Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Bridgeport School Board Meeting June 8th, 2015

On the agenda:
- Student and Staff Recognition begins at 0:45
- Citizen Participation begins at 8:15
- Committee Reports (Building & Grounds/Finance) and also discussion on the status of current Acting Superintendent and Superintendent Search begins at 21:13
- Professional Learning Update begins at 1:02:57
There was supposed to be a presentation by Mr. Barlow on the College and Career-Scholarship Update but Mr. Barlow could not attend. I had to change batteries in this discussion so you will see a break in the video.
- MHSAA Membership Discussion/Resolution begins at 1:14:00
- Payment of Bills, Approval of Minutes begins at 1:15:09
- School Resource Officer Contract for 2015-16 begins at 1:16:25
- Board and Superintendent Comments begin at 1:17:07

Congratulations to the students and staff for their recognition awards!!
I have to apologize for the poor audio quality.  The school board only has 4 microphones for the whole group and one small speaker.  It is hard for my small video camera to pick up all the audio in the large auditorium.  I try to do the best I can with what I have to work with.

Some very important subjects were discussed at the meeting.  I will start with the citizen participation segment.
John Rhines spoke and shared some disturbing information about board member Marti Sageman.  After watching the video of the June 1st Personnel Committee Meeting, Mr. Rhines sent Mrs. Sageman an email about what he viewed as her ridiculous behavior in that meeting.  The following day Mrs. Sageman filed a police report with the Bridgeport Police Department claiming she felt threatened by Mr. Rhines; that she feels scared by Mr. Rhines when he stares at her at the meetings, that he requests that she resign her seat on the school board!!  He will be filing a complaint against her under the statewide schools anti-bullying policy.  I think it is about time that someone finally does.  

On the Michigan Department of Education website they have the Model Anti-Bullying Policy.  It applies also to school employees not just students.  I believe this is what Mr. Rhines is referring to.  This is part of that policy:

"The (fill in district name) board of education prohibits any person from falsely accusing another as a means of bullying or harassment.  The consequences and appropriate remedial action for a person found to have falsely accused another as a means of bullying or harassment may range from positive behavioral interventions up to and including suspension or expulsion.  Consequences and appropriate remedial action for a school employee found to have falsely accused another as a means of bullying or harassment shall be in accordance with district policies, procedures, and agreements." 

One thing that I have heard about Marti Sageman over and over again from members of our community is that she is a bully, has been a bully for years, that if you go against her she will make you pay!  I have never posted those remarks on my blog because I did not personally know firsthand the details of any of the incidents.  What Mr. Rhines talks about here definitely sounds like bullying to me, trying to silence any of her critics.  I stare at her during the meetings usually in amazement at her behavior, I think many people stare at her in amazement.  I have called for her to resign numerous times on my blog.  Others in tonight’s meeting called for her to resign.  Will she file a police report against all of us? Against anyone that criticizes her or holds her accountable for her behavior and actions?  

Mr. Rhines also mentioned at the beginning of his comments about the June 1st Personnel Committee Meeting, that there was no notice published about it being held.  Mrs. Sageman claims that teachers contacted her and complained that their names were mentioned on YouTube.  She then contacted a lawyer at the Michigan Association of School Boards to get an opinion on the meetings being videotaped or something along that line.  I believe it was a result of Mrs. Sageman’s interpretation of that legal opinion and her wishes that no notice was sent out about the meeting being held.  Mr. Rhines says he contacted every teacher that was mentioned in that meeting and they all claimed that they had not been in contact with Mrs. Sageman.  Did she lie about the whole event just to find a way to keep my video camera and possibly Mr. Rhines, her most out spoken critic, out of the meetings?  That is a serious question that I am hoping to find an answer to.  I found her behavior disgusting in the two personnel meetings I have videotaped, maybe she just wanted to try and keep the public from seeing these things?  If she does not resign her position from the board, then I believe she should at least be removed from her position as the Chairman of the Personnel Committee.

Marti Sageman is an elected public official and should always be held to a higher standard and should always be held accountable.  If she cannot face the criticism or scrutiny then she should not be on the school board or in any public office.  Any school board member or public official that believes the public does not have the right to demand they resign their position, is either so ignorant, or so corrupt, or so egotistical, they do not belong in public office.  

The next speaker was Zachary Podojak, a 2006 Bridgeport graduate.  He spoke about the state of affairs of the Bridgeport School District and the situation surrounding the resignation of former Superintendent Desmon Daniel and Board Member Darrell Thayer.  You can read the article he mentions here –  Bridgeport School Board Member Steps Down In Protest - http://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/index.ssf/2009/02/bridgeport_spaulding_school_bo.html

The last speaker was Frank Morrison.  He also spoke about the need for Marti Sageman to either resign from the school board or be removed from the school board.  He said he has talked to former school board members and they all agree the biggest problem on the school board for many years has been Marti Sageman.   How many school board members, superintendents, staff members, have left because of Mrs. Sageman?  How many more years will she be allowed to continue causing discord within our school district?

During the Committee Reports segment they discussed the status of Acting Superintendent Carol Selby and extending her contract.  They did vote to extend her contract for one year.  I am not sure if she will remain Acting Superintendent or be named Interim Supeintendent.  The main problem I have with giving her only a one year contract is that I suspect there is one, maybe two, board members that don’t want her to be the Superintendent.    When the one year contract comes back up for renewal, will they still support it?  It sounds like from the comments made by Melissa Cabine and Pete Basile, that the MDE or other state organizations are looking to see that there will be stability and continuity in the management of the school district to get them through and out of the deficit period and priority schools status.  They are estimating that it will take two years to get out of the deficit problems.  Will the MDE view a one year contract as the stability that is needed?  

There were some good points made by Mrs. Morris about the time required for a thorough Superintendent search.  With a one year contract for Mrs. Selby, they would need to start that search now.  There was also discussion about how bringing in a new Superintendent during the middle of these problems would not be in the best interest of the school district.  There was also discussion about the ability to attract other qualified candidates for the Superintendent position while the schools are going through these problems.  I stated in an earlier post on my blog that with the history of problems, past and current, within the school board and its members, within the district, it may be hard to attract qualified candidates.  Think about it…  If you are a candidate and you did your research, found on the internet the articles like the one mentioned above on MLive about board members possibly being responsible for driving out Superintendents and other board members, would you want to apply for a position in that district?  I wouldn’t!!

They discussed using the same search firm that gave them Thomas Hill as their last candidate.  Mr. Allen says that same company also sent another candidate that showed up to the interview wearing boots covered in cow dung.  And there are board members that still want to use that same search firm?  Mrs. Morris has done some good research into firms that do the searches, talked with other districts.  The firm that Bridgeport used may be cheaper, but the MASB also does the superintendent searches, they cost more but get better results.  That is another of the no-brainer decisions as to which firm to use, but Bridgeport can’t really afford the better firm right now.  One of my favorite quotes is the definition of  insanity --   “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

I have a problem with several things that Robert Lange said during the meeting.  He was discussing the cost savings associated with keeping Mrs. Selby on as Superintendent with Pete Basile.  I thought Mr. Lange’s behavior was rude and disrespectful towards Mr. Basile.  Mr. Lange also mentioned that he wanted to see some academic performance statistics.  My impression is that he did not want to give Mrs. Selby a contract until he sees those results and only if she is vetted against other candidates in a superintendent search by the same firm they used before.  Mrs. Selby stepped in and took over the Superintendent role in December 2014 after the exit of Mr. Hill, and she was also performing her position as Title 1 person.  If the student academic performance statistics are not at a acceptable level, is that a true reflection on the job she has performed since December?  Or is it more of a reflection on the staff members and school board members that have been in place for years, some for too many years?    Mrs. Selby seems to be performing a good job, but she is not a miracle worker, it will take her time to bring these schools out of the mess that they have become over many years.  Most members agree that she has brought the needed stability to the district.  My impression is that her, Melissa Cabine and Pete Basile are doing a good job in getting the schools through the financial and other problems at this time.  

They also mentioned that this school board does not have a strategic plan in place.  I believe the school boards role is to have the plan in place and then the superintendent’s role is to put that plan into action.  Mrs. Sageman said in this meeting and also a personnel committee meeting, that they did have a 5 year strategic plan in place.   The problem with that is the other board members have never seen it, it was drafted 7 to 9 years ago so it is already outdated.  It also was done before the schools fell into the deficit problems so it is now irrelevant.  So there may be a outdated irrelevant 5 year strategic plan that no one has seen in years, but when you look at the state the school district has fallen into, was the plan any good to begin with?  Here we go again – Who’s On First?

Dempsey Allen made a comment in the closing board member comments that I thought was excellent.  Summary is that he is serving at the leisure of the voters, members of this district, and that if he is no longer productive, ceases to show commitment to the students and staff of the district, that he hopes he would have the courage to step down before he was asked to do so. I have confidence in Mr. Allen, I don’t doubt his commitment to the students and the district.  I commented in an earlier blog post here titled “Impressions” that I felt that Marti Sageman would not step down from the board if that is what was  best for the students and the school district.  I still don’t believe she would.  She claims that she does everything she can for the students and the district.  I don’t feel that she does anything for the benefit of the students and district. I feel she does it all for herself.  It is all about Marti..  I feel she does it for her own glory, for her legacy.  What will her legacy truly be though, will it be as the most infamous school board member in the history of the Bridgeport School Board?  Has anyone ever looked at the complete definition of Narcissism?

I left this meeting feeling unsettled, it left me with a ominous feeling that I still can't shake off.  There was one thing though in the meeting that did make me laugh.  School Board President Jay Bruns used the gavel to let a audience member know that they were speaking out of line, not during the public comment period.  I often feel like shouting things out loud from the audience during the school board meetings but I always manage to hold my tongue.  Someday he may have to use that gavel because of me!  Remember the paddles that teachers used to keep on their desks?  It was meant as a threat to us unruly and rebellious students, but it always made me laugh and I viewed it as a challenge.  I am not laughing at Mr. Bruns for using the gavel, it for some reason just reminded me of my long ago school days, made me feel again like that rebellious student.  You know you are in trouble if Mr. Bruns gets out the gavel!!

I was glad to see that they did vote to renew the contract for the school resource officer.  I have meet Officer Brent Green and he seems like a very nice young man.  They have also commented in other meetings that he has been a great benefit to the schools.
Dennis Barlow was supposed to give a presentation on the college readiness program but was unable to attend the meeting.  I have a print out of what the presentation was going to be and it looks good.  I am hoping that he will be able to make the presentation at another meeting.


1 comment:

  1. Very well said... Finally people that will stand up to this woman that has pushed everyone around for years. Sounds like a possible recall in the making. She should save herself the embarrassment and everyone else the headaches and just move on. although im starting to enjoy the comedy shows she puts on. Well done on this post!!! Everyone keep up the good work progress is being made.