School Committee Pass A Solution in search of a Problem!

School Committee continues to ignores fiscal issues and instead postures for election year.

The School Committee voted to adopt a formal policy of not allowing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents into schools for the purpose of detaining undocumented students, unless they have a court order and it states school staff will not provide ICE with information about students’ citizenship status, stating it codifies unwritten school policy.

Here is ICE’s Policy which already states they DO NOT GO INTO SCHOOLS!
ICE Policy

The committee said it was important, given the national conversation about immigration, to reassure students! Really? How many parents, voters /citizens pay attention to the School Committee, let alone students? Well this vote has now put the school committee in the spotlight and it is my hope that people start looking at the lack of fiscal oversight this committee has shown.

If the Superintendent or staff felt something was needed why didn’t they just get the Committee’s approval to send home a letter followed by a Connect-Ed Call? The Committee claims they were just putting existing policy to paper but that could have been done in a simple motion.

Motion- Request the Superintendent to send home citywide letter and connect-ed call reminding school families ICE doesn’t and has never been in Lowell Schools and the Lowell Schools require any law enforcement agencies to have appropriate warrants before entering any school.

I’m all in support of trying to calm worried students but this motion was nothing but a political showcase by this committee..Because it’s an Election Year and this was posturing to allow themselves the opportunity to say HEY LOOK AT US WE CARE !

Sadly in reality they have ZERO Authority to stop any lawful Federal or State Law Enforcement Agency no matter what they voted.

If the School Committee is really “concerned” with the national conversation about immigration , shouldn’t they be even more concerned with the current administration in D.C ?

If they were sincere about a concern then they would not have even opened the door for this administration to find excuses to withhold federal funds or grants because they decided to take this stance even after the City Council who is responsible for ALL CITY FINANCE refused to declare Lowell a Sanctuary City.

You can’t be concerned about the national conversation about immigration and ignore this administrations stance on immigration and especially this statement – Trump’s executive order does far more than remove illegal immigrants with criminal records; it threatens to cut federal funding from the nearly 300 “sanctuary jurisdictions” across the country — that is, those government entities within counties, cities, and states that refuse to enforce federal immigration laws

This was a solution in search of a problem especially when Lowell has NO RECORD of ICE coming into any Lowell School.

Read today’s editorial in the Lowell Sun,

Lowell’s bad policy has potential to make things worse

They view this motion the same way I do.

The Committee should Concentrate on issues you have control over especially Financial Issues

Instead of having a long discussion on the above why didn’t they question the Superintendent and CFO on the Auditors Report more in depth?

To start with, how can the administration say $508,000 was carried over when the professional auditors state it was returned? Do they believe the auditors can’t separate a return from a carry-over?

How can the budget the School Committee received in May show $354,890 being marked as CARRY OVER for Summer July 2016 then have the Superintendent state that the Auditors $508,000 returned was for the same program?

This is my main issue with this committee, they don’t ask enough fiscal questions. Either they don’t understand the fiscal issues or don’t believe the information being presented by the administration and instead choose to ignore it.

Everything old is new again for Supt.

On February 28th I file a public records request with the school department

This is a request under the Massachusetts Public Records Law (M. G. L. Chapter 66, Section 10). I am requesting that I be provided a copy of the following records:

A list of all Grant Money broken out by source of funding returned because it was not used during the 2015 / 2016 school year in accordance with the Outside Auditors finding of $508,000

On March 15th the 10th Day (not counting weekends or the snow day) I received the following response

Sent: March 15, 2017 at 2:50 PM
Subject: Re: Public Record Request – Returned Grant Funding

Hi, Mr. Nutter. Hope is well.

I am following up on this email and I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. I am looking into the matter and I am hoping to update you on the status of your request by Friday.

Considering that School was closed on Tuesday and even though it was closed Wednesday I had no issue waiting until Friday because the response was received on the 10th day. However Friday has come and gone without a response. I’m hoping I get the response Monday before I have to appeal to the state.

Sadly, the Superintendent has a history of not responding to public records request or making request costly.

The auditors would have specifically highlighted the returned funds so I’m not sure why the Administration isn’t responding quicker.

We learned in the February 1st edition of the Lowell Sun that The Sun submitted a public-records request to Lowell Public Schools requesting a list of minority hires since June 2015.

An attorney for the school district, Jane Mosher-Canty, said the schools did not keep such records. Any information on employees’ minority status would be exempted by personnel confidentiality, she said.

This despite the fact that the Lowell School Committee at their budget meeting in May voted to spend $30,000 to be used to recruit minority staff members. So if the schools did not keep such records, how did they provide the School Committee with this report?

A sad example of the willingness of this administration to share public records and to be accountable and this present Committee are enablers. They don’t demand answers and allow the Superintendent and administration to ignore public records request.

Instead of contemplating another political move, awarding the Superintendent a term defined contract in an election year, why aren’t they getting better information about financial matters and being transparent with the public?

The Presidents proposed budget contains dangerous cuts that will negatively affect the Lowell School System. The City gets approx. $19,000,000 in grant funding in addition to our required net school spending, the next few years are going to be very challenging and we need people on the committee who will demand a complete accurate accounting of funds and advocate for funding and for a New Lowell High regardless of location.

This Committee has taken a back seat on the High School issue and allowed the Superintendent to do the same.

Returning $508,000 is NOT Sound Fiscal Practice! Why doesn’t the Committee spend more time looking into financial matters instead of wasting time political posturing?