Our son was denied any real support or chance to ever be a successful student at the Corbett Charter School. I am telling of our experiences at the Corbett Charter School as to be part of a greater list of other parent’s horror stories and so to document an on-going reoccurring problem that is not being addressed by Bob Dunton, Randy Trani or the school board. Here are our complaints and story.
If you are parents that seek the best for your children, then usually the best education you can afford is one of the items on your list of things to do for your kiddos! It is one of our main goals for sure! We chose Corbett for its acclaimed greatness! Corbett was in a wonderful location and ranked overall 3rd in the country. But what is not explained to future attendees about the Corbett Charter School system can and will permanently affect your child’s high school experience not to mention self-esteem and education.
Our son liked Corbett, wanted to be a Cardinal and knew that it was not going to be easy. He was told he would be offered help if needed and if he asked and showed interest, he would always be given the chance to make-up test and assignments. He took advantage of Friday study halls at Corbett and went to most of the evening meetings at Taco Bell (with his teacher) to ask for extra help. Even though Jake took advantage of these opportunities, Corbett was still proving to be a difficult challenge for him. Every night his evenings and weekends were filled with immense amounts of homework leaving no time for regular weekend outings or down time for relaxation. Our son was getting a work load equivalent to that of our oldest son who’s a freshman with a Biology major at Linfield College.
Instead of concerns for his academic load, we thought maybe there were other reasons for concern. It seemed that he was becoming overloaded far too easily and maybe we should have him tested. After seeing three separate doctors (Dr. George Bangston MD. Pediatrician, Dr. Karen Swift Ph.D clinical psychologist and -then the heavy hitter- Dr. James Johnston Ph.D Neuropsychologist) and a battery of long testing sessions with these highly respected professionals we found out that he was diagnosed with severe anxiety and it was sending him down the road of depression.
As parents, we felt a little relieved and now had a game plan to follow to help our son. Dr. Johnson and Dr. Swift not only made it clear what he suffered from, but they gave us tools to work with so we could help our son at home and school. The data was then presented to Bob Dunton and his teacher for reasons of intellectual discussion in hope to come up with a game plan to help our child succeed at Corbett Charter School. But in a matter of seconds and to our dismay … we were baulked at by the “All Knowing Robert Dunton”. Bob’s comments were “… well Mrs. Horton, I do not believe in any of these types of tests because they are all subjective… My wife taught special education for 12 years and I teach AP Psychology 101 and these test mean nothing to me …” (in other conversations Bob Dunton claims that Autism doesn’t exist and it’s just labels, yet he does not have a solution or explanation for children stricken with such disorders. He just claims that these children are lazy and the parents give in to labels, doctors and medications … a rather irresponsible statement for a man of Bob’s stature).
All of these symptoms in their severity had not reared their ugly heads until the first month and half into the Corbett School year. It was the challenging AP courses and the fast pace teaching of his teacher that sent our son into a downward spiral (we are not putting blame on his teacher, just stating a fact). Spanish was taught like a 3rd year conversational class with no time for the slower learners, thus our son fell behind very quickly. (I must inject at this point that 75% of the freshman class at the Corbett Charter School is flunking Math. My son was told by Bob Dunton that if he didn’t want to do the work that he should leave! I thought these people were educators? Does this mean 75% of the freshmen have to leave or should it just be the ones who aren’t educating that should leave?)
As we were receiving help from Dr. Karen Swift, there were forms and questionnaires to fill out so that she could get a better understanding for our son’s situation. When we asked his teacher and Bob Dunton for their observational help, they refused. When we ask them to call our Doctor to explain their irrational reasoning for refusing to answer the questionnaire, Bob Dunton fabricates a response and says, “…[ he] called Dr. Swifts office and they have not responded to [his] call.” Unbeknownst to Bob, Dr. Swift has a very high-tech messaging service that is extremely reliable. She had her service check all calls to her business from the first time she had called Bob and all numbers came back as “accounted for”. Not one was from Corbett Charter School, our son’s teacher or Bob Dunton. Once again, not a very professional act from a man of such stature in the Corbett community.
In our opinion, Bob’s lack of action was as if he did not want to deal with someone who was lowering his overall U.S. ranking. Our son was trying very hard and wanted help, but instead would be mistakenly labeled as a slacker and was discouraged by Bob Dunton’s unprofessional behavior. So as parents we were feeling what our son was going through … abandonment and alienation. It was consistent with Bob’s reaction to those who are not gifted or who may be a little slower than others, he labels them all as lazy. Bob told this to us our first day meeting him, “…just lazy children with parents who give into labels and medications … these children are the ones that don’t want to be at any school.” Bob Dunton is definitely not a motivator and seems to be more motivated by his rankings in Newsweek (in which Corbett did not even make the top 500 schools in 2011 – it was the inaccurate and inferior Challenge Index of the Washington Post. It only has 3 measuring components as appose to the revised 6 component system of Newsweek’s measuring stick.)
Seeing that our son’s life was being ruined at Corbett Charter School, we were recommended that we speak with Randy Trani by friends whose 16 year old, beautiful daughter, received tons of help from him. We were told to tell Randi that we were going to rent a friend’s home so our son could go to the District School instead. We asked if he would be supportive of this move and would he accept our son into the District school? This would be a big undertaking and we wanted to know where he stood. He wrote back to my wife that it would be more of the same at his school and that he wouldn’t want us to be disappointed. (No support and no encouragement) The odd thing was Dr. Trani helps our friends beautiful 16 year old basketball player in a questionable manner and Bob Dunton would oddly enough also go out of his way to introduce himself to this beautiful young lady and give her accolades? Why were these men so helpful to the beautiful young girl (whose parents were all so impressed on how helpful Trani was and how sweet Bob treated her) and yet neither man had time to help our son, whom was trying and was at a higher level of scholastic achievement?
Needless to say, our son was suffering greatly at the hands of “non-educators”. Bob Dunton was not interested in what our son was suffering from and what could be done to help him, but instead he was interested in why our son could not complete the mandatory AP exams! Towards the end when our son was so overwhelmed by Incompletes we decided just to help him catch up with his AP exams. His teacher would then subjectively decide that he still did not understand what was being asked of him and she would return the exams as incomplete again. The funny thing was, we were taking the test for him and explaining the answers to him before he wrote them down. The answers were matching up to the questions, but his teacher did not feel he knew it well enough (now this is the same teacher that has some responsibility of the failure rate of freshmen students in Math of 75% – I wonder how successful she is in teaching the other courses? ) Is it possible that her lack of experience in teaching and where she taught in the past gives way to the lack of empathy she exhibits towards children who learn differently or is it just Mr. Dunton’s influence?
In total desperation we decided to take our son out of Corbett Charter School due to the lack of cooperation and support from the school. We never blamed anyone for his issues, we never demanded explanations for why our child did not fit, we just wanted what was best for him and wanted to help the school help our child to become a young proud educated adult. Bob Dunton clearly didn’t want a kid like him and Randy Trani quietly agreed and the school Board continues to give into this fallacy of education that they believe is so wonderful. Unlike our friends beautiful daughter whom received large amounts of support, attention and encouragement to hang in there and graduate a Cardinal, oru son was told to leave by Bob Dunton. I regret ever saving money by putting my faith in Bob Dunton’s disguised “money making machine” and feel disgraced that I contributed to the demise of Corbett School District 39. My wife and I are now devoted not to an act of revenge, but to the act of reckoning.
Joe and Kella Horton
(I ask to please make note that the RANKINGs of top schools in the nation that Bob Dunton, Randy Trani and the Board are so proud of is an inferior, inaccurate and outdated ranking system. Newsweek admitted to its’ inaccuracies and improved its ranking system and Corbett District 39 and Corbett Charter School were nowhere to be found on the 2011 list of Top High Schools in the US. Read here for details.)