Monday, July 1, 2013

Ypsi Community Schools Begins: FOIA Tells Part of the Story of the Beginning

Today, Ypsilanti Community Schools begins, and we say goodbye to Willow Run Community Schools and Ypsilanti Public Schools. 

First--Good Luck, YCS!!

Second--Employee hirings are continuing. Some employees, and some community members, have had concerns about the hiring processes, as I have mentioned previously (here, herehere, here, and here).

So Cameron Getto, a one-time Ypsilanti Public Schools board member, put in FOIA requests for information about the teacher hiring process. He is sharing the results.

You can read Cameron's full analysis in this file. I am just quoting a little bit from the Executive Summary.

We submitted a Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] request to the Ypsilanti Public School District [YPSD], Willow Run Community Schools [WRCS] and the Washtenaw Intermediate School District [WISD]. The estimates for the cost of the documents varied wildly, ranging from over $1,700 from WRCS to less than $500 from YPSD. Ultimately, YPSD revised their cost estimate downward to $143.45, which is the set of documents we obtained. We thereafter withdrew the requests to the WISD and WRCS.
I find the variance in FOIA fees to be interesting--presumably they were all drawing from the same information.

The documents provided in response to this FOIA request establish that the statements
made to teachers by Robert Galardi, and to the local press by Scott Menzel, concerning the hiring process in early May 2013 were not accurate. Given the close and intense involvement these individuals appeared to have in this process, it would further appearthat the inaccuracies were communicated with an intent to mislead for the purpose of minimizing the importance and significance of the deviations from adopted board policy. This conclusion is based on the following facts: 
• The process identified and adopted by the Unified Board of Education on February
28, 2013 (see Board Minutes) for hiring teachers actually required the use of student
and teacher references
(see Appendix C to "Community Advisory Group
Recommendation" dated February 28, 2013). 
No formal decision was made by the Board of Education to change its approved use
of student and teacher references
Multiple district administrators affirmed multiple times the commitment to use these
references and colleague/professional references in the hiring process in emails
distributed district-wide
If an informal decision was made to disallow letters of reference, those responsible
for hiring continued to communicate to teachers that references would be considered
throughout the vast majority of the hiring process
. (Emphases added.)
The rest of the executive summary goes through piece by piece of the FOIA'd documents. That is a good thing, because there are something like 171 pages of documents!

You can read the documents yourself. Cameron Getto has thoughtfully put them in a dropbox file that can be downloaded. Download them here.

And please share the materials as well.
We want Ypsilanti Community Schools to get off on the right foot, and to my mind that "right foot" will rest on the premise of a) being transparent to the community and b) following their own guidelines.

Read the executive summary, download and read the FOIA'd documents, and then tell me what you think in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you to Mr. Getto for taking on this Herculean task! It's a very disheartening read, but also very important. I do hope the new unified board is starting to pay more attention.