Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Take this job and...

So a few people have now wondered (in that biting sort of way my mom used to observe I could do karate all day in the basement, but couldn’t take out the garbage) if Donna’s Letter of Resignation is a public document? Well yeah...as a matter of fact, it is!

I neglected to mention that our nine Charter School Trustees (which I never was) are all volunteers… as in uncompensated. Same deal for the 15 original Founders (which I was).

And yes, I WAS Director of Marketing and Public Relations (I made up that title; they just said at the time, “Larry you handle the media”) back when we were just an enthusiastic group of concerned parents and educators collectively known as “Founders”.

But that extended firefight with certain whiney public school officials made a few folks nervous (not me of course, since I knew we were going to win.) Our entire existence as a Charter School is devoted to the language and culture of China, an overly formal nation where folks tend not to question their government (at least publicly).

And some Founders viewed local Public School officials as part of the government.

So reverting back to my old job for a moment: Yes, the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School will most certainly be open this September in the beautiful Village Square of South Amherst.

And although my wife is no longer a Trustee she, like me, can now be a “parent advocate”. Our involvement is far from over.

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To: Board of Trustees
Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School

From: Donna Kelley

July 16, 2007


Dear Board Members:

I have decided to resign from the Board of Trustees of the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School. I have made this decision after my husband, Larry, violated the board’s policy relative to media contact last week. Larry acted out of a concern I share about lack of communication with parents and the negative reputation Kathy and Rich have garnered with the media. I was not aware of his actions beforehand, however, and I did not approve of what he did. Because Larry’s relationship with the media is at the opposite extreme to the high level of cautiousness endorsed by the board, I decided that it would be best for me not to be involved at a board level of the school.

I do, however, hope the school will adopt more of a middle ground in their public relations approach and develop a positive relationship with the media. We may all have negative opinions about the media, but having grown up with a father that served in a higher-level school administrator role in a regional school system, and having recently talked with him about this issue, I strongly believe that PVCI should recognize the importance of public relations.

I know there are a number of priorities that need to be tackled right now, but I must also strongly emphasize that regular communication with the parents should not be put on the back burner right now. It is an issue the board should be concerned about because it will impact school enrollment and broader, even long-term, attitudes about the school. It clearly is not optimal for parents to feel out-of-the-loop or that they're getting things second hand, nor to draw their own conclusions. We should connect with these parents regularly, and on an emotional level. We need to make them feel more comfortable about the risk they’re taking with us, and build and maintain their excitement about the choice they’re making for their child.

Please realize that these concerns are being aired in the spirit of helping the school. They are only a few issues that can be resolved fairly easily. I also realize that we aren’t going to get everything right in the beginning. I believe the range of challenges that have been tackled so far by everyone involved is tremendous and reflects the commitment and belief in the values of Chinese language and culture learning, in addition to excellent scholarship. Kathy and Rich are doing a tremendous job.

This resignation does not reflect a lack of commitment on my part to the school. I intend to be an active parent and serve in any capacity that can be helpful to PVCI. In addition, my resignation presents an opportunity for the board to add new members that can bring expertise in areas relevant to the stage of the school and the particular path it has taken since the board first came together. As the consultant stated during our board training, we have strengths in a number of areas relevant to the school, but we should identify areas where we have fewer strengths, and seek to fill those with board members that can bring new perspectives to the school’s governance.

I thank you all, and especially Rich and Kathy, for the great experience this has been so far. I intend to be in contact with Kathy and I will look forward to seeing many of you as the PVCI vision becomes a reality.

Sincerely,


Donna J. Kelley


CC: Kathy Wang
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[mailto:info@easthamptonwoodworks.com]
Sent: Tue 7/17/2007 10:07 AM
To: Kelley, Donna
Subject: RE: Letter of resignation

Donna,

PVCICS’s bylaws state:

“A Trustee may resign at any time by filing a written resignation with the Chair of the Board.”

It would help of you could provide a signed copy of your letter for our files. I don’t know if an email meets the bylaws requirement. As the Chair of the Board is included in your of addressees, I don’t think you need to change the text, but it would be great if you could address a copy directly to the Chair of the Board to ensure all requirements are met. The school’s mailing address is:
188 Pleasant St Easthampton, MA 01027

Sincerely,

Richard Alcorn

Chair, Board of Trustees
PVCICS