MVRCS Management and Operations


Concerns regarding the management and operation of the school:

  1. The DESE was concerned about the Boards involvement in the management of the day to day operations of the school. The Boards responsibilities should be limited to oversight of the curriculum and business issues. 
    • It appears that Dr. McCleary has little say or involvement in the management of the school yet is clearly the most qualified. Many of us have witnessed with dismissing manner in which the Board treats Dr. McCleary during Open Meetings.
      • As a result, Neil Kinnon has taken on the management and decision making on all aspects of the school. Unaware of any credentials or experience in the operation of an academic institution, this is alarming.
        •  Mr. Kinnon has been very open about his lack of respect for teachers and the teaching profession. The question exists of whether this has had negative implications on the staff and the quality of education our children are receiving.
  2. Other concerns specifically regarding the Administration at MVRCS include:
    • Christopher Finn appears not to have the credentials or experience necessary to effectively manage the school. The behavior issues are extensive and his office can be found full of students on any given day. This leads us to question the lack of respect and fear of consequences the students have developed since the departure of Dr. Biegler. 
      • Mr. Finn and Mr. Kinnon are long-time family friends and this requires us to question the conflict of issues and objectivity of these individuals.
    • Kathy Kinnon heads up the Special Education department at MVRCS and is clearly a relative of Mr. Kinnon. As many parents requiring the services and support of this department, it can be a frustrating and infuriating experience. 
        • Under Special Education law if a parent is not satisfied with their child’s IEP (Individual Education Plan that details the required services) or 504 (for no academic concerns that impact learning), they may seek assistance from the schools Board (or Superintendent for non-charter schools) and/or file an appeal with the DESE. The DESE requires that the complaint be presented to the schools Board for review before taking any action. The conflict of issue laws that would normally prevent a parent from appealing to one family member in resolving a matter concerning another family member are clearly being disregarded. The consequence of which is that parents of special education students have little to no recourse in obtaining the education their child is entitled to under NCLB and IDEA laws.
        • Parents may then take their issues to the DESE but the process is long and tedious and is rarely successful on the part of the parents.
      • The more troubling issue that concerns us is that many parents are hesitant to challenge or question the decisions or actions of the school out of fear of repercussions from the Board.
      •  As a number of us do have students that receive the services of the Special Education department, we have a copy of our child’s IEP. Out of fairness and objectivity to the school, we have had these reviewed by an unbiased individual with experience in Special Education. A number of concerns, issues, and red flags were noted. We stress that that is not to indicate that all IEP’s are failing to meet the needs of students but do suggest that you seek the advice of a Special Education Attorney or Advocate if you have concerns about your child’s progress.
      • According to MCAS results (which we review with our own questions regarding usefulness) even though MVRCS has a very small number of students that qualify for services, their students do not perform well when compared to students in other sending districts. The school has also not obtained AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) in a number of sub-groups. As required by law, a letter was sent out by Dr. McCleary addressing this issue.
      • The experience and education qualifications have been raised regarding Ms. Kinnon. As an individual who has (to our knowledge) not been employed as a special educator within any other school or institution, we question whether she is qualified to head the department.
      • Little communication, direction, or assistance is provided to the teachers and teaching assistants beyond a group presentation.
      • A number of teachers have expressed concern regarding the handling of students with neglect, abuse, and/or emotional issues by Ms. Kinnon. One of the more alarming concerns related to Ms. Kinnon refusing to follow the advice of school psychologists and counselors in the reporting of issues required by law. Given her limited exposure and experience under highly qualified special education individuals (beyond MVRCS), we must question whether this was done out of ignorance (yet she knows the laws), arrogance, or the schools self-serving motives.
  3. Questions regarding the abuses of funds and power:
    • It is no secret that the school employs many family members, friends, and associates of the Board of Trustees. We take issue with the individuals who are hired with little regard to their qualifications, experience, or performance. In such tight financial times (especially for schools and charter schools who have been subjected to a reduction in funding), it is concerning that MVRCS has not been pro-active in addressing the employment of these individuals.
    • We have come across allegations of questionable reporting to the DESE regarding data that determines their funding, renewal of the charter, and, qualifications of their staff. As we have not yet confirmed this information, we make mention of it in the event any of you have specific information that can be validated.
    • The financial management of the school has raised a number of concerning red flags after comparing their Annual Report and the DESE financial data. This will be covered in more detail in a later post.
Additional Special Education Issues Addressed within the DSES 2008 PQA Review: - More to add
  1. Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Findings:
    • The student record review indicated that annual reviews are not always held prior to the anniversary date of student IEPs.
    • According to the student record review, the school does not complete the Present Level of Educational Performance (PLEP) B section of IEPs; the school’s practice is to refer to the PLEP A (e.g. “See PLEP A”) section of the IEP

    • According to staff interviews and the document review, the school has just begun establishing its parent advisory council by offering membership to all parents of children with disabilities and other interested parties and by identifying an individual to act as the chairperson. MVRCS has also provided the annual workshop on the rights of students and their parents and guardians under the state and federal special education laws. However, the parent advisory council has not yet established by-laws, recruited additional members, or fulfill duties such as advising the school on matters that pertain to the education and safety of students with disabilities.
    • Mystic Valley Regional Charter School is a Commonwealth charter school and by law, is not required to have licensed special education teachers.
    • According to staff interviews, at the time of the onsite visit, the high school’s paraprofessional had not been trained to assist in providing special education services.
    • According to staff interviews and the school’s documentation, the charter school does not regularly evaluate its special education programs and services.
    • According to staff interviews and the school’s documentation, the school has a translation service available but did not include examples of school recruitment and promotional materials disseminated to residents in the six districts served by the school or program, translated into the major languages spoken by residents with limited English skills.
    • According to documentation and staff interviews, Mystic Valley Regional Charter School’s seniors graduated more than 12 days before the regular scheduled closing date of the school. Last year, the charter school’s seniors graduated on June 1, 2007; the last day of school for everyone else was June 22, 2007.
    • The school’s student and parent handbook does not contain 1) a nondiscrimination statement consistent with M.G.L. c. 76, s. 5; 2) the school’s procedure for accepting, investigating and resolving complaints alleging discrimination or harassment; 3) the inclusion of students with Section 504 Accommodation Plans in the section on procedures for the discipline of students with special needs; and 4) a statement that a parent or student whose primary language is not English may request the translation of the student handbook or student code of conduct into the parent’s primary language.
    • According to staff interviews and the school’s documentation, the school has not specifically evaluated its K-12 program for equal access
    • According to document review, Mystic Valley Regional Charter School submitted three different letters for this criterion that do not conform to the requirements of waiver forms and procedures as per M.G.L. c. 71A, § 5.
    • According to Department guidance, English learners who wish to participate in a transitional bilingual program or receive some other type of language support may not do so unless they have received a waiver from the requirements of G.L. c. 71A from the school in question. The letters submitted by the school either document the refusal of ESL services by the parent or request an exception for the school year for students 10 years or older. A procedure addressing students who are 10 years or younger was not provided by the school.
    • According to SIMS data and school documentation, there are currently no limited English proficient (LEP) students enrolled in the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School. MVRCS has submitted documents that describe their procedures should an LEP student enroll that are in accordance with Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education guidelines and mandates for program exit and readiness.
    • Mystic Valley Regional Charter School’s policies and procedures do not include a description of Ch. 71A’s requirements when parents decline entry to a school or district’s ELE program. Additionally, the school does not describe the documentation requirements for a student whose parents have declined entry to MVRCS’ ELL program.
    • According to SIMS data and school documentation, there are currently no limited English proficient (LEP) students enrolled in Mystic Valley Regional Charter School. MVRCS has submitted a plan indicating that if any incoming student is identified as LEP, the district will follow all Department of Elementary and Secondary Education guidelines and mandates for instructional grouping.
    • The school’s parent notification letter did not include the following: the program placement and/or the method of instruction used in MVRCS’ program; the parents’ right to apply for a waiver (see ELE 4), or to decline to enroll their child in the program (see ELE 8), and that upon placement in the ELE program, the same notice is mailed to the parents or guardians annually thereafter until the student exits the ELE program.
    • According to SIMS data and school documentation, there are currently no LEP students enrolled in the MVRCS. The district has submitted documentation indicating that if incoming students are identified as LEP, the district will follow all MADOE guidelines and mandates for licensure requirements.
    • According to SIMS data and school documentation, there are currently no LEP students enrolled in MVRCS. However, the district has provided a professional development plan focused on the skills and knowledge necessary for teachers working with LEP students, as outlined in the June 2004 Commissioner’s memorandum. The district will begin delivering Sheltered English Immersion professional development during school year 2008-2009.

1 comment:

  1. Lottery issue 15 - 17 siblings incoming kindergaten year 2010- 2011 weren't assigned a number for the lottery.