Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Bridgeport School Board Special Meeting June 29th, 2015

On the agenda:
- Citizen Participation begins at 0:50
- Unfinished Business and/or Agenda Adjustments begins at 4:20
- The agenda was adjusted to include a presentation by Shauntel Manning.  This begins at 5:18
- Committee Reports - Policy Committee Report and also the  Brunkow Building Sale Discussion and/or Action begins at 1:12:07
- Director Of Professional & Organizational Learning Contract Discussion and/or Action begins at 1:32:09
- Superintendent's Contract Discussion and/or Approval begins at 2:20:52
- Superintendent Search begins at 2:35:00
- Board And Superintendent Comments begins at 2:40:24

All I keep saying since witnessing Monday night’s school board meeting is WOW!  If I had to sum it up with just a few words or phrases it would be: Dysfunctional, Hopeless, Incompetency, Who’s On First? Who’s Running The Show? Personal Political Agenda’s Don’t Belong On The School Board, Time To Shut It Down……………….  Just my opinion.

First up was John Rhines during the citizen participation segment.  He always has good comments and points he brings to the meetings.

Next up on the agenda was a presentation by Shauntel Manning a district employee.  I was somewhat familiar with Ms. Manning from a April 27th, 2015 School Board Meeting when she got up and spoke during the citizen participation segment of the meeting.  I had also saw a post made by Ms. Manning on a gofundme page that left me wondering what it was really about.  I read her post and thought to myself there must be some kind of personal issue behind it and that it was not the appropriate place to post it.

I listened to her presentation and was left with questions and a feeling that there is more going on here than I know about. One thing she stated was that the Board of Education is her employer but they are not.  The school board only has one employee and that is Mrs. Selby.  Ms. Manning is employed by the Bridgeport School District, which Mrs. Selby is the Interim Superintendent of.

I don’t understand all the rules about unions and the employee’s contracts so again I was left with more questions.  The main point of Ms. Manning’s presentation the best that I can figure is that when Superintendent Selby moved her from the High School to Adkins Middle School that constituted a breach of contract.  To the best of my understanding it seems that Ms. Manning was hired by Mr. Hill as a math coach for the high school, but later Mr. Hill changed her contract to be something like College and Career Coordinator.  And at some time Mr. Hill changed her title again, I am not exactly sure to what, administration assistant or something.  At some point she was also given a several thousand dollar raise, and this was all done by Mr. Hill without board approval.  Was there a spending freeze in place during 2014, enacted by the school board?  Was her contract even a valid contract? Was she still acting as a math coach at the high school at the time she was moved?  Were the changes to her contract made by Mr. Hill also a breach of her contract?  I don’t understand it all.

She also talks about how her contract expired on June 30th, 2015.  She talks about she was hired under an Administrator contract but that Superintendent Selby changed her to a BEA employee and now she has a regular teacher contract?  It sounds like the union took action against her original contract, and maybe the other new hires under Mr. Hill, and it all ended in MERC hearings.  Sounds like it is a result of the MERC hearings that her contract was changed?

There was also discussed that she is certified to teach math for grades up to grade 8, but not for grades 9 to 12.  There was a position that was open at the high school but she could not apply for it because she is not certified for grades 9 to 12.  She says she is certified as a coach for grades K to 12, but if she cannot teach math to grades 9 to 12, why would she be hired to be a math coach for grades 9 to 12?  If you can’t teach it why would you be allowed to coach it?  Too many rules and regulations, certified not certified, it is all too complicated for me.

One comment made by Superintendent Selby that caught my attention was that the teachers at the High School absolutely would not work with Ms. Manning, would not respond to her as a math coach at the High School.  I don’t know Ms. Manning personally, so I could be wrong, but my impression was perhaps there is a lot of animosity from her towards others and possibly from school staff towards her.  Will she ever be able to work with others in the school system in a harmonious and productive manner?  Is there too much baggage that she will bring to whatever position she has in this school district?  They talk in the board meeting about how other staff are all pulling together and doing more work for less pay, doing whatever is necessary for the future of the school.  Ms. Manning talks about how that is her goal, to help the Bridgeport students, but I didn’t have the impression that she is willing to do whatever is necessary or the best for the students and to work with others.  Does it really matter whether she is coaching students at the High School or Adkins Middle School?  She would be helping students and isn’t that what every teacher should be striving to do?

Sadly this is a situation that would probably be best left up to legal counsel.  If I owned my own company and Ms. Manning was my employee, I think I would part ways with her; and perhaps that is what would be best for the Bridgeport School District.

One thing that bothered me happened during and after Ms. Manning’s presentation.  Her parents also attended the meeting and were sitting with Ms. Manning.  At one point during the meeting it appeared that her father was making confrontational actions and saying things towards others at the meeting.  I was tempted to turn my camera on him and his behavior as he moved from one person to another, but decided to keep the camera on the board.  When Mr. Manning physically approached 3 different people in a way that I interpreted as a threatening manner, I felt he should have been removed from the meeting.  I am a person that is a staunch opponent of removing any person from a public meeting but I felt that Mr. Manning’s actions were taken to the level that would have justified to have had him removed.  After Ms. Manning was done with her presentation, she and her family moved to seats in the very back of the auditorium but they were loud and disruptive throughout the rest of the meeting.  Board President Jay Bruns did finally “gavel” them late in the meeting, but I felt it should have been done much earlier.    If Mr. Manning ever attends another meeting, I hope that he will not be allowed to again behave in this manner.

Another discussion during the meeting was a contract discussion for Director Of Professional & Organizational Learning, Ms. Regina Silvey.  The discussion got a little sidetracked I feel due to some comments made earlier in the meeting by Ms. Manning.  Ms. Silvey was also one of the people that was approached in what I felt was a threatening and harassing manner by Mr. Manning earlier in the meeting.  I suspect that Ms. Silvey had a lot of frustration from this meeting and events over the past 9 - 10 months that perhaps came out in this discussion.  I can understand her frustration.  

The change proposed in Ms. Silvey’s contract is due to the fact that she has been helping handle the duties for the Title 1 Turn-Around Director position since Mrs. Selby was named as Acting Superintendent in December 2014.  They have 2 people doing the duties of 3 separate positions.  The board gets into a long discussion about the proposed raise for Ms. Silvey and also into a discussion of instead of having 2 people performing the duties of 3 positions, to go ahead and hire another person to take over one of the positions.  There are pro’s and con’s to all sides of this argument:  Yes it would be better to have one person performing each job, but the budget limitations is also a valid argument.  

It struck me that no one on this school board has the necessary understanding of the issues involving the priority school status, the budget and the deficit crisis that this school system is facing.  

Another discussion during the meeting was changes that should be made to the 1 year extension of Mrs. Selby’s contract as Interim Superintendent.  It has been brought up that there are minor changes that are necessary, and in the best interest of everyone involved, in a Superintendent’s contract.  I am not going to discuss all the details that were discussed during this, it was a long discussion; I will just say that I was very disappointed by what I saw and heard from the board members about the contract.  I felt that the board truly does not have the respect that I feel they should have for Mrs. Selby.  If I was her, I would probably have told them “It’s Been Interesting, Good Luck, See You Later!”   .. Luckily for the Bridgeport Schools and students, Mrs. Selby is a much nicer and more patient person than I am.

If I was sitting in Lansing and saw this meeting, along with all the other problems that this school board and district have had for years, I would shut this district down.  This meeting left me with little hope that this school board will ever be able to function in the necessary manner to bring this district out of the mess that it has allowed it to become, and especially to ever make it a thriving district.

1 comment:

  1. Bait and Bash:

    Abusive people enjoy this framing game. They provoke their chosen target for a reaction, then claim it as evidence of mental instability, evilmindedness, or something else that implies it is the victim who is at fault. Diverting all attention away from her own behavior, the bully seeks support from others, turning them against her target. It can be devastating for an individual who already is suffering from mistreatment to be blamed, slandered, rejected and isolated, as well. The bully enjoys the sense of power and control she derives from tormenting with impunity, and the attention she gets from playing the victim and fishing for sympathy. It is also a method of wanting to intimidate her target from attempting to speak up and expose the truth.