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Thread: Discussion regarding the Charlie Schlegel Email

  1. #1
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    Default Discussion regarding the Charlie Schlegel Email

    The opinions expressed below in response to Jeff Baron's 6/26 Town Crier letter to the editor are mine alone, and not necessarily those of the School Committee or its other individual members.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrey Baron
    TO THE EDITOR:
    I have witnessed both the School Committee and the administration make decisions in the past year that seem counter to everything I have ever learned about good decision-making. They closed an elementary school "overnight"
    By placing “overnight” in quotation marks, Mr. Baron acknowledges the exaggeration of his comment. The elementary school discussion has been underway for several years, and took place in earnest over a period of several months at the beginning of this year. To be sure, the school elementary school reconfiguration took place more quickly and less smoothly than would have been ideal. That said, the opposite decision (staying with the three school configuration for one more year) would have been made equally quickly, and quite possibly with more negative ramifications in the form of a failed override.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrey Baron
    and are now over class size guidelines in at least one grade (maybe more) as a result. This after telling us that class size guidelines would not be violated.
    To my knowledge, no School Committee or Administration member gave any such guarantee. The most recent report from the Administration shows no section above guideline. Should one or several sections end up being in excess of the guideline, however, would not put the schools in unprecedented territory—this situation has occurred from time to time in recent years. While it is the Committee’s intent not to exceed the guideline, it reserves the right to do so for reasons including funding and/or space.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrey Baron
    They have decided that in the face of enormous criticism, they would move to a policy of not responding to public comment at meetings. This after being forced to answer the tough questions our community deserves answers to for months.
    Mr. Baron displays his lack of familiarity with Committee procedure, which has long been to hear but not necessarily respond immediately to public comment. Rather, during the several months of conversation surrounding the override and school reconfiguration discussion, the Committee eased its procedure in acknowledgment of the difficult decision that it faced.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrey Baron
    Now we learn that they allowed a senior administrator to violate campaign finance laws. Not so surprisingly, it was the one administrator who won't be here anyway next year. Is anybody really shocked?
    Technically, Mr. Baron does not come out and explicitly say that the Committee directed the Middle School Principal to send an email message to parents of Middle School students using public funds, but his implication is clear. Rather than casually making such a groundless and irresponsible accusation, Mr. Baron would have been wise to simply ask. For the record, had he done so, he would have learned that neither the Committee nor the Superintendent "allowed," directed, desired, or had any advance knowledge of the email message in question.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrey Baron
    Even if you worked every day to pass the override, one would hope that doing it ethically and within the bounds of the law would be the only path to follow.
    By virtue of its six-year old privately funded web site for the purpose of advocating for overrides and debt exemptions, the School Committee has demonstrated its respect for the law in this area.
    Last edited by Jeff Dieffenbach; 06-28-2008 at 10:32 AM. Reason: Added link to original letter

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    Jeff B- I'm sure you already know that I disagree with much of your letter and frankly find your "demand" for apologies and characterization of the SC as disrespectful. I can also tell you the decision was not made "overnight" by simply looking at the frequency of my babysitting payments over the last year(which doesn't include the numerous hours each SC member spent outside of SC mtgs)! I won't bother getting into the details b/c it's very clear that you aren't looking to change your mind and feel a strong need to scrutinize the SC.

    One thing that may be helpful is to remember that the SC Open Mtg Laws do not allow these people to communicate outside of SC mtgs. When I first attended mtgs, I too, felt frustrated that they would listen to people who bothered to come out and express themselves and seemingly not respond. After speaking to them individually about my frustrations, I came to understand that these are truly working mtgs. Far different from the private sector where thorny issues and disagreements can be taken off-line. They hear our input and need another meeting in order to even discuss this with each other! That sure does make for a slower (but more transparent) process than we are used to!
    I have found, however, that they are listening and I have seen many instances where a public opinion has been referenced by SC members, at future meetings.

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    Default Clarification

    It was pointed out on this board and in a conversation yesterday that I appeared to imply that I feel the School Committee was responsible for the e-mail sent out by the middle school principal. This was not my intent. I also do not believe that Dr. Burton instructed him to do so.

    My only point about this subject was that Dr. Burton's lack of oversight in letting this happen was, in my opinion, severe. For this he should be reprimanded. The apology I ask for from the SC is not one ackowledging their own blame, but rather the blame of the administration in allowing this violation of the law and a recognition that all will work harder to make sure it does not happen again.

    I apologize if my point was unclear or misconstrued. That was not my intention.

    -Jeff

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    "That sure does make for a slower (but more transparent) process than we are used to!"

    "You don't have to answer that, Brad!"
    Remember that?

    That was during the March 10 meeting when a woman asked Brad Crozier why Loker was not considered in any of the 9 possible scenarios he had drawn up about which school would remain open this fall.

    The question sounded innocent enough to me. And it's an obvious question which Mr. Crozier ought to have answered.

    However, with that one line uttered nearly simultaneously by both Barb Fletcher and Heather Pineault, any hope for transparency went out the window.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    Default Response to Jeff D

    It clearly states in the Loker re-assignment plan that the 2nd parameter of the plan was to not excessed the class size guidelines. I believe this is true in many of the CH classes but in at least 2 and possibly 3 grade levels at HH are at max and one is possibly over.

    Also parameter 6 states that the plan will assure class sizes under the guidelines for the next 4 years.

    Of course now you are changes the meaning of those statements. We were told that if classes were over then another section would be open not that in the past the SC has allowed other remedies for overcrowding.

    Also for the record there are more than 164 k students registered for next year. So the projection was wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    It was pointed out on this board and in a conversation yesterday that I appeared to imply that I feel the School Committee was responsible for the e-mail sent out by the middle school principal. This was not my intent. I also do not believe that Dr. Burton instructed him to do so....

    I apologize if my point was unclear or misconstrued. That was not my intention.

    -Jeff

    For anyone who doesn't have Jeff B's letter handy, here's the quote which Jeff refers to:

    "Now we learn that they allowed a senior administrator to violate campaign finance laws. Not so surprisingly, it was the one administrator who won't be here anyway next year. Is anybody really shocked? Even if you worked every day to pass the override, one would hope that doing it ethically and within the bounds of the law would be the only path to follow."

    Jeff, I, too, felt that you were implying that Charlie Schlegel had been instructed to send the email. I see your note above, but I find myself still confused. What did you mean by the sentence, "Not so surprisingly, it was the one administrator who won't be here anyway next year. "?

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    Kim,
    I believe you'll find your answer in the one word, "allowed".
    He didn't say "instructed".

    Read it again.
    I take it to mean just what he says it means - that this administrator was allowed to do this. The "not so surprisingly" suggests to me that another administrator who was not preparing to leave the system, may not have been allowed - may have been scrutinized more closely.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    John, I have a hard time imagining the "scrutiny level" of emails varying depending on people's departure dates.

    But I think we'll need to hear from Jeff B to know what he had in his mind.

    I was a bit surprised that Jeff made the mistake of not recognizing that Charlie Schlegel was not "the one administrator" to be leaving at the end of the school year, since another principal, the principal of Loker, also left at the end of the year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    To be sure, the school elementary school reconfiguration took place more quickly and less smoothly than would have been ideal. That said, the opposite decision (staying with the three school configuration for one more year) would have been made equally quickly, and quite possibly with more negative ramifications in the form of a failed override.
    Jeff, you have a natural gift for understatement.

    As to the opposite decision, there was no opposite decision.
    You could have gone on with the 3 schools and left things things as they were, recognizing that the numbers didn't add up to change to 2 1/2 and that more time would be required to really go through the numbers and compile some comprehensive data in order to make an intelligent, informed decision, OR you could have made the decision to abruptly change, keeping your fingers crossed that all that information you didn't have time to compile would all work out somehow.

    I guess it's just semantics. The decision to change or the decision to stay as is could be called 2 decisions, I suppose. But to say the opposite decision would have needed to be made just as quickly implies that you were really stuck between a rock and hard place between these two difficult choices.
    You were not.
    All you had to do was decide if there was sufficient time to pull this off and whether or not you had comprehensive data on all of the implications and ramifications of going forward. If not, the choice was very simple - it's not worth the risk, so don't do it.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    However, with that one line uttered nearly simultaneously by both Barb Fletcher and Heather Pineault, any hope for transparency went out the window.
    Hi John-
    I'm thinking that this situation serves to highlight my point of a transparent working mtg!

    The March 10 meeting was not a forum---many public comments were not answered on the spot. Especially those which may have needed consult or discussion by administration prior to a thorough response(and not necessarily b/c of anything other than getting the key players together to tease out exactly what happened). The meeting is not administrative--I know that if the same woman who posed the question, had set up a mtg with Mr. Crozier and/or Dr. Burton, they would have rec'd the answer.

    In December, Admin. offered reconfig. scenarios using "HappyHollow/Loker". In January there was a new set of scenarios titled "Happy Hollow" and "Loker" separately to show the designation of a Kind. school vs. a 1-5. I remember Dr. Burton answering the question about why it was written this way, numerous times. My recollection was that he said, based on his knowledge of the buildings, he did currently believe that Happy Hollow was a better choice for the full school. He spoke, at length, many times about why he believed this to be so.

    I agree that on the surface it may have appeared there was something to hide. But I strongly believe that the SC was attempting to avoid an administrative discussion, during public comment, in what is supposed to be their working meeting. There are many other venues where Admin. should answer that question, and did. I think we need to look at the process, as a whole, instead of pulling one specific comment. When out of context, an exchange like this can def. appear questionable, to those of us who are not used to the structure, limits and bylaws of SC mtgs.
    Last edited by Kim Reichelt; 07-08-2008 at 11:06 AM. Reason: changed Mr. Burton to Dr. Burton in one instance!

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    Tracy,

    Because of the contentious nature of this issue, the SC did the right thing to suspend their "comments only" policy during meetings and allow for questions.
    They were (and still are) in the hot seat. They had some explaining to do.

    There were two main issues that people were concerned about - why close any school at this time, and why Loker.

    Your explanation for why they didn't allow Brad to answer the question is consistent with the one Barb gave at the meeting, as you can see on the video.

    However, it is NOT AT ALL consistent with the suspension of their "comments only" rule at a time when they were under such scrutiny. If they were really trying to address the issues and accommodate the general public's need to understand the logic behind what appeared to so many to be a most illogical decision, they would have allowed Brad to answer.

    To step in and "plead the 5th" at a time like that, was both inconsiderate and outrageous. Furthermore, it did a lot more damage to their image and their credibility than just allowing Brad to answer the question.

    I would consider to be very far removed from true transparency.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

  12. #12
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    Default Is the running of the WaylandSchoolCommittee.org website legal and appropriate

    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    John, I have a hard time imagining the "scrutiny level" of emails varying depending on people's departure dates.

    But I think we'll need to hear from Jeff B to know what he had in his mind.

    I was a bit surprised that Jeff made the mistake of not recognizing that Charlie Schlegel was not "the one administrator" to be leaving at the end of the school year, since another principal, the principal of Loker, also left at the end of the year.
    First, John had it right about what I meant. I think Charlie Schlegel may have been given more leeway to "make a mistake" because he was leaving anyway.

    And you're right, I have should included Sue Abrams. She was allowed to disseminate lots of false/wrong information to the Loker community throughout the process, only to be explained in SC meetings as instances where "the administration was unaware of what was going on." Nothing illegal from her, though.

    Maybe these folks were allowed to fly under the bus by the administration. Maybe the issue is a chronic inability of Dr. Burton to supervise the communications going out from adminstrators to parents. Either way, the process of reviewing (or as it stand now -not reviewing) communications from administrators to parents needs to be changed so that wrong information/illegal comunications/etc. don't happen anymore.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    By placing “overnight” in quotation marks, Mr. Baron acknowledges the exaggeration of his comment. The elementary school discussion has been underway for several years, and took place in earnest over a period of several months at the beginning of this year. To be sure, the school elementary school reconfiguration took place more quickly and less smoothly than would have been ideal. That said, the opposite decision (staying with the three school configuration for one more year) would have been made equally quickly, and quite possibly with more negative ramifications in the form of a failed override.
    Overnight or for two months, the decision time frame was way too short. Mr. Dieffenbach even says this above. We can argue from here to Timbuktu on this subject, and I don't think either of opinions will be swayed. 'Nuff said.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    To my knowledge, no School Committee or Administration member gave any such guarantee. The most recent report from the Administration shows no section above guideline. Should one or several sections end up being in excess of the guideline, however, would not put the schools in unprecedented territory—this situation has occurred from time to time in recent years. While it is the Committee’s intent not to exceed the guideline, it reserves the right to do so for reasons including funding and/or space.
    See Alexia Obar's post. This subject was brought up numerous times and the consensus from all SC members was that the class size policy was to be upheld. Let's not create revisionist history by saying that it's not that big of a deal if we go over.

    By the way, there was a class in grade 2 at 26 kids. I understand this has now been reduced to 25 (I learned this after my letter was published, at the time of writing, that class list had 26 kids on it).

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Mr. Baron displays his lack of familiarity with Committee procedure, which has long been to hear but not necessarily respond immediately to public comment. Rather, during the several months of conversation surrounding the override and school reconfiguration discussion, the Committee eased its procedure in acknowledgment of the difficult decision that it faced.
    I understand what the SC used to do before the Loker affair. Given the high degree of scrutiny the committee now faces as a result, it is my opinion that the revised procedure of Q&A (not just Q) is still necessary. I wrote this is a private communication to another SC member, but I'll say it here too. If the SC feels it needs to be 'Q' only to make meetings more efficient, I would say that at least one meeting per month should have a public forum time set aside such that the Q&A opportunity is afforded in a public setting instead of via letter or private communication. I believe the SC owes this type of transparency to the community given its responsibilities for the largest budget item in town.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Technically, Mr. Baron does not come out and explicitly say that the Committee directed the Middle School Principal to send an email message to parents of Middle School students using public funds, but his implication is clear. Rather than casually making such a groundless and irresponsible accusation, Mr. Baron would have been wise to simply ask. For the record, had he done so, he would have learned that neither the Committee nor the Superintendent "allowed," directed, desired, or had any advance knowledge of the email message in question.
    Addressed in a different post below. Please see my response there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    By virtue of its six-year old privately funded web site for the purpose of advocating for overrides and debt exemptions, the School Committee has demonstrated its respect for the law in this area.
    Not necessarily so. This privately funded web site is linked to from the publicly-funded Wayland Public Schools website (see http://www.wayland.k12.ma.us/distric...ttee/index.htm). Is this really a true separation of church and state when, to the average person, it looks like the publicly funded website is directing you to an "official" website for the School Committee. I'd say Mr. Dieffenbach's assertion above is not so concrete.
    Last edited by Kim Reichelt; 06-29-2008 at 01:09 PM. Reason: to fix quote formatting

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    Default Discussion regarding the Charlie Schlegel Email

    Posts up through July 15 in this thread were originally posted under

    Response to Jeff Baron's 6/26/ Letter to the Editor

    but reorganized by the Administrator to maintain discussion flow.

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