This article could have been aptly titled: "Rhee swings the axe again" particularly since Rhee's comments indicate that "termination will be swift." Here we go again with the blame game and finger pointing devoid of 'the facts' and lacking accountability for management's responsibility for special education compliance. Special education providers have been accused of other things but not showing up at their MDT meetings is not one of them. I know first hand that while juggling multiple schools, we attend meetings even in the summer ( when we are on leave), conference call in when we are sick, switch days at our other schools to accommodate a parent's schedule just to name a few. Liar, Liar- Pants on Fire !
Rather than belabor the issue, I decided to post comments that I have received on this subject via email as well as comments posted on The Washington Post's website. Feel free to add your own two cents worth on this hot topic.
"Thank you Candi. I am in complete agreement with you and applaud you response. What Nyankori said was a lie ... that can not be excused due to his lack of experience or lack of time with us. One of the things I learned when I was a child was that a liar is one one the most dangerous kinds of people. I still believe that's true."
"How sad can it get? I think this is just horrible, what a perfect way to destroy morale."
"This is shameful; I'm definitely going to make the time to write the court monitors."
"Thanks Candi. They always want to blame the workers instead of accepting the blame for their role in this fiasco."
"Good Evening Candi: The truth will set you free!! I have the utmost respect for you to stand for what is right and speak the truth!! You need to be applauded for your honesty and blessed spirit. You will always be well respected among your peers!! I salute you !I am in complete agreement."
"This is one more slap to our members."
Part of the problem is of course going back to school boards in the 70's that never planned for special education programs in the public schools. But the reality is that for years many Teach for America teachers, or Teach for Awhile teachers as they are sometimes called- and those recruited by the New Teachers Project, couldn't get the extra help they needed for those children with disabilities in their classrooms. They were asked to work with these children along with all the other children in their classes alone and as a former teacher I know what that does to a classroom. I think that when Adrian Fenty ran for Mayor he said that we will need more money for special education as we develop these programs in our public schools. I don't think that Chancellor Rhee has really focused on this issue and I believe constantly threatening teachers and principals with dismissal, even when not providing the staff and help they need, may not be the way to go to correct these problems.
Candi Peterson, one of the last pure teacher advocates apart of the Washington Teachers’ Union, is the hero of this issue and many others. She must be protected from Rhee and Co. for contradicting the Nyankori testimony. Judge Friedman must pay an unannounced visit to these special education programs which the administration is hyping. They are either poorly performing or non existent. Press the issue and discover the real truth. The court must identify with being the adjudicator of justice or part of the problem. Where is Nyankori’s proof for such a disparaging remark? All special education teachers, advocates, and vested parties ought to send their comments to the special education lawyers, advocates, Judge Friedman, and Candi. Her blog: The washingtonteacher.bogspot.com is where some of the best education issues are discussed. Nyankori ought to be ashamed of himself for telling such as incredible lie. What a cowardly response!
A couple of good points have been made here that bear follow-up by the reporter.1. Check on Rhee's cancelled flight - don't just take her word for it. Check the reservation and the flight schedule.2. Check the data on teachers missing meetings. Again, don't just ask Rhee's staff to present it; find the raw data and check it yourself. If there isn't any raw data, that's news too. As for the irony of Rhee missing a meeting in which her staff accuses teachers of missing meetings, please check to see if a phone hook-up was considered as a way of having her present. If the DC teacher who posted here can give testimony from her cell phone in her car, certainly the Chancellor can do it from a conference room in an airport."My flight was cancelled" sounds remarkably like the executive version of "the dog ate my homework."
I too am a DCPS teacher who does not teach SPED but is involved with it. And as pointed out by previous posters, it often is the PARENT who doesn't show up for meetings which then have to be constantly rescheduled. I recently was involved in a hearing where my testimony was needed. I was able to give it to the lawyer from my cell phone and I was put on speaker phone. It was done outside of school time and I sat parked in my car giving testimony about a student's academic progress and responding to questions. The hearing ruled in DCPS' favor, that we at the local school were in fact meeting the child's educational needs. No private placement was needed. Readers, please realize that for all the problems there are many competent committed DCPS teachers who work with special ed. Rhee and Nyankori must know this.
By the way, did DCPS provide documentation supporting the charge that staff didn't show up? I, for one, would like to see the statistics. How many hearings were conducted last year? How many were cancelled - and for what reason? This is so easily documented that anecdotal charges against the integrity of professional staff (and parents) is inappropriate in a legal setting. Show me the numbers!
So my question is....even if everyone shows up and the backlog is eliminated, what happens NEXT??? I see no plans to properly serve Special Ed children in our schools. At my daughter's school, for instance, the entire special ed staff has turned over every year for the past three years! Even now, we are two months into the school year with two vacancies in the Special Ed dept. Frankly, I am grateful for the families who can manage to challenge DC in court and get their children into private schools - it is brutal, expensive, and time consuming. But their children get served and progress.While I know that there are many qualified and dedicated Special Ed teachers in DCPS, they frequently work short-handed, lack materials, and have no structure to address the multiple needs facing them.Where is the support for the PROGRAM? The recruitment and training of all the staff that will be needed? The curriculum?
I was a special education teacher in two different districts and never encountered a staff member not showing up for a scheduled meeting. When meetings had to be rescheduled it was invariably because parents did not show up.
The DC school system is under court order to obey the laws requiring special education services. Therefore when a school staff person willfully chooses to "not make it to meetings" the correct description of that behavior is "contempt of court". So give one last clear warning and then throw the next staffer, or several staffers, who do so in jail overnight. I am pretty sure only a very few examples will fix that particular problem.
Kudos to Educator1 and Candi P for setting the record straight. 98% of the time, parents DO NOT show, often for multiple, re-scheduled meetings. This administration has become masterful at scapegoating everyone else for its failures. How convenient for Rhee that her flight was "cancelled." She's always touting accountability for employees (while hurling threats of termination), but when she was required to go before the judge to explain her own dearth of results, she offered up Dr. Nyankori instead. DCPS needs a new slogan: "CYA" by any means necessary!
Sorry to inform you, but it's more like the other way around.More often, it's the parents that DO NOT SHOW UP. Saying that it's the staff that does not attend these meetings is VERY far from the truth.We're at the schools, so how can we NOT show up?Hearings are such a "big deal" that more often than not, everyone shows up.Example, we've been trying to schedule a meeting with a parent since school started....we have yet to have this meeting...Why? because the parent has failed to show in 4 or five attempts..but just you wait...in a few months the parent will show up with an advocate/attorney to complain about what the school hasn't done...this is how a number of cases go down in DCPS
I trust Dr. Nyankori's continued search for excellence in DCPS. I've talked to him at length and I don't believe that he would lie about this kind of thing.
Tell Candi Peterson the better word goes like this: That happens to be one of those Liberally Interpreted Evidentiary Substantiations. Liberally Interpreted Evidentiary Substantiations is abbreviated LIES !!!! Maybe she can help us with a way to say the same thing in the SINGULAR. Let us work on it, together. Posted by The Washington Teacher.