Sunday, September 16, 2007

New York State School Report Cards 2005-2006

WBEN's Dave Debo recently did an analysis of the New York State School Report Card for the school year 2005-2006 (Online Extra: Violence In WNY Schools, August 22, 2007). School superintendents were provided with an opportunity to review and correct summary reports based on this data. Whether or not City of North Tonawanda School District corrected its data submission remains to be known.

Nevertheless, according to the analysis, the City of North Tonawanda School District, North Tonawanda High School, reported 3 bomb threats for the 2005-2006 school year. In a sworn Affidavit on the matter of the State Division of Human Rights Complaint of Rhonda J. Mangus, on behalf of her minor child Michael Mangus, Principal James V. Fisher, NTHS, alleges a series of 6 or 7 bomb threats occurring over a six day period (October 7 through October 12, 2005). Further interesting is the fact that it appears The City of North Tonawanda School District did not report any incident of bullying, harassment, or intimidation of students.

The apparent inaccuracy of the report begs the question: Is the under-reporting simply a mere over-sight or, is the under-reporting intentional in order to present the school as a "safe" school to avoid detection as a persistently dangerous public secondary school and/or disguise the fact that GLBTQ youth are not safe in North Tonawanda City District Schools?

The Standards: In either of the aforementioned, both the Laws of the State of New York and the "NT City Schools District Code of Conduct" affirm the student's right "To have a safe school environment conducive to learning" (North Tonawanda Agenda Planner, 2005-2006, pg. 17). Not "somewhat" or "relatively" safe, but "safe". In the case of Michael, NT City Schools "breached its contract". Michael was not provided a safe environment in which to learn.

Under-reporting by a school district that has a history of improper control procedures to prevent harassment, intimidation, and bullying is a dangerous situation that compromises the safety of ALL district students. As it were, I knew of only one bomb threat, the threat occurring the same day Michael discovered the written death threat in his NTHS day planner.

The Truths: City of North Tonawanda School District Superintendent Dr. John George (retired) and City of North Tonawanda School District Board of Education president Scott Schultz, did not hold Principal James V. Fisher accountable and responsible for, among other matters, his refusal and failure to comply with the Laws of the State of New York and NT City Schools Policies and Regulations to report my complaint of aggravated harassment to local law enforcement. Principal Fisher's alleged excuses for failure to comply with the Laws of the State of New York and NT City Schools Policies and Regulations are his preoccupation with these alleged series of bomb threats, apparently underreported to the New York State Education Department, scheduled meetings and/or activities between 1:10 and 5:00, and for the reason that "Since Mrs. Mangus had already contacted the police in the midst of the school's investigation there was no need for an additional report to be filed with the police." (Respondent's Affidavit Case No. 10108712, pg. 5, # 27, NYS Division of Human Rights).

Principal Fisher (or designee) is required by the Laws of New York and NT City Schools Policies and Regulations to report "as soon as practical, but in no event later than the close of business the day the principal or designee learns of the violation." (North Tonawanda Agenda Planner, 2005-2006, Section 14.4, pg. 21).

According to Principal Fisher's Affidavit "After retrieving his planner at the end of his lunch period (approximately 11:35) Michael reported the situation to Mrs. Vicki Pohlman, a teacher on special assignment as interim assistant principal, during period 6 (approximately 11:40-12:00). When speaking with Mrs. Pohlman, Michael demanded to see me. Mrs. Pohlman reviewed the agenda planner and told Michael that she would relay his concern to me when I was available. Mrs. Pohlman advised Michael to return to class." (Respondent's Affidavit, Case No. 10108712, pg. 3, #14, NYS Division of Human Rights).

Michael reported the "situation" 3 hours before the close of school that day. I am (and putting it mildly) outraged that my child was " return to class." Principal Fisher's Affidavit, alleges Mrs. Pohlman, an assistant principal on interim assignment. As such she is bound to the same Policies and Regulations of NT City Schools and the Laws of the State of New York in reporting violations of the NT City Schools Code of Conduct by the close of school that day. If Mrs. Pohlman, in her capacity as "interim" assistant principal, was not an appointed "designee", she had the responsibility to direct Michael immediately to such "designee." As important, Mrs. Pohlman failed to telephone me immediately upon learning of the "situation" with Michael. In fact, no "school official" telephoned me. I learned of the "situation" at approximately 11:45 in a telephone call I received from Michael from inside the high school. I arrived at North Tonawanda High School at approximately 12:25 and found my son in a distressed state trying to leave the building through the Science wing.

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