Tuesday, October 5, 2010

And They Say They Have Done Nothing Wrong....

Opponents of this blog have continued to insist upon the fact that the school has done nothing wrong and that this site is filled with lies, hatred towards the school and Neil Kinnon, along with other such statements. We must stress (AGAIN) that we do not hate the school nor do we wish to see harm come to it. We do however want wrongs to be corrected and the school to move forward in a much more positive, legally bound, and as a highly regarded school. One way we have come up with to demonstrate the basis for our accusations, statements, and general opinions is to provide a few specific examples that CAN be confirmed through court records, DESE records, and other indisputable documents. It is disturbing to us that not only has Mr. Kinnon attempted to silence both the Malden Firefighters and ourselves, he has also led the school into practicing equally as upsetting practices that are questionable in nature and intent. In our quest to verify our information we have come up with a number of incidents that speak volumes in demonstrating this.

As many of you may know, MVRCS was originally managed by Advantage Schools. While many business arrangements begin and end, most do not result in legal action being taken against a school for non-payment. In 2000 an Arbitrator awarded Advantage Schools, Inc. over 200,000.00 in fees that MVRCS had disputed. Although MVRCS was ordered and agreed to make an initial payment by August 31, 2000 and then subsequent payments, they did not do so. As a result, Advantage Schools, Inc. was forced to take the case to court to collect their funds. The sad part is that this MVRCS did not pay it as a result of their challenging the ruling (as they missed the 30 day appeal requirement) but rather that they chose not to pay it after having agreed to the initial payment plan. An excerpt from the case follows:

MVRCS was required to pay Advantage Schools, Inc. (“Advantage”) $193,407.67 by August 31, 2000 and pay $101,906.64 into an escrow account by August 31, 2000 and make scheduled monthly payments to Advantage and into escrow thereafter. In addition, Mystic was required to pay $1,466.38 in administrative fees and expenses of the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”). Advantage now seeks an order to confirm the arbitrator's award persuant to G.L. c. 251, § 1, and add interest, costs and attorneys fees to the award.
Superior Court of Massachusetts.

No. 000597.
Dec. 19, 2000
We also found an instance from 2004 where the school refused to accommodate a life threatening peanut allergy within the school. Although the allergy qualifies the student for a 504 plan, the school violated his civil rights of non-discrimination by not allowing the student to be educated within a peanut free environment. Per the ruling by the Board of Special Education Appeals (BSEA) stated the following:
"It is troubling that Mystic Valley has waited until it is faced with a complaint or is made part of a hearing before the BSEA to take steps to provide the required accommodations to Student. In 2003, Parents filed a complaint with the United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights."
Furthermore, the finding stated the following (which we can neither confirm nor deny takes place but have not heard of such training):
The school eliminated its peanut butter sandwich alternate lunch in 2003; agreed to have the school nurse conduct mandatory training for all staff including substitute teachers regarding recognition of and response to allergy attacks by students with food allergies; agreed to engage an outside consultant to conduct training for staff; and to conduct information sessions regarding food allergies for all parents. As of the day of closure of the Hearing, this last accommodation had not taken place due to scheduling difficulties.
While not everyone can appreciate the stress or difficulty of having a child with a life threatening allergy (we know that we have no personal experience), nor does everyone agree that because one child can't have peanut butter, no child should be permitted to bring it for lunch, the fact remains that due to the severity of the situation, the school was lax in requiring the parents to go to this extent in order to secure a safe environment for their child.

As many of the parents and staff members of our school can attest to, the employee turnover rate is incredibly high. While some individuals choose to leave of their own accord and/or their contract is not renewed at the end of the year, many other individuals  are terminated. This within itself brings into question a number of issues with the first of which being the interview and hiring practices of the individuals responsible for hiring. We know that Anthony Chiccuarelli is responsible for Human Resources (and according to the organizational chart, has something to do with math, but we are not aware of what that portion of his position involves or if he is compensated for it) but believe that the responsibility for interviewing belongs to Jennifer Mullen, Gina McKinnon, Christopher Finn, and George Benzie. Considering the high turnover, we must question their abilities within this portion of their job description. We have also heard from a number of teachers regarding their being terminated under questionable or outright illegal circumstances. In light of these issues it was not a big surprise to find that the school owes money under the Federal Unemployment Tax Contingency (FUTA). Granted these funds revert back to the fiscal years of 1998 and 1999 (when we believe the school had a much lower turnover rate) and included penalties and interest yet we must question why this situation has been allowed to go on for such an extended period of time. According to the Financial Report that the school contracted a CPA firm to conduct, the school has been relieved of the portion relating to 1998 but not to 1999 as of the time of the report ( see http://www.mvrcs.com/files/FY09_Audit_Report.pdf). While the question of whether the school is responsible for these taxes has come into question as they are a governmental agency (although it seems odd that the IRS would not be overly aware of whether they qualify or not), the fact that the school is 'vigorously defending its position' makes us question the cost of defending themselves versus the cost of the initial FUTA taxes. While this is not as clear of an example of wrong doing as others we have listed, we find ourselves concerned  about the numerous aspects that are connected to this matter.
Finally, the most sever instance of wrong doing we have heard of we are not able nor would we be willing to provide legal backup for. We have heard of several instances where the school Administrators (specifically Kathy Kinnon) have refused to report, as required by law, concerns regarding a abuse or neglect of a student or a student threatening to cause harm to themselves or others. While these instances disturb us greatly, nothing disturbs us more than the incident regarding a high school teacher who was allegedly acting inappropriately with a student. The situation is upsetting and unfortunate but the manner in which the school handled the situation was deplorable. Rather than follow the law and report the incident to proper authorities AND the girls parents, the school chose to try to 'sweep it under the rug'. Fortunately the girls parents found out about it and took the appropriate actions but the school should be ashamed of itself for the manner in which they handled this situation. Again, as the case involved a minor, we are not willing or able to provide information about this incident but rest assured, it was an unfortunate event.
 While many of you who question of motives and purpose will wonder the significance of the information contained within this blog, we turn full circle to the laws that govern Charter schools (from http://www.doe.mass.edu/lawsregs/603cmr1.html?section=13):
 1.13: Charter Revocation, Probation, Suspension, and Non-Renewal
(1) The Board may suspend or revoke (hereinafter, "revoke") a charter for cause, including but not limited to:
(a) a material misrepresentation in the application for approval of the charter or renewal of the charter;
(b) failure to comply substantially with the terms of the charter, with any of the applicable provisions of M.G.L. c. 71, or with any other applicable law or regulation;
(c) financial insolvency;
(d) misappropriation, conversion, mismanagement, or illegal withholding of funds or refusal to pay any funds that belong to any person otherwise entitled thereto and that have been entrusted to the charter school or its administrators in their fiduciary capacities;
(e) fraud or gross mismanagement on the part of charter school administrators or board of trustees, including but not limited to, mismanagement of the educational program and failure to provide a healthy and safe environment for students;
(f) criminal convictions on the part of the charter school or its board of trustees; or
(g) failure to fulfill any conditions imposed by the Board in connection with the grant or renewal of a charter.
 In light of this, we question whether any of the above detailed incidences are worth losing our school over. We think not and hope that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education agree, for the sake of our children.


  1. Id just like to say what a great job mvrcs has done putting together one of the biggest cross country teams I have ever seen in all my years. I was talking to the coach of the Hanscom Air force team and she was very excited and happy about how far MVRCS had come with their program.

  2. I also can not wait for the new athletic field to be completed. Pine Banks is nice and all but very dangerous to navigate as a cross country runner. It seems someone here must know when that will be completed? Bueller ? Anyone ?

    It's safe to say that the building of these facilities should and I hope encourage students to stay at MVRCS throughout high school rather than leaving for a more sport affiliated school.

  3. Father of 2

    You must be on the board/administration......no empathy for the individual student

  4. To October 5, 2010 9:40 PM,

    That was my first thought as well. Completely ingnored commenting on the post, but praised the school, which means that if this is just a Father or 2, that he has no compassion for children with disabilities. Thank goodness his children don't suffer from a learning disablitity! Nice guy! As long as his kids play sports and don't have a disability, then he is one big happy dad!

    Really Father of 2, Hanscom Air force team is excited and happy about how far MVRCS has come with their program? Why? They live in Hanscom. Why would they even care?

  5. It's sad when athletics takes precedence over an education. That’s probably why most athletes can’t speak proper English. Do parents really take their kids out of MV for a school with a better field? What schools are they transferring too?

  6. Kids who excel at sports do sometimes leave MVRCS as the school isn't known for sports and are in the lower divisions. The kids that leave do go to schools like Arlington Catholic or Malden Catholic where they would have the opportunity to be seen by top recruiters and make a name for themselves. Students from these schools tend to get(or trying to get) sport scholarships for college. Hard to begrudge as college is a great goal for students. Most of us chose MVRCS for academics and that is where we want the priority to remain.

  7. My kids played sports one year at MV-the year Jim Cahill, (another "Konnected employee") was the worst AD the school ever had. They refused to join in any sport after that as the school was always mismatched and got their heads handed to them. It was at the point where, as a parent, do I continue to force them to be brutalized at the hands of teams so much superior (Everett for one) it was extremely painful to even watch or do I make them finish something they stared? They finished the season and other than one year on the cross country team, never wanted to play any sports for the school as they could not trust them to stop setting them up for not just defeat, but total devastation. I agree things have gotten better now they are in Division 4 team play. Needless to say, they earned their scholarships to college based on academic merit and not sports.

    The one year my son was in cross country he excelled. The problem at the time, tho, was the team had to leave school early to compete and he would miss his Latin class as it was the last class of the day. To me, the academics are more important than sports so he wasn't allowed to do it again as it interfered with his studies. Since so many kids didn't sign up for the next time as they had fallen behind in their last class the school had to institute the "rolling" day where it's not always the same class at the end of the day. Amazing what they will do in the name of sports!

  8. I thought that kids cannot enter the school after 5th grade? How are they trying to recruit athletes then? They are SUPPOSED to only have the group that has come through since at least grade 5. Athletics are important but not nearly as important as academics. I wish they would scrap this athletic center idea and go and try to find a cohesive campus. Only then should they contemplate a sports complex. Academics need to come first. I would prefer, and most parents I know agree, there was no football team and a better physical environment to learn and lower staff turn over. I would really think educating all learners and having counselors in the middle and high school would be a better focus than an athletics center.

  9. Not sure if this is relevent for to the above psoting but something HAS TO be done about Amanda Gogan, she's not fit to be with children, she's MEAN in plain english.

  10. I think academics (and the facilities) should be the first priority because if I wanted sports to be a priority, I would have chosen a different school for my child. I don't think sports is part of the mission statement for the school. Besides, they don't cater to all interests (drama, music, basically the arts, etc) so why just sports?

    Just saw post regarding Gogan, my kids haven't had her or had bad experiences with her but some of the teachers at the school are just plain out mean. What is sad is that those seem to be the teachers the school keeps. It seems like the teachers who are there for the kids, who connect with the kids and try to motivate them when needed, are either let go or leave. One of my kids loved Ms. Crozer (?) from a few years ago and I hear they gave her an AWFUL time but she was great with the kids.

  11. There are a lot of children with a less than healthy respect for authority. I witnessed this when Ms.Gogan was trying to do a builders club fundraiser and the kids ( especially the girls!) were outrageously misbehaving and disrespectful. I know there is a lot of structure in the school day and some parents suffer from precious snowflake syndrome when it comes to their children, but there is no excuse for the attitude. Maybe this is what you are refering to-it can come off as mean but please consider the behavior some children display-it needs to be cut off immediately. I am a parent who has had little dealing with Ms.Gogan but my daughter has always liked her.

  12. I realized I misspelled Amanada Goggin's name wrong. As far defending Ms Goggin b/c of the way children misbehave, she suppose to be an adult, she needs to act like one and give children a behavior to model. My kids are well behaved and would give her no reason to be mean. Just to get the record straight, so we don't get out hand here with insinuations, I don't think of my kids as precious snowflakes, there even more than that.

  13. To the posts above regarding teachers attitude v. students behavior, interestingly enough part of the reason we chose this school for our children (and one thing we have always appreciated) was the level of respect that students displayed not just in school but outside of school as well. Lately it seems as though the students have been demonstrating less respect towards not just each other and teachers but outside of school as well. And it seems to get worse each year...
    In Ms. Goggin's defense, I have seen some of the activities she has done with the students and have always been impressed with her dedication to them. I know a few years ago she really took a hit from the Administration in trying to do right by a few of her female students and it bit her in the butt. She really put her neck on the line for them but the Admin wouldn't hear of it and she was put in an awful position.

  14. How can there be respect at the school when the students have seen first hand what the board/administration has done in how they have treated teachers, parents and students in a debasing way. When there is no respect for the "leaders" chaos will ensue.

  15. What about how they've treated Dr. McCleary? He has no say in anything and the manner in which they speak to him at the Board meetings is deplorable. I can't even imagine why he is still at the school. He has had all of his say and duties stripped from him, is just a name on the door, and has to have a tough time with the things they have had him say and do since he has been there. He doesn't seem like he buys into the actions that have caused us to question the character of the board and administration. Would bet he is counting the days till he can get out of there.

  16. I would disagree with your views on Dr. McCleary. He is a puppet for the board/administration who takes whatever they dish out to him and will do whatever to protect them.

  17. Do you think it's by choice or necessity? He is a puppet and does take whatever they dish out to him but I can't imagine he protects them out of loyalty or belief in their actions. I think he has to do what he has to do in order to keep his job. He is basically paid to play the game and not make trouble.