Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Why So Much Secrecy at MVRCS?

"The very word 'secrecy' is repugnant in a free and open society: and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings." John F. Kennedy
"Where secrecy or mystery begins, vice or roguery is not far off." Samual Johnson
           Per Webster's Dictionary, Roguery is defined as:
ro·guery (gər ē)
noun pl. rogueries -·guer·ies
the behavior or an act of a rogue; specifically, trickery; cheating; fraud.

In a post dated October 2, 2010 titled ‘Kinnons Efforts to Control  - Us, Firefighters, Teachers, and ??’ we discussed the 2004 case concerning the Malden Firefighters and their legal battle with Neil Kinnon and Mayor Howard. To reiterate our original post:

“The case revolved around the Malden Firefighters (and their Union reps) attempting to advocate against Mr. Kinnon's decision to reduce the fire staff. The Firemen (as we understand it) were posting signs, handing out leaflets, and generally attempting to education the public as to the actions of Mr. Kinnon & Mr. Howard and the impact to the residents. The case went to court (and expenses incurred) as both parties defended their position. While we can understand an appointed Commissioners and Mayors desire to not have the fact that they were paying for a Commissioner rather than Firefighters, the extent of the battle amazed us. Mr. Kinnon was attempting to deny the Firefighters of Malden their First Amendment right to voice their opposition to the actions. The Firefighters prevailed but it was sad that the City of Malden felt entitled to such limitations upon their staff, spent city funds to defend, and had written a Memorandum that was in violation of the laws that govern our government and those that govern employer’s actions.

 At the time we chose not to delve too deeply into the schools efforts and insistence upon secrecy but feel that the time has come to question exactly why the need for such secrecy. Most of us can appreciate that at times secrets may be necessary and have positive implications or outcomes. Examples of this would be the planning of a surprise party, a special gift, or simply the completion of a task. Alternatively, when we think of our politicians, leaders of organizations and companies insisting upon secrecy, or individuals insisting upon secrecy, it causes others to question their motives and intentions. What first comes to mind are the actions of terrorists, criminals, and even more deplorable the actions of child molesters. When we think back to years gone by when too many adults were able to take advantage of young and vulnerable by making them swear to secrecy. Fortunately for many, our society has realized the need for openness, honesty, and communication to prevent such wrongdoings and dangerous situations. No where is this more apparent than our societies recent insistence on a more open government. Within our families parents are reminded time and again of the importance of maintaining open communications with their children in the hopes of curtailing drug, alcohol, and inappropriate sexual conduct. It is no wonder then that we are concerned with Neil Kinnon, the Board of Trustees, and the Administration’s insistence and attempts at not only preventing open communication but also their insistence upon silence.

It concerns us that teachers are so limited in what they can and can not say to parents to the point that their contracts state limitations. For example, teachers (whether still employed by the school or not) are prevented by their contracts of advising parents to remove their children from MVRCS. Given that the school has such an extensive waiting list and that the school is clearly not equipped to handle all students, one must ask why they prohibit teachers from making such a statement. More importantly, why they must include this information within their contracts and threaten legal action should a teacher speak out about such a situation. This would be more understandable in district schools as should a school district not be able to provide an adequate education to a child they are responsible for not only outsourcing that child to a private school, but for the transportation expense to and from that school. Alternatively, should MVRCS admit to not being able to provide a child with an adequate education, the child is then referred back to their sending district. Why then must they refuse to allow teachers to communicate such information to a parent? Granted one would hope that the Administration would handle such discussions but it is clearly NOT going to happen at MVRCS.

Going one step further, why does Neil Kinnon insist upon keeping parents in the dark about so much? Why do they continually break the Open Meeting law by excusing themselves to Executive Sessions when the topics do not fall into the legally allowable topics? Why do they make obtaining copies of the minutes so incredibly difficult? One of the legal reasons the Board is permitted to meet under the Executive Sessions is to discuss the termination of an employee. Many employees have come and gone over the years and while many are at their own doing, we know of many employees who have left not on their own accord. Under the laws, these employees are entitled to attend Executive Sessions if their employment in question yet we have heard of no employee ever being granted such right. Does that mean that Dr. McCleary is making termination decisions? Or Chris Finn and George Benzie? It seems obvious that the school has some employment issues and that many laws are being violated regarding both their current and past employees.

So we ask you Mr. Kinnon, why all the secrecy? Do you think if you forbid everyone from talking you can keep hidden all the conflicts of interest and code of conduct laws you are breaking? Who are protecting from prohibiting teachers from telling parents the truth? Is THAT how you meet the needs of ALL of your students? What don't we know about that you are doing? AND, WHY THE SECRECY (and new format) AT THE RECENT LOTTERY? YET ANOTHER WAY OF SKIRTING THE LAWS THAT GOVERN YOU? Mr. Wulfson, are you paying attention? Is your phone ringing yet, cause it will be.


  1. If teachers talk to each other about their contracts and/or reviews they are fired. That's because they all are held to very different standards...nice!

  2. What was last night about? Filming the parents rather than the process? At first I thought the camera was there to make sure the lottery was conducted legally and to document what they were doing but the camera watched the parents NOT the people in drawing the names.