PVCICS: Charter renewed with conditions
Despite cheerleader like support from 40 to 50 parents, children and staff in the audience--about half of them hoisting supportive signs--the state Board of Education and Secondary Education unanimously voted to support the recommendation of Commissioner Mitchell Chester to renew the five year charter for Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School, but rejected amendments to allow expansion to high school or increased enrollment in the elementary grades by 120 students.
Signs of support (in English)
Although a last minute amendment by Commissioner Chester grandfathered the seven current eight graders, so they may attend ninth grade but the school cannot solicit any additional students. And since each additional student represents an average of $13,000 in revenue, a costly sanction indeed.
The lone voice and three minute testimony of the parent of a former student had the undivided attention of the board. The mother of the now 10 year old boy who was banished to a tiny room for seven hours--without parental notification--the day after an alleged shoving match took place in the boys room.
A Department of Children and Families investigation branded two school employees--one of them Principal Kathy Wang--guilty of neglect, and a follow up investigation by the Department of Education found four additional areas of concern: discipline, special education, governance and leadership.
Jeff Wulfson, Deputy Commissioner BESE
The mother asked the Board of Education and Secondary Education members four questions:
Why are the two employees who have been found guilty of neglect still working around children?
What pupose does a school's family handbook serve if the board of trustees can unilaterally overturn portions of it as they see fit?
How can public tax money now be used to pay for the legal appeal of those found guilty of neglect?
Even if the State Ethics board found it legal for a husband and wife to hold the positions of Executive Director and Principal in a charter school, how can it be acceptable?
In closing, she countered the BESEs simple solution of telling the Chinese Charter board of trustees to shape up and provide more governance. "To have the board of trustees try to correct themselves and be responsible for overseeing school administrators seems like a leap of faith, and high risk."
Paul Reville, Secretary of Ed. Mitchell Chester, BESE Commissioner
So this morning, once again, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education listened to Commissioner Chester...and if the leaders of the Chinese Charter School were also listening today, they will take seriously Commissioner Chester's demand to drastically improve governance and leadership by the September 30 deadline.
Maura Banta, Board of Ed Chair sends "clear message"
David Roach, BESE member
Not that nearby Hatfield will mind if they do not. Hatfield Comment Pvcics 10 2011 Springfield Republican reports (from afar)