Angelica Grace Designs Blog

Monday, May 19, 2008

SCHOOL ISSUE UPDATE

Boy have I ever been doing my homework in the past two weeks...
It's amazing what you will find and what you learn about schools, funding, laws, etc., when you go digging. To say that that what I've learned in recent days is disheartening, would be a true understatement.

As for an actual update for all of you that have emailed me directly wanting an update, there isn't much new to update you on. Indiana state representative Dave Frizzell has reached out to the CG School system in an effort to get answers. He let the superintendent of the schools know that he believes "that us as the parents of Kenidi Seaman have some very valid concerns that deserve to be specifically addressed by the school corporation." He then listed 7 different bullet points with our questions and some of his own for the Superintendent to answer. Representative, Dave Frizzell, also noted that while Brent and I appreciated the assistant superintendent taking the time to meet with us that Monday, we feel as though this issue is worthy of the superintendents time and assistance as well. He said that "since the Seaman's have been unable to meet or speak with you directly regarding this matter, I hope that you will provide a more personal response to their situation and concerns." State representative Frizzell went on to say in his letter that "he is deeply alarmed that this change will be devastating to Kenidi Seaman, her family, and perhaps other affected families in the district and because of this, he is open to helping everyone involved in this matter seek a resolution."

So...in the mail today I received a copy of the response to Representative Dave Frizzell's letter - addressed to him - not us - from the good ol' Superintendent himself...Dr. Stephanoff. Dr. Stephanoff gave these exact statements/quotes within his reply letter to Mr. Frizzell:

SUPERINTENDENT: "It was necessary to move several programs, not just essential skills at this particular elementary school."

FACT: I (Angie), after reading Dr. Stephanoff's conflicting statement in his letter or should we just be blunt here and use the rather harsh word that it is - after reading his conflicting "lies" - contacted the principal of this particular elementary school just this afternoon in an effort to yet again confirm that the only program being moved out of the elementary school is Kenidi's class (essential skills/special Ed) and the only program being moved in to replace it is the high abilities (honors) class. This was also confirmed by Dr. Stephanoff's right hand man - the assistant superintendent, Dr. Long, - during our meeting with him that Monday when Dr. Stephanoff no showed us for our scheduled meeting with him directly. So, we have the school principal and the school districts assistant superintendent confirming that one class is moving out and one class is moving in. Now, call me crazy...but I am starting to think that either the Superintendent of the school district has no REAL clue what is going on within his schools or that someone has totally mislead this principal and this assistant superintendent who've on two different occasions now - confirmed the obvious that the rest of us all already know as truth. Again, call me crazy, but this looks like a good case of a superintendent trying to "pacify" people holding him accountable by out and out blatantly lying in an effort to cushion the look and feel of this situation in hopes that everyone will just eventually go away. As we all know, we aren't going anywhere!

SUPERINTENDENT: "I understand that the Seaman's were displeased that I did not attend the scheduled meeting. If I met with every person who had a concern instead of following existing protocols, I would have little time to perform my other responsibilities associated with overseeing our district. I appreciate your offer to help in this situation. (meaning Representative Dave Frizzell's help) If we need your assistance, it is comforting to know that you will make yourself available. Sincerely, Dr. Steven Stephanoff, Superintendent

FACT: Isn't it grand to know that we have such a personable superintendent carrying our school district? Shame on me - as a parent - for not understanding this man, who he is, and what he was about last year when the voting took place to elect him into office. If there is one thing I have learned in my research over the past two weeks, it is that we as parents, are responsible for who is ultimately "responsible" for our children and their welfare within our school districts. Thus meaning, if you don't know who your school board members are and if you know nothing about who gained office as your superintendent and assistant superintendent of the schools your kids attend, then by all means, get to getting to know them! No matter what the outcome of this situation is, whether it ends up in our favor or not, you can bet your bottom dollar one thing....I WILL BE THERE LEARNING, LISTENING, AND READY TO VOTE IN THE NEXT SUPERINTENDENT AS WELL AS READY TO SAY "ADIOS, BON VOYAGE, SOOOOOO LONG, SEE YA, IT'S BEEN REAL" TO DR. STEPHANOFF AND DR. LONG WHEN THEIR TERMS ARE UP. I WILL BE THE FIRST THERE TO OPEN THE DOOR FOR THEM BOTH ON THEIR WAY OUT. And after what I've learned the past two weeks regarding their likability meters/ratings from our community, it looks as though this just might be a really short term for the both of them. Awww....what a shame! I say this all in the most "Christ-like" manner possible.

PS...To highlight again how you can keep on helping us, sign this online petition shown at the link below: http://www.petitiononline.com/KenidiCG/petition.html Also, for all of you out there, including my "dearest" friends who have not sent in a letter of support as of yet, we've once again included the copy of a form letter shown below to make it extremely easy for you. You can copy and paste this form letter into an email from you and then just hit SEND to help aid in this matter. Send it on to the email addresses I've re-listed here:

EMAIL TO: h93@in.gov, haddixb@centergrove.k12.in.us, longw@centergrove.k12.in.us, kstricker@ssjcs.k12.in.us, stephanoffs@centergrove.k12.in.us, theseamans@sbcglobal.net

PLACE IN SUBJECT LINE: In support of Kenidi Seaman

To: State Representative, David Frizzell
I would like to add my voice to the appeal for Kenidi Seaman and all of the special needs children at her "home" elementary school. As you inevitably know by now, the well established special needs program (essential skills) that 5 year old Kenidi Seaman expected to finally be able to attend as she entered Kindergarten at this, her neighborhood school, is being removed after several successful years there. It is now being moved to another elementary school in the district so that Kenidi's elementary school can "make space" for a new accelerated program for high ability students. This was confirmed and made a direct quote by Kathy Stricker, assistant director of Johnson County special services. The principal of the elementary school, Mr. Bruce Haddix, also confirmed quote end quote - that it's "no secret" that they are removing the essential skills class to make room for the high abilities classroom. In all fairness to Mr. Haddix, we realize that as the principal of the school, his hands are tied until the Superintendent gives him the OK to allow the program to stay. Mr. Haddix has expressed that he too is disheartened that the program is being moved from his elementary school to another.
We feel it is wrong to ask the special needs children, for whom familiarity and continuity of environment is such an important factor in their success, to be the ones to move. Their program was established and resident there. The high ability students, while certainly deserving of a program for their special needs as well, are more adaptable to change and could better handle a program that may be located elsewhere. Being able to attend the neighborhood school with one's siblings and neighborhood friends is more than just a right for children with special needs, it contributes greatly to their sense of self and security. Allowing families to channel their participation and support to one school for all their children builds family togetherness and school and community loyalty, as well as reduces a lot of unnecessary redundancy, complexity, and logistical stress.
I also believe the handling of communications with the parents over this situation was deplorable. They were not told of these changes even as they sat and were introduced to teachers and facilities during a two hour IEP case conference just three days before receiving a letter in the mail notifying them of the recent change. Three days later that letter arrived telling them that the situation they had all just agreed to and signed off on, was no longer a possibility. Other than one unsatisfactory meeting for which the school superintendent did not show up, all attempts at additional discussions have been rebuked by school administrators. Interestingly enough, the school spoke quite glowingly of their special needs program in their 2008-2012 school improvement plan which appears on their website. I have attached the relevant section below. It is a shame they are no longer choosing to support it.

v. Special Education: The Special Education population has been steadily growing over the past seven years. Additional personnel and services have been added to meet the needs of these awesome children. Currently, our school’s special education population includes children with Learning Disabilities, Mild and Moderate Essential Skills, emotional handicaps, and communications disorders. Our staff includes three certified teachers, one speech specialist and 10 assistants. These incredible staff members modify work, personalize student schedules, collaborate with regular education teachers, develop visual reminders, support adult parent volunteers, partner with other classrooms, set up and manage individual work stations for students, provide small group and individual remediation time, write and implement behavior plans, communicate regularly with parents, coordinate supportive computer software, provide peer tutoring with upper grade students, differentiate assignments, homework and grading, adjust goals for Accelerated Reading, partner with a Big Brother-Big Sister or Dad’s Club mentor, assess through ISTAR, provide instruction in resource rooms, adapt special class lessons for the physically challenged, and meet the needs of often complicated and extensive IEP’s. The results of this work with special education students can be seen in the chart below. A respectable percentage of our special education students do indeed pass ISTEP+ and some have even Pass+ed in some areas. We have a subgroup with more than 30 special education students for AYP, and we are proud to say that our students contribute to our making AYP each year by passing at a strong rate.
Respectfully,
A concerned parent

6 Comments:

Blogger Joy said...

I've been praying for you and your family and am hopeful that a solution is reached soon. You are such an amazing mom and an incredible fighter...I admire all you have done on behalf of your daughter and respect you and your husband so much! Thinking of you guys!

5/19/2008 11:39 PM  
Anonymous Andrea Taylor said...

Keep fighting Angie... we are the voice for our small ones and our (the) future who are too small to tell us what is right yet!!

The DETERMINATION Kenidi sees in you will be instilled within her as she grows and that will make her that better person in the end, don't be sad Brent... she has the motivation behind her to excel beyond many with mom and dad's heart and voice! She will make sure you have everything perfect when it is her time to stand up for you (while you need the care of nurses!!)

I am encouraged greatly by the love I see you showing... Great Job!

5/20/2008 11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For a few minutes there I thought this was my daughter Angela. Then I realized I don't think I have met this person, However I do like her and the way she thinks! I sure do hope Mr.superintendent reads your blog, gotta love it! You go girl! Hey Mr. Stephanoff, How are you doing these days? hee hee I Love you angie, Mommy

5/20/2008 11:29 AM  
Anonymous Teacher of PreKinders said...

Hello! I have been reading the updates on Kennidi for some time. Please be mindful that gifted students are also considered "special needs". Not all of them adjust well either.

I am not bashing anything here, just be open minded about the whole situation.. We tend to get all over admin, etc... when in fact it is NOT their decision.

The Lord will provide an answer whether it be the one you want for Kennidi. Remember--God doesn't waste pain.........

5/20/2008 12:47 PM  
Blogger Angie (Angelica Grace Designs) said...

In response to "Teacher of prekinders" post above, see the later blog topic titled "In Response:" from May 20th, 2008.
Blessings,
Angie Seaman

5/20/2008 2:08 PM  
Blogger Sabra said...

Atta Girl! Keep your chin up...you guys are doing great! Might I add...I would love the chance to "escort" these fellows out the door, too! Hugs!
Sabra Godair

5/20/2008 4:25 PM  

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