Chariho School Parents’ Forum

March 18, 2009

Chariho complaints continue to lead the pack

Filed under: RYSE — Editor @ 10:10 pm

A parent sent me some data about the number of complaints by parents against the Chariho special education program.  You may recall that I brought up this issue  back in 2007 and was told that the numbers are inaccurate.  Either Chariho continues to provide bad data or they continue to provide bad service – take your pick.



8 Year Totals by Procedure Type (2000-2007)

          Complaints Hearings Mediation TOTALS


Chariho            20          25            47          92

Westerly            4            5            16          25

Coventry           21          12            20          53

Naragansett        5          18            17          40

S. Kingstown     19          19            39         77

By the way, Westerly is basically the same size as Chariho and the town scores generally worse than the towns in the Chariho area on demographics normally associated with students who require additional services – but they have a PHENOMENAL special director – Carol Brown.

And on a related note – I’m still getting calls from parents as they fight the system. You recall Jim Lennon’s battle and he did win on merit and in a small way on practice.  But there was another case that you haven’t heard about. I don’t want to talk details without permission but I will say that after a long court battle, Chariho lost and the student will finally get what they need. But it has taken years and damage may have been done along the way. Its not really all about the kids. Its run like a business but since its a monopoly bad things happen.



  1. Gene had expressed optimism that Obama would push for “change” in our failing educational system. I noted that a highly effective school choice program in Washington, D.C. was on the verge of being eliminated by the congress with an assist from Obama. Hardly a good sign of “change” when Obama disregards the suffering children right in his new backyard.

    Liberal ProJo had this to say in an editorial:

    “Less encouraging was President Obama’s signing, without a murmur, of an omnibus spending bill that effectively killed the District of Columbia’s school-vouchers program. The $15 million D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program helps provide scholarships to 1,700 poor students who cannot otherwise afford private schools, giving them an alternative to public schools that might be dangerous and/or poor-performing. Washington’s own school superintendent, Michelle Rhee, supported the program to help such children and encourage district-wide reform, and President Obama’s own education secretary, Arne Duncan, said he would like to see the students stay in the program.

    Unlike the parents of the scholarship recipients, President Obama and members of Congress can afford to send their children to private schools, and many of them do. (Indeed, the program helps two students attend the fancy Sidwell Friends School, where the Obamas send their two daughters.) But, while they were willing to spend $410 billion in an omnibus bill with 8,500 pork-laden earmarks, they conspired to close this small program, which was in the political crosshairs because choice is generally unpopular with teachers unions.”

    Comment by Curious Resident — March 19, 2009 @ 5:00 pm | Reply

  2. Was their any explanation of why it got killed?

    Comment by Gene Daniell — March 19, 2009 @ 6:15 pm | Reply

  3. I’d like to hear about what Westerly does differently.

    I’m glad to hear Jim won, he’s a standup guy, wish their were more like him.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — March 19, 2009 @ 6:18 pm | Reply

  4. It got killed for obvious reasons, although I’m sure Obama and gang have some excuse handy. I haven’t heard it. When even the liberal media call the elimination of the program a present to the teachers’ unions, there doesn’t seem to be a very good excuse available. I can’t understand why everyone doesn’t embrace school choice so I certainly can’t understand why a school choice program loved by everyone (but the union) would be pulled out from under the children.

    Comment by Curious Resident — March 19, 2009 @ 7:46 pm | Reply

  5. Its called he(POTUS) is anti voucher. Always has been.

    Comment by RS — March 19, 2009 @ 9:51 pm | Reply

  6. I have been reading your blog now for 2 years. As time passed, I noticed cohesiveness evolve, or perhaps an understanding develop, between the communities that make-up the CHA-RI-HO school district. Eventually, when enough information is divulged, the situation/predicament that you share will become obvious to everyone and you will become a united community. Once again, there is a common thread that permeates through all 3 communities – the ‘superintendent’. He slithered under the radar, climbed up on a leather chair in a well-maintained office, (watching the schools around him deteriorate) and proclaimed himself “SUPERINTENDENT”, the wealthiest man in all school districts in RI. More significantly, he is taking the money right off your dinner table, right from the clothes on your children’s back, right from your utility bills, and he is restricting your monthly disposable income! Why are you allowing this to continue?

    I have to ask the question: What has he done for your children? What has he done to improve your school district? Have you thought about the fact that, today, there is a more competent person that would move into your community, understand your issues, share your concerns, and provide your children, (through your tax dollars), a quality education and a safe learning environment, at a lower wage than what you are paying now and are getting nothing? If you remove the venom you will survive and prosper!

    Washington D.C. is not your issue here! Use your energy on what you can control. You have to eliminate the problem…nothing will change until that happens. You all know that. What concerns me is that your children are going to graduate and you will lose interest in what is happening within the school district. That is why you must take action now! Think of all the children that are just starting the journey that your children are completing. They will have to contend with the same issues that your children are facing now. Think long term. Perhaps it will be your grandchildren. Are your children learning to their full potential and are they being challenged enough? Have you seen your children solve a problem? Not an academic problem, but a real-life problem? Did you notice their thought process? Did you ask them why they had made that particular decision? Tell them that you just want to understand how they thought it through. Listen to them. If you don’t agree, tell them you never thought about it that way, then explain your thought process to them. They are not learning this in school. It is simple deductive reasoning. It is essential in life!

    We are all getting older. One day we are going to have to depend on the services of this generation of students. They will inevitably have to make decisions that will affect your wellbeing, or that will affect all of us, collectively. Their lives are just beginning. They deserve the best life has to offer.

    That reminds me of my favorite quote, by Brian Littrell: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you land among the stars”.

    (By the way, someone is going to respond to my comment with criticism. Don’t bother. Crawl into your little dark cave and talk to yourself. I stopped writing because of you, even after I explained I was trying to brainstorm and provide an outsiders prospective. I once was a member of the district’s staff, (No, I am was not born here, therefore I am not related to anyone at Chariho, which explains why I am no longer there). I would love to answer any questions parents have concerning decisions others are making for you at the expenses of your children’s future).

    Comment by "TEXAS" — April 29, 2009 @ 12:10 am | Reply

  7. I take it from your comment that the nepotism issue is more than just the pay checks. There are two central issues: we pay too much, results are insufficient … so how does Chariho compare based on your insider experience?

    Comment by Gene Daniell — April 29, 2009 @ 12:34 am | Reply

  8. Texas, I don’t think the problem is only with the superintendent of the school, the problem is the administration as a whole, the school committee and the various unions. The use the term, “it’s about the kids” but in reality it’s about their pockets.

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 29, 2009 @ 4:31 am | Reply

  9. Gene – I have an MBA, Paralegal Certification (expired now) and 20 years of experience in the finance field and the business industry. By profession, I am a Financial Analyst; however, technology replaced the ‘analytical’ aspect of the profession. Essentially, I became a well paid ‘clerk’. The substance of my profession was eliminated. At that point I wanted to share my knowledge and experience with people that would benefit from what I had to offer. Teaching was my first choice. I earned the education credits required to become certified to teach Business at the secondary level in RI. I applied to Chariho; they would not hire me. I was encouraged to apply for a permanent substitute position for the middle school and high school. Back then, a permanent sub was required to show up at their assigned building, (either an elementary school in the district, the middle school or the high school), everyday of the school year. The Substitute’s policies that were established by the administration stated that substitutes would be given first consideration if a teaching position opened and the sub met the qualifications for the position. I accepted one of the permanent substitute’s positions, for many reasons. I thought that by being a sub I would be exposed to the entire population of students, learn about the district, get to know the faculty and observe various teaching methods. Hopefully, if a teaching position became available, I would have proven myself and if qualified, I would at least be interviewed. Positions became available, I applied, but I never was interviewed.

    To finally answer your question Gene, in the high school, I could find less than a handful of teachers that were knowledgeable and passionate about teaching. When I was not assigned a class to cover, I would sit in on other classes (with prior approval from the teacher, of coarse), to observe and learn (what parents never get the opportunity to see), the interaction between students and teachers…the classroom dynamics. I concluded there were 4 types of teachers at Chariho. The first type is the person who always wanted to be a teacher, the professional, (the handful). The second type are the many people that got ‘stuck’ in a profession they thought was an easy way to make money, and they stayed because to them, they made it true, (every teacher has a computer, so handing out an assignment for their students to work on allowed the teacher time to surf the internet…this is the largest group of teachers). The third type are teachers that have been there so long, it is just routine. The students are invisible, they reiterate lessons they have been teaching for years hand out the same assignments, the same tests, and call it a day; and the fourth type are the department heads who take the higher level classes and the honors classes. This particular group is the ‘elitists’. They attend meetings and off-campus seminars (?) more than they are in their classes teaching promising college bound students! I have difficulty with this type of teacher and this particular group is not exclusive to Chariho. My daughters were in high honor classes, (they did not attend Chariho). They were constantly complaining that their teachers would not show up for class. It was to their detriment. They rarely covered all the material in the courses, but they could make ‘damn’ fine posters!! Would someone please explain to me the benefit of creating poster boards? What happened to research papers, presentations, well written essays? With all the technology available, information at your fingertips, why are the students not taught its value in every class?

    Sorry, Gene, (there is so much to say), however, in my opinion, based on what the superintendent is making, only knowing the information I read about teachers salaries at Chariho, it should only be that handful of professional teachers that should be monetarily compensated. If the “level system” still exists, where is the incentive to teach? The incentive, using a level system, is to make it through another year to get to the next level to get that next contracted raise, voting on a new contract to add an additional 10% to their already lucrative wages, voting on approval for another bond for more money, because there has to be some reason to raise taxes, and voting 3 more times to get approval for the budget!!! This is all at the taxpayer’s expense.

    Do you think your children have earned an education that is worth that much money to you? Have they earned scholarships to Ivy League schools? Have they even learned what it takes to survive in today’s world…without a calculator in hand?

    Charihoparent – BINGO! You said it all!

    It IS about the KIDS…YOURS and ALL the other kids. They are helpless without direction, they are limited without learning, and they are hopeless when people (teachers) just do not care. These kids are bright and insightful enough to sense their teacher’s opinion of them. The most sensitive of all are the kids in Special Education ‘programs’. They are the most vulnerable and their hearts are fragile. (I was referred to as a “bleeding heart”. Maybe so, but they knew they could trust me and come to me when they were hurt. I have never felt so fulfilled.)

    I am sorry, I am starting another chapter and it is your dime. My point about the superintendent is that the diehards on the sc have no alternative but to agree with the super. They either have relatives working in the district or have school age children in the district, which they believe can be negatively impacted if they do not go agree with him. Merely by working with him and knowing that he uses his deceitfulness to get his way is intimidating to them! I do have an example of a student I had to pass in summer school, but for the sake of the student, I will not say another word. By the way, he did have relatives working in the district!

    Therefore, if you get rid of the head sheep the probability is that the flock will follow. If they do not go willingly, they will have the opportunity to see what it is like not being on the ‘inside’. Then politely show them the way out, but, before opening the door, invite them to sit in the audience if they would like, because after all, they are members of the community and it is their right!

    Comment by "TEXAS" — April 29, 2009 @ 12:09 pm | Reply

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