Chariho School Parents’ Forum

September 30, 2008

RYSE on the defense

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 5:18 pm

I get a lot of calls from parents with special education needs (three in the last month alone).  Many of these calls are about listening as they just want the problem fixed and they don’t want to get involved.  There are a couple of exceptions to that rule who are working very hard behind the scenes but for the most part they just want the problem solved and will go about their business.  In light of those calls, I couldn’t help but smile when I received this email from Superintendent Ricci today.  I share so you too may enjoy.  I wonder why he didn’t mention the 8 percent math proficiency rate?  Or how our legal bills tripled when RYSE was created because of all the parents fighting to keep their kids OUT of RYSE?  And I wonder if our resident Retired BMA would have written this the same way.

From Your Superintendent…

October 2008

Dear Friends…

What is the question that I’m asked most often?  Clearly, it’s…”Why was The R.Y.S.E. School established?”

Most think there was a financial reason for establishing The R.Y.S.E. School.  This is not correct.  The R.Y.S.E. School was not established for financial reasons.

The R.Y.S.E. School was established because of dissatisfaction and frustration with the way in which our Chariho out-of-district students were being educated.  These challenging students were often “bounced” from facility to facility because of disciplinary infractions, had poor attendance records, failed to meet high academic standards, and did not receive critical clinical services.

Today, The R.Y.S.E. School houses a clinical day program and an alternative learning program.  The alternative learning program (regular education) was formerly housed in rented space at Chickadee Farms.  The clinical day program (special education) houses students who were formerly bused to out-of-district facilities.

All R.Y.S.E. School students…
     1.  meet the same graduation requirements, including The Graduation Portfolio, as those who attend Chariho High School,
     2.  follow the Chariho curriculum in all subject areas,
     3.  engage in more project-based activities,
     4.  are educated in smaller classrooms with ample support,
     5.  integrate into High School and Career and Technical Center classes and extra-curricular activities when they are ready to be successful,
     6.  participate in service learning activities, and
     7.  follow a level-based discipline system.

Perhaps the best way to become knowledgeable about and familiar with The R.Y.S.E. School is to observe our school in action.  Please contact Director Carolyn Garlick at carolyn.garlick@chariho.k12.ri.us to schedule a time to visit.

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15 Comments »

  1. What is a BMA?

    I wonder why Mr. Ricci is backing away from the claim that RYSE saves us money? Without any accounting to back them up, supporters have stated RYSE saves the community hundreds of thousands.

    Still waiting for specific and detailed accounting of special education spending.

    Still waiting for specific and detailed reporting on educational outcomes for special education students.

    Still waiting for a reasonable explanation of why parents with special education children have only one option.

    I’ve got brilliant idea! Why don’t we spend millions more for an infexible, inaccountable, and, arguably, ineffective special education program?

    Comment by Curious Resident — September 30, 2008 @ 11:22 pm | Reply

  2. While Mr. Ricci is running away from the claim of cost savings, members of the School Committee when RYSE was snuck in the backdoor disagree. The following was excerpted from a letter in The Rag.


    • The Savings, Part I. What hap­pened next was remarkable. After charting a course to meet the plan as outlined above, and going out to bid for psychological services, the cost of edu­cating these students back in Chariho, with better, innovative, and more con­sistent services ended up saving the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dol­lars each year. How? Transportation.
    After salary and benefits, transporta­tion costs are the most expensive line item in the Chariho budget. Outside programs such as Bradley School or South Shore School can charge whatev­er they like for their services, and Chariho has to pay for expensive trans­portation without any local control over the quality of their programs…Matthew Ulricksen Stephanie Brown William Day Greg Kenney Greg Avedesian Lois Russell The writers were all members of the Chariho Regional School Committee at the time the RYSE program was pro­posed and established.”

    Comment by Curious Resident — September 30, 2008 @ 11:37 pm | Reply

  3. Here’s Mr. Kenney quoted in ProJo – for a program not intended to save money, the Chariho apologists sure say it a lot. Of course, we never see any detailed accounting of the supposed savings.

    “Kenney defended RYSE as an “excellent” program that has saved the district more than $1 million since its inception in 2003.”

    Comment by Curious Resident — September 30, 2008 @ 11:45 pm | Reply

  4. Sure Mr. Ricci…cost was never a consideration. What an honest guy. Kathy Blais is Kathy Perry. Kathy Blais brought RYSE to Chariho. From ProJo –

    “Blais figured that between the costs and her own accountability for results, she’d be better off creating a clinical day program in the district. Initially her biggest obstacle were the parents. Since public schools districts are not generally known for their warm responsiveness, parents clung to the small private programs which at least offered them a high degree of personal attention.”

    And this –

    “Okay, and here’s the kicker: All that — case workers 24/7, 365 days a year, if need be — and RYSE still saved the district $800,000…I highly recommend districts take a look at this model for saving money…”

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 1, 2008 @ 12:15 am | Reply

  5. The sentence with the most substance that should raise a red flag to the parents with children in RYSE or the parents that are considering moving their child into the RYSE program is Mr. Ricci’s closing statement:

    “Perhaps the best way to become knowledgeable about and familiar with The R.Y.S.E. School is to observe our school in action. Please contact Director Carolyn Garlick at…to SCHEDULE A TIME TO VISIT.”!!!!

    There you have it, in black and white. You can not visit without SCHEDULING a time; you can not get past the second set of doors, without an appointment. The only time you can go through those doors is when you have signed your child’s life over to a life that will forever be labeled, “Special Education”. I have mentioned before that RYSE was not supposed to be a Special Ed program.

    I am not sure what his objective was with the following comment:

    ” The R.Y.S.E. School was established because of dissatisfaction and frustration with the way in which our Chariho out-of-district students were being educated. These challenging students were often “bounced” from facility to facility because of disciplinary infractions, had poor attendance records, failed to meet high academic standards, and did not receive critical clinical services.”

    I have several other objections to his little paragraph explaining why RYSE exists.

    I have only known of one ‘out-of-district’ student that attended RYSE and he was from South Kingstown, not Chariho. South Kingstown had delivered and picked-up this one student, (at Chariho’s expense, your tax dollars) everyday for 2 years. It was a full size bus for that one student! That student had to move to another district to get out of the RYSE program. That is fact.

    My next objection is to Ricci referring to these children as “challenging students”! What kind of superintendent classifies students as challenging when he doesn’t know them? 99% of the students in RYSE are from Chariho and it is not their fault that they were ” “bounced” ” around to facility after facility, because CHARIHO did not want them!! And, the rest of his comment, “…because of disciplinary infractions, had poor attendance records, failed to meet high academic standards, and did not receive critical clinical services.”

    Ok, 1) The disciplinary infractions were provoked by incompetent staff, gauranteed; 2) poor attendance records – now they are forced to attend, and it is not because of a nurturing learning environment! These student’s would not come to school half the time. IF there was a clinician in the school at the time they would drive out to the student’s house and drive the student to school. Would you like to know what they used to accomplish that task? Two new mini-vans, purchased by your tax dollars! These were not the stripped-down models. These vans had push button windows, automatic door slides, plush, push button seats, a stereo system, dvd system, shaded windows, cup holders, it was the top of the line back then! But, your tax dollars were not wasted because they also used the vans to take the students that earned their points to these so-called, “service learning activities”.

    2) Please don’t think it was a field trip. Those students could not be treated like regular students and enjoy a fun educational ‘field trip’. The clinician would make sure that their contacts at these places, understood that these were “challenging students”. Then before they could enjoy the experience, they had to: pick up garbage, or rake weeds out of a garden, or water plants, or any other laborious chore. How do you think they felt? These students have been on real field trips. They knew they were being treated differently and they were also aware that the people at these places thought they were “special needs” students with very serious problems. That is your RYSE program and your tax dollars at work!

    3) Ricci also mentions higher academic standards. I noticed that he did not mention that I sat in a hallway, while a student was sitting in a little room, for 2 months, everyday, because the student was bored in class, and did not like the teacher. The teacher did not like him (that was obvious), and she sent out assignments he had to do in a small room by himself, with me outside the door, helping him when he needed help. This was a smart student. This student was so over-drugged by the PC psychiatrist he could not stay awake! Another point, if you are a student in RYSE, you have to use their services and only their services. They did not want any outside professionals involved. I do believe, however, this student’s parents may have continued with their outside physician anyway. It was decided that he could eventually take breaks and go for a walk outside. It was a time when he would tell me things. He hated RYSE and he said his parents were trying to get him out, but Ricci would not allow him back in the regular classroom at the middle school. RYSE refused to let him go.

    I am still trying to understand the “high academic standard” remark Ricci mentioned.

    4) Finally, the “critical clinical services”? Taxpayers, there was an entire turnover in the clinical staff when I was there. They were ‘re-assigned’. How can PC do that to these students? These students need stability. They need someone they can count on if their parent/s are not available. These are Children! RYSE has a diverse demographic population. Some students come from average middle class families, the majority go home to another world. Life is not easy for many of us; but compared to the lives of some of these children it becomes a standard they adapt to outside of school. I am sorry to say that your acceptance of the RYSE program as new and just has a few kinks to work out is something you should re-consider. Do you understand the “kinks” are your children? I would never subject my children to a new disciplinary school program! I would want to observe it, in place, at another school. Do not use my children as an experiment for your project. (My children are in college now, but I would have never considered an experimental program, no matter what I was told; not at the expense of my children’s education).

    Numbers 1-7 – The only one item I will agree with is #4 – smaller classrooms. Just an FYI, when I was at RYSE there were not 100 students. In fact, the largest class I saw had at the most 8 students, on and off, depending if students were in time-out. In addition, meeting graduation requirements and comparing their Portfolio’s to the regular high school student’s portfolios? I beg to differ. The teaching talent is just not there. It is not the students. It is hiring inexperienced staff who do not know one thing about teaching and are less than empathetic towards the feelings and the developmental stages of these students. This is just a way for Chariho to cut costs, in order to air condition, paint, buy cherry furniture for the superintendent’s office, repair any damages and pay the caterer for the administration building, you know the most important one on campus.

    I think Ricci better get on top of his campaign and try a different approach. This piece of scrap is an insult to the taxpayer’s intelligence. He told you nothing new, because he knows nothing. That is his favorite line, “I know nothing.” Guess what! We already knew that. What took you so long? Similar to Senator Paulin when a reporter asked her to name a couple of the regulations Senator McCain has imposed over the past 20 years.
    Her answer: “I don’t know, but I when I find out I’ll get back to ya!” (Bill Day, get me off the hook here or your’e fired.)

    To all the RYSE parents and the students, don’t let them tell you who you are.
    Remember this one thing: “Phelps”, the winner of all the Gold Medals in the Olympics for the Swimming competition, had and still does have ADHD. He had issues in school. You have a lot to be proud of and I am proud of all of you and I miss you. “Texas”

    Comment by FORMER RYSE BMA — October 1, 2008 @ 1:15 am | Reply

  6. P.S. And I took offense when he introduced his little note with “Dear Friends”!

    I AM NOT YOUR FRIEND, AND DON’T BE SO ARROGANT TO ASSUME THAT YOU HAVE SO MANY!!!

    Comment by FORMER RYSE BMA — October 1, 2008 @ 1:32 am | Reply

  7. The biggest problem I have with RYSE is that it has been crammed down everyone’s throats. Chariho has no evidence it is the most effective program for all children, and they have can’t even say it is cheaper.

    What is the justification for RYSE being the only program for Chariho families? Why would we spend millions more for RYSE when so much is hidden? I trust parents, not government employees. Let parents decide.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 1, 2008 @ 12:12 pm | Reply

  8. While I often disagree with bloggers from Richmond, I was thrilled to see RichmondRINews get media attention from The Rag. The hot topic has to do with Richmond politics. Anything which encourages local citizens to become more engaged with local matters is to be commended.

    The Rag and Chariho Times offer one-sided news. RichmondRINews, this blog, and the discontinued Hopkinton RI Speak give everyone a chance to opinionate and participate. Good going RichmondRINews.

    You can read the article here – http://thewesterlysun.com/articles/2008/10/03/news/local/doc48e6188f18377136278777.txt#blogcomments

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 3, 2008 @ 5:36 pm | Reply

  9. I’ve noticed in someone’s reference to “Texas” as a retired BMA — don’t they mean a FIRED BMA?? Wasn’t Texas fired from RYSE because of an assault on a student? And not some tough teenager,either, but a 1st grader! It’s common knowledge.

    Wouldn’t this explain the obsessive nature of the comments from Texas, all blaming, derogatory, and lenghty in nature and written in the middle of the night??? Sounds like sour grapes to me.

    Why is it so much easier to believe tall tales rather than facts? The fact is RYSE is working, helping students and families every day.

    Comment by Interested OnLooker — October 8, 2008 @ 7:02 pm | Reply

  10. But at what cost to the taxpayer??

    Comment by RS — October 8, 2008 @ 7:52 pm | Reply

  11. Wow,that’s some accusation. I don’t even know who “Texas” is. Can you substantiate your accusations?

    Comment by CharihoParent — October 8, 2008 @ 7:55 pm | Reply

  12. If RYSE were working as well as we’re being told, then Chariho would have no problem making it an opt-in program. Certainly parents would choose the program that works best for their children?

    RYSE was forced upon children; forced upon families; and forced upon taxpayers. This remains the one fact Chariho apologists cannot distort.

    People like Interested Onlooker want us to believe RYSE is the end all and be all…the RYSE supporters should put up or shut up. Make it optional and let the chips fall where they may.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 9, 2008 @ 5:06 pm | Reply

  13. Ahhh..-answer to # RS – can Texas subsantiate any of the slanderous remarks against RYSE in the past few months? Texas has gone on and on about the grave misjustices against students that have gone on in the RYSE School–where is the proof? Come on people….. don’t you think if any of the things Texas has been saying were true SOMEONE would have heard about it???

    To Curious Resident– we go back to the same old question – what is optional?? Do parent have a choice when they send their child to elementary/middle/high school on which teachers/classes they get? So let me get this straight, you want the parents of special education students to have a choice on which school they attend, at public expense, but regular education students still do not have that choice? Is that correct?

    Comment by Interested OnLooker — October 9, 2008 @ 7:29 pm | Reply

  14. So what you’re saying is that you have no proof either.

    Comment by CharihoParent — October 9, 2008 @ 8:12 pm | Reply

  15. Unlike most families stuck with public schools, prior to RYSE being forced upon the community, there were options for special education students. In fact, Chariho is the only school in Rhode Island which limits parents to one choice for special needs children.

    I have made it clear to anyone paying attention that I am an advocate for choice for all parents. Chariho regressively took a step backwards when the one population, special needs, which previously had choice was denied choice when RYSE was brought in.

    So to answer your question, no, I want all families to have choice. We should start with special needs since choice is easily available as evidenced by other Rhode Island communities. Plus, choice was the standard at Chariho just a few short years ago.

    I’ll take your lack your lack of response to my question to be a concession that RYSE would not be the first choice for all parents of special needs students. RYSE should survive or fail on its merits.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 9, 2008 @ 8:30 pm | Reply


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