Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Why School Boards Won't Tell You the Reasons for Employee Discipline or Dismissal

Boards of education are sometimes asked by news reporters or other citizens to explain the reasons when they fire an administrator, teacher or other employee. Some school boards, in fact, are publicly criticized when they refuse to divulge such reasons or do not speak out in defense of a dismissal.

The Illinois Association of School Boards believes such criticism is almost always unwarranted and unfair. The public needs to know that a school board must treat information regarding an employee dismissal as completely confidential.

The fact is, a public right to know rarely if ever attaches to an employee dismissal, especially when the employer is a public body. Even in those rare situations involving criminal misconduct, responsibility for publicly releasing information about formal charges would rest, not with the public employer, but with law enforcement officials.

Under any circumstances imaginable, it would be improper for the members of a school board to comment publicly regarding an employee dismissal for at least three reasons:

1) Barring some heinous misconduct on the part of the employee, no employer should wish to make future employment any more difficult than necessary.

2) Releasing stigmatizing information on an employee, even in the form of accusations or opinions, will increase the level of hostility and make an amicable settlement of an employment dispute impossible. The cost of going to court is many times greater than the cost of an out-of-court settlement and is not a prudent use of dollars that should be spent on educating children.

3) Public employees have constitutionally protected interests in personal reputation, integrity and the right to future employment opportunities. A public body that divulges stigmatizing information in dismissing an employee jeopardizes the constitutional rights of that employee and creates an intricate and costly web of procedural due process requirements. Even where stigmatizing information is believed to be true, efforts to prove it in court carry enormous financial risks.

These are among the reasons that Illinois law specifically exempts the discussion of employee performance or conduct from open meetings requirements and shields personnel records from public scrutiny.

The Illinois Association of School Boards recognizes the public's right to know as an essential element of self-government and urges boards of education to operate as openly as possible. At the same time, however, IASB recognizes that the public's right to know is not without limit and must be weighed against such factors as individual rights of privacy and the need to protect the citizenry from unnecessary financial liability.

Costly litigation, regardless of whether it results in financial judgments against the public body, creates tax burdens that must be weighed against the public's desire to know the reasons for a public employee's dismissal.

Attorneys advise school boards not to disclose information regarding the dismissal of any employee. Following such legal advice is a wise course, especially when public pressure tempts members of the public body to speak out and let taxpayers finance the huge court costs, legal fees and damage settlements that are sure to follow.

Taxpayers and the news media alike should congratulate any school board for following its attorney's advice when such advice reduces the school district's exposure to litigation and possible liability for damages.

The Illinois Association of School Boards recommends careful consideration of these legal issues before asking members of a board of education to divulge reasons for an employee dismissal.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE -- This document is copyrighted © by the Illinois Association of School Boards. IASB hereby grants to school districts and other Internet users the right to download, print and reproduce this document provided that (a) the Illinois Association of School Boards is noted as publisher and copyright holder of the document and (b) any reproductions of this document are disseminated without charge and not used for any commercial purpose.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The run on Popeye's Chicken

It didn't appear on the local news like it did in other cities, but I heard the Popeye's Chicken in Peoria ran out of chicken last week when they had their $4.99 special. The person who told me said she waited in a long line before they found out they were out of chicken. She was miffed, but she able to laugh it off. Now I know white folks go to Popeye's Chicken too (at least here in Peoria they do). How come they didn't interview any of them for this piece (no pun intended).The above video is from Rochester, NY. The following video is from Minneapolis, MN:

This video is from NRP Music:

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lethal Bird Flu Mixed With Human Flu Vaccine & Shipped To 18 Countries...

That was in early March. Fast forward to today and BAM!!! Swine flu pandemic? I ran across this story today and decided to take a read:

"Deerfield, Illinois-based pharmaceutical company Baxter International Inc. has just been caught shipping live avian flu viruses mixed with vaccine material to medical distributors in 18 countries. The "mistake" was discovered by the National Microbiology Laboratory in Canada...

How could this company have accidentally mixed LIVE avian flu viruses (both H5N1 and H3N2, the human form) in this vaccine material? The shocking answer is that this couldn't have been an accident. Why? Because Baxter International adheres to something called BSL3 (Biosafety Level 3) - a set of laboratory safety protocols that prevent the cross-contamination of materials..."

Excerpt from Natural News, 3/03/2009: Vaccines as Biological Weapons? Live Avian Flu Virus Placed in Baxter Vaccine Materials Sent to 18 Countries

Interesting read over at Keep It Trill...

Friday, April 24, 2009

EmergingPeoria: Police Brutality Press Conference

EmergingPeoria: Police Brutality Press Conference

Police Brutality Press Conference

Hat tip to Stella for the photos:
Today’s press conference held by Pastor Harvey Burnett on the steps of City Hall was in full attendance by local television and radio stations. There were also several individuals who appeared along side Pastor Burnett who spoke specifically to the police brutality they each allegedly faced at the hands of Peoria Police.

Pastor Burnett:
On June 30th 2007 The Peoria Association of Pastors For Community & Spiritual Renewal along with the residents of this city, some Christian and otherwise, met in front of this Peoria City Hall prayed prayers, read biblical scriptures and marched to Morgan Park where we conducted a rally against violence, crime and murder. At that time violent crime had taken this city causing residents to fear for their lives and very existence within the community. The week of that event there were 3 murders that had taken place. Thankfully there has not been another week in this city quite like that since. However there is still yet a fear.

Last time we marched away from City Hall to better serve the community. This time we stand prepared to march into City Hall because it is time that this city better serve the needs of all of its citizens.

Approximately one year ago, after my initial press conference exposing incidents of alleged police brutality, Peoria Police Chief Settingsgaard told me in front of other pastors that there was no problem with police brutality in this city and that I was simply stirring up or creating a problem. I first want to say that the statements I am about to make are not directed toward the many fine police offices that do their job exceptionally well everyday. I want to say that those officers are a benefit to this community and to the many families who count on their service. To them we wish to say thank you and please continue to the job that all citizens of Peoria can be and are proud of. .

But to those officers who feel that a badge and a gun empowers them to decide what civil rights a person has in their presence, to you we say your reign of terror upon the citizens of this community is over and we will peacefully do everything that we can to bring about change even if that means forcing you to surrender your badge.

Over a year since the Chief made his astounding proclamation to me in the face of evidence, new and shocking video evidence has surfaced, of not just one incident, but at least two incidents of alleged police brutality, at least three officers are now preparing to defend themselves in court for such alleged abuses. We have city officials some of whom seem to be derelict in dealing with any incidents or allegations of police brutality because they seem to value image of the city over the citizenry of the community. Might I remind you that this problem has long been a problem before I spoke out against it last year. As early as 2005 the Peoria Pundit Blog was asking questions and doing stories about allegations of Police Brutality in Peoria. My comments are not and should not be taken as an anomoly.

To the critic, who thinks, “why should the rights of criminals be protected?” or “they just should have obeyed the law” I would have you to know that not all of these people were criminals and not all of them were disobeying the law when they were allegedly brutalized. Some of them were elders of our community with good and impeccable work records. Some were simply inquiring about the status of family and friends only to find themselves at the wrong end of a tazer multiple times or being kicked insistently while handcuffed and subdued.

In fact, behind me stands the citizens of this community. Many of them either having had their civil rights violated by a City Police Officer or having witnessed the rights of others taken away through strong-arm and what I call Gestapo tactics. Some of them were tazed multiply; in one incidence approximately 22 times. As stated, some were handcuffed, then beaten, while they were told that they were “resisting” with no regard to the fact that they had already been subdued. Just about all of them were cussed at insistently, and many asked repeatedly, “Do you know who I am?” which is coded police street language usurping dominion over a persons actions. Some of these persons were even denied adequate medical care so that the full extent of their injuries would not be immediately made known. Still yet others were taken to the hospital and woke up 24 to 36 hours later with a court date but not under arrest. Police have entered homes and businesses using foul language and disrespecting families and business owners because they felt it was convenient to do so. These actions are the actions of criminals. These actions instill fear in the hearts of citizens. These actions must cease.

This is why we are here today. To shed light on wrong and to demand that this city and its police department come to accountability for its actions.

We hold Police Chief Settingsgaard responsible for the actions of his officers in the field. Even though his officers have voted no confidence in him, he proudly states that he is the chief policy maker for this department. We only wish to affirm that if his policies results in actions such as these that have been alleged by this representative group of citizens, both it and he must be changed.

We also hold Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis accountable for his inaction over the same period of time since I spoke with him regarding allegations and incidents. We hold the Peoria County States Attorney’s Office accountable for not hearing the multiple complaints or responding to my personal calls and faxes to his office to intervene. In fact all attempts to engage his office went UNANSWERED. We blame the Peoria legal community, for their silence and refusal to take cases because of who the actions would be against.

Yes there is a fundamental problem and that problem must be fixed. As citizens of the community we demand that it be fixed. We demand that the civil rights of individuals who have dealing with the police for whatever reason and under whatever circumstance be protected.

Today we will submit written and verbal complaints through the city attorney’s office. We hope that our actions will spark a new day in Peoria where all of its citizens will feel that the police are truly a partner with the citizens of the community and not a threat to the safety of any of our loved ones.

Thank you.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Unemployment rates for blacks with degrees skyrocket

Fifteen months into a deep recession, college-educated white workers still had a relatively low unemployment rate of 3.8% in March of this year. The same could not be said for African Americans with four-year degrees. The March 2009 unemployment rate for college-educated blacks was 7.2%-almost twice as high as the white rate-and up 4.5 percentage points from March 2007, before the start of the current recession (see chart). Hispanics and Asian Americans with college degrees were in between, both with March 2009 unemployment rates of 5%.

Some argue that the problem of joblessness among African Americans can be solved by education alone, but at every education level the unemployment rate for blacks exceeds that of whites. The disparities among the college-educated and other evidence strongly suggest that even if the black educational attainment distribution was exactly the same as the white distribution, blacks would still have a higher unemployment rate than whites. Without a renewed commitment to anti-discrimination in employment and job creation in black communities, high rates of black joblessness will likely persist.

Baby goes to church

Could you be a bit more... terrific

Monday, April 20, 2009


I look at Peoria Chronicle and I refuse to be pulled into the never ending discussions about all that is wrong with District 150 - every little intricacy - from self proclaimed experts. From an outsider looking in, it looks like people are arguing about it just because they can.

Our children deserve better schools - it is past time. Oh yeah, the nostalgia from Woodruff is so special. Really? I went to Woodruff, all of my siblings went to Woodruff, some of our off spring attend Woodruff - not one of us could not care any less if they were to make it a birth - 12 (or whatever) community center. Please just do it already and get it over with.

Hopefully the Board will not back down this time because some hell raisers are standing outside protesting schools, when they need to be protesting down in front of City Hall. These people about pee their pants every time they talk about making schools better South of War Memorial. What is this argument about really? That same damn 800 lb gorilla - that's what. Let me break it down for you:

Nobody is complaining about the $20 million Charter School that will be opening in 2010; nobody is complaining about all the money that goes to Washington Gifted School; and nobody is complaining about construction projects happening in the schools North of War Memorial. Oh, nobody said anything about that? Well here is what District 150 already has under way North of War Memorial:

While not new site construction, a $12.5 million dollar project has been approved for the Richwoods attendance area. Bonds have been issued for the projects and contracts will soon, if not already, be awarded for all four locations. Northmoor-Edison Primary, Kellar Primary, Lindbergh Middle and Richwoods High will all get additions and renovations to their current properties.

Richwoods High School plans include: interior and exterior window replacement; update security system; connecting hallway; three classroom addition. Funding for the project comes from the PBC at $4,900,000.

Lindbergh Middle School plans include: a three classroom addition with one media center; new restrooms. Funding for the project comes from the PBC at $1,930,000.

Northmoor Edison Primary School plans include: new cafeteria / multi-purpose room; new secure main entry; faculty development area. Funding for the project comes from the PBC at $2,110,000.

Kellar Primary School plans include: a four classroom addition; remodel of existing area to conference room and open office space. Funding for the project comes from the PBC at $2,130,000.

What's really rich is how these people have already floated using the 800 lb gorilla hoping it will help them keep inner city kids in substandard schools (yes, one of the leaders have already mentioned the race card). I guess they figure since the NAACP or nobody else is using it - why not?

But you know what - I want to go on record - I'm holding a race card too. I say inner city kids deserve better schools and if the schools they are currently in are so bad - build them new. I say inner city parents who have elected to live in Peoria (myself and many others) and are concerned about a better education, deserve to have a better choice.

Personally, I am looking forward to the MST Charter School, I happen to have an exceptional child who would benefit from that type of environment. Anybody who would be opposed to better schools South of War Memorial, I have to look at you sideways and question what is your true motivation? What you want puts my child and my neighborhood at a distinct disadvantage. Do you even care?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Desegregation in Peoria Schools

In 1966 when initial planning for desegregation began, minority students were concentrated in 9 of Peoria's 39 schools. Twenty of the city's schools had white enrollments of more than 98 percent, indicating the most minimal percentage of minority students in more than half the city's schools. Four schools were totally white.

The Board fully realized that the Peoria Public Schools must be integrated promptly to insure quality education and equality of educational opportunities for all children.

The plan was quickly put into effect to coincide with the fall 1968 opening of Peoria’s schools. A few incidents of limited physical violence occurred but the Peoria Journal Star, in its account of the desegregation process noted, "There were no major incidents. Busing, at least on a limited basis and as long as it did not involve advantaged whites, seemed to work well in Peoria.

In some respects, the Peoria schools during the 1970s began to look more segregated than even prior to the initiation of desegregation. In 1966 Peoria's minority students were concentrated in nine schools; eight of these schools failed to meet State guidelines because they had an overpopulation of minority students. By the 1975-76 school year, the district had a total of nine schools which had an overpopulation of minority students by State standards.

A central aspect of the "Quality/Equality" plan was the initiation of the middle-school concept and a new building program to improve physical facilities. The building program was tied, in many ways, to local school referenda. However, the "Quality/Equality" plan stated that "the plan...will be implemented regardless of whether new buildings are built and regardless of the outcome of any bond referendum". Nevertheless, school bond referenda have failed on a number of occasions and the middle-school concept has not gone forward.

On January 8, 1976, the Illinois Office of Education announced that Peoria District 150 was not in compliance with State desegregation guidelines. The State found 20 Peoria schools not in compliance and ordered the district to submit detailed desegregation plans. The order noted that failure to do so could result in a loss of funding and further legal action by the State. A new plan from the district has now been received by the State and is currently under review.

Superintendent Harry Whitaker agreed that Peoria's schools should be within the State guidelines, but has also argued that the district should not be made to bus white students to predominantly black schools to achieve this end:

"We believe in integration. There's no question about that," Mr. Whitaker stated, "but we don't believe in integration to the point that we have to move youngsters back and forth. We think that that is going to be detrimental....My goal is not to re-segregate District 150, but, hopefully, to maintain the community as it is now."

Over the years, the city's public housing population has grown increasingly black. Thus, for instance, school desegregation on Peoria’s far south side must now be entirely reprogrammed in light of the high concentration of black families who have moved into the once predominantly white, blue-collar Harrison Homes project, which is located in the area. The middle-school concept (which has not been implemented in Peoria) still offers the potential, through careful planning, for serving as a means of drawing city residents into multiracial living situations as an outgrowth of the involvement and interest of parents in the middle schools. The city's central urban renewal area offers one possible site for new middle-school construction and residential development.

Following its 1976 review of the desegregation status of Peoria's schools, the Illinois Office of Education assigned a consultant to review the school district's desegregation plan. The consultant recommended the closing of the five remaining predominantly black inner-city schools and the busing of students from these schools to largely white schools.

These recommendations were forwarded to the Peoria school district for its consideration and response. The district held public meetings on the proposed closing and found that the community response was overwhelming negative. On January 3, 1977, the school board unanimously rejected the State's recommendations. The State's consultant observed that school closings were but one of many suggested approaches to the problems of desegregating Peoria's schools. On April 14, 1977, the State board of education voted to waive partially its desegregation guidelines for Peoria, and granted the school district an additional 1 year to bring the remaining schools into compliance.

Read the entire report here.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hiring a New Superintendent - Some Appropriate Roles

There are appropriate roles for citizens and news media in the hiring of a new school district superintendent. There also are some inappropriate roles that can make selection of a new superintendent a school board nightmare.

The problems arise when: interest groups publicly demand to interview candidates for the job and to express their opinions as to who should be hired, and/or the identities of candidates are leaked to the news media.

The first problem is sure to discourage serious candidates and likely to result in a mismatch between the superintendent and the school board. (If the board expects the new superintendent to be accountable to the board, then the board must do the hiring, not the teachers union, business community or local television station.)

The second problem creates embarrassment for candidates who had been getting along fine with their current employers and is likely to result in withdrawals, not to mention a reduced pool of candidates the next time that school board goes looking for a superintendent.

To prevent such situations from arising, a school board that is about to launch a superintendent search must clearly establish its role as the employer. School boards are elected to represent the public, and one of their most important jobs is to employ a superintendent. Interviewing finalists and selecting the one who best meets the school district's needs is the job of the school board.

Activities that are appropriate to an election have no place in the selection of an educational leader for the school district.

It is not appropriate, for example, for a school board to present candidates to the public and make a selection on the basis of a popularity poll. News media representatives who advocate public forums evaluating candidates confuse election campaigns with the employment process.

By the same token, news media representatives who treat candidates for the superintendency like public celebrities create a reputation for their school districts that discourages successful administrators from becoming candidates.

To accommodate those eager for involvement and preclude unreasonable demands, the school board should establish procedures for ascertaining the views of the community in establishing qualifications and standards for the superintendency. There are many ways to seek these views, including surveys, committees, public hearings, and just generally listening to what people say they would like in a new superintendent. Newspapers and broadcast media can play a key role by encouraging interested people to speak up and publicizing different points of view as to what the district needs.

However, public discussion of what the district needs in a superintendent must come long before the pool of applicants is narrowed down to a few finalists. Identifying desired qualifications and characteristics should be an initial step, for this information plays an important part of the board's advertising to solicit candidates.

During the final stages of the selection process, there probably are key persons in any community that a prospective superintendent might want or need to meet. Matching a superintendent with a community is usually a two-way sales situation, so the community must sell itself to the candidate as well as vice versa. A school board might arrange for two or three finalists to meet key school-community leaders.

A school board might also provide a public explanation of the consequences of inappropriate procedures. A mismatch between the job and the person ultimately hired results when candidates receive a distorted picture of who the employer is. And when news reporters use personal contacts to learn the identities of candidates for the superintendency and publicize their names and their current employers, candidates become leery of applying for the job--including perhaps the very one who would have been best for the district.

Some employing school boards are aware that their superintendents are pursuing other jobs, some are not. School boards usually must promise anonymity to candidates or advise candidates from the outset that anonymity cannot be guaranteed. School boards that cannot guarantee anonymity will receive fewer applications and have fewer candidates from which to choose a new superintendent. A school board that promises anonymity and doesn't deliver it sends an unpleasant message that reaches prospective candidates everywhere.

School boards, community leaders and news media should work together in their appropriate roles in seeking the very best educational leader for their schools.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE -- This document is copyrighted © by the Illinois Association of School Boards. IASB hereby grants to school districts and other Internet users the right to download, print and reproduce this document provided that (a) the Illinois Association of School Boards is noted as publisher and copyright holder of the document and (b) any reproductions of this document are disseminated without charge and not used for any commercial purpose.