Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Carl Palidino Buffalo School Superintendent, Resign now


MEMO

 
To:         Barbara Nevergold
Cc:          Pamela Brown

               BPS Board of Education
From:    Carl P. Paladino
Date:     September 9, 2013

Re:         Supplement to CPP Agenda for meeting of September 11, 2013


A.) Issue #42- Board Presidency 


Dr. Nevergold, I asked you to allow the Board of Education (BOE) to address the critical issues now, before it, in a fair, open and just manner.  Your conduct at the last BOE meeting denying me the opportunity to question Mary Guinn and Mr. Joftus was improper.  You refuse to commit to transparency.  You are predisposed to operate the Buffalo Public Schools (BPS) in secret and as such you are incapable of carrying out your responsibilities as President.  If you cannot be impartial you must resign.  I submit:

1.)  You continue to engage in improper and illegal small group meetings which you legitimatize by calling them "work sessions."  If they were in fact work sessions, then the entire BOE, instead of the first 4 to arrive, would be able to participate and the meetings would be transparent and open to the public.  Sub-committee meetings, open to all members and the public, are "work sessions."  Your private sessions must cease immediately.

2.)  With reference to the Joint Schools Construction Committee, please tell me at the open meeting why I can't serve on the committee.  Is there a BOE Member better qualified to do so?  I also request membership on the team negotiating the union contracts.

3.)  Your conduct in the preparation of the last evaluation of the Superintendent was improper.  You were the only person who saw the scoring of the individual members who, prior to voting, acknowledged that they never saw an evaluation.  I asked that the BOE be shown the calculations and individual evaluations of all members and you have refused to make that disclosure.  Will you so disclose?

 
4.)  On August 28, 29 & 30 the BPS held an "Administrator's Seminar" at McKinley High School.  The farcical event was initiated by James Williams as a device to:

a)  Illegally solicit money from vendors with no accounting of the funds

b)  Retain and pay very large speaking fees to other members of the national sisterhoods and  brotherhoods to speak about their great contributions to education so they can later return the favor and call on our Superintendent, for very large fees, to speak about his or her achievements, and

c)  Force principals to attend 3 days of nonsensical intimidation at a time when they are pressed to prepare their schools for opening.

I would like the name of the person who appointed the lady who illegally solicited donations from vendors on taxpayer time and the amount of money she raised.  I also request a list of the vendors solicited, the amounts paid by each, the name of the entity to which checks were written, the name of the person who controls the checkbook, a complete schedule of revenues and expenditures, the amount of compensation paid to each of the speakers, who decided on the speakers, the names of the caterers at the event, how much was paid to each, whether or not bids were taken, and a list of other similar events and activities conducted by the BPS.

The seminar, according to many who attended, was a display of arrogant intimidation with racial overtones meant to threaten principals and clearly illustrate to them that the new battery of central staff supervisors intend to micromanage the buildings from City Hall.  There are incompetent principals in the buildings because James Williams and his pawn spent years appointing principals, not on merit, but for all the wrong reasons, creating a morale problem with those who sought to achieve the positions by merit.  There are also many exemplary principals who should be empowered to run their schools and not be subjected to disengaged centralization which failed in the past and will continue to fail.  The problem with the BPS is not the teachers and principals.  It is clearly the lack of competent leadership and racism.
 
You have allowed the Superintendent to hire many outsiders, exacerbating the morale problem.  These appointees have not risen by merit through the system and know nothing about the BPS except who their godmothers are.

The attached video shows the demeaning conduct of the seminar.

 

5.)  The Educational Support Services Committee meeting agenda for last week failed to list my agenda items 1, 7 and 10 which were assigned to that committee by you.

 6.)  You sanction the "we against them" attitude of members of the BOE, including the open comments and spontaneous blurts and eye rolling by Sharon Cottman. 

7.)  You obviously abhor Charters, a creation of the State to assist in the education of our children, and you show no respect for the State Education Department (SED) or its Commissioner, allowing arrogant members of the sisterhood friends and family club to dominate the parent hearings at East and Lafayette with insults to the Commissioner, which denied parents the opportunity to speak.  At Lafayette you said everyone in the community should be allowed to speak knowing that it was the same people who spoke at East.  It's called stacking the meeting.

 8.)  You have allowed the public to be misled about the competency and extent of the BPS's almost non-existent Career Technical Education (CTE) program available only to students in the school where the program is located, as part of your effort to deny and delay outsourcing to BOCES.

 9.)  You allowed and sanctioned the illegal hiring, without prior BOE approval, of a number of senior executive staff persons at significant salaries. 

One was hired: 

·         on a 2 year contract
      ·         for $130,000/year

·         with 26 vacation days with the right to sell back 10 days for $542/day

·         12 sick leave days with the right to sell back 1/3 of accumulated days at $542/day on termination, 

·         2 personal days

·         health insurance for her and her spouse,

·         retirement benefits or an amount equal to the amount that would be paid by the district,

·         $1,000/year to belong to associations,

·         approved travel expenses and all unapproved expenses to go to any professional meetings nationally.  

 
It has a blank ‘Attachment A’ dangerously executed by the Superintendent presumably to be filled in with whatever and then signed by the employee.   The document is not tailored and appears to be a form on which blanks are filled in.  It is written unprofessionally by someone seeking to make its provisions vague and subject to interpretation which significantly favors the employee.  The individual has told others that she has no intention of residing in Buffalo.  She will commute 2000 miles every week.  What kind of commitment does that illustrate?  What are the special qualities or experience of these people for their positions that could not otherwise be found with present staff of the BPS?

Mary Guinn was contracted to prop up Pamela Brown. We pay $850,000/year for Superintendent services and, like the Superintendent, Mary Guinn is also clueless and can't submit an acceptable Educational Partnership Organization (EPO) Plan, Comprehensive Action Plan (CAP) for Public School Choice, School Improvement Grant (SIG) applications, Strategic Plan, etc.  Guinn simply wings it.  The BOE should be embarrassed at the quality of work of its administration.

 
I have requested the citation of the rule or law that says that the BOE does not have to approve the hiring of exempt employees and you have furnished me with nothing.

10.)  The BOE never approved the final EPO's for East and Lafayette High Schools.

11.)  You sanctioned the "brilliant" hiring of the new General Counsel, with highly questionable competency having advised incorrectly on 2 of 3 BOE questions presented to her.  She left after two weeks on the job on family leave.  Her position is critical and your reckless disregard allowing her hiring is tragic. 

Despite my request, the Superintendent has not told the BOE why the prior General Counsel was demoted and why our talented staff labor attorney left.

The new General Counsel has been on leave for three weeks, chaos reigns in day to day operations and the BOE has failed to appoint an interim or temporary General Counsel to fill the void.  When do you intend to do something?     

12.)  The CAP submitted to the State was rejected because the BOE majority is indifferent to the lives of the children.  You sanction the attitude that the outsourcing of children to BOCES, Charters, Suburban Districts or Privates is not an option.

13.)  Despite promises to the District Parent Coordinating Council (DPCC) and a cover memo that claims that all stakeholders were engaged in the process, the 5 year Strategic Plan was prepared in secret with no input from key parental or community leaders.  You then allowed it to be presented at the last minute to the BOE putting the BOE in the embarrassing position of having to again vote on a document that most members had not read. SED should have been told that.

14.)  You have sanctioned the repeated lies of the Superintendent that attendance has improved during the past year when in fact you allowed her to secretly change the rules for collecting data which was the sole reason for improved statistics.  Teachers no longer take attendance and a student is presumed to be present unless specifically marked absent.

15.)  Despite the glaring unfairness and BPS's inability to give 2,219 students a choice, you continue to sanction the BPS policy which allows suburban students to take seats from deserving Buffalo students in our test schools.

If you refuse to resign as President, I will ask the Commissioner of Education to dismiss you for cause.

B.)  Issue # 30. Motion #6-  Dismissal of the Superintendent

1.)  The Superintendent's lack of experience in management should have been recognized by the BOE at the time she was hired.

The search criteria for the Superintendent was limited by reactionary and racist BOE members who demanded a weak, minority, female candidate from someplace else who could then be controlled by the complicit BOE members.  They picked and made great fanfare over Pamela Brown's PhD in linguistics from Harvard, which had nothing at all to do with the management position of Superintendent.  She had never been a Superintendent, anywhere. She's a linguistics teacher.  No other qualified minority wanted the job of turning around a chaotic and dysfunctional school system wrought with incompetence, corruption and a collectively incapable BOE.

2.)  She has failed to submit timely, responsive and proper documentation in School Improvement Grant (SIG) applications, Educational Partner Organizations (EPO) applications, a School Choice Comprehensive Action Plan, the 5 year Strategic Plan, etc., either to the BOE or the SED, which she has insulted and failed to engage in a healthy and constructive dialogue.

3.)  She was intimidated by union leadership in Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) negotiations and then conspired with Ruth Kapsiak and Phil Rumore to fraudulently misrepresent and lie to the SED in the submission of the APPR without the MOU.

4.)  Her last evaluation was highly improper.  The process was faulty.  Four members attested that the BOE voted on a document that didn't exist.

5.)  There exists a critical problem recognized by the teachers, their union, the principals etc. concerning the submission of highly improper information by the BPS to the SED to arrive at APPR scores which problem has not been disclosed to BOE members.

6.)  The cozy symbiosis of local and State Democratic politicians (Sean Ryan and Crystal Peoples), the Grass Roots organization and the BPS teacher and administrator unions with the Superintendent and the sisterhood is a breach of the public trust to protect and educate the children and is clearly the root cause of the BPS dysfunction.

7.)  The Superintendent, who created a huge fanfare over the lack of money to support a music program for the children, has been on a hiring binge creating positions for the sisterhood's friends and family. 

One of the new principals is her very close friend.  Did that have anything to do with his hiring?  She never disclosed the conflict or complete an ethics disclosure form.

The Superintendent has hired a number of Mary Guinn's very close associates for executive level positions at high salaries.  None of their resumes show special qualities. One was hired for a position created solely for her because she didn't have the credentials to be Deputy Superintendent.  I called the District where she last worked where she defined herself as "chief turnaround officer." The person who supervised her said that title was inappropriate.  She claimed to have been there for three years.  He said it was 13 months.

Another of Guinn's very close friends was hired in a position of authority comparable to that of Deputy Superintendent.  They simply changed the position's title to improperly award the position without BOE approval.  She had worked on projects for Evans-Newton, Inc., a Mary Guinn Company.  I called the districts that she had claimed to have worked in.  No one knew her.

Brown hired an administrative assistant without budget provision or BOE approval.  All have no clearly defined rolls, were hired from someplace else depriving existing staff of the opportunity for promotion and were hired without BOE approval which is required for any budget changes, job title changes, the setting of compensation, etc., whether you call the employee exempt or not.   The attempt by the Superintendent at the last meeting to justify her lie that her Reorganization Plan was saving $1 million was pathetic.  Moving people off the executive staff payroll to grant payroll are still on the payroll.  Retitling positions adds to the hypocrisy.

Now the Superintendent's faulty Reorganization Plan calls for her to hire as Chief of Public Relations, at $115,000/year, a woman working for the mayor's office at $79,000/year.  There has been no explanation why the present experienced and qualified public relations person was not considered for the position, nor was there any justification for the new position at all. 

Over the summer the Superintendent hired another deputy director in transportation.  I questioned it and was told she was needed.  She and the director had 37 and 38 hours of overtime last week while clerks were denied overtime.  Why do salaried employees get overtime?  Why is the director allowed to approve his own overtime? Why is the director able to earn $100,000 in overtime last year to apparently build up for his retirement?  According to other employees, only the deputy does any work, they need clerks, not supervisors and the Director should be fired.

Why must the children of the BPS suffer even one more day for lack of competent top down leadership?

I move again that the BOE discharge the Superintendent for cause.

Issue #3.  Motion # 38- Reorganization and Mary Guinn

Why was staff told to bury in a grant, under a Cross and Juftus consulting contract, Mary Guinn's salary, all of her travel costs to and from wherever she goes and her meal and hotel bills at the Embassy Suites?

I have requested a copy of the Cross and Joftus contract, Mary Guinn's job description, a schedule of all compensation paid to her, her assistants or others on her behalf, directly and indirectly, the name of the Grant charged with her compensation and the "special" qualities that she has that are not presently available from the staff of the BPS.

Who negotiated the Cross and Juftus contract?  Why wasn't BOE approval required? 

Why hasn't the BOE seen her contract, her resume, her title, her connections to BOE members and consultants and her job description?  Who granted her authority?  Was that one of the other "sharing" moments in an illegal small group meeting?  I've made repeated requests for that information and I've been stonewalled.
 
The Superintendent defended the $14,000 raises to the 4 Community Superintendents saying their job descriptions were expanded.  Do the math.  We started with 3 Community Superintendents for 57 schools which amounts to19 schools each.  We then added a new position to get 4 with responsibility for 14 schools each and also created 5 new positions of Supervising Principals to assist them.  Where did we specifically give expanded responsibilities?  I request citations to the budget line items that provided funds for these changes without BOE approval.  The fact is, Mary Guinn wanted to hire her good friend and pay her more money than the job called for, so she gave all of them raises.

Also why did Superintendent Guinn hire principals from outside our system?  The morale of all those principals who worked hard for merit promotions was skewed in prior years by a pawn of James Williams, who appointed incompetents from the Sisterhood friends and family club, most of whom are now located in failed schools.  Now, under the Guinn regime, they have been shoved to the back of the line again to allow the hiring of a cast of misfits from someplace else.

All that and at the same time the BPS sought to deprive its students of a music program and other basic services.

I move that the complete Reorganization Plan and all requested information on Mary Guinn be submitted to the BOE for its approval.

Issue #31.  Motion #37. Outsourcing and Vouchers

BPS unions feel entitled to extraordinary benefits and outrageous control of work rules that they bargained away from weak, union inclined, Boards of Education in the past.  Good and well intentioned teachers and principals fail to keep their self-absorbed and corrupted leadership under control.  Considering the web of contractual rights, laws and rules and the lack of interest in changing the status quo by our complicit and disengaged legislative delegation, citizens who seek to reform the dysfunction have few weapons to employ.  One very powerful tool to achieve productive education and allocate resources to the children is to dismantle the dysfunctional BPS and outsource education.

Retiree Health Care costs have skyrocketed to $66.6 million for 4000 plus retirees amounting to $16,600/retiree/year.  Union leadership in current negotiations demand more and use as a tactic the art of standing in the way and filing grievances on everything imaginable. 

Inept BOE members are rife with complacency and actually fear the union leaders.   They are bought and paid for by union donations.  Such complicit and compromised people should not be representing the community and the children.

BPS spends $29,000/year/student after payments to Charters and still can't make ends meet. Charters receive and must operate efficiently on only $12,000/year/student.  As a result 45 of 57 schools are failing and the graduation rate is 46%.

Andrew Cuomo claims he wants to do something about the tragic failure of Urban Education in upstate New York, "but" we have to wait until January.  He doesn't have a plan, and there is the problem of walking between the raindrops so as to not get Sheldon Silver and his favorite union, NYSUT, upset. 

Cuomo doesn't have the backbone to consider doing what Governor Jindal did in Louisiana.  He gave parents in dysfunctional urban school districts vouchers so that they too can choose the school to educate their children.  Cuomo is in the wind because he and his liberals want to keep the urban poor captive and dependent so they will continue to vote for liberals and elitists like him who live in the big houses in suburban school districts and send their children to private schools.  He is a demagogue who seeks to extend the hypocrisy that NYSUT and the urban poor have something in common. 

The sisterhood members of the BOE have the same lame philosophy and game plan.  Sam Radford and the DPCC are too timid to say it.  There is absolutely no hope of structurally changing the BPS from within.  Regurgitating the same old promises and hollow plans with new titles and faces is simply kicking the reality can further down the road.  The present "reform-less" reorganization the BPS will just delay the inevitable and destroy another generation of the urban poor.

I move that the BOE request that the Governor immediately convene the New York State Legislature and sponsor a bill allowing vouchers to every parent of the 27,000 students in the 45 failed schools in the BPS and every other failing school in New York State.

It will take courage for members of the BOE to vote "yes" on the resolution but it will finally identify to the community the hidden agenda of the membership.

Issue #22.  Motion #39.  Tenure 

The motion presented in the memo of August 16, 2013 is withdrawn and the following motion is submitted.

I move that the Board of Education instruct the Superintendent to immediately stand-still on all future tenure approvals and denials for principals and/or teachers pending a complete review of policy and process by a select committee of the BOE to ensure equity, objectivity and fairness to the process.

 The issuance of a denial of tenure or a JUUL to teachers and/or principals is the kiss of death on their résumé when applying for other positions.  Union leaders conspiring to recriminate against employees for speaking out on issues or senior administrators having an unfair bias will not be possible with an objective decision maker.  Playing games with people's lives should not be an option.

 

 

 

 

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