So here’s the Paldunas letter regarding his competition for a school board seat

Only fair to read it, certainly. My objections: I’m sorry to see Brian Peldunas get involved with the RTC’s infighting and suppression of dissent; I’m even sorrier to see him join the RTC and its flunkies on the school board ignore the question of the constitutionality of the state’s raced balance mandate. While I do think Paldunas has the better of the argument on the exemption loophole for “unique schools” – I think it’s weak -he and his cohorts seem determined to ignore the real issue: is the law itself illegal? I say it is, the BOE says it isn’t, but where is the legal opinion they ordered June 23rd to research the issue and give n opinion?

To the Editor

Given the issues facing our public schools, we need a Board of Education that can work collaboratively. However, threatening a return to the in-fighting seen several years ago, two members introduced a “proposal to save neighborhood schools” via an article (Greenwich Post, Aug. 29) without sharing it with colleagues first.

The two members would have you believe that neighborhood schools in Greenwich are under “threat” of attack. That’s far from the truth. The board, listening to the community, is doing all it can to protect neighborhood schools. They’ve embraced choice and rejected major redistricting and forced busing. We support this and believe the focus needs to be on achievement of students at all schools.

The “proposal” is an amalgamation of existing programs and ideas. That would have been clear to the two members if they’d worked cooperatively with colleagues and attended the many public forums on this matter. Instead, the result of putting this “proposal” forward was to disrupt a public process that has been playing out over the last several months. One of the other board members called the “proposal” misguided.

Relying on parent volunteer lawyers, the two members claim there’s a loophole that will exempt compliance with the state racial balance law by calling New Lebanon and Hamilton Avenue “unique” schools. Interestingly, one of the authors previously indicated the board needed to consult a “highly experienced constitutional lawyer.” The state has already indicated that the schools don’t qualify for “unique” status. The authors would have realized they could not simply ignore the statute had they done some basic due diligence and asked the State Department of Education a few basic questions.

Also, while any board member could have called for a vote to ask the state to render a formal opinion, the two proponents remained silent. An opinion from the state would allow Greenwich to decide whether to continue moving forward or mount a challenge.

We need to move beyond posturing. It’s time for the board to work cooperatively to reach conclusions about advancing student achievement, eliminating capacity constraints and dealing with the racial balance law.

Peter Bernstein
Brian Peldunas

 

30 Comments

Filed under Right wing nut rantings

30 responses to “So here’s the Paldunas letter regarding his competition for a school board seat

  1. Ghost of the FAR Czar

    With regard to the unique school status – here’s the GT quote from Dr. McKersie at the last BOE meeting:

    Superintendent of Schools William McKersie said the state would entertain a Greenwich bid for unique-school designations.

    “The board can vote to bring that question to them — that’s your call,” he said. “They’re open to the question, but they’re not encouraging it.”

    If the State has indeed “already indicated that the schools don’t qualify for unique status” as the two letter writers claim, why didn’t anyone say that at the BOE meeting and where is the letter or email from the State giving that definitive answer?

    Given the continued uncertainty that the racial balance compliance continues to generate, I don’t understand the BOE’s fear of asking this simple question.

    The other theme that I see in this letter (combined with Ms. Ospina’s comments) is an attempt to change the dialogue from racial imbalance to the “achievement gap”. I get the sense that the BOE has already declared victory with the North Street/Parkway magnet school plan and assumes that the State is going to be satisfied with this latest attempt to get in compliance. I’m not so sure. I think that the racial imbalance issue will continue to hover over the district and continue to create uncertainty until we have some final closure with the State. To me, the two clearest path to closure are asking to receive “unique school” status or litigating.

  2. GreenITCH

    Yes , Peter and Brian , however the parents and tax payers of Greenwich want a plan the moves forward that WE want, not you and the other collective bone headed , dimwits of the BOE

  3. Riverslide

    The letter seems like it is from turf-conscious board members basically asking, Why didn’t you check with us and give us a chance to bog you down and distract you?

    There is no substance to the letter, except the claim that the state has already definitively denied “unique status” which claim McKersie apparently disputes!

  4. Once

    Referring to the “return to the in-fighting seen several years ago” , the so called in-fighting is often referred to as “disagreement” within a representative body. Our previous Superintendent got his budget but did not get an 100% of the vote of all the BOE members. It was also brought to light that he did not follow the proper procedure when reallocating funds for the parking lot at North Mianus. That is when Freund alarmed the Riverside Mommy Mafia about the BOE being “dysfunctional” which sent the Riverside PTA into full “kill the messenger” mode with blast emails. State Statute says we are suppose to have “equal distribution of funds” among our school districts. We don’t and it is about to become less equal.

  5. just saying

    So Brian and Peter aren’t entitled to their own opinions, but everyone else is?

  6. Riverside parent

    What concerns me about this letter is PaldunASS bending over to appease a few in the RTC. He is entitled to his opinion. Why he decided to back stab Sherr is also my issue. We need independent thinkers on the BOE. We don’t need people who are going to take marching orders. Both my wife and I will be bullet voting for Sherr. Paldunas is a disgrace.

  7. Anonymous

    so what action can we take? I support neighborhood schools and frankly being in the north st school dist don’t want it to become a dumping ground for under achieving kids. I think racial imbalance is a ludicrous idea and does not address the real problem these kids have, which is undoubtedly their home life, not their ethnicity.

    I also want to see the results of the legal opinion that was ordered. So what do we do as residents? Who do we write to and what tools are available to us?

    • Byram resident

      PaldunASS doesn’t want to seek an opinion. He thinks we will loose. Why when so many people disagree in don’t understand. This guy is not someone I want on the BOE. I’m glad his true colors are coming out now while we still have time.

    • GreenITCH

      hmm are we getting they legal opinion from the landscape consultants or ….

  8. Republican voter

    The RTC have finally found a puppet! Welcome Brian Peldunas . Do them proud my friend.

  9. Benedict Arnold

    The letter to the editor is disgusting. On every level. Brian… My advice to you is run on your own record. Talk about how you saved the math program at Greenwich schools! Talk about how suing the state is a loosing battle. Talk about the need for a board to all get along. Talk about throwing Sherr under the bus. What say you Brian?

  10. Town employee

    Chris,
    You can’t possibly still be thinking of voting for this Paldunas guy anymore? Can you? What a sneaky rat. Does Sherr know about the letter? I would love to hear what he thinks. What about Paldunas himself. He always comments but now nothing. That’s a great sign of a true leader.

  11. CatoRenasci

    I am profoundly disappointed in Brian Peldunas. I won’t vote for him or Bernstein. Hell, even Tammy the Chimoyan is merely an unqualified lunatic, not a backstabbing slime ball.

  12. Cos Cobber

    CF, the fix is in. North Street is to become the BOE’s dream magnet school and any attempts to interfere will be sabotaged. Whenever the community challenges the imbalance law, select board members are increasingly ready to remind everyone that we have an achievement gap.
    When you think redistributing minorities – in and of itself – will solve the achievement gap – how do you not sound like a racist? By ‘racist,’ I don’t mean a hateful person, just someone who is using race alone (in this case, an effort to ‘spread them out’) to improve results and close the gap. Combing the achievement gap discussion with the racial imbalance discussion at its core is insulting to minorities because when you peel back the layers, its about deconcentrating minorities to boost performance. How is that not insulting?

  13. housecat

    My head is spinning from the bureau-speak here. Did the BOE members who suggested that Greenwich should pursue the “unique” classification for HA and NL ever deign to tell the public what “unique status” means? Are the people suggesting this saying that we can claim an exemption from the statute because there so many ‘minority’ students in these schools the racial balancing requirement doesn’t apply? Because I don’t believe either school has enough to qualify for that exemption (it’s a really high percentage). If the proponents of this tactic mean something else by “unique”, does anyone know what that is?

    • Yes, there is a memorandum of law prepared by Ben …? (the lawyer from North Street) citing the law and including the relevant passages, that was presented to the BOE, copy to the state and passed out to various people. I have a copy, somewhere. I’m not convinced of the strength of the argument – an attack on the entire racial balance law seems more likely to succeed – but neither is it too ridiculous to even consider, as the board is treating it. I’ll see whether I can’t find my copy and I’ll reproduce it here.

      • Cos Cobber

        While you’re the attorney, hasnt this recent action or inaction by the Supreme Court taken some wind out of the sales on the full challenge? When you look back at the TN and WA cases from a few years ago, the court basically said race alone cannot be a deciding factor for individual student placement, but seemingly left intact the notion that as part of a comprehensive review, race can be a factor. In other words, a school cannot assign by race for the individual student, but can use race to allocate on a broad – programmatic basis.

        • Well I think the issue will be best exposed when, and if, the state tries to enforce it – hard to see how they don’t end up demanding that individuals be assigned by their race, so a claim that “we don’t care which 175 white kids you move, only that you move them”won’t pass constitutional muster. But the cases on point were decided by a 5-4 decision; if Obama gets an opportunity to place one or two of his picks on the court, that will change.
          But we have nothing to lose, so let’s do it.

      • housecat

        I’ll trawl the BOE site again to see if it’s there. If I find it, I can pass on the link to you.

        • Anonymous

          Housecat – this is what I found –

          West Hartford Plan to Increase Racial Diversity in its Unique Schools.”
          Charter Oak and Smith were granted “unique school” status by the Commissioner of Education. In the “Regulations to Implement the Racial Imbalance Law”, a “unique school” is defined as “an interdistrict or intradistrict magnet, local or state charter, lighthouse, regional vocational agriculture, regional vocational-technical, alternative, or special education school or other school designated by the Commissioner which offers specialized programs or provides for the voluntary enrollment of students.”[1]
          The Racial Imbalance Law was passed to help increase the racial diversity of schools, and requires schools to have a certain percentage of minority students. However, the status of Charter Oak and Smith as “unique schools” makes them exempt from the Racial Imbalance Law. Despite these exemptions, the presentation at the Connecticut State Board of Education meeting today displayed that both Charter Oak and Smith schools will be at 61 percent, which is higher than the 41 percent district average.
          The new plan that the West Hartford Board of Education presents is possible because the schools, Charter Oak and Smith, now qualify as diversity schools. According to West Hartford News, “a Diversity School enrolls a percentage of minority students that varies from the average district minority population plus or minus 25 percent, according to the board.”[2]

          Furthermore, this legislation provides access to more money as well as the possibility for up to 80 percent state reimbursement for construction.[3]

          [1] Regulations to Implement the Racial Imbalance Law, Sec. 10-226e-1. Definitions. (1969), http://search.ct.gov/search?q=cache:TrfXnqQA1jcJ:www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/Word_Docs/legal/10-226eRegs.doc+unique+school&site=sde_collection&client=sde&output=xml_no_dtd&proxystylesheet=sde&ie=UTF-8&access=p&lr=lang_en&oe=UTF-8

          [2] Kathleen Schassler, “New law allows for millions for West Hartford ‘Diversity School’ construction,” West Hartford News, October 12, 2012, accessed on March 6, 2013, http://www.westhartfordnews.com/articles/2012/10/10/news/doc5072d0b9ba042098519431.txt.

          [3] Schassler, http://www.westhartfordnews.com/articles/2012/10/10/news/doc5072d0b9ba042098519431.txt.

    • Ghost of the FAR Czar

      If I understand the logic, since New Leb and Ham Ave are already magnet schools, they can somehow be designated as “unique” under the State statute. No guidance/evidence if that is really true. Once they have been designated as “unique”, their individual school statistics are removed district wide computations. If that happened, then I believe that the district would have all the remaining elementary schools be within 25% of the newly computed district averages and be in compliance with state racial balance law.

      That doesn’t address the capacity utilization issue or the “achievement gap”, but at least we could stop having to worry about Hartford.

      • hmmm

        capacity utilization is easy to fix, stop MISA and build a new school. Call the chair of the BET and ask him to reverse his/her vote and all is solved

      • No no, it’s not that they can be so designated, they already are, by existing law and are thus, by that same law, exempt. Or that’s the argument. As I’ve said, I’m not convinced that it’s the slam-dunk its proponents say it is, but it’s an argument that can be put forward with a straight face.

  14. Anonymous

    Paldunas just lost my vote, too. Very disappointing to read this letter. Its pretty scary what happens when you are not one of the “anointed” PTA / RTC chosen ones.

    And, then we wonder why residents don’t step up. The answer is life is too f**ing short for these juvenuile antics and better use of one’s time.

  15. Anonymous

    BTW, I thought I read somewhere that the STATE is as a whole is out of compliance with racial balancing. I really do believe as a taxpayer I deserve to know the outcome of the legal opinion on this matter. Straight up…..cases cited, precedent, etc etc If we are going to commit huge sums to this farce of another Magnet school(s) I want to know we have exhausted ALL legal options.

  16. Anonymous

    PPPs: Political posturing Peters. Seriously, there’s nothing new in their idea except the unique school challenge. Scherr will not get my vote; he doesn’t give a crap about anyone west of the Mianus River. I wish I could vote Von Bran off the island but I can’t so I’ll just hope he goes back to sleep more in the meetings.
    And Scherrr, you’re not the smartest man in the world here to educate all of us with your lengthly monologues

  17. Bernard Schneider

    To Chris or anyone,

    I would appreciate if someone could track down the referenced memorandum of law prepared by the North Street parent ( Ben?); also does anyone know anything about the legal opinion reportedly reuqested by the BOE.

    Thanks.

  18. Greenwich Taxpayer

    It is evident by the Bernstein and Paldunas letter, as well as Ospina’s comments, O’Neal and Anderson joining in with the Democrats that the bullies that are in front and behind the scenes (Sue Rogers where are you?) are isolating both Scherr and vonBraun and treating them as out of touch. If you offer a diverse opinion for discussion you are ostracized. The BOE is filled with incompetent individuals and our school system suffers as a result. Stop the bullying, have a frank and honest discussion on the merits of the proposal and come to a consensus. Oh, wait. That’s not how it is done anymore. They should all be fired. Maybe the kids should run the BOE. They’d likely do better than Bernstein and Peldunas.