Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Board of Trustees comes clean
So the parent revolt over at the Pioneer Valley Immersion Chinese Charter school seems to have made a difference as we learned at 7:00 AM this morning that the Board of Trustees voted on 6/14 just after the public 'Parent Speak Out' to reopen the search for an 'Executive Director' to oversee the school like a Public School Superintendent.
Problem in this particular case is the person originally appointed, Richard Alcorn, happens to be married to the Principal, Kathy Wang. And Mr. Alcorn is the current (volunteer) Board of Trustee Chair and has been since the founding of the school. The Board of Trustees--that he Chairs--voted him into the highly-paid position, although I assume he abstained.
Still, a clear case of Conflict of Interest. And according to PVIC bylaws: "Members of the Board of Trustees shall serve the Pioneer Valley Immersion Charter School with the highest degree of undivided duty, loyalty and care and shall undertake no enterprise to profit personally from their position with the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School."
What upset some of the parents was the shadowy, inside deal nature of the process. Yes, Mr. Alcorn founded the school and without his blood, sweat and tremendous time commitment the school would never have been granted a Charter (in fact the first year the state turned it down).
But the school is now in a growth spurt and can no longer be considered a small Mom-and-Pop startup. Oftentimes in entrepreneurial ventures the founders who have the vision and determination to get a business started are not necessarily the ones to guide it to the next stage.
Besides, neither of the two founders have a background in the education industry. Having one or the other in top management is fine for sure, but certainly not both.
Thus the parent listserve came alive last month when rumors spread that Mr. Alcorn was appointed to the top position. Comments flew back and forth like ping pong balls at a Chinese tournament.
I invited the media to the 6/14 Speak Out, although only the Springfield Republican covered it. After all, the Charter school is a public school subject to the Open Meeting Law just like any other school in the district.
This actually prompted a minor backlash on the listserve, with some other parents (happy with the status quo) questioning if anyone should be airing "dirty laundry" in public and pointing the finger at one (of the many) vocal parents--but the only one who happened to get quoted extensively in the Springfield Republican article.
But now this late course correction by the Executive Board of Trustees underscores that there's nothing wrong with dirty laundry. It is, after all, natural: all you do is throw in a load of wash.
The Springfield Republican Reported