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Thanks to the diligent efforts of Mr. Leibowitz, Ms. Wright, Mr. Dittmar, and several others, the full Findings document has now been posted, along with the resolution, etc.
Thanks Mr. Leibowitz, Ms. Wright, Mr. Dittmar and Friend of the Court!
Sometimes when the heat gets too hot, you need to relieve the pressure from the system! It was the only logical outcome!
Next item - retirement of our school superintendent. We'll deal with the other issues in due time.
No, CT should not be allowed to "retire" but should be fired outright, along with asst PWL and city solicitor and any on SC who were part of the huge cover-up.
It was not just a cover up. There was a determined effort to discredit, retaliate and embarrass this child and his family in the press by the city solicitor, Taymore and others. And P Lambright did her job by specifically not interviewing the one adult witness and many student witnesses who heard the teacher's racist comments, and then allowing the child to be unrepresented in a conference with the principal, vice principal and teacher without the parent's consent. Truly sickening.
Now it makes sense why Taymore waited well over a month to disclose the OCR findings and resolution agreement to the general public, albeit, buried deep within the labrynth of the school department's website. She was waiting for the Tewksbury School Committee to make it's selection for the superintendent's position of which Lambright was a candidate.
Now All Angles/Clown Patrol/Pudwid will post another dismissive response, blaming the whole thing on Melrose "haters" and METCO, and trying to make jokes about the "coalition". What has become very clear to me is that most people in this city just cannot have a real conversation about what has happened. I have tried to talk about how the administration bungled this whole thing, and how it is now costing us, and all I have heard in response is negative, dismissive comments toward the METCO program, students, in general, and the racial divide in the country. I have no problem with someone thinking this incident was blown out of proportion (I do not happen to agree with you, but I understand that you may not see the seriousness of the teacher's comments). I do have a problem with using this outlook to dismiss the fact that the administration handled this horribly. Whether corrupt or negligent, they got us where we are, and there should be consequences for a job poorly done. But person after person that I speak to cannot bring themselves to find fault with any part of this administration or city. I do not know why they feel that they are being disloyal to the place they love if they point out when something is just wrong. The teacher, principal, superintendent, school committee- all of them screwed up. And the initial mistake could have been remedied and it was not, because the student and family were treated poorly from the start, and the administration was too stupid or proud or naive to do the right thing. The whole thing is an embarrassment, and people should be able to say so without having their loyalty to the city questioned. Read the report. It made me sick to see something so mishandled.
I found this part interesting:
"The OCR found out that the incident was publicized in an online community news article, which included comments by a city official concerning the incident, and was the subject of discussion and commentary on the incident."
But Clown Patrol will still insist that I've go Myron locked in my basement day and night posting and wracking up views....[:)s]
Lizbeth D take note! You were the "official" as a "human rights commissioner" and SC candidate who posted here on this board. You were a member of that commission (HRC) when it violated the laws and held an executive session at the end of April 2014 in which the focus was concern supposedly about information leaking to this message board rather than the heinous acts of a teacher and administrators who have since expended many district resources in an elaborate coverup. That HRC failed to post or keep an agenda, let alone appropriate minutes. That HRC didn't have a legal right to convene that Executive Session under the law, but did so anyway, and then didn't even have the respect for the law to have attempted to post its reasons or the minutes thereof. Meanwhile that same HRC has done exactly zero to address the egregious harms to a student and to our whole community as a result of the actions in April of 2014 by a teacher and administration, and all the harm that has resulted from the coverup ever since. Fortunately, the federal Office of Civil Rights has taken note of these things.
Sad to say, but the School Committee Norms, trumpeted by Kristen Thorp, new SC chair Margaret Driscoll and Super Taymore had an incredibly damaging and costly $ impact on the Melrose community during this dark period in Melrose. As hard as Carrie Kourkoumelis tried to get information she was entitled to from these three anti-transparency queens, they continually shut her down, citing the "McCarthyist" Norms. Meanwhile, efforts by these three, the city solicitor and assistant superintendent to cover up and hide vital information from several school committee members severely hampered Ms. Kourkoumelis and certain committee members from getting a handle on the scope of the civil rights violations committed by administrative personnel and preventing further mismanagement and damage to the community.
Excerpts from the Norms that at all costs, must be removed to prevent this type of anti-transparency misconduct in the future:
"Information from the district will be provided to all members
to the extent that it relates to an educational purpose and/or the
Committee’s legitimate governing responsibilities".
Information requested must have a legitimate educational interest for the Committee and fall within their roles and responsibilities. Members will make requests for information to the Superintendent directly. The Chair,
in concert with the Superintendent, will determine
the form of that information and how it is best provided in a timely
manner, such that it reflects the committee’s roles and responsibilities. Committee members can request additional information through formal public records requests, or by a vote of the full committee".
MM Conspiracy theorists are missing the smoking gun. You have not dug deep enough yet. District claimed to OCR that teacher was placed on administrative leave and then involuntary transferred to High School...but that is not how it actually went down.The truth is out there.
Do tell? What is the OCR missing?
Does it make sense that the school admin would involuntary transfer the teacher to the school that the child involved and other students who witnessed the event were going to? Wouldn't they want to keep the teacher in a completely different building than the students involved?
A very touching and beautiful tribute in the Free Press to the poor boy that was killed on the train tracks last week. What may not be widely known is that his girlfriend was a Metco student. While people seem to be using the OCR issue as a litmus test as to the state of race relations in Melrose...maybe we are looking in the wrong place. Maybe, if we look at the kids, we will realize things aren't as bad as many are claiming. Give that consideration prior to the net time you hit the "POST MESSAGE" icon. I was moved by the tribute this fine young man that left us far too soon.
Please get in touch with reality - who do you think was negatively impacted by the recent OCR finding and resolution - a METCO student! And who do you think was negatively impacted by the next OCR case which is being investigated - a METCO student! Do you see a trend developing in our school system?
Myron, that makes no sense. A METCO student was negatively impacted by the actions of the particular teacher and the non-response of the administration, not by the OCR finding and resolution. Is that what you were trying to say?
Yes..meant "in" those cases!
There it is! See how easy it is to clear up possible misunderstandings with a simple question and a simple answer? Mayor Dolan and the SC - take note!
Here's another simple question - exactly how much money has actually been spent on legal fees defending these disgraceful scenarios? Administration's answer - I can tell you but it will cost you $7500.
Did I hear correctly that Cyndy Taymore's response to the OCR and Kick a Ginger Day fiascos (that she has totally mismanaged) was to hire a PR firm???? This all gets more outrageous each week that this woman holds power. So let me get this straight: This administration looks the other way at federal civil rights crimes, the systematic bullying of kids and staff, just for starters. Of course she actively did things directly that were and continue to be dead wrong, but she will claim that her hands are clean, that it was her staff that did wrong things. Then when major media (all of the local tv news stations, print media, etc.) finally wake up to the ramifications that many (but not enough) parents understand to be the disaster of this paid and elected administration, this super decides that the answer is better SPIN. Apparently Brigit wasn't getting it done with her steady flow of manufactured news. She couldn't quite manage to stuff the Ginger Day or multiple OCR investigations back under Robbie's desk, and she sure as heck couldn't keep Dr. P from leaving or make MEF's phony override propaganda pass.
If I heard CT correctly during last week's school committee bullying session, her team is "not trained in the art of communication," hence the need to spend $10,000 in taxpayer dollars to cover their a$$es with puffy news stories to gloss over what's really happening--ike a business manager who (mercifully is leaving but not soon enough) can't/Won't (!) answer a simple question truthfully or with the information he should have readily at hand with his chronically nonfunctioning computer (or brain) in front of him. Or a high school that is absolutely toxic with zero leadership from its CT-promoted incompetent. Or a teaching staff that is totally demoralized and losing its best teachers almost as fast as the Zika virus gains ground. Or a middle school that is at the brink of collapse with all the chaos that its CT-promoted tyrant (whose wife is shopping buddies with CT, big surprise) is causing. Oh sure, a police department PR firm is the answer. (Guilfoil doesn't cover school systems up until now, but once again, what does CT care about qualifications?!)
Next time the MEF propagandists come asking you for cash, remind them that they should give back our taxpayer annual $10,000 that they take from Robbie's tax rolls so that it can be used to pay the PR firm that can help MEF spin its deceitful web.
That's right CT has no problem spending taxpayer dollars allocated towards educating our children to hire PR firms and high end legal firms to protect her and the rest of the CR violators. Pretty sad state of affairs when the school committee (other than Carrie K ) actually permit her to do this. Thank you Carrie K for trying to protect the children and their educations from this bunch of losers.
No doubt about it - Carrie K is our hero for being brave and courageous speaking out and challenging the school committee cabal! Hopefully, both new committee members will join her in fighting for transparency, fairness, and openness.
Well, Liz has asked some good financial questions (like a couple of them), but basically voted with the pack for everything else, smiling and currying favor with MD and RD at every turn. She has a brain, so let's hope she uses it. These people are eventually going down, and if she's smart (presumably she is), she'll be careful not to go down with them. Eddie has been absolutely useless in his first 2 ballgames, and he just sits there letting Robbie talk on and on to him while the meeting is going on, without regard for the failure to abide by any kind of decorum or common decency. This guy may be smart, but he wasn't smart enough not to get caught committing felonies, and he doesn't seem too bright in the way he's conducting himself so far, trying to play all ends against the middle.
It's all so pitiful and awful. The atmosphere in the district is beyond poisonous, and while Rome burns, Margaret is now holding a gavel again and trying to impress all with how busy and efficient she is. Maybe somewhere there's a Tina Fey to play this local lunatic, but meanwhile the reality is very noir and grossly unfunny. Kids and staff are being neglected and/or hurt both on purpose and by default due to the baseline ignorance and contempt of so many in administration now. The answer, naturally, is a PR firm (and a bad/sketchy one at that). Really not cool at all. How that bunch of boobs on the committee just sat there and let it fly is beyond understanding. With the feds marching all around looking into everything you'd think there'd be some careful, contrite behavior. Seems like just the reverse, that CT and gang are flinging their collective noses at it all in arrogance and the belief that they are getting off scot-free. Well, Melrose's reputation is not escaping, that's for sure. Melrose is earning hefty scorn and disgust from the entire Metro area, and it's based in factual findings for which the contemptuous ones have only themselves to blame (if they're even concerned, which is doubtful from the looks of their scornful faces).
The administrators all seem to be mad (rather than embarrassed and humiliated) that victims of racial harassment and intimidation actually fought back after their child was humiliated by a teacher in front of all his peers, then pulled in to a conference room later without counsel and forced to apologize to the teacher/aggressor while the top administrators stared him down, and then finally, humiliated yet again by RVC in the local newspapers.[:-?]
Message to school committee member, Ed: Get your act together and start acting like you care what's going on in the district - and care about the kids! There are enough "empty suits" in the hall - we don't need another one - get your brain in gear and starting challenging and questioning the decisions by the others - even Liz is stepping up her game and asking important questions.
Please publish the Findings document, Mr. L!!!!
Schools agree with OCR to add training, consultant
By Aaron Leibowitz
February 02. 2016 2:55PM
On Dec. 17, Superintendent of Schools Cyndy Taymore signed a resolution agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, outlining 19 steps the Melrose Public Schools must take to better handle situations of alleged harassment going forward.
The agreement marks the conclusion of a process that formally began Nov. 24, 2014, when OCR opened an investigation into the district regarding its handling of an incident of racial harassment by a teacher at Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School.
Most of the steps in the agreement are systemic, including the revision of district harassment policies; implementation of training programs for administrators and staff on how to report and investigate potential incidents of harassment; and programs for students around discrimination.
“This resolution shows the commitment of all members of the Melrose Public Schools to ensure no student is discriminated again based on race, color or origin,” Taymore said in a statement. “As part of the agreement, the district will receive technical support from OCR to assist the schools with their programs and policies surrounding this subject.”
The agreement also stipulates that, within 30 days of signing the agreement, the district will hire a third-party consultant to conduct an annual needs assessment at the middle school.
The assessment, to be administered annually through the 2017-18 school year, will focus on the school’s “climate related to race” and on “the occurrence of discrimination and harassment based on race” within the school.
As part of the assessment — part one of which the district must provide to OCR by May 15 — the consultant will conduct focus groups of students, parents and staff to learn more about the middle school’s racial climate.
The district also agreed that, for the remainder of this school year, the district’s Title VI coordinator will work with the third-party consultant to ensure the most effective response to any reports of discrimination or harassment.
Assistant Superintendent Patricia White-Lambright — who has served as the Title VI coordinator for several years and was responsible for the district’s internal investigation of the precipitating incident at the middle school — will remain in her role as Title VI coordinator.
As the district fulfills the steps of the resolution agreement, it is required for most steps to provide documentation to OCR.
OCR clarified that, while it expects to stop monitoring the agreement by December 2018, it will not do so until determining “that the District has fulfilled the terms of this Agreement and is in compliance with the regulation implementing Title VI [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964].”
“The District understands and acknowledges that OCR may initiate administrative enforcement or judicial proceedings to enforce the specific terms and obligations of this Agreement,” the agreement adds.
Taymore has emphasized the entire process was a learning experience for the district.
“As upsetting as the precipitating event was, it provided us with an opportunity to address a difficult topic in our schools and our community,” Taymore’s statement said. “We have been actively engaged in improving our staff and students’ awareness and responsiveness across all schools for the past 20 months and will keep this dialogue active and open.”
Among the steps the district agreed to take by signing the resolution agreement are:
By Dec. 30, 2015, to request a meeting with the student affected by the precipitating incident, “to discuss steps the District will take to address any needs the student has and/or compensatory services owed to the Student as a result of being subjected to a racially hostile environment.”
By Feb. 1, 2016, to draft written responses to all adults and students who filed written or verbal complaints regarding the precipitating incident, “informing them of the outcome of the District’s investigation into their complaints.”
Within 15 days of signing the agreement, to issue a statement to all district students, parents/guardians and teachers announcing the appointment of the Title VI coordinator and stating that the district “does not tolerate acts of discrimination based on race, color or national origin by its employees or students.” The district has already completed this step.
By March 1, 2016, to “design and implement a program of effective general training for all District employees who come into contact with students” to inform them that discrimination or harassment toward students is prohibited; to familiarize them with the district’s Title VI Grievance Procedures; and to remind them of their obligation to report incidents “about which they knew or reasonably should have known.”
By April 1, 2016, to “design and implement a program of effective training to be provided to all middle school teachers aimed at increasing their competency with respect to creating and sustaining an environment free from harassment and discrimination of students.”
During the second semester of the 2015-16 school year, to develop and implement a program for 10th grade students to address discrimination and harassment under Title VI, to be delivered through classes in the district’s American History I course.
To deliver a similar program to sixth, seventh and eighth grade students, modified to be age-appropriate, during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years.
By March 1, 2016, to provide a written explanation to OCR of “a process to annually assess the effectiveness of [the district’s] anti-harassment training programs for employees and students.”
To read the full text of the agreement, as well as the findings of OCR’s investigation, go to wickedlocal.com/melrose.
No disrespect to Mr. Leibowitz and his excellent reporting, but this "resolution agreement" is a disgrace.
How can anyone blithely think that "appointing" PWLambright to oversee the same mess she participated in and led is a reasonable response to the federal violations?
Taymore: “We have been actively engaged in improving our staff and students’ awareness and responsiveness across all schools for the past 20 months and will keep this dialogue active and open.” Oh really. And this has obviously been a huge success, with "Kick a Ginger Day" just the most obvious of the awful occurrences in the last few months.
"trainings"? Led by the same malpracticing administrators who have treated this whole thing as a big joke all along?
To reiterate to Aaron L and Free Press, please publish the Findings Document now that you have reported on it and Taymore has published it (thanks to the public pressure exerted on the useless school committee by posters from this message board).
And why the focus on the middle school primarily when this was an ADMINISTRATIVE situation, where the top brass of the district chose to violate the law, aided by their obviously incompetent malpracticing attorneys??? Certainly the middle school needs help, more so than ever now that it has such a bad, consummately arrogant principal who is fond of intimidation and other prohibited practices. But it's his bosses who are the overseeing culprits!
By contrast, here is a meaningful call for action from today's news for what is a related occurrence (where students misbehaved by posting racist comments and administrators knowingly failed to take appropriate action, whereas in Melrose it was a TEACHER who made the grotesque remarks and administration not only failed to punish her, they promoted her to the high school and allowed her to take a full retirement).
At Boston Latin, the administrator mouthed similar garbage to what CT has said here:
"“This is an opportunity for us to take the unfortunate incident that happened in Latin and look at our whole district and implement some real strong, concrete changes,” said Walsh, who referenced the Boston Latin situation in a speech at City Hall yesterday marking Black History Month."
But unlike Melrose where the community sits idle and even continues to support those who willfully violated students' rights, in Boston the students themselves and the community leaders are calling for real action, including the resignation of the headmaster. This should happen here! As said in Boston, "there should be consequences"..."a probe that results in no discipline “would be a hard pill to swallow.”" Melrose seems only too willing to swallow that pill, over and over again.
Black leaders are turning up the heat on city officials to discipline — even fire — the headmaster of Boston Latin School in light of claims she blew off social media activity that sparked racial tensions at the elite exam school.
A group of 13 black ministers and civil rights activists marched on Superintendent Tommy Chang’s office yesterday, saying there should be consequences for Boston Latin Headmaster Lynne Mooney Teta and her team.
“I’ve had parents come to me urging for the headmaster to resign,” said Kevin Peterson, director of the New Democracy Coalition, who occasionally writes opinion columns for the Herald editorial pages.
“I think there is serious sentiment within the African-American community that there should be punishment for bad behavior, particularly over a protracted period of time. I personally believe that the headmaster should resign. What she did was irresponsible.”
Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Chang told the Herald they have implemented a new policy to address bias and racism at every public school in the city.
This comes after black students collected and submitted racially charged tweets they said were acts of bullying and submitted them to Teta a year and a half ago. When their concerns weren’t addressed, the students turned to social media — using the hashtag #BlackAtBLS — in a call for action.
Chang told the Herald after yesterday’s meeting he sees “a collective responsibility” for what transpired at Latin and one person should not be faulted over another. He declined to comment further while the matter is being investigated.
Darnell Williams, president of the Urban League of Massachusetts, who also participated in the meeting, said the group is willing to “let the investigation take its course,” but said a probe that results in no discipline “would be a hard pill to swallow.”
Charles Stith, a civil rights activist and former ambassador to Tanzania, said the group was impressed with the “field of vision that (Chang) brings to this challenge,” but added in the end, “it’s about what you do.”
The district’s new policy, implemented in the wake of the Latin case, includes training sessions for all school leaders on protocols for incidents of bias and racism, new policies for behavior on social media, and matching schools with partners and resources to help them navigate situations they may not be prepared to handle before they reach a crisis level.
"'...there should be punishment for bad behavior, particularly over a protracted period of time. I personally believe that the headmaster should resign. What she did was irresponsible.'"
Why - she just followed her master's philosophy, the Mayor, anything negative hide it, anything bad, ignore it, and then anything controversial, avoid it! That's the public policy by the current school and city administration.
The OCR Findings document.
Thanks to this excellent journalist, Mr. Leibowitz.
I have to hand it to Mr. Leibowitz because these stories never would have been told had it not been for him. Although, as with others who ask hard questions, file complaints and insist on transparency from our city officials, City Solicitor Van Campen, Mayor Dolan, Superintendent Taymore and Margaret Driscoll will be gunning for him (figuratively of course). Just ask reporter Richard Ireton who was legally recording an open meeting of the liquor licensing advisory committee not too long ago. RVC told him to leave the meeting, falsely claiming that the meeting was not subject to the State's Open Meeting Law and therefore not open to the public. Mr. Ireton continued to legally tape record the meeting openly as permitted by the OML in the city hall conference room and then in the hallway where he was escorted by Mr. Van Campen. As the City's prosecutor, Mr. Van Crampen took him to court on behalf of the City for illegal wiretapping (no joke, only in Melrose) alleging he was unaware that the recording device right under his nose was "secretly" recording him and the public meeting. Honestly, Van Campen actually used your tax payer dollars to pursue this nonsense in Malden District Court! Of course his resources to pursue the case(the taxpayer purses and wallets) are limitless, but poor Mr. Ireton had to agree to pre-trial probation in order to prevent spending thousands of dollars to defend himself from this bully who uses our public resources to illegally retaliate against residents and reporters alike. Believe me, many a school parent and child who have filed complaints have also fallen victim to Mr. Van Campen's illegal and evil practices but you just don't hear about it. Next time you see Mr. Van Campen please ask him to stop illegally using tax payer dollars and public resources to harass our neighbors and friends.[:|]
Oops! You are correct!