Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Truth Or Lies? Part 2 - Allegations Against The Bridgeport School District

I finally have some more time to continue to address the abuse allegations made against the Bridgeport Spaulding School District in the Title VI complaint filed by the Detroit Board Of Education with the Department of Justice.
Part 1 post on this subject can be viewed here - http://bridgeportmusings.blogspot.com/2015/08/truth-or-lies-allegations-against.html

First let me address the photos that were included in the complaint filed.
- One photo shows a woman with her hand on the door knob of a door.  That photo proves nothing.  You do not see any child involved there.  There is no date or time stamp on that photo so there is no way to prove when it was taken.  None of the photos provided in this claim show a date or time stamp.  It is claimed that the white teachers at Bridgeport used discipline that was not applied to any white students, only the African American students that were sent to Bridgeport after the closure of their Buena Vista schools.  They claim that room is a closet that the BV students were locked in.  I read a response from a Bridgeport resident that said that "closet" is actually a room "where kids who are having behavior problems and are expressing it in a violent way are sent to help them calm down. .... In the one shown in the picture, there's a bean bag chair and some soft, squishy balls. The child can throw these balls at the wall until they calm down or they can sit in the bean bag chair until they calm down."  They claim that this was part of a award winning program that was closed down recently.  I plan on trying to find out more information out about this room and program and will share it in another blog post.
- Another photo shows 4 youths standing against a outside wall of Martin G. Akins School here in Bridgeport.  The claim says that African American students from the former Buena Vista schools were "being forced to stand outside instead of receiving instruction in the classroom for imagined offenses".  According to people from Bridgeport the reason why students stand or sit against that wall outside is -  "As for the other picture that is the elementary/middle school and that's how the kids have been disciplined for years during recess if they pushed, shoved, or were fighting they were told to sit by the wall. "  I saw posts from Bridgeport residents, including current students, that said either they or someone they had known had been forced to stand or sit by that wall during recess because of misbehavior.  Children of all races have to do this, not just the students from BV.  This has also been going on for years before any children from BV were transferred to the Bridgeport schools.
- The last photo in the claim filed by Detroit BOE shows a a door with a tall skinny window in it, and inside you see the back of a man standing in the room and on the floor you can see a foot or a boot lying on the floor.  That is it.  That means nothing.  They claim that BV students are forced to lie on the floor for punishment and claim this photo is proof of that.  This photo does not prove that to me.  There could be so many explanations for all of these photos other than what they claim is behind them.
Bridgeport is a small township and if these kind of things were going on in our schools, people in this township would be talking about it.  Believe me, it would be talked about!  I have never heard one word about anything like this going on and neither has anyone that I have talked to about these allegations.

In the claim they say that the anonymous teacher and witnesses were afraid to come forward because of fear of retaliation.  If someone really felt that the students from BV were being abused, did they ever try to speak to anyone in the Bridgeport School District to try and put a stop to it?  If they were really afraid of retaliation, they could have gone to other local sources to try and stop it.  
They could have gone to a School Board meeting and made a public presentation to present their evidence.  I think most people here in Bridgeport know that I video tape the meetings and post them on YouTube and on my blog.  Doing a presentation there in front of the camera for all to see would have protected them from the risk of retaliation.  If I saw evidence that supported their claims, then I would have been in full support of them!
They could have contacted any of the local police agencies if they felt the children were in danger of abuse.  That would have been investigated and I am sure that they would have protected the identity of the informant.  We have the Bridgeport Township Police Department, the Saginaw County Sheriff's Department, and the Michigan State Police Department.
They could have contacted any of  the local media outlets and shared their story.  I am sure their identities would have been protected then also.  The schools in our area get a fair amount of coverage in the local media and a story like this would have probably been a big story.
They could have gone to sources like the Saginaw ISD or maybe the Michigan Department of Education.  What about the Michigan State Board Of Education?  What about any of our local politicians?  Did this anonymous teacher or witnesses ever try to contact anyone locally?  
If I felt that students were truly being abused that would have been my first course of action and I would not have been worried about myself, only for the safety of the students that were supposedly being abused.

This is a area that I am not comfortable even going to, the discussion of race.  Decades ago I saw some true Southern racism in the deep south of the US and that is something that has left a lifelong  impression on me.  The talk of race or racism is disturbing to me, but since race plays the major role in the claims against Bridgeport then I will go there now.
Lets go back to the first statement in this claim - that Bridgeport is a "predominately white" school district.  I have already shared the facts to disprove this claim.  Let me share them again here:
From the MI School Data website - https://goo.gl/QXLybS
Look up the Bridgeport Spaulding Community School District and it shows that the
- African American students are 53.14% of the student population
- White students are 24.41% of the student population
- Hispanic students are 15.76% of the student  population
- Students identifying as two or more races make up 6.4% of the student population
This is for the student population of the school district.  I do not know what the percentage is of African American teachers here in the Bridgeport School District.  
I do know some of the staff and school board members in Bridgeport that are African American.  First we have Mrs. Carol Selby the current Interim Superintendent of the Bridgeport Spaulding School District.  Anyone can read my blog posts and see that I am a big supporter of Mrs. Selby, and I am not the only supporter she has here.  At the Bridgeport School Board Meeting held on April 13th, 2015 there was a petition presented to the school board from the Bridgeport Education Association asking that then Acting Superintendent Selby be given a contract that would keep her on through the end of the 2015-16 school year.  This petition was signed by 70 members of the BEA.  That might be surprising if you truly believed that the "predominately white" Bridgeport school district was biased against African Americans.  It is not surprising to any who know the truth about the Bridgeport School District and especially those who know Mrs. Selby.
We also have two other lovely women of color here that I come in contact with through the board meetings.  They are both outstanding women, Melissa Cabine and Robin Johnson.
We then have two members of the Bridgeport School Board that are African American.  Mrs. Tedi Morris and Mr. Dempsey Allen.  I think very highly of both of them and I believe that others do also.
I may not always agree with every decision or action taken by these members of our school district, but I will never doubt their integrity or their desire to do what is best for the students here in Bridgeport and the Bridgeport School District.  I also believe that if these claims of abuse against former BV students were actually taking place here, these members would have done everything in their power to stop it.

Lastly I want to address what I feel was very reckless actions taken by the Detroit BOE, the author of the article on Addicting Info website,  and the Go Left America organization.  It doesn't appear to me that any of these people or groups did anything to verify any of this information that was provided in this allegation against the Bridgeport School District.  A comment made by someone from the Go Left America group on a post on their Facebook page on the post where they shared the news article from Addicting Info, says "It is not for us to decide, it is only for us to give what citizens wish to share out of concern to others to decide".  This was part of their response to my concerns that I had posted over the news article and the basis of this information.  This response reminds me of the saying "Kill them all and let God sort 'em out".  I find it disgusting and extremely irresponsible.
Did anyone involved in the gathering, sharing or posting of this information have any concern of the damage that this kind of allegation could have upon the students or the Bridgeport School District?  If this claim is found to have been made in error because of someone's misunderstanding or even possibly if the basis of this claim turns out to be intentionally falsified to hurt the Bridgeport School District, what happens to the students and district?  Can the damage be undone then?  If the story turns out to have no merit or is proven intentionally false, will the Detroit BOE, the author at Addicting Info, the groups Go Left America and Save Michigan's Public Schools, will they be so quick to jump on that story and share it all over the internet?  Will they even care at that point about what happens to the Bridgeport Schools and children?

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