Below is the email I sent to the school board on July 15, 2014. To this date I have received no response or answers to my questions from anyone on the board or at the school district.
Begin forwarded message:
From: Mindy Schmidt <email@example.com>
Subject: Corbett SD Public Meeting Minutes and Accreditation
Date: July 15, 2014 2:31:10 PM PDT
To: Victoria Purvine <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Annette Calcagno Calcagno <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Corbett School Board,
I am writing you today with two areas of concerns and subsequent questions I would appreciate responses to.
Minutes of Public School Board Meetings in Corbett School District (CSD)
As of today, there are no official public records for the past 6 months and at least 14 regular and special board meetings. The CSD policy BDDG states that minutes will be available as they are drafted. Oregon Public Meetings Law 192.650 states that minutes shall be available to the public within a reasonable time.
Can the board all agree that 6 months after meetings have happened, is not a “reasonable” amount of time and agree to actually fix this ongoing problem for the sake of rebuilding some trust and transparency in the district? (https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicHome.aspx?ak=1001104)
Corbett School District and Accreditation Application
It has been over two years since the Superintendent committed at the April 2012 board meeting, to apply for a return of our accreditation status to Corbett High School ( after much pressure from the community and a lot of work by School Board Director Victoria Purvine ). The public has not heard any news about this application process from CSD since that time.
* I asked School Board Director Victoria Purvine (VP) if she knew that our probationary status had expired according to the AdvancED web site as of 6/30/2014. She said she would ask the Superintendent about the status of our application. The Superintendent’s response was something along the lines of these results being only for staff to review and that we were now accredited for 5 years. (The Superintendent also implied that he did not feel that it had been worth the time and significant money invested and that he also did not believe that it would make a difference to any student and never has before. ) VP told me that she replied with an example of what happened to her own son when he graduated and that it would have made a difference to him if we had been accredited.
Accreditation does matter to students. Here are some of the reasons why:
If a high school student has to move or transfers from a non-accredited HS they will have to prove their credits and/or retake classes and this could delay their graduation. (The new school, if accredited, will not care that we are “Nationally Ranked” as the administration has tried to make us believe.) There are scholarships and internships that will also pass over students from non-accredited high schools as well, Intel being one example. The term “ Home-schooled Students & Graduates of Non-standard or Unaccredited High Schools ” is very common on most college applications. Students from non-accredited high schools do have extra hoops to jump through. Here are some of the colleges I found in Oregon with a quick Google Search and you can see for yourself the different requirements non-accredited high school students.
Western Oregon University http://www.wou.edu/student/admissions/undergrad_requirements.php
Oregon Tech http://www.oit.edu/portland/admission/freshman
Accreditation ensures our schools are committed to continuous improvement and meeting standards for our kids. Accreditation tells the community, we welcome peer review, and welcome any recommendations on how we could be better, because no school is perfect. A lack of accreditation brands an entity as one without quality control. That in and of itself is why parents hearing Corbett is not accredited are concerned, especially considering 90% of public and 98% of private high schools in Oregon are accredited.
Please take a look at the actual report Principal Phillip Pearson submitted for the CSD in February. It is attached below as a pdf. Can we all agree that this summary does not seem to reflect a lot of time to put together and/or 2 years to submit? ( SELECT HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE REPORT )
The questions I would appreciate a response to from the board, in regards to this topic are as follows:
- Why isn’t our accreditation listed online? CSD shows a probationary period that expired as of 6/30/2014 according to the AdvancED web site. See this link: http://www.advanc-ed.org/oasis2/u/par/accreditation/summary?institutionId=53850 ( After this email was received… this status was changed to accredited.)
- Why isn’t the information available to the public and why was this not announced in a newsletter or offered as part of a board meeting report?
- Did CSD notify the AdvancED within 60 days of the “substantive changes” that have occurred within CSD as required to retain accreditation status? According to the AdvancED: “School/school system failure to submit a substantive change may result in changes to the school’s/school system’s accreditation status and/or loss of accreditation.” Some examples of substantive changes in CSD I know about this past spring; consolidation and reorganization of the school, governance structure/change to a Charter school/school system, staffing changes, student population that causes program or staffing modifications.
- Shouldn’t there be some issue (conflict of interest, perhaps) that Derek Jaques served on the accreditation site visit/committee for CSD? Derek was a former 10+ year employee of the district and someone who assumably was in the process of being re-hired by Superintendent Trani at the same time he served on the accreditation committee. He was re-hired as an administrator in Corbett SD and according to this month’s agenda on board books, he has a starting salary of $101,535 with PERS pick up and a monthly stipend.
Concerns about the submitted executive summary:
My first concern, of course, is simply how “limited” this summary seems to be for something that took administration so much time to complete and has been used as an excuse for why other requests could not be completed.
The student population numbers cited in this executive summary were clearly not accurate. They are under reported significantly in the description of the school on page 4 both for the district and the Charter. Since that time, there were over 476 Charter students allowed in under open enrollment this past spring alone. Was this corrected with AdvancED? Most residents of Corbett are unaware that these students are now our district’s responsibility until they graduate or that we will have additional bus runs into town (purchased a new bus) to bring out more kids. We now have more out of district students/staff in CSD than that live in Corbett.
Achievements are not based on actual student performance. Corbett SD is listed below the state average as to our overall performance as a school district according to the 2012-13 state report card. Oregon is ranked 43rd in the nation as to our performance in education, however, CSD continues to self promote and use terms like “Nationally Ranked” and “World-Class Education” based on self-nominated magazine rankings for things like the number of AP tests administered to ‘earn’ these designations.
- Middle School to watch award? This was also listed in this executive summary, but it is from more than 4 years ago and was from a group that is no longer even active in Oregon and is directly tied to the College Board (which is the company that the CSD purchases all their AP tests from.) CSD purchased over 1,000 AP tests this year alone.
- Graduation rates? CSD has an “AP for All” program ( a high school where all students take AP classes and the tests are all paid for by the district ) We have a policy of continuous improvement and a Superintendent who has said that they will not stop any student from graduating as long as they have made progress and tried their best. Therefore, we really are not able to fairly gauge what our graduation rates mean compared to other high schools. If you would like to hear Superintendent Trani speak to this point, take a listen starting at 23:09 of this documentary on the Charter on vimeo here: http://vimeo.com/21285693.
- Stakeholder Feedback? Over the past ten years, as a parent to two different students in this district, and watching the many crisis situations that have dramatically changed our small community school in Corbett, I can attest that parents have never been asked for their feedback about the changes to our district’s educational choices (or lack of choices) or the explosive growth in Corbett SD from out of the area students.
Overall, I am unclear how CSD can earn accreditation when our school board continues to ignore laws expected or required of all other school districts. We do not have site councils as required BY LAW in the Oregon Educational Act for the 21st Century and as far as I know achievement compacts and continuous improvement plans have not been addressed with our board either. I would like a copy of the report/information sent to CSD that we paid for through the accreditation process so that I may share it out on the Community Forum or Corbett Post web site.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing back on the above questions.
℅ The Schmidt Family
P.O. Box XXXXXX
Corbett OR 97019
cc. Corbett SD Deputy Clerk, R. Lindeen-Blakely