Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thoughts on Questions for Tonights Meeting

As we prepare and look forward to the meeting at MVRCS this evening, we have compiled a list of questions we feel are in alignment with our major issues and concerns regarding our school.  We are sharing this list of questions in the hopes that the majority of them will be addressed during the meeting. Please feel free to add additional questions or thoughts in the comment section below in an effort to organize our efforts in our quest for information.
1.       Questions regarding Conflict of Issue Laws:
a.       Isn’t it legally a conflict of interest for Neil Kinnon (City Councilor) & Tom Brennan (if he is an Assistant Councilor for Malden) to also serve on the Board of Trustees considering the interactions between MVRCS & the City of Malden?
b.      Where can we find past Meeting Agenda’s and Minutes?  Per the Open Meeting Laws, the minutes of Executive Sessions (which are only permitted under the most limited of circumstances) are only permitted to remain unpublished as long as publishing them would defeat the lawful purposes of the executive session.
c.       Under both State Conflict of Issues/Code of Conduct laws and Charter school laws governing nepotism, isn’t it illegal for Mr. Kinnons family members and friends to be employed at MVRCS? (Preferential Treatment to Friends & Family Members)
d.      As a Public Official (per State Ethics Committee) and according to Charter School laws prohibiting special privileges being given to Board Members or Administration, isn’t it illegal for Chris Finn’s nieces to have been readmitted to the school after leaving the school? Is this the only time that this has occurred or has this happed on numerous occasions?
2.       Charter School Specific Regulations & Laws
a.       Duty of Care Issues:
                                                               i.      Do all Board Members feel they have acted solely in the best interest of the school regarding the acquisition of the lot that will be used for the Athletic Facility and in negotiations regarding Roosevelt Park?
                                                              ii.      Does the Board as a whole feel that the school is in compliance with the law and that they addressed fully all relevant questions regarding the acquisition of land and in negotiations regarding Roosevelt Park?
b.       Duty of Loyalty
                                                               i.      Can all Board Members assure the parents that they have acted in accordance with the laws that prevent them from acting in any manner that has allowed them to profit personally or indirectly as a result of their position? This would include:
1.        not voting on any matter that they or a family member has a personal interest in;
2.        the hiring and retaining of friends or family members  that are not held to the same standards or expectations as others;
3.       prohibiting the use of their position in obtaining improper benefits for themselves, family members, or friends;
  1. Knowledge of Public Record Laws & the Freedom of Information Act
    1. Are all board members aware that charter schools must provide any record, including data files, letters, memoranda or other documentary materials made or received by an officer or employee of the school, to any member of the public who requests it? 
  2. Admission into the School:
    1. The Lottery & Waitlist
                                                              i.      According to the laws that govern Charter schools and must conduct their lotteries in public, with a disinterested party drawing the names. A “disinterested” person is someone who is not affiliated with the school. That being said, what is the name of the CPA Firm and individual that has and/or will be conducting the lottery?
                                                            ii.      The Charter school laws state that it is unacceptable to give preference to children of staff members or Board members or use statements that are meant to discourage diverse, ELL, or any other protected group from attending the school. What steps are all Board Members taking to ensure that these practices will no longer be practiced nor tolerated?
5.      When undertaking the building or construction of a facility, federal and state laws require compliance with public bidding laws. Has MVRCS put the contract for the new facility out to bid? When?
6.      In the article published in the Observer and advertisement taken out in the Malden paper, along with salaries the educational credentials were also provided. Would it be possible to obtain a more detailed summary that included not only the individuals listed but also information regarding the credentials and qualifications of all faculty and staff of MVRCS. According to Charter School laws, all teachers must be certified, could that be included in the summary.
7.      In one report it was noted that the Board chose not to accept Title I funds. Given these tough economic times and the reduction in funding that the school is facing, why has Board made this decision yet choosing to charge parents a transportation fee?
8.      In regards to Transportation, as MVRCS is a ‘regional’ school and entitled to be reimbursed for varying percentages of transportation expenses. What is the current percentage?
9.      The DESE is requiring all Charter schools to produce a report that identifies the steps and efforts each school will take to improve teacher retention. Has MVRCS completed this report and if so, where can parents find a copy of it?
10.  According the Inspector General and Massachusetts State Building Authority the purchasing official must complete a MCPPO (Massachusetts Certified Public Purchasing Official program, especially in light of the construction of the new facility. Does an Administrator have the appropriate certificate and is it up to date (it is only good for 3 years and recertification requires additional course work). If not, must this be complete prior to beginning construction?

40 comments:

  1. Why is it that this school has done everything it could to not charge for transportation, but now that they have to, people are bitching about it? 12 years without charging for bus service is rarely heard of these days.

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  2. A. Hole,
    Has it been free for ALL of us for 12 years? Yes, it's rarely heard of these days but most local schools are not reimbursed for the expense yet turn around it double dip by having parents pay for it too. I don't think anyone would begrudge them for charging IF (key word, if) they weren't double dipping, wasting funds on employing so many friends and family members (since they still haven't released the information we are left to believe that some are quite overpaid), or hadn't turned down funds for Title I (provides funding for staff but also involves oversight).
    I agree, the 200.00 per child isn't excessive or out of the question unless you have 4 kids! Also, isn't it interesting that the first year that they must do this is after making an athletic facility a priority.

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  3. Donald Trump:
    • An arrogant chairman of a board
    • Oversees a very wealthy empire
    • Loves to talk down to people
    • Things will always be done his way and only his way
    • Believes that he is never wrong
    • Makes people very angry
    • Loves to say the words “You’re Fired”!
    Do you know of anyone who reminds you of The Donald?
    I do and I think that it is time for this person to take The Donald’s advice! For that matter, he needs to fire the whole board first and then fire himself. Fresh blood is needed and this is a very good time to start.

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  4. There is always a time when ideas become stale and fresh blood is needed. But acting bitchy and creating unofficial blogs aren't the ways to go about making change. At the same time, there is a point when too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth and decisions have to be made, I respect the board for putting their foot down and actually making tough decisions that need to be made.

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  5. I have a question I would like asked. Who is MV and what is her problem? Could you post the answer when you get home tonight? I don't think I can wait til tomorrow!

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  6. Justin, please give us your thoughts on the way things should be done to obtain change at the school? How long should it take? What would be your steps of escalation? Seriously, I am very interested to hearing your ideas to make this better.

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  7. A Hole -
    If the decisions they are making are so tough and you view them as having put their foot down, then maybe they aren't cut out for the job and/or are doing too many things that the OTHER parents don't like. Let's not forget that part of the concept behind Charter schools include giving parents more say in their childs education, if parents want one person making the decisions, they'd go to the public schools (where at least the person(s) making decisions that impact the lives of our students has credentials and experience). I really hope for your sake that you don't ever have the pleasure of butting heads with the dictator and his board of followers, oh that's right you won't, you're one of them. See you tonight classy.

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  8. To "I have a question I would like asked. Who is MV and what is her problem? Could you post the answer when you get home tonight? I don't think I can wait til tomorrow!"

    I too have a question, who are you and why do you care? Who are you asking to post the answer tonight and why do you think you'll find out tomorrow?

    I'll be there tonight but your friends won't know who I am. With all the parents up in arms about their email addresses being accessed, you wouldn't be able to tell me from one of your irate parents. I can't wait to see how the school handles this one, sure they'll blame it on the parents and try to wiggle out of admitting that they released the email addresses. Hopefully that is all that they released!
    Anyone else bringing popcorn? Andy?

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  9. I hate your new name!

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  10. There is a HUGE difference between parental decisions and parental involvement. The BlANK BLANK BLANKETY BLANKS that created this blog feel that the parents should make the decisions for this school, whereas the parents who follow the handbook get INVOLVED in their childs education, by continuing the school work at home aka HOMEWORK. I did not sign my child up to this school to take over a job that the administration does, I signed up because I want my child to receive a quality education with the involvement from our family.

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  11. Well? How did the meeting go? Update please?

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  12. Hey I begrudge them for not charging enough. Why should I have to subsidize someone else getting a bus ride to school? I don't care if its one or two or ten kids. Unless they are getting that money from the state the person taking the bus should make up the hole difference not taking a dime out of my kids education. Tell me how that is fair. Stop the whining you should be happy your not paying the whole thing. Yea think about that and tell me why I should pay for you.

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  13. I attended the meeting for the first time tonight and enjoyed myself immensely. If I didn't have a fear of speaking in public I would have said more. But then again I don't think this was the correct forum to address the nameless, faceless cowards posting here. Having said that, most of the negativity surrounded the changes regarding busing. IMHO it is the parents responsibility to get their kid to school. Busing was convenient for me as long as it was free. As soon as I learned they were charging, that changed everything for me. No more convenience for me. I actually have to drive my kids to school every day! Sucks but change is change. Adapt or be left behind. The last thing I was gonna do was whine to the school about it. They have to make their money somehow.
    Some people showed up ready to be hostile and they were. I showed up ready to defend the Board and wasn't given any reason to change that opinion. Come On People, these children are ours and we have to take responsibilty for them. Stop depending on the school for too much! We need to pick and choose our battles and, to me, this was a battle already lost.
    I trust the trustees because all their decision have gotten my kids and the school where they are right now.
    Stop thinking too much about what the Boston Globe said and think more about what US News and World report says. The children's performance is the ultimate litmus test for me.

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  14. You are exactly the kind of parent the board loves. Ignorance gets you no where in life. And we should stop thinking too much about what the Boston Globe said because why? It is O.K. with you for these people to not follow the Freedom of Information Act? I feel for you for your ignorance.

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  15. So did the board answer the questions above? If they did, what were the results? If they refused to, what was their reasonings? They are all fair questions, and if there is nothing to hide as they say, why not answer the questions? I am interested in knowing how they explained the Lottery System.

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  16. Hey last poster, if you are so concerned about the school then YOU should have showed up to the meeting and asked the question(s)! If you couldn't make it last night, then why don't you show up at the Business Office or Dr. McCleary's office and request a meeting! Stop being a blog coward and get on with life; the parents who were truly concerned showed up last night and we heard what the board had to say and had an open opportunity to ask our questions.

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  17. How dare you call me ignorant. Accordinh to the email I received from the school, they provided the requested info more than once. Which makes the Globe disingenuous and as far as I know anti-charter school. Some people do have an axe tog rind and a narrative to follow. I choose to trust the school. That doens't make me ignorant. And I'm glad I'm the type of parent the board likes because they seem to have the children's best interest at heart. Until you are brave enough to use your real name, that makes you a coward. At least I went to the meeting.

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  18. Nina is NOT ignorant. She is an intelligent and outspoken woman who has raised some great kids. She has had a better MVRCS experience, and stated from the get-go on this blog that she has problems with anonymous complaints.
    Most parents have had a much better experience than the creators of this blog. If they are ever going to win over people to their cause, insults and ad hominem attacks are counterproductive at best.

    To Nina directly - I can't say I agree with the bloggers here 100%, but I have had enough problems with the school which immediately became worse when voiced to the administration. I wish they didn't feel the need to remain anonymous, but understand why they might choose to do so. I still support the school, but I can't dismiss the bloggers completely since I experienced it.
    If you'd like to have a confidential chat about my expereinces, let me know and I'll try to discuss it the next time our paths cross. I don't plan on any lawsuit silliness, but it might give you an honest glimpse into the experiences some have had. Everything seems worse when it happens to your kids.
    I believe the fervor is stronger than the allegations here, but not all of the allegations here are as dismissible as the administration would like them to be.

    Now to the bloggers - the only way things are going to change is not by a scattergun approach from anonymity. You will need to pick specific concrete issues, document your experiences, and use your names and the courts.
    I am sorry to say I will not be joining you. A school is made of people, and people regularly screw things up. Perhaps a few successful lawsuits will encourage them to change policy better than forcing them to round up the wagons against and anonymous opponent.
    If nothing else, you have taught them the risks of exposing their email lists, and improvement has already begun. :)

    Good luck to everybody involved. Let's try to be civil and hope that the students and ongoing improvement of the school remain foremost in everyone's interests.

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  19. I did not attend the meeting last night as I went to the meeting Deb Fallon held at the VFW regarding the PAYT, Roosevelt Park deal and the ongoing safety issues in the city. Not to mention I think the admin of the school would've had a stroke if I had walked in the door! LOL

    I am interested in how it went and hope to hear the thoughts of those who did attend: what is different and what is the same? Nina, I appreciate your thoughts and respect your opinion. Great to see you made a meeting of the board as that is where you learn a lot about what goes on with the school and how it is really run. All I ask is that you and everyone else keep an open mind and stay involved in YOUR school. The more meetings you attend, the less shy you will feel to ask a question or voice an opinion. I have never said this wasn't a good school, yet it could be much better now the ground work has been laid and can be built on. We have 13 years of experience to see what works and what doesn't. If the same things keep happening you must look to what hasn't changed and fix it.

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  20. ok, so what did happen at the meeting last night.....please remember that some of us have parenting issues and don't have a sitter for young children.....if we missed the meeting, please fill us in, to continue to promote unity............I appreciate the info, but bloggers, please refrain from calling people names.............(not a Finn)

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  21. It did not go well for the bloggers! The only two issues discussed at length were busing and the crew team. I must say I was surprised how Neil Kinnon treated some of the parents. I not sure what the deal is but it seems they either can't, won't or don't feel they have to answer questions in open session. One thing I know is he has his facts together about what is required by law. Not the best PR move but we'll see how future sessions go.
    Andrew25

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  22. I would be interested in an update from the parents who created this blog. I am a little surprised that there has been silence. What does this mean? Have you decided to drop the issue and end this blog? Thanks

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  23. If Kinnon had his facts together, why couldn't he give any answers? Doesn't he know what the bullying policy is? Why he was corrected about the busing policy? Why the crew team's equipment isn't in working order when they need it? Why couldn't ANYONE answer those questions? Don't they know what's going on or don't they care?

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  24. To Middle Ground

    You wrote "A school is made of people, and people regularly screw things up." Not at the charter school! They are perfect, have never made a mistake and have never had to apologize for making one.

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  25. "They are perfect, have never made a mistake and have never had to apologize for making one."

    What, are they all software developers?

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  26. I asked this quetions above and still no answer:

    I would be interested in an update from the parents who created this blog. I am a little surprised that there has been silence. What does this mean? Have you decided to drop the issue and end this blog? Thanks

    What happened at this meeting that you are now no longer updating the blog now? Did the school threaten to sue?

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  27. If what was said about the crew team was true, and I believe it was, then that's messed up. Crew seems to be the Rodney Dangerfield of the Rodney Dangerfield school....smdh.
    That being said..I think the busing thing is a non-issue. I know parents depended on it but the school is not a babysitter or daycare. If you have to re-evaluate the getting your kids to school situation, then do it. I did. Also, I didn't appreciate the comment made at the meeting "I have to work" as an excuse to not be more involved and attend more meeetings and be more involved in the school. I took the night off from work to be there last night (the first time in 9 years, I might add) but I didn't whine about missing work and losing money. We all have to prioritize what is most important to us. Just because I stay home during the day and work nights so I can be available for my kids and volunteer at the school....f*ck you. That's how I felt about that comment. I could judge you about not being able to pick a good father or not being able to keep a man but I don't because that's stupid, ignorant and non-productive. I want to make MVRCS the best school it can be. I heard some stuff last night that the board should address (making the parents aware, through a mass notification, about changes with the busing issues, or why kids when a child gets less than a 70 in science(tests/homework?) need to stay late like they are being punished or why the need for a new floater in the high school is put together with the cost of the new lunch program...WTF does one have to do with the other? I listen and I pay attention and I would love to learn more and discuss good and bad things about the school. I just don't trust anyone that I can't call or text to, say, have breakfast at the Doowop with to discuss things. I want MVRCS to be all it can be. And if there are problems I would love to discuss and debate that. But I have to say my kids are braver than people on this site. That's what I taught them, no matter how difficult, OWN what YOU do/say:-)

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  28. And did you also teach your kids your vocabulary; WTF and f*ck you? Nice? Time for a card change!

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  29. They know Mom has a potty mouth but I'm a grown woman and they're not. I teach them that too. I use the language because that's how frustated I am.
    I am their advocate always and language is used to communicate and get a point across. They get it. That's all you have to say about my previous post?

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  30. No. I have more to say about your post since you asked: Mom has a potty mouth? And you judge others? Nice! So what you basically teach your children is "Do as I say, not as I do". You are their advocate and your language is used to communicate to get a point across? Yah, I was an advocate for my children too, but I didn’t use your vocabulary. Perhaps that is why the school disliked me so much! Thanks for teaching me what I did wrong. Oh well, too late now! And no, I do not wish to have breakfast with you at the Doowop, but if you wish to have high-tea with me, I will meet you elsewhere. The school must be so proud to have you as a volunteer! Lack of class on your part!

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  31. I'm glad you don't have an issue with the busing, but the school still does. Why do they think they are above the law? The DOE contacted them and told them there is an issue and they need to follow the law. Why do they still refuse?
    If you see a child doing something wrong, do you look away or correct them? That's what the parents are doing. Correcting an error that has been made for many years.
    They should have looked at other ADMINISTRATIVE expenses before impacting so many families. I can hear you now "what admin expenses"? I'll give you examples:
    1. $25K for art? Did they really need new art for the school? That could have waited. How about having a contest and have the kids display their art. How proud they would feel.

    2. $85K for a new phone system - what was wrong with the old one?

    3. $10K to "create storage space" in boiler room? Really?

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  32. Middle Ground - excellent post, great points, and you have picked a perfect name for yourself. My only response regards the need to go to court which would ultimately cost parents AND the school legal fees. As a school with funding issues one would imagine that they would try to follow the law to avoid having to fund a legal battle for what they would ultimately be required to do. My impression of the situation is that they know what they should be doing but just choose not to follow the law. It isn't a lack of knowledge but rather a refusal to follow the laws. I also hate to see Shapiro collect any more funds from the school as its attorney. I would imagine that many parents would (or should) take issue with the school wasting much need funds rather than just doing the right thing. While in a 'posting war' with another Boston.com poster, they stated that most parents don't care about mismanagement issues (including the negative effects of nepotism, conflicts, etc). After ongoing discussions with this person I am now under the impression that it is none other than the schools dictator himself, Mr. Kinnon. I could be wrong but if I am right, they are COUNTING on parents not caring as they carry on breaking the law and spending funds cause they believe no one cares. That bothers me, it's like a child stealing because they can. All of that being said (my ranting as dear ol Andy25 says), I loved your post!

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  33. A Hole & Nina -
    I'm starting to question why either of you come to this blog (especially Justin) as you obviously do not see any value or worth to it. If you don't like what it has to say or what it stands for, don't read it. If you think you are defending the school and setting the record straight, your not doing a very good job. Nina, I will say your comments are a little bit more coherent but you both believe that the school is doing nothing wrong. If they aren't, then you don't need to come on here and use foul language and prove your dedication. If they are then they will have to deal with the consequences. Part of the reason for this blog is to give both sides a chance to state their experiences so that when the people who can implement change come here (and they are monitoring it), they can see what is going on, both good and bad. Again, no one wants the school to be shut down, just for them to adhere to the laws that govern them.
    I admire Nina for using her real name but then again, you are on the schools side. Until you are willing to put yourself in the shoes of the MANY parents who have felt attacked, victimized, isolated, and frustrated at their dealings with the school and board, you really shouldn't judge others. It's easy to own what you say when you are accepting status quo and not trying to implement change. You made mention of it being your first board meeting, were you impressed at the dismissive manner of the board? Did you honestly feel that they were open to the thoughts and concerns of others? Yes, it's easy for Neil Kinnon to stand up there and look like he has everything under control because the minute something comes up he doesn't want to deal with, he dismisses it. I think the folks that created this blog should post a utube video of what a properly run, respectful board meeting looks like, maybe then you won't be so willing to accept the disrespectful manner in which the parents of MV are treated.
    In closing, I think it's great that you want to defend your school but please stop with the overly aggressive negative attacks on others. Allow others to have their say just as you have.

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  34. A-Hole,
    Your comment regarding taking control of the school and being involved with the school makes me wonder who you are. To the best of my knowledge (I am know quite a bit, I must say), the creators of this blog are not looking to take over the management of the school. In fact it is the exact opposite, they would prefer that a person who has credentials and experience manage the school. McCleary has that but the board has ultimately stripped him of any management or oversight ability. By law (which I know means nothing to you) the board is not to be involved in the day to day operations but rather focus their attention on the bigger issues. You want to be involved in your childs education and you think you are doing that at MV? Really? How often do you go into your childs class and help out? Read to the kids? Help with activities, allowed to witness first hand the dynamics of your childs class? In other schools (yes public and other charter schools) parents are encouraged and welcomed into the classroom. At our school, you are allowed to make copies if you'd like to volunteer at the school. If you think you are actively involved in your childs education (other than signing notices of card changes or infractions), you and I have very different definitions of active and involved. Maybe you should go back to the yourtown/Malden site and pick on people who disagree with you there.

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  35. Anonymous with the issue regarding the DESE/DOE and the schools busing - I agree. Do you know where the art is? Or have you seen the boiler room that was turned into storage? I saw on one financial report that they allotted funds to move the 3rd grade lockers into the classroom and make that space storage yet when I was last in the building the 3rd grade hallway still had the lockers in it. I question their financials and think they should have to provide not just payroll records but proof of their line item numbers within their financials. Also, they have been disputing unemployment insurance tax (or something like that, have to go back and recheck the report) yet include those in the financials. I imagine they would have to in the event they have to pay it but wonder if this is one of their questionable tactics. FOIA, FOIA, FOIA, FOIA, FOIA....oh yeah, that's right, MVRCS doesn't have to adhere to the laws that govern everyone else.

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  36. They mentioned the art was in the HS. Dr. McCleary mentioned he likes to strike up a conversation with the kids as to their thoughts on the art work. I THINK THAT'S WONDERFUL!! Where does he find the time to talk with the kids? Passing in the hallways, lunch time? There isn't much time to spare for these kids to get to their next classes, much less converse.
    Also, isn't there a nutritionist on the board? Why doesn't she know that after 3rd grade the classrooms don't alot time for afternoon snacks? I thought she'd be all over that issue. But her response was "well, my kids get afternoon snack". Well, I would like my children to have the same advantages hers do. And the discussion was dropped. Why? Why didn't they say "Make note from this point on, 10 minutes will be allowed in the afternoon for children to enjoy a snack". All in favor?? Why is that so hard to do? Don't they have the athority to make that decision? If not, why doesn't McCleary make that decision? Don't just drop it like you could care less.

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  37. You're the one who called me ignorant and now you're saying I have no class and I'M the one being judgemental?!

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  38. I appreciate the transparency that this blog is trying to offer. Personal banter positive or negative will water down its importance.

    Feedback from the highschoolers regarding McLeary, they see him 4-5 times a year. He is not in tune with what is going on at the highschool.

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  39. As you can see from my name, I'm Justin A. Hole.. I only come on to this piece of _____ blog to p___ people off. I have no real fight, because I LOVE M V R C S. I have issues here and there, and I am not blind, but I know where to give and take. My children are getting a great education, good values, and they are protected. I think what Annie Hood and her merry band of fools have done here was made it more difficult for people who have REAL issues to feel comfortable to speak with someone about it. You have used scare tactics to worry incoming families. You should be ashamed. By the way... If any of you really have kids, the last thing they would be concerned with is the language on some menopausal matriachs blog. They know what WTF means.

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