Sunday, June 30, 2024

Stop Fronting And Earn Those Dollars

Today I received a letter from the Assistant Superintendent of Schools informing me that my granddaughter is "not graduation ready", because she failed the NJ State Proficiency Assessement in Math.  Not long ago, this same Administrator gave a presentation to the Board of Education detailing the state of the 2024 Senior class. I remember that the Assistant Superintendent stated that there were over 80 seniors who had failed the New Jersey Graduation Proficiency Assessment 4 times. 

The letter that I received today was the exact same one we got in Spring. Word for Word. It does not acknowledge that many children have taken advantage of the 3 different pathways to graduation.  The timelyness of this communication is appalling. The message "not" changing was "not" impressive either.

This old grandma and retired Teacher wants to know why our new 6 figure Administrators have not taken the 
time to review the data in order to learn which students have successfully chosen a Pathway. My granddaughter has a diploma signed by the President of the Board of Education and the Superintendent of Schools. At the DMHS graduation on June 20th, in the blistering heat, she shook the hand of the HS Principal, the School Board President and the Superintendent of Schools. 

Why then, did no one take the time to check to see how  many and whom had satisfied graduation requirements? At least give the parents and other taxpayers the respect of updating the darned letter. Another thing, there was a category left out of the Assistant Superintendent's report. She did not include the children who dropped out of School, because they could not pass the test. So how did they pass the GED and not the NJGPA? I would like to know how many children chose to drop out rather than deal with this test again? I will say again, that perhaps the problem is with the test, and not our children.

I assume that letter was sent out to all 80 of the students who failed the assessement 4 times. Surely that 6 figure salary requires you to at least update the darn letter while covering your behind. Did you do anything else to help these children graduate other than send out this letter? Color this Old Lady not impressed.

Suggestion: Update Genesis so parents may upload Doctor and Hospital letters excusing student absences. It is extremely disconcerting to notice that a child has earned unexcused absences while in the hospital. I generally send these letters to the Principal and the Nurse, because I have not gotten an answer as to whether there is a human monitoring the Genesis Attendance Office. AI seems to be our Attendance Officer and it is not a Smart Hub. I have been told more than once that these proofs of excused absences must be submitted to the Attendance Office. Please fix that.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Our Schools Are "Still" In Crisis

Left to Right: Nicole Cartwright Murphy, Louis Sanchez (guidance Counselor), Joseph Armental (VP DMHS), Joseph Bell (Assistant Principal/Alternative Program), Venus Rose (Guidance Counselor), Peter Elbert (DMHS principal) Nicole Siperski (guidance counselor) and (Jamayla Scott are not pictured.)

Sometimes we must remind ourselves that the Englewood Public School District is in crisis.

Yes, I will say it again. The Englewood Public School District is in Crisis!
I followed the 2017 miss-fired "Tenure Charge" situation surrounding the suspended Guidance Counselors and Administrators closely. I have even read the transcripts of daily testimony given by the suspended employees who stayed to fight. These employees testified at the State government proceedings. A lot of time and money was wasted. Meanwhile, a valued program that would have been instrumental in facilitating a healing process, during and after the Covid 19 Pandemic, is gone, but the students who need it are still here. This was the Alternative School, also known as The Eagle Program.
Our Boards of Education must learn that a machine must be built that may not be taken apart by each new Superintendent, especially since Superintendents rarely last beyond 5 years.
The Superintendent must hold as his/her objective to create an Action Plan that satisfies the criteria set forth in the Board of Education's Goals and Objectives for the District. It is a Lay Board, therefore it is up to the Superintendent of Schools to "Develop and Present an Action Plan" designed to fulfill or accomplish the goals.

All Goals and Objectives shall hold Student Achievement, Health and Safety as Priority above all else.
All recommendations made by any Superintendent shall hold that as priority or he/she should find work elsewhere. Another thing, it is difficult to hold a Superintendent accountable, if said Superintendent is not being evaluated based on whether or not he/she has satisfied the criteria for accomplishing the District's Goals and Objectives.
Nicole Cartwright-Murphy
School Board training is paid for by the Residents, by you and I. If Board Members do not take advantage of the training, the bill is still paid. I take it personal when School Board Members do not take this training seriously. (As a matter of fact, I believe that my addressing the fact that a certain tall School Board Member had no training at all in a public forum got me theoretically placed in a room in which the air could be vacuumed There is an awful lot to learn. The children are back in school in person. It is time for School Board Members to resume in person training. Virtual Learning is supplemental in the Teaching Learning Process. It should never be allowed to take the place of the interaction between teacher and student.
I did not teach in the Dark Ages. We had computers when I left the classroom. I helped train others to maintain attendance, grade books, lesson plans and curriculum on the computer. I kept a paper version that I used to input the required Data. I hope all concerned have learned something from the recent data breach at EPSD.
I still prefer to check a notebook. It is easier for me to see progress chronologically in skill levels. I value handwriting. I am concerned that children are not making their letters even in manuscript. Allowing cursive to move onto the long list of hands on activities that students no longer participate in is unfortunate and detrimental to the overall learning process. We are graduating students who have not only never used a microscope, a ruler, or a screwdriver but who have no idea what is next. College or Career Ready?
David Matthews, Bd Member
It is unseemly and totally out of order for School Board Members to use their power in pushing their own agendas in setting up and prioritizing programs that force apartheid educational practices. The Superintendent develops Action Plans and all recommendations for programming should come from the Superintendent. It is hoped that all Englewood School Board Members are up to date in their training, especially where Tenure Law is concerned. That is the only way they may prevent unwanted harm to employees and unwanted embarrassment to themselves. Some Board Members should also do a bit of homework on Title monies and how it helps the District.

The process works in other districts and will work here when the "General Population" realizes that there is a
cycle and breaks it. School Board Members must learn to be better students. The children are watching and they are adept enough to understand when they are held accountable to following the rules, but the adults ordering them around are not.
Sometimes Superintendents actually sue School Boards because they did not warn
Robert Kravitz, former Supt.
him/them of the terrible state of the District upon hiring. His lawsuit suggests that he expected the District to divulge all about the problems in the District. Notwithstanding that reading the newspaper or googling key words would have explained that. It seems he felt that the BA, the Board Attorney and a few others whom he did not name had ruined his reputation, and blamed him for the bad publicity garnered by the grade change case. Notice that he does not name the Board Members that he accuses of working with the BA, the Board Attorney and others to discredit and ruin his reputation. He mentions that the BA and the Attorney worked together in Fort Lee. He neglects to mention that he, himself worked in Fort Lee, with Mckeever (the attorney), Ciofala (the one who supposedly found the irregularities and then took the job of the head of guidance based on his findings, and Cheryl Balletto (the Business Administrator.)
All four of them appear to have worked in Fort Lee at the same time.

I should also like to add that, in my opinion, as a retired teacher, the reported 3,000 grade changes
Joseph Armental
found by Mr. Ciofalo and his Pitbull Agency is basically a conservative number considering that there were more than 1,000 students enrolled at DMHS at the time. There are many and varied reasons for grade changes, one being students doing work to make up incompletes. One student might have numerous changes. Much of the news printed at the time concentrated overmuch on headline hype which the Superintendent claimed did his reputation irreparable harm.

Read the Englewood Board of Education's charges against suspended employees.
Final Decision of the Commissioner of Education signed December 30, 2019.

Official State Re-instatement of Dr. Gordon - former Director of Guidance -
Dr. Noel Gordon
"...Severance is also not an option since the charges as written deprive respondents of their fundamental due process rights to a clear statement describing the precise nature of the charges against him or her, and a description of the evidence which allegedly supports the charges. In this matter as it currently stands, there are 750 paragraphs in thirty-three counts and each count realleges and incorporates the previous counts, such that the allegations against respondent Rose also include the allegations against respondent Cartwright; the allegations against respondent Scott also include the allegations against respondents Rose and Cartwright, etc.; the allegations against respondent Armenta[ therefore include the allegations against all seven of the other respondents. There is simply no way this matter may be determined sufficient to require that answers be filed; consequently, it must be dismissed as procedurally defective... "

In the comment section below this article, I challenge you to name and count all of the EPSD Superintendents chronologically, whether acting or county place holders, who have held the responsibility since the year 2000. All of this Superintendent discussion may end up being a mute point very soon. We shall see.

 (Also keep in mind that there was one Superintendent who was never approved by the state which means that he was not ever legally our Superintendent. That complaint was filed against the then Englewood Board of Education by yours truly.)

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Open Letter To EPSD

I have been neglecting the Blog. I found this while realizing that I must publish something, so I am republishing a very thoughtful letter to the EPSD. So, as they say on Social Media, "Reposting".

Originally posted: Tuesday, September 1, 2020

My open letter to EPSD about The Zone. 

Please share.

I am writing to urge you to take decisive action, to lead--and find a way to support The Zone for the 2020-2021 school year. Now is not a time to reduce the mental health and community supports for students and faculty.

I understand that Trenton is in crisis and has no good choices to make. However, Trenton does not know what we know, which is that Englewood Public Schools were in crisis before the pandemic. I know this because through the leadership of Mariam Gerges and Liz Corsini, along with Sanetta Ponton, I helped lead hours of workshops for DMHS faculty and administrators last year.
We heard first hand how difficult the conditions in the school were, their struggles in reaching students, and their desire to lead their colleagues in creating a better climate in which students, regardless of their traumas, could learn and thrive. We were having these conversations and workshops in August, September, January and February. What will those discussions sound like over Zoom this year?

I can assure you that the kind of professional development and coaching that your faculty and administrators received last year through these workshops would have cost EPSD thousands of dollars--but you got it "free" from Bergen Family Center, The Zone and the community members like Sanetta, Flat Rock Brook and me--who will do almost anything for Englewood's children. Most importantly, EPSD got all this expertise for "free" because the community knows the value that Bergen Family Center brings--and when called upon by them, we show up.

Now it is time for EPSD to show up for The Zone. I assure you that your students and faculty cannot survive, let alone thrive, without the support that The Zone and its committed staff provide. They pivoted seamlessly to the virtual world, and connected with students in a matter of days. In fact, there were moments on the weekly community calls that Sanetta organized, when it became obvious that Bergen Family Center knew more about some of EPSD students than the district did itself. You need The Zone, we all know you do.

Find the money--in the paper clip and toner budget, in the snacks for professional development budget--find the money. 

Step up and lead. The times demand it.


Lynne Algrant

Former Council at Large and Former President of the Englewood City Council

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Medical Emergencies

 New Jersey Statutes, Title: 18A, EDUCATION

    Chapter 40: Employment of medical inspectors, optometrists and nurses; salaries; terms; rules

      Section: 18A:40-10: Exclusion of teachers and pupils exposed to disease

           No teacher or pupil who is a member of a household in which a person is ill with smallpox, diphtheria, scarlet fever, whooping cough, yellow fever, typhus fever, cholera, measles, or such other contagious or infectious disease as may be designated by the board of education, or of a household exposed to contagion as aforesaid, shall attend any public school during such illness, nor until the board of education has been furnished with a certificate from the board of health, or from the physician attending such person, or from a medical inspector, certifying that all danger of communicating the disease by the teacher or pupil has passed.

L.1967, c.271.

Chapter 40 and Virtual Learning in NJ

 New Jersey Statutes, Title: 18A, EDUCATION

    Chapter 40: Employment of medical inspectors, optometrists and nurses; salaries; terms; rules

      Section: 18A:40-44: Information relative to child's exposure to violence on electronic devices.

1. a. The Department of Education shall prepare and make available on the department's Internet website, both in print and in an easily printable format, information on how a parent can limit a child's exposure to violence on television, cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices. The department shall update this information whenever new information about a child's exposure to violence on television and other electronic devices becomes available. The information shall include, but not be limited to:

(1) research and statistics on how violent behavior increases after exposure to violent films, music, television, or video games;

(2) scientific findings that show children who play violent video games are more likely to be involved in physical altercations with classmates, perform poorly on academic tasks, and are unable to relate to adults in positions of authority;

(3) factors that increase the probability a child will be at risk of violent behavior, including, but not limited to, exposure or involvement in violence at critical stages of childhood development, poor socioeconomic conditions, and poor parenting skills;

(4) symptoms of a child's overexposure to violence, including, but not limited to, sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, feelings of hopelessness, truancy, and difficulty in school;

(5) predictors of violent behavior in children, including but not limited to, dishonesty, disobedience, favorable attitude toward violence, hostility toward police, substance abuse, aggressive or antisocial behavior, and involvement in nonviolent criminal offenses; and

(6) effective strategies, based on a child's age and stage of development, that will help a parent monitor or restrict a child's exposure to violence on television and other electronic devices, including, but not limited to, the use of screening software or other technologies that prevent a child from watching television programs a parent deems inappropriate, co-viewing and commenting on television programs that depict violence, and familiarization with video game advisory labels and rating systems that make it more difficult for children to purchase and play such games.

b. The department shall prepare an informational pamphlet that contains the information posted on its website pursuant to subsection a. of this section, and shall update the pamphlet as necessary. The department shall distribute the pamphlet, at no charge, to all school districts in the State, and shall make additional copies available to nonpublic schools upon request.

c. In the 2013-2014 school year and in each school year thereafter, each school district shall distribute the pamphlet to the parents or guardians of students attending the schools of the district.

L.2013, c.146, s.1.

This section added to the Rutgers Database: 2013-09-03 15:13:44.