Build a Real Partnership...?

Last week I had a second meeting with Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Support Services, Dr. Maureen Latham and Director of Student Services, Shawn Mitchell,  regarding a complaint I filed over the failure to involve parents as partners and work with parents to increase parent involvement. They provided me an inch thick stack of documentation as evidence of their compliance with Federal Law and Title I regulations.

I reminded them I never questioned their compliance regarding where and how the federal funds are spent. I told them I believed they aren't making a serious effort to involve parents, something required by Title I Federal Law, BUSD board policy, and BUSD Administrative Regulation. I told them I filed the complaint because I hadn't seen an annual report from the administration to the board outlining their Parent Involvement Plan and how they are implementing their plan, a report required by the controlling legislation, policy and regulation. The district is required by legislation, policy and regulations, to provide parents an opportunity to provide input on improving their plan for increased parent involvement.

Dr. Latham introduced me to the District Advisory Committee. The DAC is composed of district personnel and one elected representative from each school's Site Council. This elected representative is not required to be a parent, it could be a teacher or classified employee. the committee meets on average 4 times a year. They review the plans and make recommendations.  This is where they suggested a report on the parent involvement plan could be presented.

At the end of the meeting, Dr. Latham asked me if I would like to have one more meeting after I had a chance to read the materials she gave me. I told her I believed all her records were in good order and that I wanted to wait to see any action by the administration. The next meeting of the DAC is scheduled for May 17th. If at the DAC meeting they, 1) Present a report on the success of this year's parent involvement plans 2) Solicit and welcome input from parents about how to improve upon the plan 3) Begin using feedback  to formulate next year's plan, I would feel they were in compliance and withdraw my complaint.

We spent some time discussing a few of my ideas about how they could improve parent involvement. I suggested Site Councils Meetings and District Committees, which would benefit from increased parent involvement, could be held at more convenient times for parents. Many parents are unwilling, or unable, to make time in the middle of the afternoon to leave work or the family. I suggested they schedule one of the 2 board meetings they have each month as a parent friendly meeting.

I suggested holding these committees and Site Council meetings before the regular board meeting. Then tailor the board meeting for parents. Present all the honors and awards to students and employees at this meeting. Focus on the issues important to our familes with any parents who stay over from the committee meetings. I am sure there would be more participation and they could hold the meeting in the High School's New State of The Art Theater. 

I felt they were listening and I remain hopeful. Dr. Latham told me the board was having a workshop on Saturday to discuss how to make more effective board meetings. I was unable to attend but I sent Dr. Latham a brief list of suggestions  she said she would present for discussion. It will be interesting to see what comes from their workshop.  

I want to finish by saying thank you to Dr. Latham and Shawn Mitchell for putting so much time and effort in their processing my complaint. I hope we will begin to see an administration willing to embrace and encourage parent involvement and build a real partnership.


Next board meeting Tuesday May 10 @ 7pm:

BUSD Board of Trustees will honor the 2012 Teachers of the Year and will be reviewing the preliminary budget for the 2011-2012 school year.