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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

BTU's ad in today's Miami Herald re Broward County Schools Supt. James Notter and Special Education funding; the so-called Integrity Committee


Published on page 5B of Miami Herald on 2/17/2010

The Broward Teachers Union ad above, which I didn't
notice until this afternoon, directly references my email
and Wall Street Journal article on Special Education
-and James Notter's handling of it- which I shared
with many of you on January 6th as first an email and
subsequent blog post.
I've copied and posted it at the bottom in case you
missed it the first time.

So on this issue, Special Education, where were our
Broward School Board members, Ann Murray or
Chair Jennifer Gottlieb, both of whom live in
Hollywood and both of whom are running for re-election
on August 24th?

Here's their official homepage with contact information,
why don't you ask them that question yourself?

Better yet, while you're at it, ask them why the next
scheduled public Integrity Committee meeting
on Monday the 22nd at Coconut Creek High School,
http://browardschoolsintegrity.org/
isn't
currently scheduled to be televised on the
Broward School Board's own cable TV channel,
BECON-TV
, and what they're personally doing
to change that decision?

It's the year 2010 and Broward taxpayers have
already paid for those TV cameras of BECON's,
yet the Broward School Board acts like it's 1910,
and rather than properly deploying those cameras,
they insist that you show-up in person to one of
their meetings if you want to know what's going on.
That attitude explains quite a lot,
don't you think?


http://www.browardschools.com/schoolboard/members/gottlieb.htm
754-321-2008

http://www.browardschools.com/schoolboard/members/murray.htm
754-321-2001


My comments are below the article.


The Wall Street Journal

JANUARY 6, 2010

Special-Ed Funds Redirected School Districts Shift Millions of Dollars to General Needs After Getting Stimulus Cash
By Anne Marie Chaker

Florida's Broward County Public Schools saved as many as 900 jobs this school year. Nevada's Clark County School District just added more math and tutoring programs. And in Connecticut's Bloomfield Public Schools, eight elementary- and middle-school teachers were spared from layoffs.

These cash-strapped districts covered the costs using a boost in funding intended for special education, drawing an outcry from parents and advocates of special-needs children.

Read the rest of the story at:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126274303415617219.html

Reader comments at:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126274303415617219.html#articleTabs%3Dcomments

-------

January 6th, 2010
9:40 p.m.

Seriously, what does it show about the lackluster quality
of the majority of South Florida's print/electronic media
that they don't even pick-up on this 'till nearly 5 p.m.?
Exactly.

At least the Sun-Sentinel's Kathy Bushouse was
paying attention to mention it in their blog, so what's
everyone else's excuse?

And in case it had escaped your notice of late, in the
year 2010, the Miami Herald STILL lacks an
Education blog.

http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/blogs/

Guess they were too busy interviewing people about
the weather, and what was happening to the invasive
iguanas, to see a story that speaks volumes about the
consistently piss-poor judgment of people in power
here.

Say hello again to James Notter, another big reason
why large dynamic companies consciously choose NOT
to relocate to Broward County.
Yes, the sad, tragic but oh-so logical consequences of
having someone like him in charge are all around us.

So what do you think Notter is telling parents of
affected kids, to take one for the team?

As a well-informed person wrote me earlier this
evening about this matter, almost incredulously:
Do you know how many times they’ve told us
they’ve subsidized special ed from the general fund?
This is really outrageous.

Outrageous sure, but if nobody else knows about it
because the press has falling iguanas on the brain...
Aye, there's the rub.


----------

Sun-Sentinel
Schools blog

Wall
Street Journal: School districts, including Broward, redirecting special ed money
Posted by Kathy Bushouse on January 6, 2010 04:54 PM

The Broward School District is featured prominently in a Wall Street Journal piece on school districts using stimulus money meant for special education for other uses, such as saving teachers' jobs from layoffs.

Read the rest of the post at:
http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/educationblog/2010/01/wall_street_journal_school_dis.html

Shortly after I sent most of the above out as an email
late this afternoon, I saw that CBS-4 did a segment on
their 6 o'clock newscast, curiously labeled:
Attack Ad Published Against Superintendent Notter
http://cbs4.com/video/?id=91715@wfor.dayport.com

Not mentioned at all in the segment is the whole issue
of what Notter did with Special Education funding,
which was the subject at hand in the WSJ story almost
six
weeks ago.
Naturally, no South Florida reporters have followed-up on
that!

Now about that truly underwhelming and under-performing
Integrity Committee
appointed by James Notter
so many months ago, now about to have their second
-yes, just their second!- public meeting...


South Florida Sun-Sentinel
www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/fl-broward-ethics-20100210,0,550836.story
Broward school district takes 2 months to pay ethics panel administrator Questions over contract structuring slowed pay, according to e-mails
By Akilah Johnson, Sun Sentinel
February 10, 2010

The staff administrator of the Broward Schools blue ribbon ethics commission worked for nearly two months without getting paid because the district was not sure how to structure his contract, according to e-mails to and from district administrators.

The three members of the independent commission – Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, attorney W. George Allen, and former Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth — are donating their time. But the school district agreed to pay for staff and supplies to help the commission reform the district's purchasing practices and ethical training.

On Dec. 14, Paul Falcone, who used to work for Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom, was hired at $1,000 per week plus $433.35 a month for healthcare coverage. He is considered an outside vendor of the school system.

Falcone was finally paid by the district on Friday. Confusion remained regarding exactly how to construct his consultant agreement until Wednesday when Donnie Carter, the district's chief operating officer, sent an e-mail to the School Board.

According to the e-mail, commission costs are not expected to exceed $40,000, which include travel reimbursements, cell phone, computer, printer and $1,245 for the creation of the website, browardschoolsintegrity.org.

Falcone's agreement says his responsibilities include research and follow-up, creating an information book for each panel member as well as "logging public sentiment from public hearings, editorials, blogs and emails."

The fact-finding mission is expected to be completed by June, the e-mail said.

The panel – formally called the Commission on Education Excellence Through Integrity, Public Ethics and Transparency – was created after the Sept. 23 arrest of now-suspended School Board member Beverly Gallagher on corruption charges, including bribery, fraud and extortion.

Panel members say not knowing how to structure Falcone's contract is what happens when a large bureaucracy creates an unprecedented commission.

"I'm glad they actually took the position [of] 'We'll ask questions first and write the check later'," said Seiler. "I would have been more concerned if they cut a check to Paul and said 'Gee, should we have done that?'"

There are "real problems in the district," Seiler said, mentioning spending by the facilities and construction department, misuse and overuse of change orders, and employees too scared to speak on the record for fear of retribution.

The commission is holding a series of public hearings as part of its fact-finding review. The next hearing will be held on Feb. 22 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Coconut Creek High School, 1400 NW 44th Ave., in Coconut Creek.

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