This post will be updated.
After having completed two open records requests and interviewing more than two dozen Maupin parents and teachers, I am starting to have a pretty good grasp on the situation, yet there is new information coming to light every day. Damning information. And I really hope that instead of rubber stamping the district’s decisions that led to the recommendation to discontinue Maupin’s Catalpa School of Innovation, they take the time to fully understand the real impact that this program is beginning to have on the kids and what supports must be provided to make it successful.
I would also like to point out that while most board members have been accessible and responsive to our concerns, parents are not being given the same opportunities to present their counter argument Tuesday night, despite repeated requests to do so. They will not be given equivalent time to speak in public in an open format, but instead will be forced to speed read through their comments in three minutes each. They may even be limited to the number of speakers that can speak on the topic. There will be no time for Q&A afterwards, and in fact, if there are any questions from the board, they will likely be posed to the administrators to spin the way the want. Lastly, it’s worth noting that any of the efforts to present the “pro” Catalpa side of the argument had to be done by unpaid persons, on their own time, without full knowledge of the data that exists, requesting open records according to state regulations (3-days in advance), siphoning through 26 MB of open records responses, including much mundane, irrelevant info, and contacting board members one at a time to make their cases, in some cases receiving no response at all. Meanwhile, the “anti” Catalpa folks are district employees on full salary (many making well into six figures), with secretaries, assistants, technology teams, etc. with access to any and all data and resources they wish to select from until they find what they need to support their argument. AND they are afforded the luxury of posting their fancy proposals to the district website, for the public and all board members to peruse over the weekend. AND they will be given the floor, a computer from which to project their powerpoint slides, and a screen and as much time as they want to make their case. Followed by open dialogue with board members.
So, what do we know?
At least on 5 occasions, the district made unilateral decisions that should have been run past SBDM, JCPS Board of Education and/or KDE, but weren’t:
- The decision to terminate the SBDM and reinstate a new one in 2015, despite it not technically being a new school.
- The decision to not grow the school to K-8 the second year. (Initial promises were one new grade per year, so they should be K-6 right now.)
- The decision to go from grades K-5 to only having grades K-2 teaching Waldorf.
- The decision not to use the waiver granted by the state. (SBDM voted on this in November of 2016, yet Dr. Hargens had already notified KDE in September.)
- The decision to freeze the add-on budget that would have allowed for additional staff to support the program.
The district appears to also have engaged in deceptive practices on multiple occasions:
- Selecting Maupin as a location for the SOI after two years of failing scores, possibly as an opportunity to “reset” the scores and restart the clock. This plan backfired when the student population did not change enough to warrant a reset, but the scores followed them into the new school so that in their first year of Waldorf (third year of failing scores), they were subjected to a state audit.
- Not sending any of the promised communications home to existing Maupin parents in order to set their expectations for the years ahead.
- Essentially discontinuing the program through the actions noted above, so that families and teachers left, causing the school’s failure to become a self-fulfilling prophesy.
- Not ensuring teacher training. It takes 4 years of summers for teachers to become certified. This was in the original plan and proposal that the board approved. Teacher training was supposed to be mandatory those 4 years, but we were later told that that MOA “sunsetted” at the end of year one, so training became optional. Still, most teachers attended. Not so with the administration. In addition, the principal is not Waldorf trained and therefore, does not fully understand how to lead in this environment. There has also been no ongoing training throughout the year as promised. That’s part of the funding that was frozen this year.
- Not honoring board approvals. The district is asking the board to rubber stamp actions that the district has already taken, giving up on this school after just two years (sooner actually), when the initial proposal that was approved was for four years.
- Not defending the school and the scores to state auditors. When asked if this happened, the current assistant superintendent simply responded, “I don’t know, that was before my time.”
- Telling parents that the audit results could not be appealed, because the superintendent did not feel one was warranted.
- Telling teachers to go ahead and apply for transfers “just to be safe” since they were not sure if the program would continue.
- Sending home a misleading flyer telling parents the board had already voted to discontinue the program when in fact they hadn’t.
- Sending the flyer home only to magnet parents, so that resides parents remain oblivious to the impending changes.
Dirty Dozen: What they’re not telling you:
- Scores for Catalpa classes are outpeforming non-catalpa classes. But they’re lumping all classes together for their presentation tomorrow night.
- Parent engagement at Maupin is the best it’s been in years. In fact, before the magnet was implemented, the PTA got into trouble because they only had school employees serving, which is a violation of RedBook policy. The PTA treasurer CANNOT be a JCPS employee.
- Attendance at Maupin is up.
- Behavior issues are down.
- The proposal that the board approved 2 1/2 years ago warned that scores would go down before they went up. This was a known issue, and is no reason to abandon the plan.
- Not only are the destroying the public waldorf option at Maupin, but they destroyed the successful one at Byck in the process, since they moved all of the families and teachers over from there.
- Yes, scores went down but they appear to already be trending back up in 3rd grade with those who have been in the Catalpa all along. It’s working! But we need more time.
- The first year of the program was really a transition year. There was a new principal, and all but one teacher left. The behavior and discipline issues escalated due to the uncertainty, lack of training and building of capacity. The scores that the school are being held accountable for were from that first, troubled year, and do not reflect the true potential of this program.
- The state’s decision to remove the SBDM’s decision making capacity might have been avoided had the auditors been informed that this was a school of innovation, the scores are from just the first year, and that decisions were being made without their knowledge or input.
- Magnet families are being offered the opportunity to apply to new schools since they missed the transfer window. However resides families are not.
- Current magnet families will not even have the option to stay if this program is removed.
- This is not the first time the district has short-changed a school in the West End. In fact, it’s business as usual.
We are still expecting more information to come forward. Please continue to check this post.
If you have any information you think should be added to this list, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.