Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The DOE is stalling...

I may have mentioned that I spoke to Michael Duffy yesterday, asking when a meeting would be scheduled to present the charter school issue to the Red Hook community, and he couldn't tell me when it would be - he mentioned that a colleague of his was the one that would be making that decision. He took my email address and said they'd be in touch. (Please, someone get me an oxygen tank in case I pass out from holding my breath!)
Today, I got an interesting voice mail from a very reputable source who I can't name at the moment, telling me that often the DOE doesn't schedule these meetings until they've already made a decision  - and the meetings are to present what's essentially a fait accompli, and warning me that we shouldn't be lulled into a false sense of security just because the placement of the charter school has been temporarily put on hold. At the very moment I was listening to the message, my cell phone rang, and it was a fellow named Chris calling from the Office of Charter Schools. I asked him point blank when the DOE planned to schedule a meeting, because the DOE is in violation of education law if it insists on placing the charter school in our public school without holding the community meeting first. He told me he didn't know; I asked him if he could find out who was in charge of making that decision, and how I could arrange to be notified - and he claimed not to know who handles these decisions. I told him I found that incredibly difficult to believe; I also let him know that we needed to have the meeting scheduled before June, because the community was entitled to have their voices heard on this issue, have a dialogue, and be included in the decision making process - and asked again whether he could find out who was in charge of booking the meetings and when it would be, and get back to me. He continued to be vague and unhelpful, which made me wonder why he'd bothered to call me in the first place. He said that the principal would be getting notification as soon as the DOE had scheduled the meeting, and that it would probably be scheduled before June. It's obnoxious that he called to essentially tell me NOTHING... and at the end of the conversation, I let him know that I'd be calling on a regular basis to follow up on this because it's critically important.
By the way, I've heard from various sources that the DOE often assumes that it can place charter schools in public schools where there won't be much resistance because they assume (often wrongly) that the PTA is not very strong or well organized or involved in the school's development and day-to-day operations. Let's show them that they've made a mistake about Red Hook!

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