Chariho School Parents’ Forum

May 23, 2007

RYSE contract discussion

Filed under: 5th & 6th grade,grade spans,RYSE — Editor @ 4:21 pm

The first post on RYSE and the no-bid contract has brought up several question and points.  I would like to post them here for those that don’t normally read the comments section.  I have edited for length and content – the original post and comments are located here.  If you are unfamiliar with the incident I would suggest you read the first post and then come back here for the comment discussion. 

7 Comments »

1.      Unbelievable to say the least! If I’m reading this correctly, South Shore Mental Health Center offered a program tailored to meet the individual needs of each student? Psychological Centers, Inc. offers a one-size fits all approach, and that one size has historically been suited for “serious juvenile offenders”?

Behind this decision is some kinds of quid pro quo…I can’t think of any other reason why the decision would be made to go with the more expensive service with the less flexible approach? Follow the connections and I’m betting you’ll discover why PC Inc. was chosen.Do I see a pattern?

Yes, the pattern is that government rolls over everyone in its insatiable thirst to grow. With growth comes jobs for families and friends, e.g. Mr. Day’s family (wife and son).  

Of course, to accomplish continuing growth, everyone must play along, so back-scratching is the order of the day as everyone involved turns a blind eye. Comment by Curious Resident — May 23, 2007 @ 10:01 am | Edit This

2.

In 2003, PC Inc outlined some “performance measures” such as customer satisfaction reports and tracking how many kids are reintegrated back into the regular school.

But after 3-4 years of operation, they say that 95% of the satisfaction interviews were positive so they don’t use them anymore (but he didn’t keep records so is unable to send them to me).

They also no longer (or never did) track reintegration. 

Kathy Perry has said this is not a performance measurement and the students at RYSE “will need these services for life.” However, in another email she admitted that only 2 of 12 students last year needed to continue mental health services after graduation.

And the reintegration logic is also ludicrous. They (PC Inc) have determined that the students need their services indefinitely and should not be pushed to go back to the regular classrooms. But some of the students go on to college.  So they can handle college but they can’t handle a High School classroom?

Plus there is the fact that in 2006 Chariho has 6 times more complaints filed at RI Dept of Education than Coventry or Exeter and 4 times more than Westerly.

In 2006, Chariho had 12 complaints, hearings and/or mediation.   Westerly had 4, Coventry and Exeter/West Greenwich each had 2. 

In 2005 the numbers were 9 Chariho, E/WG 1, Coventry and Westerly 3.Kathy Perry said these are not RYSE kids but kids in the regular ed that have IEP’s.

But who is in charge of ALL special ed? Kathy Perry

At this point in the meeting, Andrew McQuade called me out of order because now we were discussing Kathy’s job performance, not the RYSE contract.  He was right – I’ll give him credit for quick thinking.  Now I’ll ask you to do some quick thinking.  What was his motivation? 

Comment by Bill Felkner — May 23, 2007 @ 10:16 am | Edit This

3.      It just keeps coming.

Also, the claim has been made that RYSE exists in violation of the Chariho Act. This seems pretty clear to me (but what do I know?). Rather than wasting time looking at all the nonsense that has gone on and continues to go on, maybe the best approach is to get RYSE before the voters and eliminate the problem that way? I have no clue what would be involved, but it seems to me that something needs to be done, or at least clarified, about RYSE being in violation of the Act.

Comment by Curious Resident — May 23, 2007 @ 10:40 am | Edit This

CR,
I have asked the Hopkintown solicitor and the Chariho solicitor to give opinion on the RYSE/Chariho Act issue. I have already asked a contract lawyer friend and it is his opinion a violation occurred, but we will see what the town and school say.

Comment by Bill Felkner — May 23, 2007 @ 11:18 am | Edit This

5.      I’m glad to hear that someone is looking into the issue of the Chariho Act violation.

Do you know if the Chariho Act is a legally binding instrument, or is it a guide for process, which is not legally binding?

I’m going to assume that the Chariho solicitor will take a pass on the question or find that RYSE is compliant. I assume this because I have to believe that RYSE was originally implemented with the knowledge, and maybe approval, of the Chariho solicitor?

That said, hopefully Hopkinton’s solicitor will agree it is a violation. If that should happen, what would be the next steps? Would someone have to file “charges”? Would an outside lawyer need to be brought in? I would be willing to make a small donation to fight the violation should it come to that.

Comment by Curious Resident — May 23, 2007 @ 11:41 am | Edit This

THe Chariho Act is law. You may be right about the school’s solicitor. But if he is unique in his opinion, that is grounds for other problems and he may not want to jeopardize his reputation for this. I already have one legal opinion but I want some from involved solicitors.Legal action would be necessary to rectify the situation unless Chariho acquiesces without such prompting.

Comment by Bill Felkner — May 23, 2007 @ 12:19 pm | Edit This 

7.      The other factor, that might motivate the School Committee and the administration to move in a positive direction towards a vote, is the possible liability of individuals who implemented the RYSE program in violation of the Chariho Act.

If the Act is the law, then I would guess that those responsible for ignoring the Act would be lawbreakers. It would be interesting to find out if the administration or committee members asked the solicitor for an opinion during the time frame when RYSE was being discussed?

Of course, I’m assuming RYSE was discussed, but with this group, anything is possible!If any committee members currently serving were also on the committee when RYSE was implemented, I would be wary, if I were them, to continue to ignore the Chariho Act. While Mr. Ricci was not superintendent when RYSE was brought to Chariho, he was in the administration that violated the Chariho Act, and I would hate to see him further involve himself in actions contrary to the law.

My desire is for the School Committee and the administration to do the right thing and comply with the Chariho Act. While I think the violation of the law was willful for some people (especially smirkers), I would be happy to have the vote we should have had 4 years ago and start fresh from there.

Comment by Curious Resident — May 23, 2007 @ 12:41 pm | Edit This ************** 

Good point and I will stick it in my memory bank.

Yes, PC Inc. is the only provider of MST services in RI, and RYSE insists on MST services (thus the claimed logic for the no-bid contract – no one else meets our newly defined program criteria). 

However, MST certification is not a government certification.  MST is certified by MST Group, LLC., the for-profit company that developed the program.

That being said, the program has been altered for school application because it has never been used in a school before. 

So we have RYSE, the ONLY “24 hour a day/7 days a week” facility providing “mental health services” at a school in RI. 

Now we have the ONLY program that utilizes MST services. Aren’t we trendsetters?   

As a matter of fact, we are now developing an autism program and a program for Elementary aged kids (yes, we have 6 kids enrolled at RYSE as young as 6).   

In Supt. Ricci’s defense, I have found him to be competent and “like minded” with fiscal, union and management issues.  That being said, he still only operates at the direction of the board.   

That is why I was/am so disappointed in his letter in the Sun a while back.   It is not his place to have an opinion.  Only through the direction of the board may he advocate a position on policy. 

His letter appeared to be promoting the choice of NOT bringing back the 5th and 6th graders because the research was “inconclusive.”   

But I had already commented to them and here that;  
1)      there is a lot of research suggesting it’s best,
2)      the country is moving in that direction, and
3)      the PARENTS WANT THEIR KIDS BACK (71% voter approval). 

As for “inconclusive,” I noted that Mary Anne Raywid, Hofstra University Professor Emerita and Past president of the Society of Professors of Education, whose name is used for an award that recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the study of education, has said-  “The value of small schools has been confirmed with clarity and a level of confidence rare in the annals of education research.”   

But then Chariho said that moving the 5th and 6th grades back to the elementary was not making small schools, at least not the Elementary Schools (moving from K-4 to K-6). 

“Small School” does in one way imply that the total population is low, and in this light the Elementary would get larger, but then again, the main campus would get smaller. 

But in most research, “small school” means a small number in each grade.  So the 5th and 6th grade levels would (in round numbers) drop from the current level of 280 to 95.    

Either way you look at it, 5th and 6th graders are better served.  They are either moving from a 3800 student campus to a 450 student campus – or they are moving from a 280 class size to a 95 class size. 

If anyone can show me how ANY child is damaged by this arrangement, I’m willing to talk.   

A local parent (Lois Buck) had to point out the Duke study published in Feb 2007 – very current and very large sample – also not what I would call “inconclusive.” 

So the long and short of it is, and I apologize for the overly detailed rant, Supt. Ricci’s letter was
1)      operating at the direction of the board to influence citizen’s towards “not moving the kids” (which they deny) 
2)      Supt Ricci advocated on his own volition, (denied)
3)      Supt. Ricci simply reported on Dr. Thornton’s report as he was given it.   

Do you think that Dr. Thornton’s report was –
1)      accurate and the research is not conclusive enough to move the kids (regardless of what the parents want),
2)      inaccurate due to incompetence or
3)      inaccurate due to the direction of ? 

I presented to Supt Ricci that perhaps Dr. Thornton had a preset expectation of what was expected and reported accordingly.  Dr. Thornton maintains that the research is “inconclusive.”  I don’t think Dr. T. is incompetent. \

So this gets us back to the start of this conversation –  nothing happens without board approval. 

Last night we witnessed (tonight on Cox Ch. 18 @ 8 PM) the approval of a no-bid contract for the service provider of RYSE (PC Inc.).  A student’s parent who used the program was denied the right to speak on the “quality of the services.” 

Who denied this testimony?  Bill Day, chair of the board. 

Why you ask?  Because the Director of Special Ed, Kathy Perry, said the client was wrong. 

But then again, nothing can happen unless the board approves it.  So we signed a no-bid contract,
1)      with an agency that utilizes a system designed for “serious juvenile offenders,”
2)      that has never been used in a school before. 
3)      And does everything “in-house” and subsequently completely funded by taxpayers 

Oh yea, when we did send it out for bid in 2003, the loosing bid was a company that
1)      was in business for 52 years longer than PC Inc.,
2)      located in our community
3)      we had already done business with for 7 years
4)      utilized a community collaboration (rather than soup-to-nuts “in-house” services) that allowed insurance to pay for some services  

But Kathy Perry said that the research supporting the loosing bid wasn’t as good as the research supporting MST (which we have had to alter because our population are not “serious juvenile offenders”).

 Funny, how subjective analysis of research comes up again. 

 Ooops, I almost forgot, the loosing bid was also much less expensive ($276,000 versus $420,000) than this new start up program that is watching our kids. 

The no-bid contract we approved last night (2 opposed, 5 yea, 1 abstention) was for $669,000. 

I know board members read this site.  Please defend your actions.  The only thing I heard in defense was that RYSE has a graduation rate of 92%. 

Is this good?  Who knows, nobody else in RI runs a mental health facility school where you put 5-6 kids in a classroom with a teacher, an assistant, and floating “professionals” and tailor the lessons to the individual.   

This 92% represents 11 of 12 students.  Of course, this 12 does not include the 6 that the court or DCYF took away from us. 

Of those 12, three have enrolled in college (no word yet on how well they will transition from this “unique” school to the cookie cutter world of college).   

Plus we spend $52,000 – $57,000 per student, per year.   

Now let’s look at the bid from 2003 that we rejected. 

That company claims that 56% of the student’s they service end up reintegrating back to the regular classroom. So we know the loosing bid was 35% less than the winning bid (potential savings of $145,000 per year).  And if they reduced the RYSE enrolment by 56%, that would have saved us $1,976,000 since the inception of RYSE. 

Of course, Kathy Perry said, “South Shore never reintegrated any students when they provided services for us.”   

And she said, “RYSE is a special education placement.  The student’s disabilities indicate that they require this type of placement and programming.  For students with these diagnoses, services and treatments will be needed throughout their lives.” 

But according to the reports, only 2 of these 12 are eligible for adult-services after graduation.  So when they were at RYSE they needed $52,000 of taxpayer money for services but once they graduated the services were not needed.  Amazing! 

Did I mention that the staff at RYSE writes the education plan that specifies what services the child will be provided?  And that the staff at RYSE will provide those services? 

You, the voters, are the customer.  Are you happy with your purchase? 

more to come…  

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5 Comments »

  1. The RYSE program is the ultimate “buyer beware” saga. There is next to nothing in information available about what we have purchased. The only information I could find on RYSE’s performance is an “insufficient” rating in 2004.

    Psycholotical Centers, Inc. (PC Inc.) is even more under the radar than RYSE. Other than limited information about PC Inc. employees, there is little to be found about the company. If the school committee or administration know more about these two entities, they certainly don’t feel the need to share with the rest of us…you know, those of us footing the bill.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 23, 2007 @ 7:54 pm | Reply

  2. RYSE has been operating on campus for three or four years. My understanding (and I can be incorrect) is that the Chariho solicitor’s advice to the Chariho School Board with Mr. Pini as Superintendant was that by leasing the portable trailers the need for a vote was unnecessary because these were temporary quarters for a trial program.

    The overt act by the Chariho School Board adding $3.9 million to the Building Bond for a permanent building for the RYSE program created the legal dilemna. Now, I believe, we can argue that a vote must take place to ‘extend the scope of the district’. However, the law may state that by voting for (and passing) the bond we have ‘a priori’ chosen to ‘extend the scope of the district’, therefore a referendum question to that end is no longer needed. But, if that is the case, I would suppose that if the bond failed, the citizens vote would effectively determine the end of the program since they have chosen not to ‘extend the scope of the district’.

    Time and the solicitor’s opinions will tell. As I am not a lawyer, I can certainly be incorrect.

    Comment by BarbaraC — May 24, 2007 @ 9:32 pm | Reply

  3. Well, if you are correct, we need to pass this message along to the community. I hope we get an answer fast. Are you saying that a no vote on the bond may doom RYSE since they are incorporated into the bond issue? If so, the school may be slashing its own throat by trying to sneak RYSE by citizens.

    Unfortunately, my problem with RYSE is not its effectiveness or its cost. My problem is that the administration provides no valid information about effectiveness and cost. We have no clue if it a worthwile program. Of course, the ignorant members of the school committee chose to vote for the PC Inc. contract without having any information, so no wonder the administration doesn’t feel like it needs to be open and honest with us.

    The whole thing makes me think that they are afraid of the truth…because if the truth was positive, they’d be shouting it from the rooftops (although not the rooftop at Ashaway school since they’ve neglected that roof and might kill themselves if they went up there!). Also, RYSE was rated as “Insufficiently Performing” in 2004 and “Moderately Progressing” in 2006. These are not impressive ratings.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 24, 2007 @ 10:51 pm | Reply

  4. Hi CR,

    I suppose if the bond vote was NO, and the RYSE program stayed in leased trailers (and these portable classrooms are very nice – better than some of the school classrooms)it would be fine.

    I also want more accountability. This is not an unreasonable demand on all levels of school funding, not just the RYSE school which should be easier because it is self-contained, but the Resource category which is a large catch-all for personnel, programs and equipment. I believe we need more teachers and classrooms for advanced course offerings and I think this funding is being piddled away with assistants and aides in the resource/special needs category – especially since RI doesn’t follow the Federal guidelines – we are above them.

    However RI determines ‘high’ or ‘low’ or ‘improving’ proficiency categories is ludicrous when the state comes in at the 35th or 40th percentile in the nation. There is nothing ‘high’ here. (Perhaps if Central Falls, Providence, and Pawtucket are removed from the ratings, ours would go up). It is embarrassing. The teachers should be mortified and the administration should slam into high gear to fix the problem.

    Comment by BarbaraC — May 30, 2007 @ 9:40 am | Reply

  5. It is disappointing that high performing students are denied programs because so much is spent on challenged students. Considering what I read on the MST website, the average duration for MST treatment is 4 months, it is quite possible that we have way too many resources dedicated to the challenged students that could benefit the high performing students. If MST was only used for 4 months on average, imagine how much more would be available for accelerated programs!

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 31, 2007 @ 6:48 pm | Reply


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