Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Water-Is-Wet News: Buist Shenanigans Redux

Just when you thought it was safe to think that Charleston County's only countywide magnet school for K-8 was back on the straight and narrow in its admissions comes the latest outrage--selecting a student from another county from the District 20 list! Yes, that was no rumor.

Said student, whose parents live on Daniel Island in Berkeley County, was allowed to participate in this spring's lottery for next year's kindergarten slots. He must have been entered on the countywide, failing schools, and District 20 lists--why not? And he "won" a seat with the latter.

If your child were first on the waiting list and you actually lived in District 20, wouldn't you be just a tad upset?

Since the news has gotten out, the parents claim that they own an apartment downtown in District 20 that is at present rented out. When its lease is up in August, they plan to move in. Buist Academy will observe proper admissions policies, and pigs will fly.

Here we have an example of flouting of state law. After Buist's admissions policies made the national news a couple of years ago, CCSD put Doug Gepford in charge of oversight of admissions to all magnet schools. Gepford confirms there is a Berkeley County resident who is registered to attend Buist next year using a District 20 slot. According to one interested party,
"When asked what he plans to do about it, he said he couldn't do anything but monitor the situation. He said his hands were tied, as this was a 'board policy,' and until the board changed its policies, existing rules would allow this admission to take place. He further said he couldn't do anything about it this year, but the board might address this for 'future applicants' to attend Buist who might be admitted 'after next year.'"
What law is broken? "Any exception to extend rights to the other cannot result in the displacement of a rightful and true resident. The promise of future qualification by a non-resident still displaces a current resident." Add to that a presumption of financial leverage to facilitate taking of someone's place in line, and you have an additional problem.

We can all agree that this is just another example of why there is so little confidence in the administration's integrity and ability to lead.

Will the P & C follow up on this story? Too bad we can't get the national news to return.


Anonymous said...

While 2,000 are said to be on the official waiting lists for Buist, the principal still reaches out of Charleston County to get the students she wants. (Its lists are long but 2,000 is probably an intentionally inflated number.) If displacing a real Charleston County resident isn't bad enough, for the third year in a row Buist has vacancies they refuse to fill in the upper grades. Why?

Tell that to the parents of an academically qualified student stuck in a below average school with class sizes at or above the state limits. Again, why is Buist, one of a special few magnet schools, being exempted from the budget cuts?

Do the Math said...

For the record, Buist has 2 classes for each grade level from K through 8th, or 18 classrooms with 18 teachers total. That's 40 students per grade and 20 per classroom in grades K-3 and 50 per grade and 25 per classroom in grades 4-8.

So why is CCSD telling us Buist is going to cut its teaching staff next year to 35 teachers, down from 38? I must have missed something here. That means Buist has 20 more teachers than it has classes. Next year it will have 17 teachers over and above it's number of actual classes. Even if they do cut 3 staff members, Buist must have the best student-teacher ratio this side of a private boarding school.

Is this true or is CCSD mincing words? Or are they counting "staff" as teaching positions just to mislead the public? They just as well can RIF a receptionist and make the rest of us think Buist is loosing one of its teachers when it isn't. In that case, it becomes one more underhanded bait and switch deal from the fellows at 75 Calhoun.

Buist isn't the problem, but it has become a poster child for just about everything that's wrong with CCSD.

Anonymous said...

What's up with the "Charleston's Shame" blog... can't believe Underdog is quiet about this story

frustrated parent said...

If I could find another school for my child I would take her out of Buist next year. I have nothing against the teachers, but the administration and guidance are a joke.

I know this blog is about admissions, but why would you want your child to go to a school where your child is being harassed, BY A PARENT, and your school does not support your child or you (who is also being harassed and stalked by said parent)The guidance and vice principal have done nothing to stop this parent's campaign to make my child "deemed" a bully. When in fact it is this adult who is doing the bullying!!! All they do is talk out of both sides of their face. I have rationally gone in and had conversations, while the other side throws hysterical theatrics. One day the vp admits one thing to me and the next day he can't "recall" the very same thing to the other mother, so that just fuels her fire when I'm trying to get to the truth... USELESS

I wonder if this is just a Buist problem or all schools. Whatever the case it is a problem that, as a parent, I can't protect my child from an adult out to get her... and that I have no help from the people who's job it is to HELP!!!!!

Does anyone have any suggestions? I'm at the end of my rope

Babbie said...

Never meet with either side without another person present is the most I can offer, not knowing the individuals.

Anonymous said...

Frustrated parent, I'd call Larry Kobrovsky if I were you. There are state laws against bullying.

Anonymous said...

Word is the principal at Buist is the decider. Never mind what the rules, policies or facts are. But I have to agree with Babbie. Don't let the administration get you into the trap of ex parte communications. Both sides need to sit down with the administration at the same time. Otherwise it's whatever the other side says and the administration can take a pass. Of course that's not good leadership either. But that also describes Buist as a whole. The administration ducks responsibility whenever it can.

Anonymous said...

Sallie Ballard is on the warpath. She wants to know who ratted out her plan to admit the child from Daniel Island into the Buist kindergarten next year. Some say she intends to retaliate against the parent or parents of any child at Buist or on its waiting lists who made this information public. Since the superintendent's office is already under federal investigation for retaliating against teachers and parents for making complaints, I'm sure they wouldn't want another one involving Buist Academy.

When are Charleston County School Board members going to start following their own policies regarding magnet school enrollment? Why not just do away with magnet schools if they can't be administered fairly?

Anonymous said...

As Gregg Meyers would say to anyone who opposes magnet schools, "You're not getting the whole picture."
I'm still trying to figure out what that means.

hcopeland said...

It would be helpful if the superintendent (Nancy McGinley), the chief financial officer (Mike Bobby) or the chief academic officer (Doug Gepford) will explain how Buist can accept a Berkeley County resident into a Charleston County magnet school that has a waiting list.

They should explain why other Charleston County schools are being required to make deep cuts in their programs (closed schools, larger classroom sizes, dropped academic programs and cuts to extra enrichments) all the while certain magnet schools remain largely unaffected. If three of the top four CCSD executives are unwilling or unable to respond then the responsibility for that failure belongs to the superintendent and those who employ her.

If honest answers from school district leaders remain unavailable, maybe the Chairman of the Charleston County School Board (Toya Green) would be kind enough to answer these questions posed by her constituents. Why are school officials and county school board members ignoring board policies in these matters that directly affect the county budget? Why is it acceptable to misappropriate the distribution of limited resources to meet academic needs in hundreds of classrooms county wide? Why are board members allowing school officials to apply board policies so inconsistently from one school to the next?

Maybe the director of public relations (Elliot Smalley) might like to respond, since his boss (Nancy McGinley) is known to have directed him to read comments to many of these on-line exchanges and answer some of them anonymously.

Regardless of how school district officials choose to respond, it would be expected that CCSD should answer these cost related questions completely before its new annual budget is released to the public for comment prior to June 9.

The alternative would be for McGinley, Bobby and Green to face the possibility of having the public conclude the 8.8 mill TAX INCREASE being proposed is unreasonable and should be roundly rejected.

When it comes to public education, public school policies and public school budgets, transparency means just that. Nothing should be withheld or hidden from the public. If our local public school officials disagree, maybe they should find another line of work where they are less likely to abuse the public's trust.

Anonymous said...

Amen, Mr. Copeland.

Anonymous said...

Someone should file an ethics complaint against Ms. Green, Mr. Meyers, and anyone else who purposely avoids or manipulates policies. They are not worthy of public office. It's time for the corruption to stop.

Anonymous said...

Representatives of organizations like the League of Women Voters, the Greater Charleston Chamber of Commerce and the Democratic Party should explain their support for the very same people who have violated the public trust. This magnet school mess and the misuse of their own policies are a disgrace.

Underdog said...

My new motto is "sue 'em."