I know a person in their mid 50’s who is still paying on their college tuition. A high paid college education isn’t always a good thing. A college tuition costs as much as a new home. A new home takes 30 years to pay off.  Do we really want our children burdened with two mortgage payments … or no education … or no home?

Of course, we all want a doctor to have a proper education, so this post is obviously not speaking to those individuals who need a higher education, but there are many types of work out there that can be self taught. In many ways a self taught individual is a much more effective worker because they are motivated to learn, they engross themselves in every aspect of their interest, and pay attention in class. They7007282498_97337ab190_flickr.comaren’t learning just to pass the test, they are interested in gaining real knowledge. In the end their work reflects self pride and shows a polished implementation.

It’s true that we learn more from our failures than from our successes, so don’t be afraid to flub a bit. Take Thomas Edison for example, who is famous for his failures and his perseverance as well as his success. Don’t ever give up on your dreams. The only people who fail are those who stop trying. It’s inevitable that those who keep on with what they are doing will accomplish more and more. You can’t really unlearn – or become worse at what you are doing. The natural flow of life is that the more you work at something, the better you will become at it. Besides, you should be enjoying the process while you’re at it.

And for those of us older folks, don’t give up on your dreams either, keep learning things that interest you and expand your horizons. It may be too late to be a football star, but it’s never too late to enjoy some portion of what you love. Find an aspect of the thing you enjoy and then learn all you can about it! And don’t think you have to stick to one thing, if you have several interests, then I bet you’ll take pleasure in learning more about all of them.

So here we go in the spirit of celebrating all types of education is a list some famous and not so famous, though interesting, Autodidacts.

PRESIDENTS

Abraham_Lincoln_November_1863_en.wikipedia.orgAbraham Lincoln, lawyer, U.S. president. Finished one year of formal schooling, self-taught himself trigonometry, and read Blackstone on his own to become a lawyer. Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/top-100-entrepreneurs-who-made-millions-without-a-college-degree-2011-1#ixzz3IaLqN3su

Andrew Jackson, U.S. president, general, attorney, judge, congressman.Imacon Color Scanner Home-schooled. Became a practicing attorney by the age of 35 – without a formal education. Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/top-100-entrepreneurs-who-made-millions-without-a-college-degree-2011-1#ixzz3IaLqN3su
PHYSICIST/ASTRONAUT/ARCHITECT

8882433779_70093b7bbb_b_flickr.comAlbert Einstein, physicist. Yes: the man whose name now equates to “genius”; who published more than 300 scientific papers; the man behind E=MC2; the man who came up with the theory of relativity; and the man who won a Nobel prize—was in fact a high school dropout. He attempted to get into university, but initially failed the entrance exams. Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/01/20/10-poorly-educated-but-incredibly-successful-people/

 

View_of_Astronaut_John_Glenn_in_his_Mercury_pressure_suit_de.wikipedia.orgJohn Glenn became a war hero and one of the most famous astronauts in history, despite being a college dropout. Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/01/20/10-poorly-educated-but-incredibly-successful-people/

Frank Lloyd Wright, the most influential architect of the twentieth century. Never attended high school. Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/top-100-entrepreneurs-who-made-millions-without-a-college-degree-2011-1#ixzz3IaYCjATF

Continue reading

Student Grades 1996 thru 2014

ReportCard2_flickr.comThe grades are listed at the bottom of this post but for those who want even more information, I’d like to explain a little bit about how our district treats grades.

Parents are the ones who want to see the grades of their children and their schools, but schools aren’t always so happy to provide them.  School districts are forced to show the grades because of the “No Child Left Behind Act” of 2001. If you talk to many people in the school district, you will find they despise this act because it forces them to share their student grades. As a matter of fact, most of Washington state educators feels the same way.

Obama created the “Race to the Top” program in 2009 which was designed to help improve education K-12 by throwing money at the schools.  This program had stipulations, however, in that schools had to have teacher evaluations based in part on student standardized testing. You can read about the “Race to the Top” here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_to_the_Top

I only plan to focus on teacher evaluations based on student standardized testing because my focus in this post is on student grades. In Washington state, the teachers union fought hard against being evaluated based on student test scores. They didn’t think it was fair to have the test scores for students they teach to be a part of their evaluation.

The feds would provide a waiver of the No Child Left Behind act to states that would comply with Race to the Top requirements, but because the Washington state teachers union felt so strongly against this one aspect of the Race to the Top, the Washington politicians caved to the teachers and voted down a Senate Bill 5246 which would have complied with federal regulations. You can read about that here: http://www.theolympian.com/2014/02/27/3006737_democrats-bet-wrong-in-gamble.html?rh=1

Once Washington refused to do teacher evaluations based on student standardized test scores, they lost the funding from Race to the Top and were reverted back to the No Child Left Behind law.

Washington Becomes First State To Return To No Child Left Behind

“Washington’s request … [for a waiver] was approved based on Washington’s commitments to carry out certain actions in support of key education reforms … Washington was not able to keep all of its commitments,” Duncan wrote in a letter sent Thursday to Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn. “Washington’s flexibility will end with the 2013-2014 school year.”

No Child Left Behind is the George W. Bush law that mandates standardized testing for students in reading and math, and spelled out consequences, such as school restructuring, based on those scores. Under NCLB, persistently failing schools had to set aside 20 percent of a funding stream to pay for tutoring. But with a waiver from the federal government, that money could be used for other purposes.

Thursday’s move will make Washington subject again to the law’s broad sanctions. Instead of using the federal government’s more nuanced system for identifying underperforming schools, the state will have to use the NCLB accountability system called “Adequate Yearly Progress,” a blunt measure based on standardized test scores. According to NCLB, to make AYP in 2014, all students are expected to be proficient in English and math — meaning that next year, it’s possible that every school in the state could be labeled as underperforming.

In addition to returning to the cruder NCLB system, Washington districts will likely lose the freedom to spend $38 million to $44 million previously set aside for mandatory tutoring. That loss is likely to make it harder to budget for the next school year.

Read more here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/24/washington-no-child-left-_n_5207245.html

It could be because the  Colville school district dislikes showing their student grades, or they just hate the No Child Left Behind law so much that they have applied to have the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 reinstated in our schools. You can read about it here:

http://www.boarddocs.com/wa/colsd/Board.nsf/files/9P3N875DB64D/$file/ESEA%20Reauthorization%20Resolution.pdf

Or you can find it in the September 24, 2014 school board meeting agenda item number 5.04 on Board Docs: http://www.boarddocs.com/wa/colsd/Board.nsf/public#

Seriously? Is going back to a 1965 law an attempt to hide student grades from the public? No matter what the reasoning, I find this odd behavior. So in the interest of letting parents know the grades of our students, I have typed them up from the OSPI website (Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction) and have listed them below:

Continue reading

ASB Cards

Child-exploitation_isanjay.inPrior to the school year 2012/2013, ASB cards cost $20 and I was never forced to purchase one for my children.  In 2012/13, my son brought a notice home that said:

“As a participant in Colville High School sports, you are required to purchase an ASB card from the main office for $20.00. If you have not purchased your card by Friday, April 12th, you will not be allowed to participate in your sport. If you have any questions please see Kelly Carr.”

This notice to students was a violation of the law. The law on ASB cards is very clear:

RCW 28A.325.010

“The board of directors of any common school district may establish and collect a fee from students and nonstudents as a condition to their attendance at any optional noncredit extracurricular event of the district which is of a cultural, social, recreational, or athletic nature: PROVIDED, That in so establishing such fee or fees, the district shall adopt regulations for waiving and reducing such fees in the cases of those students whose families, by reason of their low income, would have difficulty in paying the entire amount of such fees and may likewise waive or reduce such fees for nonstudents of the age of sixty-five or over who, by reason of their low income, would have difficulty in paying the entire amount of such fees”.

Let me accent a few points in this law:

Point 1:

“may establish and collect a fee …  at any optional noncredit extracurricular event”

Point one very simply means that the school CANNOT collect a fee at an event where any students are required to attend for a class that provides a credit.Threatening to kick a student out of a class for not paying a fee is flat out illegal.

– In Colville, sports used to apply for a PE credit.

– If the band is required to attend football games as part of their grade it means that the school cannot legally require people to pay a fee at the gate. They can, however, collect voluntary fees.

Point 2:

PROVIDED, That … the district shall adopt regulations for waiving AND reducing such fees in the cases of those students whose families, by reason of their low income, would have difficulty in paying the entire amount of such fees.

Point two establishes that the school district is required to have a regulation that reduces and waives the fee entirely for low income members of the community.

FinanExploit_health.mo.govThe INTENT of the law is to provide a situation where ALL children can participate in after school activities no matter what their financial situation.

We sent a copy of this law to the school district and we were told they would look into it. Next thing we know, two things happened.

  1. Students could no longer use high school sports as a PE credit.
  2. ASB fees were raised. Below is the chart the school board approved in their June 26, 2013 meeting agenda item 5.12 on BoardDocs http://www.boarddocs.com/wa/colsd/Board.nsf/public):

Continue reading

Safety Forum for Gun Incident at Fort Colville

Police-badge-_wcyb.comOn February 7, 2013 two fifth grade students planned to carry out a plot to kill classmates at the Fort Colville Elementary school. Luckily, a fourth grade student saw one of these boys with a knife and reported it to an adult averting the disaster. The school district called the police and the parents of the intended victims, but the rest of the school district remained uninformed for at least 4 more hours.

I found that many parents learned about the incident through the noon report on KCRK-FM 92.1. The school district did send out a recorded message on the school messenger system several hours later.

Why didn’t the school inform every parent immediately? My personal theory is because they wanted to make sure they kept the kids in school until they received a full day’s pay for them before they notified the parents. I believe students needed to be in school until 12:30  for the school to be paid a full day.

Were all the people in charge of making the decision to postpone notifying the parents in agreement? The superintendent, all principals and all school board directors. Any principal has the authority to make the decision on their own.

Did our administrators put their budget before the safety of our children? It’s easier to see the totality of this if we

Kitchenfire_flickr.comput it in more simplistic terms. What if your kitchen had a small fire in it at 8 o’clock in the morning, but the babysitter chose not to tell you until you arrived home in the evening? Even if the disaster was averted, you should have been notified. Am I wrong?

Did the school also make an effort to withhold the details from the public? Most of the relevant information we received was from the media – and much of it was days or weeks later. Would you like to hear from the radio station on your lunch hour that there was an incident at your home hours earlier? And then days later, you find out important details about how it started, again from the media? If the situation is wrong for a babysitter and one child, then it is exponentially wrong for a school district with thousands of children. I believe the school district should have been up front and open with us.

What happened after the incident? They had a “Safety Forum” on February 13, 2013 at the Colville High School Auditorium. This would appear to be open, honest and pro-active in their duties for keeping our children safe, but let’s look at the details to find out. Continue reading

Safety Forum Lists Sorted Highest to Lowest Votes

Abstract_A_by_Havocgb_deviantart.com

THIS POST IS INFORMATION PERTAINING TO THE POST TITLED

“SAFETY FORUM FOR GUN INCIDENT AT FORT COLVILLE”

This is a list of votes from the safety forum sorted highest to lowest. My main goal is to provide the raw data so people can come to their own conclusions.

Vote/Listing Number/List Definition

35    9.1       Strengthen character education

30    18.4      No armed teachers

25    7.1       Rachel’s Challenge*

22    9.8        Let school staff who are interested carry a firearm

19    9.2        No armed teachers or volunteers

19    18.1       Metal detectors

17    2.4       Increased mental health

16    8.3       Quicker response to smaller issues to avoid “BIG” ones

16    14.4      Be real with kids about what to look for, what to do, dangers, consequences

13    5.5       Administrators – enforce policies and procedures. Hold families, students and staff/district accountable. 0 tolerance

11    15.5       Rachel’s challenge

Continue reading

Safety Forum Photo’s

THIS POST IS INFORMATION PERTAINING TO THE POST TITLED

“SAFETY FORUM FOR GUN INCIDENT AT FORT COLVILLE”

In order for me to give an honest view point of the Safety Forum held February 13, 2013, I need to show you the charts the community created through a brainstorming session. People listed items they thought were important safety items. After a certain amount of time, the brainstorming session closed and every participant was given several dots to use to place their votes. You can see the dots on the charts.

I am including the photo’s and a listing beneath each one because some of them are difficult to read. Each photo is numbered and named with a word or two from the top of the chart to help with discussion specifics. I have listed the votes for each item on the left and I have numbered each item so that it can also be recognized in a discussion. In some cases I have included two photo’s to help you see the text on the charts.

1 Communication

1 Communication

0      1.1       Communication – website – more info

0      1.2       Reality from kidding “I’ll kill him”

1      1.3       Government agencies already being paid doing security

0      1.4     Law enforcement familiar with all schools floor plans in stevens county

4      1.5     Why were specific kids targeted?

1      1.6     Fort Colville – No open house, no come see the school meet the teachers – no security to enter even the incident

2      1.7     All teachers on same level of communication to students across the district in each school.

1      1.8       Mental/social health concerns Continue reading

How to submit a Public Records Request

Cat on paperwork

Many people hear about others putting in a request for information to the school district, but aren’t aware how easy it is to do. The truth is that because of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) any citizen can obtain records from any  public entity. This is one of the ways that we can maintain control over the people we elect. You can find information on the FOIA here:

http://www.foia.gov/

http://www.atg.wa.gov/Records.aspx#.VEluXldkxzY

How to submit a Request for Public Records:Processing Paperwork_flickr.com

 Usually, a public entity will have the instructions for requesting  information posted where it can be easily found. I was not able to find any information on the Colville web page, but I do know they keep notices posted in all buildings. I know a few different ways to put in a request.

Go down in person to the district office located in the Aster school building, 217 S. Hofstetter Street, Colville. Ask for a Public Records Request form. You can fill it out in the office, or take it home and mail it in.

– Request a Public Records Request form by phone or mail and have it mailed to you. You can then mail it back or submit it in person.

Email in your request. To the best of my knowledge, a Public Records Request should be mailed to the superintendent. The forms on the walls of the high school ask people to mail to Superintendent Michael Cashion, but they have not been updated. I do know that until a policy has been updated, the old policy still applies. So here is Superintendent Pete Lewis’ email address: pete.lewis@colsd.org

MOST IMPORTANTLY

Make sure you receive a hard copy of whatever it is you are requesting. I have often been asked to show up in person to have a conversation about my request, and sometimes I am relentlessly asked, but there is no guarantee that what you are told in a conversation is the truth. The only way to make sure you receive honest information is to get a hard copy, whether it is a denial of your request, written documents or digital copies.

You will also want a hard copy of your conversations because this will help you make sure the organization you are dealing with keeps their word to you. It’s not uncommon for you to ask for one thing and be given something different, though similar. Or another trick is that you ask for multiple items and receive only some. You need to keep track of what you aren’t being provided because that’s usually what they would rather not give you.

With hard copies, you can match what you receive against other information you have. But a conversation has no guarantees. The person you talk to could change their story at a later date or give different information to another individual. Then where will you be? It will be your word against the organization.

The organization sometimes keeps a record of everything they give you, but a conversation can be misrepresented. I once had this problem from a bill collector who put down something completely different than what I said, and then put me in default for breaking my promise. Oh yes! You can ask a bill collector to deal with you in writing, but make sure you send the request in writing to them – and you sometimes have to send it registered because only registered mail is admitted in court.

Trust me, you’ll never regret getting hard copies no matter how difficult it becomes. Continue reading