Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Legislating parental involvement

Here is a great article highlighted by a local blogger about how one school district is thinking "outside the box" and requiring greater participation from parents of students who are struggling academically. The key to reaching some children is by modifying the behaviors of the parent. It would be interesting to follow this school district and observe what kind of changes in student achievement they observe from this program.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NAR lays out the new home buyers tax credit rules

If you have been in the real estate market recently, you are most likely aware that Congress just passed an extension of the First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit. This time, however, the credit extends to all buyers of homes under $800,000, and not just first time home buyers. The credit to non-first time home buyers is $6,500. Here is how the credit works. You find a home and close on it as usual. You then request the tax credit on your end of year tax return. This time, the IRS requires the buyer submit proof of the purchase with your return. The chart below, published by the NAR, does a good job laying out the details and restrictions of the credit.

Mortgage rates are low, inventory is high, and now there are big buyer incentives to boot. If you've ever thought about moving, this is the time. Call me today at 645-8608 for a no cost or obligation home buying consultation and a free buyer pre-approval.

National Assoc. of Realtors explains the new tax credit

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

D150: Rules? We don't need no stinkin rules

A phone call to District 150 Spokesperson Stacy Shangraw confirmed today that Administrator Mary Davis continues to be on Paid leave following allegations of theft and misconduct from fired Lindbergh Middle School principal Julie McArdle. This leave comes at such a time that we are also paying current Superintendent Ken Hinton-soon to be on medical leave, and Norm Durflinger, interim Superintendent. What Hershel Hannah's role is at this point is yet one more D150 mystery.

With this kind of payroll musical chairs, is it any wonder there is no money left to keep our schools open?

According to Ms. Shangraw, MD will remain on the payroll until the outcome of an investigation by the States Attorney's office. Ms. Davis has been on paid leave since September 8, with no end in sight.

This position by the District violates their own written board policy.

Apparently, the Mary Davis situation is not unique. Other administrators in other districts have faced similar allegations, and how a school district should respond has long been established. The written policy of our Board of Education cites case law and defines the official protocol that the district should follow in these exact circumstances:

Here are the provisions that apply:

5:120

Ethics
All District employees are expected to maintain high standards in their school relationships, to demonstrate integrity and honesty, to be considerate and cooperative, and to maintain professional relationships with students, parents, staff members, and others. The following employees must file a "Statement of Economic Interests" as required by the Illinois

5:240

Suspension With Pay
The Board of Education or Superintendent or designee may suspend a professional employee with pay (1) during an investigation into allegations of disobedience or misconduct whenever the employee's continued presence in his or her position would not be in the School District’s best interests, (2) as a disciplinary measure for misconduct that is detrimental to the School District as defined above, or (3) pending a Board hearing to suspend a teacher without pay. The Superintendent shall meet with the professional employee to present the allegations and give the professional employee an opportunity to refute the charges. The professional employee will be told the dates and times the suspension will begin and end. No suspension with pay shall exceed 10 school or working days in length.

In short, the district should have notified MD that she was being suspended and given her a specific start and end date, with the paid leave not to exceed ten days. MD would have then been entitled to a hearing. The District would put up the evidence that has already been provided compliments of McArdles lawyer and offered Ms. Davis the opportunity to refute it.

The evidence consists of (among other things) 1. documents with falsified student addresses 2. Statements showing the existance of a credit card, issued to Charles Lindbergh Middle School and used by MD for clearly personal expenses. Payments made to that credit card that are clearly shown coming from the student activity fund, an e-mail to Julie McArdle from MD stating incorrectly that the account no longer existed, and a statement by Ken Hinton saying it was not an authorized credit card.

My 8 year old can sit on the panel as he has a pretty good head for these things. She either followed our rules, or she didn't. Short of blaming it on an evil twin sister, the facts look pretty irrefutable. Do we really need the States Attorney to define right and wrong for us? Sad. If there was cause, cut her loose. It's the responsible thing to do. Follow the rules that each board member swore to uphold.

The District argues that they don't want the liability of MD suing them. If that is the case, why did they not feel the same way about the time Mr. Walvoord opened a letter stating If-you-fire-Julie-McArdle-we-will-sue-you? Where was the fear of liability then? Well the opportunity to avoid legal exposure to the district has come and gone as McArdles legal team looms in the distance, preparing subpoenas like party invitations. Thank you to whoever made THAT decision for being such a wise custodian of District assetts. [end sarcasm]

Why is the District afraid of Mary Davis but they weren't afraid of Julie McArdle? Very strange indeed. I am asking this board of Education to simply follow our written board policy. A policy position that was written to protect the interests of the children and taxpayers over the coddling of yet another administrator. What a novel idea!