The below was sent to the School Board of Directors on 3/29/2012. No one on the board or administration replied, as is normal. Also, it was never made part of public record as was requested.
Please consider this message and the attached pdf as public record. You also have my explicit permission ( and request ) to post this communication and the attached PDF to the CSD web site for people to download and read as soon as it is received. Anyone receiving this email may share it as well.
The Corbett School District Board of Directors should be proud to represent the students and families who are finding success with the schools in Corbett. You also have an obligation to be impartial and recognize when areas are pointed out that need improvement or discussion.
First, part of helping our school and school board become more effective is to provide accountability and improve transparency. One way we could improve this would be to Return Accreditation to Corbett Schools. ( Recently Bob Dunton sent a letter dismissing accreditation as nothing more than a racket, alluding to it being “the mob”. ) You can read that letter and more information here: http://corbettpost.com/csd/is-csd-accredited/ ) I would really hope that our school board would make this goal a priority and get the facts about accreditation from the source, since we have not been accredited since 1999/2000, and much has changed.
Second, this has been brought up a few times now over the years, but it would be best if our School Board and Public Meetings were recorded to add more clarity and accuracy. ( We should also have the audio transcribed for our official minutes. ) I would be happy to send examples ( again ) of how you could spend as little as $70 and have a digital recorder that would allow you to podcast your meetings and/or even simply provide them later on your web site for those interested in hearing what was said.
Also, any handouts or letters should be scanned to pdf to post and to share online with these minutes. Letters from the public have only recently been added to the District web site, and it seems to be done selectively. [ Note: See this page for more on this: http://corbettpost.com/public-letters/ ] Please note: Printers that have a document feed that scan right to PDF are less than $150 – so it is not accurate to say this is a large expense or time consuming to do.
In closing, I ask that the school board read and consider the below information and the attached PDF that lists some of the concerns that the district faces right now. If you feel any of the information presented is an unfair or an untrue assessment of facts, I would appreciate hearing from you. Otherwise my hope is that we can all be on the same page as to what constitute “fact” and what might actually be more “rumor” in regards to Corbett Schools right now.
Thank you for your time,
Parent, community member and an occasional “steak” holder.
Privacy & Transparency Issues on the District Web Site
- Up until the last school board election, all school board members in Corbett had their personal email addresses listed on the Corbett Schools web site for the public to use. ( I have screen prints from the web site that Derek J.’s built for the District and it was that way even then. ) It was also that way on the web site I built for the school a couple years ago.
- After the new Communication Committee was formed, and the two newest board members were elected, suddenly a new web site was built because of “privacy concerns.” ( I read about the change in the Newsletter before I was contacted. That was classy. )
- With that change, came new email addresses for our board members. Most school board members in other districts are given a “.school.k12.or.us ” email addresses, but these new addresses were from a new “privately registered” domain name. ( corbettschooldistrict.org <http://corbettschooldistrict.org> vs. using MESD’s corbett.k12.or.us <http://corbett.k12.or.us> mail servers. ) I emailed on behalf of the two newest board members in November of 2011 with their concerns about these new email addresses and helped explain the privacy issues involved. Phil Pearson replied at that time, that, basically, this was being done to protect the board from SPAM. I then emailed Superintendent Randy with that conversation and concerns, as he felt the privacy concern was ‘odd’. I received no response from him at all. ( You may read those emails below. )
- It is now known that there is ‘blind copying’ enabled with this new web site and mail server. In other words, if a parent believes they are emailing a single board member from the school web site, either by email address or contact form, it turns out that their message is also going to the Superintendent and Deputy Clerk too. (This is a very small community and this is a very large breach of confidence with many.)
- The contact form on the school district web site also includes a “hidden” field that collects each person’s IP address when they send a message. IP addresses can be cross referenced to user’s answers on District online surveys.
- Legal or not to do, it is less than transparent and “odd” that CSD wouldn’t be more open with the board members and public about what they were doing – until almost a year later.
—— Forwarded Message
From: Mindy Schmidt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, 16 Nov 2011 14:04:54 -0700
To: Randy Trani <email@example.com>
Cc: Annette Calcagno <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Conversation: CSD Web Site Email Listing for Board Members
Subject: FW: CSD Web Site Email Listing for Board Members
Annette’s question to you stems from the forwarded email and topic that I addressed earlier this month with Phil, when Tori asked about the new email procedure for board members that started with the new web site launch. (Since CSD replaced the past web site citing privacy as one concern I would like to point out that, in fact, the new web site is the same system and open source software as you had before. The “theme” has changed but everything else is the same except the community member you have chosen to help you manage it.
The privacy concern should be one that has to do with emails recently set up for the CSD school board members with “corbettschooldistrict.org <http://corbettschooldistrict.org> ”. This is a domain with a private registration. Why wouldn’t you simply issue MESD managed, “email@example.com” email addresses as most other school districts do for their board of directors vs. one that is managed privately?
Also, the current contact form on the school board page of the CSD web site would be great for sending messages to all members ( “as an aggregate” ) but individual email addresses should be listed for board members and provided outside of a pull down and contact form for transparency. Right now CSD has been redirecting emails for board members to a third party mail server, through the contact form. These can be easily blind copied and routed to any other email address that the site administrator chooses, and no one would be the wiser.
I know Phil admitted to being “barely a rookie” which makes it seem possible that a certain community member on your communication squad, is actually in charge of setting up and managing these emails on the server. If that is the case, this should be considered another valid privacy concern to our board members.
Allowing our board their privacy and their private email addresses would be best OR issue them addresses managed by MESD. Up until the new site launched our school board members had their personal email addresses listed with hyperlinks and there were no spam issues. And if spam is really the concern here, then there are several methods to protect and encode email addresses. Not to mention the abundance of filters and spam settings each mail manager comes with these days.
Hope that helps….
By the way, I thought you would like to know, I finally got my refund from the summer school class that was cancelled in June … Just in time for Christmas shopping!
—— Forwarded Message
From: Phillip Pearson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, 3 Nov 2011 11:00:27 -0700
To: Mindy Schmidt <email@example.com>, <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: CSD Web Site Email Listing for Board Members
Hi Mindy –
Thanks for your expertise on this. I’m barely a rookie. All board members do have corbett.k12.or.us <http://corbett.k12.or.us> <http://corbett.k12.or.us> addresses which is were email was going by default. I feel like that’s best practice but I’ve added mailto links for Tori and Annette to their personal addresses by special request. Initially we had it set up so that, for those who wanted it, we bounced their email through a corbett address on to their personal adresses and then went to this last option.
On Thu, Nov 3, 2011 at 10:44 AM, Mindy Schmidt <email@example.com> wrote:
Tori Purvine, one of our school board members, just called to ask a few questions about the listing of the email addresses for board members on the school district web site.
While I understand issues involved with spam and bots that harvest email addresses on web sites pretty well, I also know that CSD school board members (and their private email addresses) have been listed (and hyperlinked) on CSD’s web site(s) for years, with no real issues or complaints of spam.
Also, since all our school board members were recently set up with email addresses that are re-routed through the URL “corbettschooldistrict.org <http://corbettschooldistrict.org> <http://corbettschooldistrict.org> ” with Blue Host’s mail manager, and then off to their specified email addresses, instead of the more direct (previous) route, there probably should be more privacy concerns now, especially for the newer board members.
Setting up addresses “@corbettschooldistrict.org <http://corbettschooldistrict.org> <http://corbettschooldistrict.org> ” or contact forms using these email addresses, that originate from a host and mail server not affiliated directly with MESD, doesn’t seem to be best practices. This URL is also under private registration, which is odd for a school district. Blue Host was also the host for “Families of Corbett Schools”, I believe, correct?
To be clear, the issue here is that these email addresses (and messages via the online contact form) can be forwarded or blind copied to more than one address very easily from this third party mail server. It is, at the very least, a valid privacy concern. I do understand where Tori is coming from, so my suggestion would be to either link each board member’s personal email address (as they each wish it listed, with a hyperlink) or set up all with an actual corbett.k12.or.us <http://corbett.k12.or.us> <http://corbett.k12.or.us> address with MESD, as almost all other school districts do for their school board members.
Thanks for your time,
Corbett High School
35800 East Historic Columbia River Hwy
Corbett, OR 97019
(503) 261-4224 <tel:%28503%29%20261-4224> (classroom)
(503) 261-4209 <tel:%28503%29%20261-4209> (Admin office)
From: Robin Faye Lindeen Blakeley <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2012 10:29:07 -0700
To: Mindy Schmidt <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: To the Corbett School Board of Directors
To Ms. Schmidt and Board of Directors/Administration of CSD:
For more “clarity and accuracy” I am providing the attached approved minutes of the March 9, 2011 (see pages 5-6) and October 19, 2011 (see pages 11-12) Corbett School Board meetings to “constitute the facts” which were stated incorrectly in your attached PDF under: “The State weighs in And what does the state say”, “Going and Growing Corbett School’s population growth” and “Our District Financials Corbett’s roller coaster ride”.
It is an honor to be the Secretary of the Corbett School District Board and I take great pride in transcribing the minutes for the record.
Robin Lindeen-Blakeley, Deputy Clerk
Corbett School District No. 39
35800 E Historic Columbia River Highway
Corbett OR 97019
Ms. Lindeen Blakeley ( Robin ) and Board of Directors/Administration of CSD:
It is obvious you care a great deal about Corbett Schools and our reputation. That is certainly not unclear. However, your response reminds me of the tone you took in June of 2011, when I contacted you to let you know people were not able to access the newsletter in the way you had shared a link out. (I did so to help, but you insisted that it was available and correct as was and you seemed annoyed in your response.) Actually, as it turned out, it was not right and people could NOT access it.
My point is that no one is perfect, least of all me. We can all do better. Including the Schools in Corbett. There are reasons parents are concerned. Many had no idea we were not accredited until this year. I am glad to correct my information, and admit my mistakes, if you point them out specifically for me.
On the first section you mentioned, please let me know what was wrong. Then do the same for anything else, as I have read the meeting minutes before and just now again, and it is not clear to me, sorry….
- Mr. Dunton wasn’t listed as a consultant for the Charter in Cascade locks?
- Hood River School District didn’t reject the Charter… twice?
- The appeal to the State of Oregon was not denied?
- Did our School board even KNOW about this report before they voted to expand the Charter and extend the contract?
- I know at least 4 board members that did not know about this report. The rejection from the State came out in Feb of 2011. We voted in May of 2011. There was time to share that I would think with the board, if it wasn’t, why not?
- Our School board did approve the Charter extension/expansion by a vote of 5-2, correct?
- Are you denying the similarities between the model denied by the state and Corbett’s Charter? Did you read/know about it?
As to the board minutes you sent…..
- March 9, 2011 ( Page 5 – 5.1 Charter Agreement/Renegotiation/Renewal ) Under this section, there is a reference to read page 35-36 about the agreement … but these are not included to review….
- The minutes also reference the Contract Addendum but this is also not included for review.
- There are a number of things said at meetings, in the minutes, that are either missing or not as people recall. ( For example, in the same section the minutes read: “…Dr. Trani wrote in his book that 1200 is optimum number of students by his analysis,…” but he was heard to actually say the optimum number was 1200 to 1500 or as many as would make him money.… ( That part did not show up in the minutes. )
Scanning in the information and recording meetings would remove any filter or interpretation to the public record. The Hood River School Board Minutes are a great example. They are easy to read and follow along. They are verbatim and nothing is left out or added.
People are not trying to “destroy” anything by asking questions and wanting accurate information. And if by providing this clarity, it destroys our school – then we were not being honest to begin with. ( And that is not something anyone should be defending. )
Mrs. Mindy Schmidt