Parent and taxpayer response

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Are Our Schools In Crisis?: Will The Real Avid Stand Up!

June 10, 2011

Dear Dr. Carlisle,

On May 24, 2011 I emailed Ms. Martinez regarding the appearance of a notation on PowerSchool from Elizabeth Cifuentes citing a "Signed Letter of AVID Cancellation" (see attached emails). In my email I stated that I was not contacted regarding a letter of cancellation and inquired what this was about and requesting a meeting with you to discuss. During a meeting two weeks ago with Ms. Seitel, she asked if Elijah was reapplying to AVID. I stated that as far as I knew there was no requirement to reapply to AVID. When Elijah applied for AVID last year, it was explained to me that there was the one-time application and that it was a 2-year program. Ms. Seitel did not offer me an application at that time, but merely responded that she didn't know that.

Ms. Martinez replied to my email (see below) and asked if Ms. Seitel had responded and I stated that she had not. When I stopped into your office on Tuesday with Lucy Walker, I asked Ms. Martinez about the appointment and she scheduled a meeting with you for next week.

Elijah brought home the attached notification from Mr. Murphy stating that Elijah did not take his AVID application for next fall semester and requesting a signature endorsing this. It states that this was discussed at the May AVID Parent Task Force meeting which I did not attend as it was planned on the same night as the EPSD board meeting.
I learned at tonight's school concert that an AVID meeting for parents was held yesterday, Wednesday, June 8, 2011. The parent I spoke with stated that the invitation for this meeting was mailed to the parents of IVY and AVID students. She also stated that the AVID parents expressed dissatisfaction with the AVID program. I believe that my exclusion from the meeting was intentional. This is not the first time that I have been excluded from AVID parent meetings. Mr. Murphy works with Mrs. Robertson on these meetings. Mrs. Robertson is the head of the AVID PTO and also works at Janis E. Dismus in the library. There is a conflict of interest there.

I saw Mr. Murphy at the concert tonight and inquired about my exclusion from the AVID meeting. Mr. Murphy stated that the invitations came from the district and not from the school. I've had the same address in this district for the last 16 years. I also informed Mr. Murphy that Elijah did not receive an AVID application. He stated that the students were told that the applications must be picked up by them, filled out with their teachers and returned to the school. He stated that the teachers fill the applications out with the students. If this was the case, why didn't anyone notice that Elijah did not have one. At what point will the teachers be held responsible for doing their jobs. Absent still from the AVID program is organization, communication with parents, and teacher participation - all of which were promised at the beginning of the school year.
At our last meeting with the teachers and yourself, I voiced my experiences of poor teacher communication. This is a major example of what I was referring to. I never received notification from Mr. Murphy, Ms. Cifuentes, Ms. Seitel or Mr. Alarcon regarding the reapplication requirement. I sent an email cc:ing Ms. Seitel asking what the mention of AVID cancellation letter on PowerSchool meant. No response from Ms. Seitel was received.

Elijah's exclusion from the AVID application process is harassment. Mr. Sumler's and my rights as parents have been denied by excluding us from the AVID meetings. This neglect is direct retaliation against Elijah, an 11 year old, because of my complaints regarding the way the AVID program was implemented this year. The AVID program has not been implemented as outlined by the national AVID program. The teachers do not work as a team. Ms. Cifuentes told me that this was not the fault of the teachers but of the administration because no time had been allocated for the teachers for collaboration with each other. That is not the fault of the students. It was a poorly delivered program this year. That does not mean that I want to withdraw Elijah or that he should be denied admission by not giving him an application. The AVID program should be fixed. If implemented properly, the program has value. This program was made for students exactly like Elijah. Elijah deserves and has a right to a good, fair and equal education.

The Englewood Public School District is notorious for leaving children back unnecessarily, wrongly placing children into Special Education programs and having them categorized as Special Needs. It is no mere coincidence that I have three (3) sons and at some point in each child’s educational career in Englewood, it has been suggested that they either needed to be left back or placed in special education. When placed in the Catholic School or private sector, they excelled, sometimes honors. What is it that the private schools can do that the public school can not. It is not smaller class sizes. Their classes are larger. Many of their teachers are not certified. What is the difference?

My work week starts tomorrow so I am unavailable and will be unable to visit your office until next week. Mr. Sumler, Lucy Walker and possibly Elijah's godmother - Sheila Petty will accompany me.

Thank you.

Donna Sumler

(AVID Parents: I have written a letter to the National AVID center requesting an Assessment of Englewood's version of the program.  Contact AVID yourselves.)