Thursday, June 2, 2011

Let the Spin begin


Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School officials circled the tanks to form a defensive perimeter of denial, while parents and friends of students enrolled in the 4-year-old language immersion school have launched a counteroffensive against the negative press resulting from a seven-hour "timeout" forced on a third grade boy accused of pushing another boy in a bathroom in an effort to make a hasty retreat from another boy's physical assault. The punishment was meted out the morning after the incident without parental notification.

An unbiased and presumably professional agency--the Department of Children and Families--found support for the allegation of neglect in response to the child's physician who, acting as a "mandated reporter," filed a 51A report with the state. The case is now in the hands of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

This unfortunate incident comes at a precarious time for the rapidly expanding school. Back in 2009 PVCICS filed amendments to expand their original K-8th grade capacity from 300 to 420. Considering those extra 120 students bring with them the average overhead education cost of the sending district, that amounts to around $1.5 million per year in tuition revenues.

And the amendment to e-x-p-a-n-d by adding grades 9-12 will easily amount to another $1.5 million. The school voluntarily withdrew those amendments but did refile in 2010 the one for adding 120 students K-8. Dr. Mitchell Chester, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, rejected that request. PVCICS appealed the decision to the full Board, and lost.

In order to meet this ambitious student expansion proposal the school renovated space last summer for $1.2 million to add four classrooms and now has on the drawing board a major construction project, estimated to be no more than $8.664 million, for a three-story addition on the back of the former health club which will double the size of the building, adding 14 classrooms, a library, resource rooms and office space.

In 2008 PVCICS was awarded a $1.5 million FLAP grant to "plan implementation through grade 12; and 2) create a 6-9, partial immersion program for late-entry 6th graders that will eventually expand through grade 12." If the school cannot expand to grade 12, however, it could jeopardize that $1.5 million.

No wonder parents are concerned.

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Sent: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 11:53 am
Subject: Deadline tonight! PVCICS support letter

Hi, PVCICS Families ~

So far, 98 parents and guardians have signed the letter that will be submitted to the editors of both the Daily Hampshire Gazette and The Republican. If you would like to add your signature please click on the following link and follow the instructions: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PVCICS_Sign_Support_Letter.

The deadline for adding your signature is TONIGHT (Wednesday, June 1) at 11:59 p.m.

Here's the text of the letter:

For the past four years, the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School has provided our children with an innovative educational opportunity without parallel in Western New England. At PVCICS, the region's children can receive the foundations of a 21st century education that prepare them to live and work in a world that has grown far beyond the one we knew at their age.

Although the school's test scores show the success of the educational component, we also see the excellent social and emotional results in our children every day—especially in the way they interact with each other and with the staff of PVCICS. We see them becoming global citizens through the school's unique blend of academics and culture.

As parents, we hope that we make good choices for our children. Our choice of PVCICS has in fact been a great one, full of rewards for our children and our families. Our children are not only happy, but are excelling in ways we did not imagine. The policies and decisions of PVCICS have brought success—on MCAS tests, in the classroom, in our communities, and in our homes.

At a time when education reform is the rallying call in national and local politics, we are proud to be part of a community of learning at PVCICS that is leading by example.

Best regards,

xxxxx

P.S. It was not possible to remove from the distribution list the names of those who already have signed. If you are receiving this message but already signed, please disregard it.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting how in the letter, the school (parents) does mention anything about the allegations against it, the findings of the MA Dept of Children and Families, criticisms/concerns that have been raised by the family in the complaint and others who have also left the school due to their own concerns, or what corrective actions the school will be taking. I guess to do so would be to suggest some of the above have some merit. Does the school really consider itself an innocent victim in all this? .. and the comments by parents earlier that this is all somehow orchestrated by the anti-charter school crowd seem completely off the mark.

Anonymous said...

in the email letter to the school's families, it was indicated that 98 parents and guardians had already signed the letter.

Question: What is the current enrollment at the school (if you know.. ) and how many different families do the above 98 parents and guardians represent? (it could be well less than 98).

LarryK4 said...

I believe they were projected to have 210 students in the fall of 2010.

Anonymous said...

my 2:59 Anon post should have read:
Interesting how in the letter, the school (parents) does NOT mention anything about the allegations against it, the findings of the MA Dept of Children and Families, criticisms/concerns that have been raised by the family in the complaint and others who have also left the school due to their own concerns, or what corrective actions the school will be taking. I guess to do so would be to suggest some of the above have some merit. Does the school really consider itself an innocent victim in all this? .. and the comments by parents earlier that this is all somehow orchestrated by the anti-charter school crowd seem completely off the mark.

Anonymous said...

No matter what the circumstances, if it was MY child kept semi-isolated in a room for seven hours as "punishment" and I was not notified that this was going to happen, I'd have my lawyers on the phone faster than a blink of the eye. Surely there could have been a better way to handle the situation. No school is going to take it upon themselves, without my knowledge or permission, to inflict "punishment" upon my kids. No how, no way. This was miserably handled.