Archive for the Pam Whitesides Category

True Truancy or Truant Tracking?

Posted in Pam Whitesides, Point of View with tags , , on August 24, 2012 by Joan Graves

 

Recently, I was contacted by someone I’ve never met. She was having truancy problems with Clark Middle School. She had a long history of going to the school and speaking personally with Pam Whitesides about the situation. Although, Whitesides stood by her truancy claim she was unable to provide details. There were cases when the student was marked absent yet teacher records and assignments proved he was in class. In court the judge seemed to be as frustrated as the mom with the school’s inability to keep accurate records. He tossed the case out.

While I was talking with this mom another contacted me. Same school. Same scenerio. Clearly, the bookkeeping is not acceptable. But here’s the thing that gets me. We are paying these people to take more of our money. The school taxes we pay funds the ability to go to court where more of our tax dollars pay the legal fees. On top of that, the cases that need to be in front of a judge have a hard time getting there because of all the frivolous cases.

When Colton was in 8th grade at Clark Middle we got fed up with the school’s inability to keep records, prevent bullying (even when it was in a classroom with a teacher) and enhance his learning. When a child is special needs the law requires parents, teachers and others to have an ARC (admissions and release committee) meeting to hammer out a very specific IEP for the student. The IEP (individualized educational program) is federal law and what is in it must absolutely be adhered to, no exceptions. Steve and I were in an ARC meeting when we announced we were pulling Colton out of CMS to homeschool him. Considering, the circumstances  I’ve just described you would think there would be no confusion. But if you think that, you’re wrong.

Sometime after the meeting I received a phone call telling me Colton had been absent from school for several days. I called the school went over the details and was assured it was just a mix up. About a week after that Pam Whitesides called me personally. I was in the car headed out of town when she nastily tells me that if I don’t get Colton to school immediately she will report me for truancy. Considering all the problems we had at CMS and the fact that she was in the ARC meeting, I was furious.

According to her, the IEP was not good enough. She said Colton would be marked with unexcused absences  until I came to the school and filled out her form. I absolutely refused and bluntly told her that had she been doing her job in the first place this would be a moot point because Colton would be in school. I also felt it was important to point out the fact that she does not over ride a federal document. To this day the audacity it took to call and threaten me that way just boggles my mind.

Fast forward a few years to Dalton’s freshman year at GRC. He is part of the Educational Talent Search group. During spring break the group takes trips to various places and visits colleges and does a community project. This particular year Clark County had spring break a week later than surrounding counties. Therefore, Dalton would actually be out of school two weeks. Because it was a school event Dalton was allowed to go. In an attempt to avoid another CMS incident we had Dalton go to the office and get a signed approval. Again, you’d think there would be no problems. And again you’d be wrong.

Kris Ann Creatou was Dalton’s math teacher. She was also in our Sunday School class. She came to me and asked if I knew Dalton had been marked with unexcused absences the entire week. She and all his other teachers knew where Dalton was because we had him request from them the work he would be missing. The following Monday after leaving a message about it at the school I left to run errands. When I returned there was a note on my front door from a truancy “officer”. That’s bad enough, right? It gets worse. Turns out the truancy guy was not only in the meeting with Dalton about the trip but he was the one that signed the approval Dalton took to the office! I will never understand how in the world that happened. Obviously, there’s no checks and balances in place.

Considering the issue has been in different schools tells me there must be a district connection; or rather disconnection. How many more are there? Are there kids that are skipping school but no one knows? How can we trust the records? If we want to change things like this we must change what we’re doing. We must come together with the message that the status quo has got to go. It’s time for a change. It’s time we remove board members that have been in place for far too many years and have a fresh set of eyes looking at our problems. Stand Up Clark County only 74 days until election time.