Annoyed Supt. makes misleading remarks – DESE weighs in

The Superintendent of Schools showed again last night his annoyance with people who question him. Jackie Doherty brought up my questions about the STEM Academy and 5th and 6th grade students going to school 90 hours a year less than Robinson or Wang 5th or 6th graders.

He was visibly annoyed with the question and had multiple replies, at first he said they are looking into it, then he said if anyone was questioning whether it wasn’t compliant or not they are in compliance and it’s designated an elementary school He claimed he didn’t read the question but that the person who told him about it seemed to indicate I was saying they weren’t in compliance.

What I find troubling is that he never bothered to read the email I sent to the Deputy Superintendent who forwarded on to him and it makes me wonder if that’s how he treats all concerned taxpayers, parents and citizens who have valid questions?

What’s more troubling is saying he never read it implies to the public his Deputy Supt. didn’t forward the email after responding to me she would and that she lied to him about the content leaving him thinking I was questioning if we were compliant.

Here’s the email I sent with the Deputy’s reply: Appears to me like he was misleading the public by suggesting I was saying the School Dept wasn’t in compliance. Sadly not the first time he has publicly mislead the public.

DESE confirmed what I thought, it is up to the individual School Committee/Administration to determine time as long has they meet the required 900 hours a year for a school designated has an Elementary School which the Stem is. The Robinson is designated a middle or secondary school which requires 990 hours a year.

27.04: Structured Learning Time Requirements

(1) No later than the 1997 – 1998 school year, schools shall ensure that every elementary school student is scheduled to receive a minimum of 900 hours per school year of structured learning time, as defined in 603 CMR 27.02. Time which a student spends at school breakfast and lunch, passing between classes, in homeroom, at recess, in non-directed study periods, receiving school services, and participating in optional school programs shall not count toward meeting the minimum structured learning time requirement for that student.

(2) No later than the 1997 – 1998 school year, all schools shall ensure that every secondary school student is scheduled to receive a minimum of 990 hours per school year of structured learning time, as defined in 603 CMR 27.02. Time which a student spends at school breakfast and lunch, passing between classes, in homeroom, at recess, in non-directed study periods, receiving school services, and participating in optional school programs shall not count toward meeting the minimum structured learning time requirement for that student.

So the School Committee can allow one small group of students to receive 90 hours a year less Educational time and selected teachers to work 90 hours a year less than others.

Last time a School Committee allowed some teachers to work more than others it cost the City $800,000 in grievances. Allowing a few 5th and 6th grade teachers to work 90 hours a year less than other 5th and 6th grade teachers some with more experience and seniority seems to open the School Department up to more grievances.

Here is how DESE responded

Dear Mr. Nutter,

From our perspective, the key to your situation is not whether some students are getting more instructional hours than others, but whether or not the number of instructional hours provided meets the minimum requirements. I have provided the time and learning regulations and Question and Answer Guide for your reference on that. As to your question of whether or not it if fair that some kids get more and some less instruction per day, that is a matter that you can decide for yourself as a community (i.e. the School Committee). So, for example, (I’m making this example up…) if you decide that 6th grade covers very important material and you decide to provide extra instructional hours in that grade, and then simply provide the minimum hours for grades 7 and 8, that would be fine with us, as long as the minimums are met each year.

I hope that answers your question. Below, are the references I mentioned.

http://www.doe.mass.edu/lawsregs/603cmr27.html

http://www.doe.mass.edu/lawsregs/timelearn/qanda.html

Barry Barnett, Director
Problem Resolution System Office
MA Department of Elementary & Secondary Education
75 Pleasant St.
Malden, MA 02148

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