Part 1 of 3

MEMO

To:         Barbara Nevergold

Cc:          Pamela Brown

From:    Carl P. Paladino

Date:     September 9, 2013

Re:         Supplement to CPP Agenda for meeting of September 11, 2013

A.) Issue #42- Board Presidency  

Dr. Nevergold, I asked you to allow the Board of Education (BOE) to address the critical issues now, before it, in a fair, open and just manner.  Your conduct at the last BOE meeting denying me the opportunity to question Mary Guinn and Mr. Joftus was improper.  You refuse to commit to transparency.  You are predisposed to operate the Buffalo Public Schools (BPS) in secret and as such you are incapable of carrying out your responsibilities as President.  If you cannot be impartial you must resign.  I submit: 

1.)  You continue to engage in improper and illegal small group meetings which you legitimatize by calling them “work sessions.”  If they were in fact work sessions, then the entire BOE, instead of the first 4 to arrive, would be able to participate and the meetings would be transparent and open to the public.  Sub-committee meetings, open to all members and the public, are “work sessions.”  Your private sessions must cease immediately.

2.)  With reference to the Joint Schools Construction Committee, please tell me at the open meeting why I can’t serve on the committee.  Is there a BOE Member better qualified to do so?  I also request membership on the team negotiating the union contracts.

3.)  Your conduct in the preparation of the last evaluation of the Superintendent was improper.  You were the only person who saw the scoring of the individual members who, prior to voting, acknowledged that they never saw an evaluation.  I asked that the BOE be shown the calculations and individual evaluations of all members and you have refused to make that disclosure.  Will you so disclose?

4.)  On August 28, 29 & 30 the BPS held an “Administrator’s Seminar” at McKinley High School.  The farcical event was initiated by James Williams as a device to:

a)  Illegally solicit money from vendors with no accounting of the funds

b)  Retain and pay very large speaking fees to other members of the national sisterhoods and  brotherhoods to speak about their great contributions to education so they can later return the favor and call on our Superintendent, for very large fees, to speak about his or her achievements, and

c)  Force principals to attend 3 days of nonsensical intimidation at a time when they are pressed to prepare their schools for opening.

I would like the name of the person who appointed the lady who illegally solicited donations from vendors on taxpayer time and the amount of money she raised.  I also request a list of the vendors solicited, the amounts paid by each, the name of the entity to which checks were written, the name of the person who controls the checkbook, a complete schedule of revenues and expenditures, the amount of compensation paid to each of the speakers, who decided on the speakers, the names of the caterers at the event, how much was paid to each, whether or not bids were taken, and a list of other similar events and activities conducted by the BPS.

The seminar, according to many who attended, was a display of arrogant intimidation with racial overtones meant to threaten principals and clearly illustrate to them that the new battery of central staff supervisors intend to micromanage the buildings from City Hall.  There are incompetent principals in the buildings because James Williams and his pawn spent years appointing principals, not on merit, but for all the wrong reasons, creating a morale problem with those who sought to achieve the positions by merit.  There are also many exemplary principals who should be empowered to run their schools and not be subjected to disengaged centralization which failed in the past and will continue to fail.  The problem with the BPS is not the teachers and principals.  It is clearly the lack of competent leadership and racism.

You have allowed the Superintendent to hire many outsiders, exacerbating the morale problem.  These appointees have not risen by merit through the system and know nothing about the BPS except who their godmothers are.

The attached video shows the demeaning conduct of the seminar.

5.)  The Educational Support Services Committee meeting agenda for last week failed to list my agenda items 1, 7 and 10 which were assigned to that committee by you.

6.)  You sanction the “we against them” attitude of members of the BOE, including the open comments and spontaneous blurts and eye rolling by Sharon Cottman.

7.)  You obviously abhor Charters, a creation of the State to assist in the education of our children, and you show no respect for the State Education Department (SED) or its Commissioner, allowing arrogant members of the sisterhood friends and family club to dominate the parent hearings at East and Lafayette with insults to the Commissioner, which denied parents the opportunity to speak.  At Lafayette you said everyone in the community should be allowed to speak knowing that it was the same people who spoke at East.  It’s called stacking the meeting.

8.)  You have allowed the public to be misled about the competency and extent of the BPS’s almost non-existent Career Technical Education (CTE) program available only to students in the school where the program is located, as part of your effort to deny and delay outsourcing to BOCES.

9.)  You allowed and sanctioned the illegal hiring, without prior BOE approval, of a number of senior executive staff persons at significant salaries.

One was hired:

  • on a 2 year contract
  • for $130,000/year
  • with 26 vacation days with the right to sell back 10 days for $542/day
  • 12 sick leave days with the right to sell back 1/3 of accumulated days at $542/day on termination,
  • 2 personal days
  • health insurance for her and her spouse,
  • retirement benefits or an amount equal to the amount that would be paid by the district,
  • $1,000/year to belong to associations,
  • approved travel expenses and all unapproved expenses to go to any professional meetings nationally.

It has a blank ‘Attachment A’ dangerously executed by the Superintendent presumably to be filled in with whatever and then signed by the employee.   The document is not tailored and appears to be a form on which blanks are filled in.  It is written unprofessionally by someone seeking to make its provisions vague and subject to interpretation which significantly favors the employee.  The individual has told others that she has no intention of residing in Buffalo.  She will commute 2000 miles every week.  What kind of commitment does that illustrate?  What are the special qualities or experience of these people for their positions that could not otherwise be found with present staff of the BPS?

Mary Guinn was contracted to prop up Pamela Brown. We pay $850,000/year for Superintendent services and, like the Superintendent, Mary Guinn is also clueless and can’t submit an acceptable Educational Partnership Organization (EPO) Plan, Comprehensive Action Plan (CAP) for Public School Choice, School Improvement Grant (SIG) applications, Strategic Plan, etc.  Guinn simply wings it.  The BOE should be embarrassed at the quality of work of its administration.

I have requested the citation of the rule or law that says that the BOE does not have to approve the hiring of exempt employees and you have furnished me with nothing.

10.)  The BOE never approved the final EPO’s for East and Lafayette High Schools.

11.)  You sanctioned the “brilliant” hiring of the new General Counsel, with highly questionable competency having advised incorrectly on 2 of 3 BOE questions presented to her.  She left after two weeks on the job on family leave.  Her position is critical and your reckless disregard allowing her hiring is tragic.

Despite my request, the Superintendent has not told the BOE why the prior General Counsel was demoted and why our talented staff labor attorney left.

The new General Counsel has been on leave for three weeks, chaos reigns in day to day operations and the BOE has failed to appoint an interim or temporary General Counsel to fill the void.  When do you intend to do something?

12.)  The CAP submitted to the State was rejected because the BOE majority is indifferent to the lives of the children.  You sanction the attitude that the outsourcing of children to BOCES, Charters, Suburban Districts or Privates is not an option.

13.)  Despite promises to the District Parent Coordinating Council (DPCC) and a cover memo that claims that all stakeholders were engaged in the process, the 5 year Strategic Plan was prepared in secret with no input from key parental or community leaders.  You then allowed it to be presented at the last minute to the BOE putting the BOE in the embarrassing position of having to again vote on a document that most members had not read. SED should have been told that.

14.)  You have sanctioned the repeated lies of the Superintendent that attendance has improved during the past year when in fact you allowed her to secretly change the rules for collecting data which was the sole reason for improved statistics.  Teachers no longer take attendance and a student is presumed to be present unless specifically marked absent.

15.)  Despite the glaring unfairness and BPS’s inability to give 2,219 students a choice, you continue to sanction the BPS policy which allows suburban students to take seats from deserving Buffalo students in our test schools.

If you refuse to resign as President, I will ask the Commissioner of Education to dismiss you for cause.