Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Holyoke update

backup for this is here
and golly, do we have a lot of people here for this today!

Chester: Disability Law foundation report  on allegations of abuse at Peck

many grave concerns about Holyoke in general, including special education
had particular concerns about Peck and the TIP program there
"quite dismayed at the programs we observed at the Peck school" quoting from June report
parents were uniformly the least positive at the Peck school
"we were not waiting for investigations to conclude"
"our first order of business was student safety and getting that program up and running"
in hindsight, wish I had shared more information about investigations
"probably should have been a lot more direct about" the investigations that were going on
only 11 of 28 staff still there, principal is new
2 partner organizations to work with Peck
since report was released last week, asking more questions, digging deeper
last year's principal and district's special ed director placed on leave
pledge our cooperation and report with organization
"many cooks in the kitchen right now"
want to ensure that sufficient district resources are applied to that end, at same time that investigations will be demanding time of staff
Board's role in revising and upgrading use of restraints and seclusions
"have been moving very aggressively on this program"

McKenna: would like a head's up
"were there a lot of complaints to the department before the Disability Law center intervened, because that's all going to become public"
"I would like to know about it before I read about it in the Globe"
Chester: students had been separate, DESE told to restructure so students could be mainstreamed
complaints received in April or so, identified in October report
Sagan: to underscore what McKenna said "if there was other stuff before, we'd like to know what might have been reported before"
"there is a whole year before that of this program"

Zrike: "how deeply troubled I am"
similar reaction from the Holyoke community
"parents send children to school to be educated in a safe and nuturing learning environment"
left initial visit from Peck troubled
Center School for theraputic programs and Schoolworks for general school governance
"can assure the public that students are safe and well-cared for" but have to continue to improve academics there and elsewhere
report has brought out staff and material and circumstances
"not just last year, but multiple years before"
"serious systemic concerns about program design,... leadership, ...and resources"
"are meeting with families this evening who had students in the TIP program either this year or last year"
expect a good turnout "intent is to listen"
support from partners, Child Advocate will be there as well
will be looking at rest of TIP program in other levels
"want to get better, I appreciate the feedback and the guidance"
"call for us to look at our investigative procedures, discipline procedures, and restraint procedures"

Sagan: first concern has to be that the kids that are there are safe
people who shouldn't be there at all
"who didn't speak up"
give kids the benefit of the doubt
no capacity for investigation at all "some investigation was done before and seems to have found nothing"
Zrike: how we deal with parental response; "very clear to us that parents were left out of the loop"
Moriarty: "black eye to the city of Holyoke"
Board has a special responsbility as district is in receivership
"kind of disappointed that" one of the organizations had just left it go from training
"very often restraints and suspensions were not handled appropriately"
taught at Peck for four years (it was a junior high then)
"have some sense of protocols and processes that should be in place, and both reports scream" that they weren't
statements from Zrike "not just of what I'm going to do but what I have done"
was on School Committee when changes were intially made: "It was in Peck because that's where the classrooms were"
concerned about putting high school students at Dean, which is a vocational school; should be a choice
"very important for all the decision makers to observe the line between accountability and scapegoating"

McKenna: interested in history of certification of teachers at Peck in terms of special ed and waivers
concerned about waivers in special ed and how department is responding to them
"if there is anyone I admire, it is special education teachers"
"people who do this well, have challenging jobs, and they need to be highly trained"
"something we need to look at...not only at Peck, but other places"
"whether or not we are too easy, giving waivers in special education to people who are not properly trained"
Zrike: not only certification, "but what are we doing to support them"
"what are we doing to provide direction and guidance"
McKenna: agree "but if you start off with a deficient, very hard to make it up with professional development"
Sagan: "it's a little bit every year, and wake up and discover it's a crisis"
Stewart: "strand to families in terms of documenting"
follow-up after initial behavior plan: are families clear about the process around their concerns
Zrike: lack of information and need for communication
understanding restraint, what's allowed, what's not allowed

Peyser "I want to congratulate you" for jumping in on this
think that recievership was the right call
on-site or local governance became muddled once it was broken up
who guides it today?
Zrike: building principal should own anything in the building, but in partnership with district as needed
don't want to see programs as isolated within the school
"in some places that works well in Holyoke, and some places that's unclear"
Peyser: sufficient ownership and support
Zrike: principal has only been on for a couple of weeks, has experience
worried on a systemic level to ensure that she has what she needs

Sagan: special authority under receivership
"I think we need a process to elevate to the Board as appropriate, or maybe to the Secretary and the Chair...we need to figure out the right way...for the Board to exercise its authority"
"what do we say when"
"to share with at least a subset of this group"
McKenna; because we are basically a school board at the moment, need to figure out a way to do updates on this issue
Chester suggests a section each month on this, with additional updates as needed
Sagan "our bias is not about hurting the feelings of adults"
"I read this and just cringed at about every sentence"

CPR : district changes were not implemented at classroom level: need to change classroom practice
"change isn't only owned at Suffolk Street" (admin)
designing operational plans for each school
"fuller" school day for next year
key way of overcoming a very significant step from last year
family engagement plan by beginning of January
visting schools that have recently extended their days (visiting Springfield and other districts)
"importance of including in the day things that have been exised"
science, social studies, enrichments
have to have 80 more minutes of enrichments each week
plans will be finished by the end of February
encouraging people not to think about finances right now, not to be boxed in by the old ways
school-based teams have the ability to come up with what works for their kids, but have a lot of guidance
going to visit Springfield Empowerment Zone
"building on what has worked already, on what the state has done and across the country"
Moriarty: champion for arts education in the city
arts "should be looked at as peers, not subject to a pecking order"
McKenna; hope you're looking at summer learning
Zrike: talking to Bell Foundation to look at some summer planning
"beginning with some really good dialogue" with partners
questions about Holyoke Public Schools running
strong opinions about partners

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