Chariho School Parents’ Forum

June 18, 2009

Is this a way around the voters?

Filed under: bond,RYSE,Stimulus — Editor @ 8:44 pm

One of the many projects being developed over at OSPRI is a website containing all the stimulus projects being proposed in RI. It is designed to let taxpayers comment and vote on the merits of the project.

It’s not ready to unveil, but the data is up and I noted the Charhio projects.

You can see the sneak peek here –http://ocean.peteresnyder.com/

You’re welcome to play around with it, but if you click on the left link, “Browse by Submitter” and hit Charhio

There you will  see the $4.4m to build the RYSE school. Which makes me think…

Section 9.5 of the Chariho Act says,

(5)  No action shall be taken with respect to the purchase of land, the construction of buildings and the extension of the scope of functions of the regional school district except upon a majority vote of  voters of the respective member towns as set forth in section 1 hereof.

Will Chariho go to the voters before building the school? What’s the odds that Jon Anderson provides an opinion that states the Act doesn’t apply to federal funds?

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.

DUE PROCESS PROCEDURES REPORTED BY RI DEPT OF ED.

 

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.

August 12, 2008

Former RYSE BMA speaks out

Filed under: RYSE — Editor @ 1:40 pm

There have been a couple of comments from someone claiming to be a former Behavioral ManagementAssistant at RYSE.  The comments were placed under posts from months ago so I thought I would bring them to the front as they should not be missed.  I suppose it is impossible to tell if this is a real former employee of RYSE.  I can tell you that the ISP is unique – so at least we know its not someone using a different name. 

There two posts contain some cut and paste material but I am posting them in full.

As I read this I couldn’t help but think of Elaine Morgan and the gentleman at the Post Office who had to fight to keep their children out of RYSE – then I think of how the school’s legal bills tripled as we fought parents to keep their kids in RYSE.

Then I think of how the school committee’s response was to tell me I couldn’t have the legal invoices.  The very sad part is that while there are a couple of members who were on the committee when RYSE was developed, and had to know about the lawyers fighting parents – the committee is mostly new people but it still responded by blocking access to the legal bills.  So when they say, “we have a new committee now – and things will change”, all I see is more of the same.

The first was comment #62 on Hopkinton Parent’s view of Chariho 2010

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Listen to your children, please! All of the parent’s that have a daughter or son in RYSE, what you don’t know, I do, and 9 times out of 10 your children are telling you the truth. The only thing I ask you to do is not be strong-armed into thinking there is something wrong with your child just because these so-called ‘professionals’ say there is an indication your child may need special help. These are your children. They don’t know them. I can’t begin to tell you how many times the RYSE program has fallen apart. Think about it. If you have a student in RYSE, how many clinicians have you had? They all quit! They leave you and your child with nothing. If you put your child into the RYSE program they will be lucky if they make it out. The program is designed for the students to fail. I am not talking about ALP, I am only referring to the RYSE program.

Your ‘administrator’s’ favorite quote, (especially Riccis’) is, “We only have your son’s / daughter’s best interest in mind”. This is how they draw you in. Don’t believe it for one second. They want the money from the state. That money in addition to this ‘bond proposal’ Ricci keeps pursuing, will give him next year’s raise to add to his $122,000/yr salary, plus all the ‘perks’ he thinks he deserves. You vote for that bond and you are giving him a blank check. You are the taxpayer, he doesn’t live in your district. He has nothing to lose. However, it is your tax dollars that are paying for him to sit in his air conditioned office, which, by the way, is not falling apart!

First, ask for the estimates he got from contractors, that had bid (?) on the renovations! Has anyone received one in the mail? Legally, he is supposed to have 3 estimates, but we all know that won’t happen. What will happen is the same way he got his position, he slid under the radar and did not even give you the respect to vote for the person you wanted to run the district, and now look at the mess that was created. You are all fighting against each other!! I bet if you took one person out of the picture, there would have been a compromise a long time ago. Think about it.

I sat in a school committee meeting and watched (maybe 10) members put their tail between their legs and agreed with whatever Ricci said. Personally, put Felkner in as your superintendent. He is the only member of that board who has the backbone to challenge Ricci and ask questions. He is the only person who follows the letter of the law! I am somewhat disappointed that 3 towns could not get rid of the whole committee and get people that know what they are doing in there and that live in the district. After all, it is your tax dollars that are paying for this comedy of errors to continue!

In terms of RYSE, don’t do that to your child. Don’t you ever wonder why you are not allowed past that entry way without the permission of the ‘principal’, who by the way, does not have children of her own, (she hides behind certifications she has managed to accumulate over the years), she is not married, and always appears threatening. Ask questions; don’t be forced into something you know in your heart is not right.

Most of you are outraged parents. You have every right to continue asking questions until you are satisfied with the answers. If you don’t understand the answer it is because they are not telling you the truth. Don’t be intimidated by them. That is their weapon; they will use words you do not understand, make you believe that you, the parent, don’t know your child or what is best for him/her. You own that school district. You are at the controls. Band together, get rid of the administrators/representatives that enjoy hearing their own voices. Stand up for your children. Don’t let strangers, (which they are to you), tell you what they are going to do with your money, (at the detriment of your child). That is not the way it works.

My primary message is that this is the time in your child’s life when they are trying to establish their own identity. Don’t let RYSE take away their self-esteem. Don’t allow strangers to stigmatize your child for the rest of their lives! Do you know the consequences and limitations that this program will have on the future of your child? If you do have a child that needs special care, put them in an environment with experienced and professional people that can help him / her. Don’t put them in a program that will hinder them for the rest of their lives. Talk to each other. Arguing with the ‘wannabes’ puts you on their level; don’t lower yourselves.

Comment by Former RYSE employee — August 11, 2008 @ 3:40 pm | Edit This

 

***************************************************

The second comment was posted on Letter from RYSE student –  this original post was a letter sent to the Westerly Sun from a student, who also was a relative of Lois Buck (and she posted it here)

 

*********************************

I know the student who wrote that letter and it breaks my heart to hear this. He drew a detailed picture of the Titanic for me 3 years ago, when he (and I, employed as a Behavior Management Assistant), were in RYSE. I am so sorry to learn of this. Yet, it has brought me to the point of exposing what is going on behind the front entryway of the RYSE building.

If I do not see this comment in this blog, I am going to the Westerly Sun. They will print it!

Parent’s, listen to your children, please! All of the parent’s that have a daughter or son in RYSE, what you don’t know, I do, and 9 times out of 10 your children are telling you the truth. The only thing I ask you to do is not be strong-armed into thinking there is something wrong with your child just because these so-called ‘professionals’ say there is an indication your child may need special help. These are your children. They don’t know them. I can’t begin to tell you how many times the RYSE program has fallen apart. Think about it. If you have a student in RYSE, how many clinicians have you had? They all quit! They leave you and your child with nothing. If you put your child into the RYSE program they will be lucky if they make it out. The program is designed for the students to fail. I am not talking about ALP, I am only referring to the RYSE program.

Your ‘administrator’s’ favorite quote, (especially Riccis’) is, “We only have your son’s / daughter’s best interest in mind”. This is how they draw you in. Don’t believe it for one second. They want the money from the state. That money in addition to this ‘bond proposal’ Ricci keeps pursuing, will give him next year’s raise to add to his $122,000/yr salary, plus all the ‘perks’ he thinks he deserves. You vote for that bond and you are giving him a blank check. You are the taxpayer, he doesn’t live in your district. He has nothing to lose. However, it is your tax dollars that are paying for him to sit in his air conditioned office, which, by the way, is not falling apart!

First, ask for the estimates he got from contractors, that had bid (?) on the renovations! Has anyone received one in the mail? Legally, he is supposed to have 3 estimates, but we all know that won’t happen. What will happen is the same way he got his position, he slid under the radar and did not even give you the respect to vote for the person you wanted to run the district, and now look at the mess that was created. You are all fighting against each other!! I bet if you took one person out of the picture, there would have been a compromise a long time ago. Think about it.

I sat in a school committee meeting and watched (maybe 10) members put their tail between their legs and agreed with whatever Ricci said. Personally, put Felkner in as your superintendent. He is the only member of that board who has the backbone to challenge Ricci and ask questions. He is the only person who follows the letter of the law! I am somewhat disappointed that 3 towns could not get rid of the whole committee and get people that know what they are doing in there and that live in the district. After all, it is your tax dollars that are paying for this comedy of errors to continue!

In terms of RYSE, don’t do that to your child. Don’t you ever wonder why you are not allowed past that entry way without the permission of the ‘principal’, who by the way, does not have children of her own, (she hides behind certifications she has managed to accumulate over the years), she is not married, and always appears threatening. Ask questions; don’t be forced into something you know in your heart is not right.

Most of you are outraged parents. You have every right to continue asking questions until you are satisfied with the answers. If you don’t understand the answer it is because they are not telling you the truth. Don’t be intimidated by them. That is their weapon; they will use words you do not understand, make you believe that you, the parent, don’t know your child or what is best for him/her. You own that school district. You are at the controls. Band together, get rid of the administrators/representatives that enjoy hearing their own voices. Stand up for your children. Don’t let strangers, (which they are to you), tell you what they are going to do with your money, (at the detriment of your child). That is not the way it works.

My primary message, however, is that this is the time in your child’s life when they are trying to establish their own identity. Don’t let RYSE take away their self-esteem. Don’t allow strangers to stigmatize your child for the rest of their lives! Do you know the consequences and limitations that this program will have on the future of your child? If you do have a child that needs special care, put them in an environment with experienced and professional people that can help him / her. Don’t put them in a program that will hinder them for the rest of their lives. Talk to each other. Arguing with the ‘wannabes’ puts you on their level; don’t lower yourselves.

“TEXAS”

Comment by Former RYSE employee — August 12, 2008 @ 11:06 am | Edit This

June 29, 2008

Chariho’s costs per student on the rise (RYSE?)

Filed under: Chariho,RYSE — Editor @ 12:46 pm

Last year we reported that RYSE costs per student were $57k and Chariho told us that number was inaccurate but failed to provided a complete cost analysis.  The Westerly Sun now tells us that the number is $67k per student.  Lets also not forget that RYSE admits that only 8 percent of its students are at grade level with math (this means that they can score a 62.5% or better on the test) but we graduate 100 percent of them.  

For Chariho, the report also shows a per-pupil cost by school. In 2006-07, In$ite calculated $67,837 for each of the 48 students enrolled in the $3.26-million Reaching Youth through Support and Education School, a clinical day school and alternative learning program that the district implemented in 2003.

The overall average per pupil spening is also up. 

Expenditures for instructional support, operations, leadership and other commitments – includ­ing capital projects – put the cost at $14,203 per district pupil for 2006-07. Chariho provided the previous fiscal year’s figures for 3,716 students to the Rhode Island Department of Education in February for the state’s In$ite report, an analysis of school dis­trict expenditures 

 

According to RIDE, all funding sources are included, such as fed­eral and state grants and state education aid. To determine a per­pupil cost, In$ite divided Chariho’s $52.78 million in total expenditures by its district-wide enrollment.

 

The bulk of instructional costs are classified as “face-to-face teaching” to describe money spent for teachers, substitutes and instructional paraprofessionals. The remainder of the $7,311­instructional price tag is for class­room materials.

 

From there, the per-student cost increased another $2,547 for pupil, teacher and program sup­port. Expenditures are tallied for student resources such as counsel­ing and library services, as well as curriculum development for teachers. Therapists, psycholo­gists and social workers are among services for program sup­port.

 

Operations costs tack on anoth­er $2,327 per district pupil. Those include transportation, food and safety services, along with facility costs and business expenditures, such as data processing

 

The report calculated $1,123 for “other commitments,” listed as contingencies, capital expenses, legal obligations (which had no cost listed) and out-of-district obli­gations, such as charter schools, retiree benefits and community service operations.\
And taxpayers pay $896 per district pupil for “leadershop” costs fo fund district administrators, the school committee and legal counsel.

 

The Sun goes on to say we aren’t that expensive compared to other RI regional districts.  As Barbara Capalbo once said, ‘Being the top of the swamp is nothing to be proud of.’ 

November 5, 2007

Letter from RYSE student

Filed under: bond,RYSE — Editor @ 9:00 pm

This was in the comments section of the previous post – This is not the first time I have heard stories like this, but like Elaine Morgan, it is one of the few times people have gone public.  I’m sure there are parents happy with the program, but we should not take the choice away.

  1. The Sun probably only looked at the bottom line. And if you do that, then it looks like they are saving us money. But, if you look deeper into what is missing, you realize that we are not saving money. They count on people being busy and not being able to take the time to evaluate these documents. Pretty smart.

    The other document they mention is the 2007-2008 cost analysis. This is based totally on speculation. You can’t judge a program on speculation.

    Again, produce the documents we desire and we may well wave the white flag in defeat. But, until then, be skeptical because to date these documents have not been presented.

    We have a relative who was in RYSE. He quit a couple of weeks ago. He told me he couldn’t take it anymore. I’ve asked him many questions about RYSE and Bradley, which is where he went before RYSE.

    The following is a letter I helped him with. He dictated to me what he wanted to say. I made sure he and his mother read it, and I read it to him as well. I wanted him to come out in the letter. In fairness to RYSE, I made sure he gave examples, and in some cases, the care is similar at Bradley. You be the judge:

    To the editor:

    I was unhappy on the first day when I started at RYSE. Once when I was angry at RYSE, I smashed a chair, and they tried to charge me $50. I got it for $10 at Family Dollar. They charge kids $50 to repair holes in the wall, even if they didn’t do the damage.

    We played 4-square in the common room. I accidentally broke a ceiling light, which they tried to charge me for.

    At Devereaux, in Rutland, MA, when I was given time-outs, I willingly went because I still had the freedom to use the bathroom or order lunch. Recently at RYSE, I refused time outs because those freedoms weren’t given.

    During ISS (In School Suspension), if I was sick, they would not let me go to the nurse or go home. Any kind of illness, like throwing up or migraines, 90% of the time I wouldn’t be allowed to leave. I even brought a cell phone to school so I could have my father pick me up and sign me out. At Bradley, I was taken care of because I was in the hospital section.

    I was doing Geometry in Bradley. When I came to RYSE in the 7th grade, they put me on 4th grade elementary work. In one year, I was back at grade level where I stayed for 4 years. I told them I didn’t want the easy street, I wanted to be challenged. They kept me at 7th grade level for 4 years. They told me they didn’t think I could do anything harder. They told me I have to do the work they think I can handle.

    I was treated different by students and teachers. Other RYSE kids picked on me, called me names, but they would not touch me because they knew I would hit back. If they got loud, they wouldn’t get in trouble. If I got loud, they threatened disorderly conduct and I might get arrested.

    I did not like RYSE. I encourage that RYSE should be shut down and move the kids to a more professional area.

    Anytime the school committee would like to talk, they can invite me, and I will share with them.

    By: David Burdick, Jr., resident of Hopkinton

    As I said, I had his mother read it as well. She corroborated everything.

    He is a good kid. He has his issues, but I can always count on him telling me the truth.

    He is often loud when he talks, which we encourage him to tone it down. But, he made a point the last time I talked to him about his volume. His father is hard of hearing and has a hearing aid. He spends his time at home talking to someone who can’t hear well, often raising his voice to be heard. It stands to reason that he would be loud.

    I was concerned that if he approached the school committee about his experiences, they would produce 4 people to make him look bad. I recommended that he get an advocate. He’s not worried about retaliation now, as he has quit school.

    I posted his letter to the editor here as he wanted it in the paper before the vote. But since he only dictated it to me recently, it will not likely appear until after the vote.

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 4, 2007 @ 9:06 pm | Edit This

November 1, 2007

Update: RYSE saves us “hundreds of thousands of dollars”

Filed under: bond,RYSE — Editor @ 5:08 pm

Update to the previous post

 I emailed Superintendent Ricci, who forwarded to Kathy Perry – a request for the number of out-of-district placements just prior to RYSE (2002) and for the 2002 budget.

Via Supt. Ricci, Ms. Perry writes,

For the 02-03 school year we had 64 students attending out-of-district day schools that the district had placed and 7 students placed residentially by DCYF.

It would make sense that if we went from 64 students to 40-50, we would be saving money.  I don’t know who does the evaluations and I doubt that’s what they meant by RYSE saving us “hundreds of thousands.”

I am still waiting for the 2002 budget.  It just doesn’t make sense to me – if we used to send a child out for day-program services (services for the child) but now we do it in-house and provide both day-program services (for the child) and additional services for the parents, I just don’t understand how it could be cheaper – unless our day-program services are that much cheaper than the previous options.  Then it makes you wonder if they are better?  How can an upstart company provide better services than companies such as South Shore or Bradley that have been doing it for decades?

October 29, 2007

CR – explain please

Filed under: RYSE — Editor @ 8:34 pm

“Curious Resident,” as anyone visiting this blog or Hopkinton Speaks knows, is a prolific writer and appears to be pretty savvy finding date online.  He/she posted this on a previous chain:

With all the faux concern over the cost of the RYSE building, how could I have forgotten to add that cost to my calculations???

Revised –
In 2003-2004 estimated special needs costs to be $9,923,740 (without leased buildings).
In 2006-2007 I estimate special needs costs to be $12,493,355 (with leased building).

Special needs costs have risen by $2,569,615 or 25.9% the last three years.

CR, I’m going to put you on the spot.  Please explain how you got those numbers – no rush, just be thorough.  Considering that our special needs population has been reduced by approx. 28% during that time, a growth of 26% in total costs would mean per/pupil expenses had increased much more than that.  Let us know when you can- thx

The LTE in question

Filed under: bond,RYSE — Editor @ 8:18 pm

I have received a few emails asking what I had written in my letter to the editor (LTE).  I guess it has been referenced in a few pro-bond LTE’s.  The letter is linked below in its original form.

your-tax-dollars-at-work.doc

October 21, 2007

RYSE legal – but is it logical?

Filed under: bond,RYSE — Editor @ 9:52 am

The Westerly Sun published the opinion from Hopkinton Town Council solicitor Patricia Buckley that RYSE services are legal.

I was quoted but a published letter to the editor provides more details.

I need to acknowledge that I was wrong. On April 20th, 2007, Mary Botelle wrote a very intelligent and thorough letter to Attorney General Lynch suggesting that the development of the RYSE School was a violation of the Chariho Act. I supported the assertion and posted her letter on my website (https://cspf.wordpress.com).  

Research provided by Patricia Buckley, Hopkinton Town Council solicitor, has convinced me that Mrs. Botelle and I are wrong. As a matter of fact, services currently provided by RYSE are not only legal but they are also only the tip of the iceberg. But that doesn’t mean we have to do it. 

RYSE (Reaching Youth through Support and Education) is a school within a school located at the Richmond Chariho campus. Originally designed to service special needs students from throughout the state, now it includes students who have been removed from the regular classrooms because of weapons, drugs or other policy violations. 

When a student has difficulty in school, an evaluation is performed to identify what could be done to alleviate impediments to the child’s success. Once these issues are determined to be necessary for education, the school has legal authority to use its budget to provide appropriate services. 

If the school determines a child needs anger management therapy, they provide it. Substance abuse counseling, they cover that too. A myriad of services are now provided at Charhio, even diabetes treatments and home-based therapy services.

These property-tax-funded activities are not only provided to students but they can also be applied to the parents.  When a parent has a substance abuse problem, the school can provide therapy. If parenting or marriage counseling is deemed necessary, the schools supply that too. Charhio has even spent money from its budget to find an unemployed parent a job. All of this, and more, is legal because it is deemed necessary for the child’s education. 

Districts that don’t have a RYSE-type program pass the responsibility to the State or parents (who purchase the appropriate insurance or pay for the services directly). Non-profits, churches and community organizations are also a source of support. Most of those options allow the parent to choose services and allows the public to be selective in its philanthropy – the school does not. 

It’s unclear if RYSE provides better or worse services compared to the private market and its unclear if it operates at a cost saving. I’m opposed to RYSE simply because I don’t believe in monopolies or charity at gunpoint. That’s one of the three reasons that I’m voting “no” on the Charhio bond.

June 12, 2007

Group home funding

Filed under: Budget,Chariho,RYSE,State-wide — Editor @ 11:27 pm

There is a very interesting post on “level funding” over at one of my favorite blogs, Anchorrising 

Please read the entire post, but here is one statement relevant to the rest of my comments.

Every community that received group home aid in 2007 is having their state education aid reduced by exactly their FY07 group home allocation meaning that, unless all Rhode Island group homes are being shut down (or unless a separate appropriation exists elsewhere in the budget that provides for group-home-related education costs), the legislature’s budget contains true cuts in education funding that go beyond just canceling the hoped-for increases.  

Currently, the State gives the local school an amount of money equivalent to the per-pupil education costs, multiplied by the number of students in the area’s group home(s) (using a formula to compensate for the high number of special education services needed). 

It appears that the funding is being transferred from the State budget to the local budget.  In a way, this makes sense.  A community should take care of it’s own.  But what if kids from Providence are moved to a group home in Richmond?  Now it is Chariho residents who pay the bill. 

This funding shift could go even farther.   If this budget goes through as described in the Anchorrising post, some services for group home kids will still be funded by the State (services such as psychiatric and diabetes treatments).  But what if there was a way to transfer those costs to the school too?  Enter RYSE. 

Image the opportunities a school like RYSE offers.   RYSE can provide education, individual and family services, diabetes treatments, and on and on – no longer on the State’s budget.  Funding responsibility is transferred to the local community. 

If you think this is far fetched, let’s look at a bit of history. 

Some kids make bad choices.  These kids get expelled from school, and with a lack of parenting, end up running the streets.  Because they continue to make bad choices, DCYF is called in to provide an “alternative learning environment.”  This is very expensive so DCYF pushes legislation that restricts the school from expelling the kids. 

This is exactly what happened and now, RI public schools may not expel a child for more than 10 days per year.  These kids are still removed from the school but they are not sent home.  They are sent to other facilities (Forwardview Academy, RYSE, etc..) that provide these alternative-learning services.   

If DCYF was able to shift the burden to the public schools, why can’t HHS, MHRH or whoever operates the group homes? 

This is indeed a slippery slope for not only wards of the state but for all public school kids.  Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that if a child needed any service other than education and basic nursing, the parent found it in the community.   Today, everything from clinical therapy to speech pathology is provided at the school.  

Theoretically, if a parent has the means (money or insurance), they can get services in the community.  But eventually, a parent may even loose the power to make those fundamental purchasing decisions.  Did we see a preview of this with Elaine Morgan?

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