Friday, June 10, 2011

Charter school suspends staff

Congressman Richie Neal flanked by PVCIC Executive Director Rich Alcorn and his wife Principal Kathy Wang.
Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School Principal Kathy Wang and 3rd grade teacher Regan Hall were suspended without pay by the school as of Monday June 6.

Since Kathy Wang was under suspension, her husband PVCIC Executive Director (the Charter School equivalent of a School Superintendent) Rich Alcorn sat in for her at this morning's previously scheduled 'Principal's Chat' to update the 40-50 parents who attended.

The Department of Children and Families recently found that disciplining a 9-year-old student by placing him in solitary confinement for an entire school day constituted"neglect," and named Wang and Hall individually as a responsible "perpetrator".

According to the PVCIC handbook such a finding is automatic grounds for suspension, a bylaw the school's attorney deemed "archaic". The Board of Trustees--the Charter School equivalent of a School Committee except all are appointed rather than elected--will meet in a private executive session on Monday June 13 to discuss their fate.

The possible outcomes range from termination to immediate reinstatement with back pay.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

There has got to be more to this story than we know. Ms. Wang is a most caring person.

LarryK4 said...

I agree on both points.

As I've said before, there will always be more to a "story" than you will read about in print or online.

Kathy is indeed a caring person. So is Ms. Hall. Even good people make mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Wang is not only caring, but very intelligent. What's puzzling is why the parent wasn't contacted (or able to be contacted) during the day the child was internally suspended? And if there were ongoing problems with this child, wouldn't it have been wise to have a failsafe plan to make contact with the parent? That might have led to a better outcome for everybody.

Anonymous said...

Whenever lawyers are involved, there is ALWAYS more to a story than you will read about in print or online.

Ed said...

I still keep coming back to the IEP -- assuming there was one. This is why you need to have administrators who have a working knowledge of school law -- something that Maria G appears not to have.

Anonymous said...

I am sure that Ms. Wang and Ms. Hall are both caring people. I think, though, that they do not have the training they need to know what to do in these situations. What is appropriate discipline and what crosses a line. I have thought from the first moment I read about this story that the discipline meted out crossed the line.

Another question I've had since first reading about this incident is what happened to the child who was doing the bullying that began this whole sad episode. Was that child disciplined? I know we will never know the answer to that question - it is my hope that the bullying child was spoken to and suffered some consequence for their action.

Anonymous said...

Ed: Let's try to keep on topic. What does Maria Geryk have to do with any of this?

Anonymous said...

"Ed: Let's try to keep on topic. What does Maria Geryk have to do with any of this?"


Yeah Ed, please stop troubling the insiders with facts. What the hell is wrong with you?

Anonymous said...

We are talking about the charter school here. Maria Geryk has nothing to do with the charter school. Secondly, what fact did Ed throw out there? Sounded alot like opinion to me.

Anonymous said...

I believe the original news story mentioned that the child had an IEP, allowing him "to move around" or some such thing.

Unfortunately, public schools are not allowed to 'play to their strengths.' This school would probably never have had a problem if they could have refused admission to pupils with special needs. But that is not the public school way.

Charter schools, I believe, were a way for parents and pupils to self-select a school with their own interests. (Remember "Fame"?) So then you have students who want to learn, probably already have good parental support, and they already are achieving at some level (even if it's only a desire to succeed).

If you add special needs students, I believe you should add specially trained teachers and aides.

Anonymous said...

Ed,

I think you need an IEP. Please try to stay within the the general vicinity of the topic.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Geryk does have a working knowledge of how to use bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo to lull an audience to sleep.

I challenge you to listen to her presentation to Town Meeting this spring and then translate it into plain english.

How can we teach children how to write and speak clearly when we have a superintendent who can't do it (or chooses not to)?

Anonymous said...

"Rick Hood, chairman of the Regional School Committee, praised the seniors for being able to think for themselves instead of adopting other people's opinions.

"I encourage you to think critically, analyze information, raise important issues and challenge the status quo," he said."



LOL


Tool.

Anonymous said...

Despite all the Geryk haters on this blog you may want to note that the world nor Amherst has not actually imploded under her watch. It's all quiet in the Amherst schools. She's doing a fine job.

Anonymous said...

"It's all quiet in the Amherst schools. She's doing a fine job."



Not for long.

Ed said...

Not for long.

Agreed. And there is always more that I know than I can discuss...

Anonymous said...

Is Rick Hood kidding???? Challenge the status quo. Last person who did that got bullied out of her position on the school committee. WTF????

Anonymous said...

Is Rick Hood kidding???? Challenge the status quo. Last person who did that got bullied out of her position on the school committee. WTF????

"Challenge the status quo" is code for being an Anti-American schmuck who hates all that is good about this country. It means supporting the Amherst Establishment Counterculture and perhaps burning an American flag while you are at it....

Anonymous said...

I know that it's easy to dismiss people as "Geryk haters".

But put your views to the test: just listen to her. And then compare what she says to the spoken English of other bureaucrats in Amherst, such as John Musante and Gilford Mooring. She talks and talks and talks, but she never strays from a particular form of jargon. It's a jargon that conveys the aura of competence, but provides no actual information, either aggregated or anecdotal.

She is the Chauncey Gardener (from Jerzy Kozinski's novel "Being There") of bureaucrat-speak in Amherst. She talks and talks and we all nod our heads in agreement: "she's doing a fine job". But damned if we know in any real-world way (as in what's going on in the classroom)what she's talking about.

Perhaps we like it that way, but let's not kid ourselves.

Anonymous said...

To June 12, 2011 12:09 PM

Thanks for explaining that. At least now I know what he's talking about.

Anonymous said...

"Challenge the status quo" is code for being an Anti-American schmuck who hates all that is good about this country. It means supporting the Amherst Establishment Counterculture and perhaps burning an American flag while you are at it...."


It's actually much worse than that. It's not even code. He's mocking every parent who opposes this town's insider mafia. Rick Hood knows EXACTLY what he's saying and exactly who he's serving.

We'll never forget what you did Hood.

You F'd over a lot of people.

Anonymous said...

We'll never forget what you did Hood

F*** that, we will never forgive, either....

Anonymous said...

Back to the topic at hand in this post:

"What happened to the bullying kid?"

My theory: he got a day of solitary supervision.

Yes, there is a report that the reason the child with the IEP was confined is that he "pushed a child as he was trying to get away from another student who was bullying him.

What I think happened is, there actually was only one incident in the boys' room, it was perpetrated by the boy who was later confined, and so in typically contortionist Pioneer Valley perversity, the rush is on to assign victimhood to the perpetrator.

Of course, it's just my theory, and I could be wrong.

Anonymous said...

What I think happened is, there actually was only one incident in the boys' room, it was perpetrated by the boy who was later confined, and so in typically contortionist Pioneer Valley perversity, the rush is on to assign victimhood to the perpetrator.

Before the Phoebee Prince case, I would have agreed with you -- not now. What often happens, particularly in some SPED cases, (ie certain disabilities) is that the child both bullies and is bullied, that the child seeks to abate the latter via the former.

(The child lacks social skills and thus is bullied, and then bullies others in a desperate attempt to both accomodate for lack of social skills and inability to stop the bullying.)

There is a lot I am not going to put into writing here, but were the situation as simple as suggested, I really doubt that DSS/DCF/D-whatever-Deval-names-it-next-week would have acted as assertively as they did. I once referred to "51-A's" as an "Orwellian Memory Chute" -- I never saw them do much, even in some reasonably egregious cases of neglect.

But even if it were, there are still situations where there are things medically unwise to do, situations where your IEP is your guideline. For example, if a child is allergic to eggs, you don't make him eat eggs as punishment (no matter how much deserved) unless you want to learn how to spell anaphalatic shock....

I am totally 'blue skying' here, but there is a certain disability that I am thinking of that is consistent with all the facts so far presented -- and were that the disability -- assuming the child actually is SPED and actually has an IEP (all we have is a reporter citing the mother's claim, I am assuming the principal had a copy of the child's paperwork) -- with all of these disclaimers and the strongly worded statement that I am just speaking educational theory here -- if the child had/has the disability that I am thinking of, what the principal did would be the equivalent of building a bonfire in a gasoline tank farm...

We could have had another suicide. My gut feeling is that the spoken but unwritten visceral DCF reaction is along the lines of "do you folks realize what could have happened when you pulled this stunt?!?!"

And remember there was a suicide at a charter school a while back, down Springfield way...

Anonymous said...

One other thing -- there often is a simple version of events that makes one think one thing, and then think the exact opposite when one or two additional facts are known.

For example, a man kicks down the front door of another man's house and starts beating the daylights out of him -- clearly an egregious unprovoked attack. But if you know that the second man had just statutorily raped the first man's 12 year old daughter, does it paint a somewhat different perspective to the situation?

I am not justifying this sort of thing, I have seen what vigilantism inexorably leads to, but we can understand how a guy might respond when his wife tells him why his "little girl" is in her room, crying...

Back to the charter school -- let's say the child just walked into the bathroom and started pounding on another child. A competent educational administrator would -- after having secured the situation -- first ask why the child did it. Again, it doesn't justify it, but why the child did something does dictate what your response should/must be.

When you have a child with social skills issues and communication issues who is being bullied by children with superior verbal communication abilities (see movie Mean Girls), it is not uncommon for the child to lash out physically. This is really common amongst girls (and fights amongst girls at high school dances are almost as common now as the ones amongst the boys).

And the other thing that is common here in the valley is to blame the unpolished "redneck" when the true blame lies with the smooth-talking schmuck with all the right political connections.

So as much as I truly have seen the traditional happy valley perp-as-victim approach (Jason Vassell comes to mind), I would be cautious here with that. DCF found neglect and put it on letterhead -- that says something both above and below the waterline...

Anonymous said...

Ms Wang was just reinstated by her husband (school executive director) and the Board of Directors that she and her husband hand-picked. Wow this is such a surprising turn of events - who would have thunk it!!! Trust this school watchers - as long as this in-bred den of thieves continue their incestuous leadership, I guarantee that we will see more headlines of PVCICS incompetence in the days ahead.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, my journalism adviser said I could have written today's Gazette story a week ago.

At least the Gazette now points out that the Executive Director and Principal are married.

Notice Mr. Alcorn did not respond to any follow up questions.

I would also have questioned his use of the plural, "incidents of bullying behavior."

Anonymous said...

Ms Wang was just reinstated by her husband (school executive director)

Why doesn't the conflict of interest law apply to charter schools?

Anonymous said...

Thank god we don't have a network of friends, family members and insiders scratching each others' backs in our schools and town government. It's a real meritocracy here.

Anonymous said...

Prediction: In an environment of denial and righteous indignation there will be more cover-ups and defiance by the school's leadership who absolutely do not have the capacity to reflect on their behaviors - but to only defend, defend, and defend some more. Stay tuned folks - there will be more front page stories about the mismanagement of the school, the neglect of students and teachers, as well as the intransigent egos of its founders. The Board should also be ashamed of its behavior, but since it has been selected by the founders, what should we expect?