Thursday, June 2, 2011

State names names in Charter School neglect

Despite PVCIC Executive Director Rich Alcorn's assertion to the media that a state investigation "has made no finding" against the school "or any member of the staff," I received a copy of the letter sent from DCF (dated June 1st) clarifying the findings, and naming Alcorn's wife Kathy Wang, school principal, as one of two responsible parties:

"After a review of a recent investigation of the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School conducted by the Department of Children and Families, it was learned that the support decision for the neglect of xxxxx cited the school itself. The Department's regulations do not allow for an investigation to support an entity. Attached is the correct letter that you should have received."

The Correct Letter from DCF (click link to read)

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's always the cover up that does them in. Say hello to the soon to be ex-heads of the school.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you tackling this issue with some deep dish reporting. I know it's hard when you had your own high hopes for the school and admire a lot that they have accomplished. The hallmark of a great journalist is that they stay true to getting out the truth even if they have a personal connection to the story. Keep up the good work.

LarryK4 said...

Thanks. I actually did hesitate before hitting the publish button; but someone I trust reminded me of the important tenants of journalism: "Give voice to the voiceless--and hold the powerful accountable."

Anonymous said...

I smell a rat in this whole controversy, in the form of LMS: Litigious Mom Syndrome. When you read the Gazette article, you have to ask, "Where's the beef? Where's the substance of the allegations?"

When this is all over, Kathleen Wang is going to be saying: "Where do I go to get my reputation back?"

Some of us are seeing this in context. The context is all of the selfless public service Ms. Wang has done over the years in the Town of Amherst. This is why we have an adversary system of justice, because, at the beginning, an accusation is just that, an accusation.

Some skepticism is in order here.

Anonymous said...

Do we really think that this would be a newspaper story if it were happening somewhere in the Amherst public schools? C'mon.

What we've seen over the past few years is a public school system with administrators that are extraordinarily skilled at suppressing inquiry, dissent, and challenge.

So the difference with the charter school may all boil down to a difference in political scale: an educational institution in Hadley that is not old enough, not big enough, not politically experienced enough, without the sufficiently large footprint in the community, to practice the game of aggressive defensiveness that the Amherst schools have carried on for years (See how Gus Sayer plays the game in South Hadley: where do we think he learned that?) One can't blame parents at this relatively new school for attempting to correct the public relations imbalance of power in the press coverage.

LarryK4 said...

The "mom" did not file the 51-A report regarding possibly wrongdoing to a child, a physician did as they are "mandated reporters" for such things.

The "mom" did not immediately drive to the Dr. office to start laying the groundwork for a lawsuit; she had a longstanding appointment for the child and the Dr. noticed something was amiss.

When the mother explained why the child was upset, the Dr. filed the 51-A report and a state investigation took place.

The investigator deemed the actions of the teacher and principal "negligent".

And when confronted with that reality, the Executive Director defended the action that the state investigator deemed "negligent."

First rule of PR crisis management is admit when you made a mistake, apologize, rectify, and then move forward.

LarryK4 said...

Yes Anon 8:59 AM, if this had happened in the Amherst school system I would have been all over it.

And yes, unfortunately 10 years ago when Gus Sayer screwed up by not filing a 51-A for inappropriate contact between a male principal and a young male student I did not have the power of the blog to illuminate the incident.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like some charter school parents are freaking out about the dark cloud the principal of that school has created.

Listen, if anyone in the amherst schools had locked a fifth grader in a room alone all day it would be a sh*t storm of epic proportions.

Face it, charter school parents, this principal screwed up badly. This is not China where tiger mom is allowed to abuse her children as much as she deems necessary. Our country crawled out of the dark ages of parenting a while ago.

Anonymous said...

I am sure that if DCF charged the Amherst public schools with neglect it would be in the paper. There is no excuse for treating a child in any school, be it public, private or charter, in such a way that it could be termed neglect. If this incident had not been made so very public I think there is a good chance that a similar inciden could happen again at the Chinese charter school. Instead of taking a position of denial the administrators of the charter school should take this as a learning moment, admit their mistake, change their procedures and move forward. If that were to happen this would be off the front page in an instant. This became a front page story because of the administrators' ceaseless denial of wrong-doing.

Anonymous said...

No one knows how the Amherst public schools circled the wagons against law enforcement in the instance involving the principal that LarryK cites above. "You're sure of this....you're sure of that".....in the end, you're not sure of anything.

Larry, if this had happened in the Amherst schools, you would have known nothing about it.

Anonymous said...

I have no personal experience with the Chinese Charter School. I do know a number of families that choose to send their children to the school. Those that have children with more "conventional" learning styles, not requiring an IEP, seem to be very pleased with the education that their children are receiving. However, the couple of families that I know that have children that with learning styles that require individualized accommodations have either pulled their children out or have spoken about considering it. Maybe the powers that be at the school need to focus on some professional development in the areas of Mass. Special Ed. Law and practices if they are to continue to be a public entity.

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm wrong: many parents with kids with IEPs are quite unhappy with the Amherst schools. The Chinese charter school is not alone on that. Let's keep this all in perspective.

Look at South Hadley and Amherst public schools in the past few years. The willingness to do self-criticism and self-examination is not a strong point anywhere, not just at the charter school.

Anonymous said...

And Larry censors our warning about a (now "retired") highly controversial S Hadley school committee member (at the very HEART of the Phoebe Prince tragedy) who works in our district.

One who is now being charged with inappropriate closed door dealings meant to shut out the S Hadley public... for the sake of keeping her old buddy Gus Sayer in power.

Larry, say this with me:

I am a complete hypocrite.

As a matter of fact, say it again... so it sinks in.

LarryK4 said...

I believe you tried to post that on Memorial Day attached to a post commemorating those who died defending our freedom.

I'm treating this website more like a newspaper (and since I own it the First Amendment does NOT apply); and will not publish diatribes in poor taste or ones that interrupt the look and feel of a post and/or the conversation it generates.

Ed said...

Facts matter folks -- and no matter how negligent the South Hadley School Dept may have been in the Phoebee Prince case, no matter how negligent the ARSD equally is in other SPED cases, the simple fact is that two wrongs do not make a right -- this principal did something that she should have known not to do!!!

The difference here is that she signed the IEP. She should have read it - and realized that it is a contract.

And her husband should realize that being her immediate supervisor has at least the appearance of a conflict of interest....