Information is currency for democracy.
- Thomas Jefferson
A day without sunshine is like, you know,
Education is unique among consumer products;
when it fails to work as advertised, it's the customer that gets labeled as
defective. - Kevin
download for best results in using
Courage is the most important of all
the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other
virtues consistently. You can't be consistently kind or fair or
humane or generous, not without courage, because if you don't have
it, sooner or later you will stop and say, "The threat is too much.
The difficulty is ...too high. The challenge is too great. ~ Maya
Keep Eanes Informed - In the
April 2008 - Every state has some
version of a "Freedom of Information" (FOI) law —
sometimes called a "sunshine law" — that governs the
public’s right to access state government records. These
FOI laws help the public keep track of its government’s
actions, from the expenditures of school boards to the
governor's decision to pardon prison inmates. For example, in 2003, a parent of
a student in Texas, Dianna Pharr, spurred by the
financial crisis in her local school district, began
filing requests under the
Texas Public Information Act
to investigate the district's spending and operations.
She and other parent volunteers established an online
repository for the documents and made them available on
a local community website,
Keep Eanes Informed. Pharr's efforts received
coverage in the local press, and have enabled her
community to make informed decisions when dealing with
school board proposals.
at Eanes ISD
Re: Jan. 19,
editorial “Going online to see
if government is in line.”
that government, including
public school districts, should
post public information online.
The Eanes school district
continues to resist open
government by refusing to post
the check register on the
district Web site. I have
repeatedly asked the
superintendent and board to
consider this user-friendly and
In fact, each time I request
this public information, I
specifically state that if the
district will post it, I won’t
Still, this basic Eanes public
information is available online
only on a citizen Web site,
Sunshine Activist Dianna Pharr
Posted: 14 Jan 2008 04:36 PM CST
This is the 13th in our series of interviews
Sunshine Activists from around the
Our goal is to interview ordinary
citizens who use open records at the state and
local level to promote greater awareness of and
insight into the local governance.
Today's interview is with Texas activist
Dianna Pharr whose website is
Keep Eanes Informed. Dianna lives in Austin,
If you could
change your state’s
open records law
just one way, what
would that change
The Texas Public
tax dollars to
available to all
the need for a
FBI USES FOIA TO GAIN INFORMATION ON SCHOOL DISTRICTS
April 2008 - The city of El Paso,
Independent School District and the Socorro
Independent School District are among local government
agencies presented with Freedom of Information requests
by the FBI. The FBI asked the government agencies for
information to produce a list of their "10 largest
monetary purchasing contracts," records obtained by the
El Paso Times under the Texas Public Information Act
Kinard declined to
say if the information was gathered specifically as
intelligence for its public corruption case that has
engulfed the county's three largest school districts,
the city, the county and El Paso Community College.
But he said, "that does not necessarily mean that it
can't be used for the public corruption case." Since the
public corruption investigation began in 2005, seven
people have now pleaded guilty in closed-door hearings
in U.S. District Court to federal charges.
America's Hometown Heroes -
October 25, 2007
by Paul Jacob
Why do they do it? These people who battle for sanity in the schools, who take on city hall, who recruit people to run for office, who challenge laws in court, who launch voter initiatives for reform.
People like 95-year old Dorothy English. She's battled for decades against local land-use regulators in Oregon for the simple right to give some of her land to her children. People like Dianna Pharr, a Texas mother taking on an unethical school district. Folks like Bryan Ault, who launched the recent online petition against Virginia's new, draconian mega-taxes slapped on certain traffic offenses.
These citizens who stand up risk attack and reprisal from the powerful and the well-connected. They incur bills. They work doing politics on some weekends when they could be playing golf. They sometimes make financial contributions they later have to explain to sometimes skeptical spouses.
I work full time in politics and public policy. It doesn't leave me a lot of extra time. Yet, the local leaders I know never ceases to amaze me with how much they accomplish in addition to their real jobs.
Why do they do it? They believe in right and wrong. And they know that if they don't stand up for what's right, even when it's inconvenient, that right will not prevail. Most importantly, our right as citizens to control our government. Rather than the other way around.
Paul Jacob's "Common Sense" is published by the Sam Adams Alliance www.samadamsalliance.org.
Ms. Pharr vs. the Rogue School Board - August 27, 2007
You've heard about "speaking truth to power." How about speaking truth and getting attacked by power?
Dianna Pharr is a Texan who decided to get involved. The Eanes Independent School District, which governs the school her son went to, had money problems. The wealthy school district's budgets had become controversial in the community; proposed budget cuts seemed to cover everything but sports.
Click here to read more and ... Click here to listen to audio of radio broadcast
Click here to
read full article
2008 - Your request can yield
information that has a real
impact on your community. For
example, in 2003, a parent of a
student in Texas, Dianna Pharr,
spurred by the financial crisis
in her local school district,
began filing multiple requests
Texas Public Information Act
to investigate the district's
spending and operations. She and
other parent volunteers
established an online repository
for the documents she received
and made them available on a
local community website, Keep
Eanes Informed. Pharr's efforts
received coverage in the local
press, and have enabled her
community to make informed
decisions when dealing with
school board proposals.
Troublemaker" Award - July 2007
Published October 18, 2007 -
Letter to the Editor -
Westlake Picayune newspaper
The E3 Alliance's admirable
goal is to address the
plight of children who are
left behind by our public
education system … who fall
into (or sometimes are
pushed into) the proverbial
crack. There are many
children in Eanes ISD who
are, in fact, a casualty of
this district’s failure to
value and address the needs
of all children. I
recommend that Eanes ISD
leadership solicit the input
of parents whose children
are not welcome and/or
served in our district.
Otherwise, the forum results
will inevitably omit
The superintendent's message
to the community that we
ought to participate in the
E3 Community Forums as a
means to share tips on how
other school districts can
be as wonderful as Eanes
reflects her failure to
acknowledge the many
children and families who
have been disenfranchised by
this public school
district. Eanes ISD is a
model for “educational
excellence” only for some.
It's easy to hide this
unpleasant picture, because
when children struggle in
our schools, Eanes parents
have the financial means to
provide private tutoring.
When children’s needs are
not met in Eanes ISD,
parents resort to private
school because they are
financially able to do so.
Children who are different
(for a variety of reasons)
and as a result, don’t
readily fit in are not part
of the Eanes picture.
And when these students must
replacements are carefully
screened and chosen by
virtue of whether they fit
the Eanes “mold.”
The E3 Alliance Forum is a
good opportunity to look
within and address the
“educational gaps” that
exist right here in our own
district. When the district
leadership is willing and
able to acknowledge the
children it has left behind
and take real steps towards
inclusion of all children,
perhaps then Eanes ISD can
serve as a model for other
Dianna Pharr – Austin, Texas
Click here to read the
Eanes ISD superintendent's
... perspective ... on the
Letter to the Eanes ISD
board of Trustees:
Dianna Pharr [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Sunday, September 02, 2007 7:10 PM
Cc: 'Nola Wellman'
Subject: History of Eanes ISD's Refusal to Provide 2003 ADA Facilities
Assessment Review to the Public
September 1, 2007
To: Eanes ISD Board
History of Eanes ISD's Refusal to Provide 2003 ADA
Facilities Assessment Review to the Public
Beginning seven years ago, Eanes ISD taxpayers funded
several facilities assessment reviews and reports including
but not limited to the 2003 ADA SHW Facilities Assessment
Review outlining specific ADA violations.
Eanes ISD ignored requested
access to public information that included reports funded by
our tax dollars and related to district facility access for
children with disabilities. Eanes ISD administration
failed to produce responsive documents, a violation of the
Texas Public Information Act.
The Eanes ISD superintendent
refused a second request for the same information, failing
to produce even a single page of responsive documents
although many of the documents were super-public according
to state law.
Instead the district
requested an opinion ruling from the Office of the Attorney
to withhold every responsive document including but not
limited to the 2003 ADA SHW Facilities Assessment Review.
The State of Texas Office of
the Attorney General ruled that Eanes ISD must produce the
requested public information.
Eanes ISD administration
continued to withhold the documents.
A taxpayer complaint was
submitted to the Travis County Attorney David Escamilla.
Subsequent to the
intervention of the Travis County Attorney, Eanes ISD
administration produced responsive documents including but
not limited to the 2003 SHW ADA Facilities Assessment
Eanes ISD parents offered to
work with Eanes ISD on an ADA Task Force to identify ADA
violations and create a list of priorities for the current
District representative Bill
Bechtol convened the ADA Task Force. When one member
informed the group that the ADA reports existed, the entire
Task Force specifically requested data, including the most
recent ADA facility assessment report, in order to begin
At the second of two
meetings, District representative Bill Bechtol informed the
ADA Task Force that each committee member must pay $90.00 to
receive a copy of one report, the 2003 SHW ADA Facilities
Assessment Review. A taxpayer submitted a $90.00 check
to Eanes ISD the following day. His check was never
cashed and he did not receive the report.
The 2003 SHW ADA Facilities
Report provides detailed lists of ADA compliance problems at
every Eanes ISD school. The report includes specific
information regarding emergency egress problems, playground
and recreational field barriers, restroom barriers, and
numerous other ADA violations.
To date, Eanes ISD has not
provided the 2003 SHW ADA Facilities Assessment Review to
the ADA Task Force.
Eanes administrators have
actively and repeatedly withheld this report from
stakeholders, and now have paid more consultants to generate
As district superintendent,
Nola Wellman has an absolute responsibility to the board,
the community, and our children to insure that all children
can access district programs and facilities including those
children with disabilities. Eanes ISD superintendent
fought disclosure of this information in every way possible
including the expenditure of our education tax dollars
with no limit to retain and fund attorneys to battle
against taxpayer rights to access this public information
and use it to advocate for the children in our district.
This denial of information was a denial of our right to be
informed and protect the rights of children in our community
I have watched this district
repeatedly deny the needs and rights of children with both
invisible and visible disabilities. There are many
children with disabilities in our school that have been
forced into private school because they cannot attend Eanes
ISD. Nola Wellman has a responsibility to comply fully
with board policy as well as state and federal laws that
govern our school district. I allege that she has
failed to do so. Further, I am very concerned that
Nola Wellman is misrepresenting fact in response to direct
questions by board members and witnessed by the public
during more than one board meeting.
I request that the Eanes ISD
board of trustees consider carefully the actions of Nola
Wellman and the resulting denial of children’s rights,
community involvement, and spiraling legal costs.
Please also consider Texas Administrative Code Title 19,
Part 7, Chapter 247 requiring Eanes ISD administrators to
comply with certain requirements including the following:
Standard 1.1. The educator
shall not knowingly engage in deceptive practices regarding
official policies of the school district or educational
Standard 1.7. The educator
shall comply with state regulations, written local school
board policies, and other applicable state and federal laws.
Standard 3.2. The educator
shall not knowingly treat a student in a manner that
adversely affects the student's learning, physical health,
mental health, or safety.
Standard 3.3. The educator
shall not deliberately or knowingly misrepresent facts
regarding a student.
Standard 3.4. The educator
shall not exclude a student from participation in a program,
deny benefits to a student, or grant an advantage to a
student on the basis of race, color, sex, disability,
national origin, religion, or family status.
Eanes ISD parent and taxpayer
In the News - September 2007
The trouble leading up to HB 2564 began in June 2003, when two parents from Eanes Independent School District, Dianna Pharr and Susan Bushart, began filing public records requests because of their concerns about the district’s spending priorities and budget cuts. They published the documents and their findings online.
“It definitely started out as a personal issue for me,” Pharr said. “I began to look at the district’s priorities and then determine whether they were in compliance with things such as the Americans With Disabilities Act. And I found, in my opinion, that they weren’t.”
Pharr had seen “serious irregularities” in Eanes’ spending priorities, which she characterized as “athletic spending with no holds barred.”
Pharr had questions about why the district bought artificial turf for athletic fields and a Jumbotron while complaining of a budget crisis and being unable to meet the needs of its special education students, and why Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts had to pay to use school facilities while private sports teams did not.
“The more I requested, the more I knew I needed to request,” Pharr said.
Pharr was motivated to create her Web site, www.keepeanesinformed.com, to make the public records she had received readily accessible to the public.
Pharr estimates that she makes about 50 records requests per year, and said that much of what she continues to address in Eanes are the same issues she had four years ago.
“There are children in wheelchairs who don’t have a fire exit,” she said. “There are children in wheelchairs who don’t have access to the playground. But the school is considering a covered football field so these athletes wouldn’t be hot when they work out.”
Pharr does not beat around the bush when she talks about the origins of HB 2564.
“This bill was targeted at me,” she said.
“From the very beginning they told me I was harassing them,” even at the beginning when all she wanted were the agenda packets for the school board meetings, Pharr said.
Almost half of the total time the district spent on public records requests in the past year was for Pharr, according to Eanes’ Public Information Act logs.
Pharr maintains that all of her requests fall under the law, and that nothing she has done could be construed as abuse of the Public Information Act.
“I have paid every time they have asked me to pay,” Pharr said. “I’ve never not picked up information I requested — quite the contrary, I begged them for it.”
One month after Pharr launched her Web site, the district released confidential medical information from her son’s records at a board meeting, to the public and to the media.
After attempts to resolve the matter at the district level failed, Pharr took her case to the U.S. Department of Education and won her complaint for noncompliance with the Family Education Records Protection Act against Eanes.
“You’ll pay the price that all whistleblowers pay. There will be damage to yourself, and to your family,” Pharr said. “If they had to make a law to stop the flow of public information in this district, then I must have been darn effective.”
In addition, Pharr has filed a formal complaint with the Travis County attorney regarding the Eanes Independent School District’s failure to release records, after determination by the state attorney general that they were required to do so. She also has a pending complaint from a board meeting in February that allegedly went into an improper closed session in violation of state open meetings laws.
EdNews.org - The Internets #1 source for Education News and
Dianna Pharr Columnist
EdNews.org When everything is going right, we rarely question the
operations and expenditures of our school districts. ...
September 12, 2007 - Letter to the Editor - Westlake Picayune newspaper
August 29th, parent volunteers of the Eanes ISD ADA Task Force asked the
Board of Trustees to appoint a member to serve on a Task Force to work
positively and effectively with the district to remove architectural
barriers and eliminate ADA compliance violations dating back to the
In a statement during Open Forum, the
Task Force spokesperson told the Board of Trustees that many serious and
urgent access problems exist across Eanes facilities, including but not
limited to children in wheelchairs not evacuated during fire drills,
children blocked from recreational fields, and children excluded from
recess due to architecture and that eight months of attempts to work
with the Superintendent had been unsuccessful, as administrators had
refused to provide the Task Force with documents, refused to schedule
meetings, and reneged on the mutually agreed upon deadline.
Trustee Robert Durkee asked
Superintendent Nola Wellman if this was true, and she said, "no."
Brick and mortar facts say otherwise, as
does the 2003 SHW Facilities Assessment Review (available on
www.keepeanesinformed.com.) The district fought hard
to withhold this report, and released it only after formal complaints to
the Attorney General and County Attorney. In this study, ADA violations
at every Eanes school were outlined in detail and budgeted for repair.
Why five years have passed without them being addressed is another
barriers that segregate children
should be the highest and most urgent priority for the current $53
million bond, as it is an issue of safety, legal compliance, and direct
Parents and taxpayers should not accept anything less than Exemplary
status when it comes to providing access for all children. These
problems have gone decades without being fixed and real children have
been affected by them for far too long. The time is here. And so is the
Your action is needed! Please email (or
call) trustees at www.trustees.eanes.k12.us and tell them you support
the ADA Task Force and Eanes ADA compliance as an urgent priority and
attend the Board of Trustees Work Study Session September 17 at 6:30
p.m., during which this issue and the bond in general will be addressed
Austin American Statesman articles and editorial - Excerpts only - To access full article contact the Statesman
Praise for moms who put information law to good use
Monday, February 16, 2004
It is too little understood that the Texas Public Information Act is designed to let average citizens know what their state and local governments are doing.
Open records and open meetings often reach the public view only when the media make them issues. Or when a city council, school board, state agency or other official body locks the doors and refuses to accept the fact that they are creations of, work for and are paid by the people of Texas.
But the Public Information Act is just that, a law that gives Texans the right to know what their government is doing and how it's spending their money. That's why it was heartening to read an article by American-Statesman reporter Kathy Blackwell that focused on a Web site, www.keepeanesinformed.com, created to offer detailed information about the Eanes Independent School District.
Two parents of Eanes students, Dianna Pharr and Susan Bushart, took up the challenge and are using the Public Information Act to let parents, taxpayers and others know what's up in Eanes. They attend the meetings, follow the intricacies of the budget and post the information and their analysis on the Web site.
Pharr and Bushart began their effort because they wanted to understand how the school board was budgeting its tax revenue, particularly as it relates to the interests of their children. But the site has expanded into many different areas, including the possibilities of Eanes closing an elementary school and more layoffs.
These mothers are motivated, dedicated and willing to give of their money, time and energy to make the often opaque, always arcane education system understandable. School officials usually say they want parental and public input, but anyone who has run into a school bureaucracy quickly realizes that is more rhetoric than truth.
Any effort that shines light on the education process is welcome, and Pharr and Bushart should be thanked for their devotion to a project with so many benefits for Eanes parents and taxpayers. Residents of other school districts can learn from these dedicated parents, too.
As Pharr and Bushart found, it takes a lot of hard work and no small amount of money to do the job right. The only reward is the knowledge that they are performing a public service, and hundreds of people they'll never know appreciate it.
Eanes moms start Web site
Monday, February 9, 2004
When two mothers couldn't find the Eanes school district information they wanted on the Internet, they created their own Web site.
Dianna Pharr and Susan Bushart had no experience in Web design, but a few months ago they launched the site www.keepeanesinformed.com. Already, the site contains a wealth of information -- from how the district spends its money to the minutes of board meetings -- including the results of open records requests the women filed last year.
"Our goal is simply to do this: to provide the community with the opportunity to see the information so that they can form their own perspective," Pharr said. "It may be different from ours. But they have the right, they have the desire, to have the information. And you can't be involved unless you have the information."
Pharr and Bushart considered calling their Web site "How did you get that.com."
They began filing open-records requests for the minutes of past board meetings, budget comparisons and athletic spending records.
Pharr is highly visible. She serves on the board of several campus and district committees and attends the regular board meetings and the more informal board committee meetings, which are often held during the day. Since filing the bulk of their open-records requests last summer, Pharr and Bushart have spent about 40 hours a week organizing the information, going to meetings and updating the Web site, which they started in November.
"It's been a full-time job for both us," said Pharr, who is a stay-at-home mom.
Bushart, who is an artist, has put her work aside to help Pharr. As a breast cancer survivor, "I'm very picky about what I spend my time on," she said.
Pharr said other parents and teachers were amazed at the information she obtained, such as athletic spending records and budget comparisons.
"How did you get that?" was a common refrain, she said.
"It just became very clear that people wanted the information," said Pharr, who has become an open-records pro. "I was getting e-mails from parents, from community members and from teachers asking me if I could get them this information."
While Pharr attends the meetings, Bushart organizes the records they get from the district. She gave 18 volumes of Eanes information to the Westbank Community Library, which keeps the hard-bound notebooks in its reference section.
"The information is just information; it's not their analysis of it," said library director Beth Fox. "I think in a situation like this it would have been very easy, very tempting to make judgments."
Collecting the records meant mastering the Texas Public Information Act and spending more than $1,000 in photocopying fees, including $387 for last summer's requests for information on athletic spending. Pharr and Bushart appealed to school board members to waive the summer fees, which is permitted under state law if "providing the copy of the information primarily benefits the public."
The trustees denied the waiver request. Bushart said they asked for a fee waiver only for the athletic spending records because several people had requested similar information at open board meetings.
Parents as partners
Two weeks ago, Gov. Rick Perry unveiled a plan requiring school districts to make it easier for parents to understand school finances.
"I believe if taxpayers are going to foot the bill, they are entitled to look at every item on the receipt," he said.
Averett said that educators should think of parents as partners. She pointed to the Austin school district's Customer Service Initiative, which trains employees to respond quickly to the public and other departments. She said a school district is like a busy sandwich shop with a line out the door.
"They want help, and they want partners, not parents standing in line," she said. "They want people jumping over the counter making sandwiches."
Compared with its neighbors, though, the Austin district is more accessible. Officials broadcast regular board meetings, budget workshops and some special meetings on television and online. The communications department churns out news releases for local media and keeps the Web site up-to-date. District officials have also hired an ombudsman -- a new position -- to serve as a liaison to the public.
Pharr and Bushart say they will keep updating and improving their site.
"There are a lot of parents who don't go to board meetings," Bushart said. " I don't want them to show up the next year and find out that, boom, the program they enjoyed is gone."
Some officials don't like to let in the sunshine - (07.04.2005 - Austin American-Statesman)
Public access to government meetings and records is the law in Texas, but it's not always accepted easily. Some public bodies and officials react to open government inquiries like vampires to daylight …
Westlake, Eanes school officials, feeling besieged by parents
who pepper them with requests for information, have not responded well.
Officials have objected to releasing the documents and supported
a bill by the community's state representative, Todd Baxter, to
charge higher fees for anyone seeking more than 50 pages a
month. The bill died.
Superintendent Nola Wellman argued that the open records authors
never intended for the school district to bear the cost of
providing records. But Eanes officials could mitigate those
costs by putting the records on the Internet or otherwise making
them easily accessible. Instead, they
chose to fight and pay huge legal fees.
Individuals willing to tackle the government — any government — usually have a flame in them that burns hotter than in most people. It takes enormous time, effort and, sometimes, money to take on city hall or a state legislature. But the most effective tools for the willing are the freedom of information laws. They guarantee the public has access to meetings and records, though official compliance is often spotty and can be downright defiant.
Many ordinary citizens, and more than a few government officials, think the FOI laws serve only to help the press. But businesses and Joe Citizen request government documents as often as the press.
Someone who regularly monitors a government body or frequently requests public documents can be quickly branded a nuisance. Too many Texas officials have a narrow view of their public trust and think the public ought to keep its nose out of government business. Those who don't can be a bother.
boosts efforts to protect students'
Austin American Statesman
The Eanes school district
is re-evaluating how it handles confidential
student information in light of a complaint
filed by one of the district's most vocal -- and
controversial -- watchdogs. [ View Article ]
Oct 9, 2004, 08:38
Anonymous e-mail targeting moms hits Eanes in-boxes
Records : An anonymous e-mail
attacking two mothers of Eanes school district
students has the tightknit Westlake community abuzz.
The e-mail, whose author claims to be an Eanes mom
and writes under the alias "Mickey Mouse,"
criticizes Susan Bushart, an Eanes parent, for a
grievance Bushart had filed against the principal at
Hill Country Middle School.
Comment: I tagged this article as
Open Records Abuse when we linked to it last week. I received an email from Dianna Pharr challenging my use of the word "abuse". She reminds me that she has followed the law and feels her requests are reasonable and warranted therefore not abuse. I agree and removed the "abuse" tag. I apologize Dianna, I should let the readers decide - Thanks for your comment - js. October 4, 2004.
Wants to be Free"
highlighted in 2e
Ohio puts teacher misconduct data online
Published on Friday Nov 02, 2007
A new state Web site listing 1,700 educators who were reprimanded for misconduct, including cases where teachers physically or sexually abused students, is intended to make classrooms safer, education officials said.
The Ohio Department of Education posted the database Thursday, naming teachers, coaches, administrators and other licensed educators who were investigated and reprimanded by state officials.
The state had promised to create the Web site after The Columbus Dispatch reported last month that there were widespread disciplinary problems, including abuse of children, assault and theft, among working teachers and that the information was not easily available to the public.
The newspaper also reported that the state Education Department did not always notify school districts about reprimanded teachers, so some superintendents had unknowingly hired teachers with histories of misconduct.
The Web site includes newly revealed cases on more than 40 educators who were issued written reprimands and allowed to keep their licenses. Some cases included students who were kissed, shoved, hit with a yardstick, or otherwise treated with excessive force by teachers.
The Education Department can punish educators for "conduct unbecoming" the profession in a variety of ways, including written reprimands and permanently stripping a teaching license.
"The new Educator Conduct Search tool provides access to a database of the small subset of educators _ less than 1 percent _ subjected to disciplinary actions since the Office of Professional Conduct was created in 1999," State Superintendent Susan Zelman said in an e-mail to school superintendents.
The database doesn't provide any information on unfounded allegations or educators currently under investigation by the state. Teachers unions had expressed concern that making more information public would spread false accusations that could ruin careers.
The Web site lists only cases in which state officials have confirmed misconduct and taken action. It names the school district where the educator worked and gives a basic description of the wrongdoing, such as "conviction for sexual battery" or "inappropriate relationship with a student."
"It's a significant step in the direction of assuring school district personnel have clean records," said David Laurenzi, president of the Buckeye Association of School Administrators and superintendent of Independence schools, near Cleveland. "It will help make classrooms safer."
Bill Mason, a former assistant superintendent for Newark schools, said the Web site has flaws. It doesn't provide enough detail about offenses that led to written reprimands, he said.
Ohio education officials crafted the Web site after reviewing online information released by Florida, South Carolina and Vermont on teacher misconduct.
All three states provide more detail about a teacher's misconduct than Ohio does. For example, Florida's database includes a link to case documents, including
the original complaint.
Zelman said the Ohio database is a work in progress that will be updated and enhanced.
Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com
Wimberley superintendent receives
$200,000 retirement payment
Strauss resigned with four years left on
Thursday, July 19,
Wimberley Superintendent Marian Strauss
will receive a $200,000 payment from the
school district in exchange for her
early retirement. Strauss retired Monday
years left on her five-year contract.
The move comes after a group of
Wimberley residents urged the board to
fire Strauss in March for what they said
her emphasis on athletics over academics,
missteps in two failed bond votes,
unwillingness to listen to those with
different points of view and low teacher
school board to consider ousting superintendent
to discuss options Monday.
Friday, July 13, 2007
school district trustees are considering the possible
resignation of Superintendent Marian Strauss three
months after some residents demanded it.
Monday night meeting, trustees plan to meet behind
closed doors to consider entering into a resignation
agreement with Strauss. They also could appoint an
comes after a group of Wimberley residents urged the
board in March to fire Strauss for what they said was
her emphasis on athletics over academics,
missteps in two failed bond votes, unwillingness to
listen to those with different points of view and low
Texas AG obtains indictment for open
A grand jury in Upshur
County has indicted the former president of the New Diana school board for
conspiring to circumvent the Texas Open Meetings Act, Texas Attorney General
Greg Abbott announced Wednesday.
Click here to read full article
Click to read full post:
Money makes you honest
Apparently logic isn’t a virtue among
journalists or TEA officials. Dr. Neeley* said the wealthy districts on
the list – including many considering self-investigations – are
unlikely to cheat.
“You look at Highland Park, Richardson,
Eanes,” she said, naming some of the state’s wealthiest districts in
the Dallas and Austin areas. “Do they have to cheat to have good scores?
I gave a talk in Eanes not long ago and said, ‘Do you people
think Westlake High School had to cheat to get good scores?’ “
*Shirley Neeley, Texas Education Agency,
Districts on TAKS cheat list in dark; State didn’t seek data on why firm
flagged schools, preventing investigation
gets excuses, excuses; State finds merit in 62 school rating appeals,
creativity in others
Awarding Blue Ribbons:
Recognizing Schools or
In 1983 the U.S. Department
of Education began its "Blue
Ribbon Schools" program, a
process by which it
identifies what it proclaims
as among the most successful
public and private schools
in the nation. In the years
since thousands of schools
have been so identified.
One weakness of the
program is a failure to
what might constitute a
blue ribbon school. A
simplistic approach is
to see where students
are achieving and give
an award to that
school. The problem
with that is it fails to
status," that is, the
backgrounds of the
students. It is both
common sense and proven
by studies that students
who have advantages in
terms of family income,
achieved by the parents,
who come from homes with
opportunities for travel
etc, will do better than
students who do not have
Thus a more accurate
indication of a good
school would be one that
adjusts for such factors
and identifies those in
which students do better
than would normally be
expected, based on their
As an example,
Pennsylvania makes it
relatively easy to
identify the overall
wealth of a given school
district, compared with
the state average. Keep
in mind that this is the
standing for each
district as a unit. It
does not tell you
anything about any given
student or school.
Still, a very wealthy
district can only be so
if most of those in that
district are prosperous.
In one year,
Pennsylvania had eight
schools that were
awarded "Blue Ribbon"
districts since two of
the schools were located
within a single
district. A look at
them in terms of their
revealed that only one
of the seven districts
was at approximately the
state average. The
other six were above
average. The district
having two schools
selected included the
wealthiest community in
Over the years the Blue
Ribbon program has grown
but the tendency has
been to produce similar
In summary, with all due
respect to the schools
receiving awards, what
the federal Department
of Education is
recognizing is not so
much blue ribbon schools
as it is blue ribbon
students, the kind of
students who do well by
virtue of their
individually, with most
of them having
their being together in
one school makes it not
only possible but
inevitable that they
will learn from each
On rare occasions this
is recognized by those
who know whereof they