Public Watchdog.org

D-64 Neglects SPED Students, Pushes SROs

06.22.18

After spending the first 21 days of this month doing the real-world work that keeps the editor of this blog employed, it’s finally time to write about the May 21, 2018 report by Lisa Harrod of LMT Consulting about the special education (“SPED”) program run by Park Ridge-Niles School District 64.

That report, available on the District’s website, concludes that – among other things – the District’s SPED “[p]rogramming options and the continuum of services have declined over the past two years.”

SPED students tend to be the District’s most vulnerable and needy, so a two-year decline should be disturbing and unacceptable not only to the parents of SPED students but, also, to D-64 taxpayers who are footing the bills for what should be improving rather than declining educational services, especially for SPED kids.

In addition to that finding of decline, the Harrod Report contains other findings and conclusions that should be troubling to anybody concerned with the quality of education our children are receiving, including:

“Lack of trust in district administration was a consistent theme discussed by staff and parent groups involved in the [SPED] review process.”

“There is an adversarial environment reported with many staff members hesitant to provide feedback and ideas for students in special education meetings.”

“IEPs [Individualized Education Plans/Programs] are not consistently written in a clear and comprehensive format.”

“Lack of Trust.” “[A]dversarial environment.” IEPs not “clear and comprehensive.” Those are far from glowing endorsements of the current D-64 Administration and its SPED program.

Predictably, however, Board president Tony “Who’s The Boss?” Borrelli dismissed the finding of that decline as “nothing but semantics.” And his queen, Supt. Laurie “I’m The Boss!” Heinz, said that the use of such a term “doesn’t sit well with [her].”

Criticism never does “sit well” with bureaucrats, or with the elected officials who are supposed to be holding them accountable but who, too often, spend most of their time and effort propping up the bureaucrats and concealing their failures. In Borrelli’s case, that includes shameless cheerleading.

At D-64, any evidence of failure and incompetence is treated as little more than a source of temporary embarrassment to be ignored, or spun and smoothed over by D-64’s chief propagandist, Bernadette Tramm, until it’s forgotten.

Which is why SPED parents are concerned not only about how their kids were not educated for the past two years and how they will be educated going forward but, also, whether their SPED kids might disproportionately suffer from the ill-conceived School Resource Officer (“SRO”) program that Heinz and the Board continue to diddle themselves silly over – to the point of holding a “special” meeting last Thursday night solely to discuss that SRO program.

Of the 14 parents addressing the Board on that program, most of them identified themselves as parents of SPED students. And all but two – Tracy Fregassi and Greg Bublitz, both D-63 teachers who live in D-64 and have kids in our schools – either opposed the SROs or had significant reservations about the role(s) of SROs in the proposed 4 hours/day, 2 days/week “pilot” program.

Having listened to the Board’s discussions of the SROs over the past months, we are dismayed that the police, the Board and the administration still sound schizophrenic as to whether the SRO program is supposed to be nothing more than an “Officer Friendly” public relations exercise, or whether it is to bring discipline and order to the District’s middle schools where it is rumored to be sorely lacking.

Kind of like that old commercial: “Certs is a candy mint; Certs is a breath mint” before concluding that Certs is really “two, two, two mints in one.”

Rather than portray SROs as merely two-dimensional Certs, however, Park Ridge Police Chief Frank Kaminski, Heinz and the Board are touting SROs as all things to all people – the better to garner support for that deeply-flawed program.

In peddling the SRO program Heinz and a Board majority of Borrelli, “Tilted Kilt Tommy” Sotos, Mark Eggemann and Larry Ryles have shown no difficulty in blithely ignoring the well-researched, well-reasoned report (Cost: $15,000) by the District’s SRO consultants, the Ekl, Williams & Provenzale law firm, that was critical not only of SRO programs generally but also the District’s half-baked pilot program in particular.

Of course, none of the supporters of the SRO pilot program have produced any comparable report in support of it. Instead they rely on warm-and-fuzzy, data-lite anecdotes – like Kaminski’s unsubstantiated claim that “there’s been positive feedback” from the SROs in the Maine Twp. high schools; and Ms. Fregassi’s equally unsubstantiated claim that the SRO’s in D-63 schools “have had nothing but a positive impact on students in District 63.”

Fortunately, Board members Rick Biagi, Fred Sanchez and Eastman Tiu have recently displayed the insight and courage to reject the go-along-to-get-along mentality of the Board majority while raising serious questions about the program.

Whether they can sway even one member of the majority from their lemming status remains to be seen. But just slowing down a boondoggle like the SRO is a refreshing change from D-64’s S.O.P.

As would be speeding up the improvement of the SPED program to make up for the last two years.

To read or post comments, click on title.

D-64 SRO Duties And Responsibilities: When’s A Cop’s Not A Cop?

05.21.18

We apologize for the eleventh-hour nature of this post, but on the agenda for tonight’s meeting of the School Board for Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 (7:00 p.m. at Emerson Middle School) is a discussion of the “Mission Statement” and the “Intergovernmental Agreements” (the “IGA”s) for the proposed School Resource Officer (“SRO”) pilot program.

In classic Queen of Hearts fashion (“Sentence first–verdict afterward.” ), D-64 drafted the IGAs before it had approved (or even drafted?) the Mission Statement on which the IGAs were ostensibly to be based. But for a District overseen by a Board led by Tony “Who’s The Boss?” Borrelli and administered by Supt. Laurie “I’m The Boss!” Heinz, that kind of bass-ackwards approach is one of D-64’s lesser mistakes.

We’ve reviewed the drafts of those documents and have several questions, one of the more important ones of which requires a scenario such as the following: The SRO sees one Lincoln or Emerson student hand another one what looks like a bag of pot (or a handgun, if you prefer) which the recipient immediately places in his/her locker before locking it and walking away.

What can the SRO do?

As we read Paragraph 7 of the D-64/City of Park Ridge IGA, the SRO’s duties are strictly limited to those listed on Exhibit C, which expressly purports to be an “exhaustive” explanation of the SRO’s duties. Among the things it appears the SRO cannot do under Paragraph 7 and Exhibit C, however, are: (1) question either student about what the SRO saw; and (2) ask the locker-holder to open the locker – at least not unless and until the SRO first obtains the school principal’s consent and direction, “absent exigent circumstances.”

Is a bag of pot, or a handgun, sitting in a locked student locker an “exigent circumstance[ ]”? We don’t see that term defined in the IGA, so we assume it would be given its customary and ordinary meaning, which Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines as: “requiring immediate aid or action · exigent circumstances.”

And, taking it one step further, Exhibit C states that “absent exigent circumstances,” conduct such as one student’s transferring pot or a handgun to another who locks it in his /her locker, is not to be considered a “criminal law issue[ ]” but, instead, a “school discipline issue[ ] to be solely handled by School officials.”

Given Supt. Laurie Heinz’s repeated insistence that Lincoln’s and Emerson’s discipline issues are no different than those of schools in other suburban districts (per a 02.22.2018 Park Ridge Herald-Advocate article), we have to wonder just what kind of police-like conduct by the SRO – toward the pot (or the handgun) or toward the students involved with them – would the principals who kow-tow to Heinz consent to or direct.

If one wants to read Exhibit C literally – because, of course, it’s meant to be “exhaustive” in circumscribing what SROs can and cannot do – we see nothing that would authorize the SRO to actually defend students, teachers and administrators from the actions of an active-shooter student.

As if to play directly into Heinz’s “move along, nothing to see here” approach to discipline issues, as well as into Chief Kaminski’s approach to getting an extra officer or two on his Department’s payroll by having D-64’s taxpayers picking up part of the tab, check out the anti-transparency/anti-accountability provision in Exhibit C that requires the SRO to keep “an activity log documenting his/her education, resource and security activities” – BUT which the District will receive only “upon request”; and a summary of which the District “may, at its option,” share with the taxpayers.

Or not.

If this SRO program were totally legit, the SRO’s activity log would be sent to the District and published on the District’s website (with student names, if any, redacted for privacy reasons) on a weekly basis, so that parents of Lincoln and Emerson students, along with the taxpayers who are footing the bill for this seeming boondoggle, would know what the SROs are doing on an almost real-time basis.

But you can bet that kind of transparency and accountability for this half-baked (i.e., four hour/day, 2 day/week) initiative is the absolute last thing either Heinz or Kaminski want, which is why Borrelli and his Board bobbleheads won’t insist upon it; and which is why the District’s attorneys who want to remain in that role will gin-up an excuse on which Borrelli, Heinz and the Bobbleheads can fall back.

Because that’s the way things are done at D-64. And that’s why the serious business of education is taking a back seat to all this faux-security.

To read or post comments, click on title.

D-64 Doubles Down On Fake Security With Part-Time SROs

04.30.18

Last week’s Park Ridge Herald-Advocate reported that the Board of Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 wants to damn the torpedoes and move full speed ahead on the construction of school building renovations masquerading as “security”; i.e., installing not-really-secured vestibules at Franklin, Carpenter and Field Elementary Schools, and at Emerson Middle School (“District 64 board agrees to speed up planned efforts to amp up security at four schools,” April 26).

The price: The Board and District administrators are hoping less than the $4.5 million estimated by FGM Architects in 2016.

That spending, like previous multi-million dollar spending on similar boondoggles at Lincoln and Washington, will be done without the District having to get taxpayer approval via referendum.

Why?

Because it appears that D-64 may have been overtaxing District taxpayers by millions of dollars over the past several years. Worse yet, it appears that D-64 also has been stealthily borrowing tens of millions of additional dollars in the form of “working cash bonds” and/or “debt certificates” – funding devices beloved by school boards and administrators because they permit millions of dollars of borrowing without taxpayer approval via referendum. We wrote about them in our 04.24.2017 post.

That overtaxing/borrowing has allowed the District to build up an almost $50 million (as of June 2016) slush fund, although the Board and D-64 administrators prefer to call it “reserves” because the latter term sounds so much more benign than the former.

But it’s still a slush fund that is enabling D-64 to get away with doing these half-baked/phony “security” projects without…wait for it…taxpayer approval via referendum.

Can you see the pattern developing here?

Frankly, it’s such masterful (albeit dishonest and cowardly) manipulation that it might qualify as an art form if not for the fact that it fleeces the taxpayers while the educational quality of the schools seemingly continues to decline – and may be contributing to Maine South’s academic decline as well.

Chalk that up to: (a) at least two decades of school boards with majorities of members who haven’t given a rat’s derriere about the taxpayers OR the students’ education, so long as they could keep the Park Ridge Education Association (the “PREA,” a/k/a the teachers union) happy; (b) overpaid administrators happy to spend Other People’s Money (“OPM”) on brick and mortar to distract gullible residents from the schools’ academic underperformance; and (c) financial consultants adept at enriching themselves at the taxpayers’ expense through underwriting, issuing and selling the District’s bonded debt.

And as we’ve noted in several prior posts, the “security” provided by these not-really-secured vestibules is illusory at best, a fraud at worst.

For starters, they will not prevent any student, or anyone appearing to be a student (can you say “Nikolas Cruz”?), from bringing in a semi-automatic weapon and ammo under his/her coat, or in his/her backpack. Nor will they prevent any wacky parent, vendor, or service provider from doing the same.

And once they are inside, who is going to stop them?

The SRO?

Not unless the shooter is considerate enough to plan his/her reign of terror during any of the 8 hours (in the average 35-hour school week) when the SRO will actually be in a building. And then only if the SRO does a better job than the one in Parkland, Florida, did.

Neither the not-really-secured vestibules nor the SRO will prevent a shooter from driving by the playground at recess and spraying AR-15 rounds into the crowd of playing kids; or prevent a shooter from sitting outside the main entrance of a school at day’s end, picking off emerging kids as if they were those little tin bears in a carnival shooting gallery.

But try telling that to the parents of kids at Emerson, Franklin, Carpenter and Field schools now that the District already has blown all that money on the not-really-secured vestibules at Lincoln and Washington; and plans to do the same at Roosevelt this summer.

And try telling that to D-64 Board president Tony “Who’s The Boss?” Borrelli and Supt. Laurie “I’m The Boss!” Heinz, as well as a majority of the pre-May 2017 board and a majority of the current Board.

Not only are Borrelli and Heinz all-in on the vestibules, but they appeared ready to compound that mistake by pushing through the SRO boondoggle at last Monday’s (April 23) meeting, which you can see and hear for yourself starting at the 21:30 mark of the meeting video – until Board member Fred Sanchez and Board vice-president Rick Biagi put the brakes on any such discussion.

Their reason?

The revised SRO Mission Statement (the original of which Sanchez, an attorney, drafted) and the redlined revisions of the proposed SRO Inter-Governmental Agreements between D-64 and the City of Park Ridge, and between D-64 and the Village of Niles were omitted from the Board’s meeting packet posted on the District’s website – allegedly for the benefit of residents wishing to inform themselves in advance of a meeting about what the Board will be up to at that meeting.

Biagi graciously tempered his criticism of that omission by stating that he was “not suggesting anyone did anything nefarious.” But listen to the dissembling of “Who’s The Boss?”, “I’m The Boss!” and Board member “Tilted Kilt Tommy” Sotos about how they should discuss the Mission Statement and the IGAs anyway, and you could draw the conclusion that the omissions – apparently in contravention of prior express directives by the Board to Heinz and Staff – may not have been “nefarious” but they most certainly were intentional.

After about 15 minutes of looking and sounding like kids caught with their hands in the cookie jar, Borrelli, Heinz and Sotos agreed to defer discussion of those documents until the next meeting. Then they attempted to beat a hasty retreat to the next agenda item.

They didn’t quite make it.

Resident Alice Dobrinsky commandeered the podium and started firing rhetorical shots at the Board and Heinz from which neither not-really-secured vestibules nor SROs could have shielded them.

For the record, we voiced some criticisms of Ms. Dobrinsky in our 01.29.2018 post and our 03.05.2018 post, which we stand by. But when someone whom we have criticized or disagreed with gets it right, we have no trouble giving him/her props for it. And Ms. Dobrinsky got this one as right as rain, starting with her first off-camera comments at 38:47 of the video which Borrelli tried to stonewall before realizing the Ms. Dobrinsky was not to be denied.

She pointed out in no-nonsense fashion how the Board and Administration have been consistently insisting that “many parents” support the SRO program, even though the District’s response to her FOIA request revealed that the District had received just one measly e-mail in support of that program. To Borrelli, Heinz and propaganda minister Bernadetter Tramm, “many” and “one” are synonyms.

She then asked two pointed questions about the SRO program: Will the Park Ridge officer assigned as the SRO at Lincoln receive SRO training; and will the SROs be disciplinarians or just facilitators of “socio-emotional learning”? Not surprisingly, Borrelli gave the questions the back of his hand, curtly responding: “This is not a situation for question and answer.”

How convenient. How dishonest, How cowardly.

And how totally Borrelli/Heinz: Keep the taxpayers in the dark by not publishing the documents that the Board is planning to discuss. Lie about the public support for the SRO program and get caught in that lie by your own response to a resident’s FOIA request. Then arrogantly blow off that resident when confronted by her legitimate questions.

We’ll consider that another tenet of what we previously labeled the “Borrelli Doctrine” in 09.18.2017 post.

Admittedly it’s not as good as “We have to trust Dr. Heinz that she is being fiscally careful with our money.” But Borrelli still has another year before his term expires. Given his history of imperious cluelessness, we’re betting he’ll add a few more tenets to his doctrine before his valedictory.

As no less a wit than Mark Twain sagely observed back in 1897: “In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made school boards.”

D-64’s doubling down on the “not-really-secured” vestibules by adding part-time SROs is further proof that Twain was right.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Florida School Shooting Should Not Panic Park Ridge

02.21.18

One of the more detestable politicians, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, infamously said: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

It appears that some Park Ridge residents subscribe to Rahm’s philosophy, judging from the February 15 post by Lauren Hall on the Park Ridge Concerned Homeowners FB page in response to last week’s St. Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. Hall’s opening salvo: “Has safety taken a higher priority yet? Perhaps the one vestibule project was too expensive but now what?”

She appears to be referring to Park Ridge-Niles School District 64, which has installed allegedly “secured vestibules” at its Washington Elementary and Lincoln Middle schools but has delayed their installation at the District’s other schools because one or more School Board members might dare to think that our schools are already reasonably secure; and that the District’s limited resources should be spent on…wait for it…education.

The nerve of them!

We suggest you read that post and the string of comments it provoked, which run the gamut from “[W]hy would test scores be a higher [priority than safety] if our kids are dead?” and “I’m not going to complain about the cost of any safety measure if it may save even one life” to “How do you protect against the kid…who carries a gun into school in his/her backpack?” and “If someone wants to commit an atrocity like [the Florida shooting] a vestibule is a false sense of security.”

After you’ve finished, ask yourself: Will a motivated shooter – which each of these school shooters is – be deterred by (a) the not-really-secured vestibules this blog has ripped on several occasions, most recently in our 07.21.2017 post, or by (b) the School Resource Officers (“SROs”) proposed for Emerson and Lincoln middle schools, which we criticized in our o8.31.2017 post? (And, BTW, that Florida high school had an SRO on duty at the time).

If your answer is “Yes,” then answer the trenchant budgetary question posed by Toni Wolf that appears fairly early in that string of comments:

“What are you willing to get rid of or reduce to pay for vestibules?”

Not surprisingly, virtually all of the commentators ignored that question.

Instead, some applauded the vestibules at Washington and Lincoln for giving the folks manning the school office a clear view of everybody who enters the school. But unless those office folks have Superman’s x-ray vision they can’t see the collapsed-stock AR-15 or the MAC-10 in the disturbed kid’s backpack. Or the AR-15 stuck down the pants of some whacked-out dad showing up for a Science Olympiad. Or the Glock with a 30-round clip (and a spare?) in the Dooney & Bourke tote of a looney mom attending a holiday program.

What might prevent those dangers? Metal detectors would help, assuming they would be manned by competent operators and would actually be used all day, every day – even on rainy ones when the line of kids going through them backs up and stretches out the door, ironically providing a prospective shooter with an inviting target in its own right. Metal detectors also wouldn’t stop a shooter from targeting kids on the playground at recess, or leaving school at day’s end.

Fortunately, despite the wailing and hand-wringing of certain Concerned Homeowners, the chances of any of our children dying (or even being wounded) by gunfire anywhere in our community are probably about the same as the chances of any of them dying from a plane slamming into Maine South, a catastrophe certain residents have been warning about since Flight 191 crashed after take-off from O’Hare in May 1979.

That’s a good thing, although apparently not good enough for the Chicken Little brigade.

One of our more revered presidents (at least in some circles), Franklin D. Roosevelt, famously said: “[T]he only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Unfortunately, too many of our residents seem almost addicted not merely to fear but to phobia – a phobia that too often seems to be assuaged only by the irresponsible wasting of the taxpayers’ money on snake oil palliatives that enrich fear-mongering security consultants like RETA Security, Inc. that has been advising D-64.

And architects like FGM who happily, and profitably, re-design our schools.

To read or post comments, click on title.

SROs May Be More Problem Than Solution

12.29.17

There was a time when the term “SRO” commonly meant “Single Room Occupancy.” As in cheap hotels, a/k/a “flophouses.” Or “Standing Room Only” at concerts and sporting events.

Nowadays, however, in suburbs like Park Ridge the term SRO means “School Resource Officer.” Or, as we noted in our August 31, 2017 post, modern-day “Officer Krupke”s from “West Side Story” – a post we encourage you to read so that we don’t have to recount the problems with the whole SRO goat rodeo we previously identified.

From the perspective of taxpayers who see a District rife with neglected buildings and a recent history of suspect educational achievement, spending the money it will take to stick a revolving core of Officer Krupkes in each of the District’s two middle schools for 8-10 hours a week makes about as much sense as the millions it is spending on not-really-secure vestibules.

None whatsoever.

But we were alerted by one of our stringers to a post on Kathy (Panattoni) Meade’s Park Ridge Concerned Homeowners Group Facebook page – by Ginger Pennington – raising questions about the very concept of an SRO program in the light of the suicide earlier this year of a 16-year old Naperville North honor-roll student hours after being confronted by two school deans and a Naperville Police Dept. SRO about his cellphone audiotape of himself and a female classmate having a consensual sexual encounter.

Also on his cellphone: Photos of other partially nude girls and videos, according to Associated Press accounts.

The SRO reportedly told the teen that his cellphone contained what may be illegal “child pornography” that could result in his criminal prosecution and, if convicted, the requirement of registering as a sex offender. As we understand it, that’s a pretty accurate statement of the current law. The SRO reportedly also told the teen that the matter could be kept out of court if the teen cooperated.

After a reported 20-minute interview, the teen was told to wait in the student-services office until his mother arrived. But before she arrived her son left the school, walked up a nearby parking deck ramp to the fifth level, and jumped to his death – less than 3 hours after he had been called to the dean’s office.

Tragic? Absolutely. A needlessly permanent solution to a temporary problem, as youth suicides are so often described.

The result of legally-actionable misconduct by the school administrators and/or the SRO?

Yes, say the parents of the teen in their $5 million suit against the District in DuPage County Circuit Court – in which they allege that administrators ignored Illinois law requiring them to attempt to notify a student’s parents before conducting interviews such as the one in question.

The Naperville school district reportedly disagrees, but we’re betting a settlement is achieved before the district’s actual legal duties and possible breaches thereof ever go to a jury.

How does that play into the D-64 SRO narrative and Ms. Pennington’s concerns?

We’re not exactly sure.

But it’s got to be more than a coincidence that a December 22, 2017 Park Ridge Herald-Advocate story (“Second law firm to evaluate rules for officers to be stationed at District 64 middle schools”) reports that D-64 has paid the Lisle law firm of Ekl, Williams and Provenzale $2,500 to suggest revisions to the proposed SRO intergovernmental agreement between D-64 and the Village of Niles (for the SRO at Emerson Middle School), and between D-64 and the City of Park Ridge (for the SRO at Lincoln Middle School).

That’s the same law firm, led by prominent former DuPage County prosecutor Terry Ekl – who, back in 2008, was paid $75,000 to author the “Ekl Report” about problems in the Park Ridge Police Dept. under former chief Jeff Caudill – that is representing the parents of the Naperville student in their lawsuit.

There actually may be something worthwhile in the D-64 Board’s obtaining legal advice on such a significant issue from both specialized school district attorneys (such as the Board’s regular legal counsel) and from attorneys looking to blow holes in the school district attorneys’ arguments.

But the real problem here, as we noted in our August 31, 2017 post, is the whole notion of bringing SROs – police officers sworn to enforce child pornography laws, drug and alcohol laws, and smoking/vaping laws – into schools with the expectation that they will act like school administrators rather than law enforcement officers.

What research we’ve been able to do suggests that the benefits of SROs in school districts such as ours are anecdotal, at best. Yet Supt. Laurie “I’m the Boss!” Heinz reportedly has presented the idea as a clear and unqualified win/win for the District and the Police Department. That’s problematic.

It becomes even more problematic where, as we understand it, the real reason the SROs are being brought in is because the teachers and/or administrators at those schools aren’t willing or capable of maintaining order and discipline when left to their own devices.

Instead of “Officer Krupke,” maybe D-64 should be looking for no-nonsense coaches, teachers and administrators like the legendary Paterson (NJ) principal Joe (“Lean on Me”) Clark, Kristyn (“No-Nonsense Nurturing”) Klei Borrero, Richmond (CA) coach Ken (“Coach Carter”) Carter and St. Petersburg (FL) principal Nikita Reed.

Or anybody – other than sworn law enforcement officers – who won’t be terrified and intimidated by incorrigible 13-year old suburban punks.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Biagi Invites Censure, Gets No Takers

10.05.17

At the Park Ridge City Council meeting on March 3, 2008, then-Park Ridge mayor Howard Frimark took the unprecedented step of “condemning” then-1st Ward ald. Dave Schmidt for publicly disclosing the contents of two memos about topics discussed in closed session that should have been discussed in open session.

Since history tends to repeat itself, you might want to read about that buffoonery – which led to Schmidt’s adoption of “H.I.T.A.” (Honesty, Integrity, Transparency and Accountability) as the centerpiece of his successful 2009 mayoral campaign – in our posts of March 5, 2008 and March 19, 2008.

We were reminded of Frimark’s condemnation of Schmidt as we watched the video (from the 2:51:20 mark continuing through the 3:16:33 mark) of the Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 School Board’s September 25, 2017 meeting at which president Tony “Who’s The Boss?” Borrelli ripped into Board vice-president Rick Biagi for the latter’s response to our 09.18.17 post – which we published in our 09.21.17 post and which Biagi also posted on his own D-64 Facebook page in response to e-mails he claims to have received from other constituents.

Borrelli branded Biagi’s response “malicious and disrespectful…self-aggrandizement,” and took particular issue with Biagi’s reference to “the Borrelli Doctrine” used by “a blogger” – presumably this blog’s editor, who used that term to describe Borrelli’s philosophy of government revealed by his own words: “We have to trust Dr. Heinz that she is being fiscally careful with our money.”

Wasn’t that the philosophy of the Lincoln-Way High School District 210 school board prior to the indictment of former supt. Larry Wyllie for wire fraud and embezzlement?

SIDEBAR: We’re not suggesting D-64 Supt. Laurie “I’m The Boss!” Heinz is committing any indictable acts. But any elected steward of a unit of government and the taxpayers’ money, such as Borrelli, has his head in the sand – or in another warm dark place – if he simply trusts but does not verify.

Instead of waiting for Borrelli to propose some action against him, however, Biagi went on the offensive and pointedly invited Borrelli and the rest of the Board to censure him if they disapproved of his explanation of his vote, or of his blogging/Facebooking in general.

Borrelli immediately started backpeddling, and kept backpeddling even after Biagi read his entire response into the record for the benefit of Board member Larry Ryles, who was not aware of it.

Not only did no Board member accept Biagi’s censure invitation, but Ryles noted how “very eloquent” Biagi’s explanation was. Ryles also questioned why Borrelli was so offended by the term “Borrelli Doctrine,” given that Ryles had heard it back when he was campaigning for the Board prior to last April’s election.

We thought we had coined that term, but we’ll offer a Watchdog bark-out to whoever beat us to it – if only because Borrelli needs to be held accountable for his six years of: (a) perpetuating D-64’s Star Chamber proceedings; (b) two negotiated-in-secret PREA contracts providing non merit-based raises exceeding the CPI; (c) three negotiated-in-secret extensions of Heinz’s contract, with raises; and (d) in-house rave reviews of D-64 schools even as they remain MIA from virtually every Top 100 rating/ranking of Chicago-area public elementary/middle schools, and even as the rating/ranking of Maine South – populated substantially by D-64 graduates – continues to slide.

But we digress.

We still believe Biagi and the rest of the D-64 Board effectively rewarded Heinz and finance czarina Luann Kolstad for their typical intransigence and lack of transparency – in this instance, by almost two months of failing to provide data to support those administrator raises despite Biagi’s admittedly throwing a “public tantrum” and having “pitched a fit over three separate board meetings” about such a lack of data.

Transparency is not something over which elected officials should have to bargain with highly-paid administrators: It should be expected as the sine qua non of any issue those administrators bring before those officials. And if it isn’t provided it should be demanded – with the clear message that, if it has to be demanded again, somebody will need to update their resume.

That being said, however, Biagi has shown once again that in less than six months on the D-64 Board he has caused more transparency and accountability than President “Who’s The Boss?” has mustered in his six years there.

Whether Biagi can build a consistent majority of allies (or followers) on that Board remains to be seen. We also are mindful of how service on our two local school boards has the uncanny ability to turn even ostensibly well-meaning reformers into zombie-like pawns of the teachers’ unions, domineering administrators, and an established network of consultants and vendors whose manipulation tactics seem positively K Street’s.

But if D-64 is going to turn around and start providing top-shelf educational quality and achievement for the top-shelf money it spends, it will need the H.I.T.A. of Rick Biagi.

And a few more like him.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Biagi Explains, Defends Vote For Heinz’s $75K In Administrator Raises

09.21.17

EDITOR’S NOTE: Today we are posting what was submitted by D-64 Board vice-president Rick Biagi as a comment to our 09.18.17 post and Update.

While we disagree with him on some key points, we respect this effort to apprise his constituents of the reasons behind his vote for Supt. Heinz’s $75,000 of raises for District administrators. We also appreciate his persistence in trying to bring H.I.T.A. to a Star Chamber-like unit of government that has been bereft of it for decades.

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I don’t expect a pat on the back for what transpired the other evening but I would like to provide a bit more detail than the Trib gave – if I still disappointed everyone after hearing me out, then I’m prepared to take my lumps.

Prior to the public tantrum I threw at a Board meeting several weeks ago, Dr. Heinz was poised to receive a $75,000 bucket of money to apportion out to 19 principals and assistant principals, at her sole discretion, without any oversight whatsoever. Had I not pitched a fit over three separate Board meetings, the vote would’ve been 6-1 or 5-2 at best, to hand her the cash. In the end, I would’ve stood on principle and your and my $75k would’ve been spent with absolutely no transparency or accountability.

Until I loudly complained, there was no comparable data for the public to see, there was no detail regarding how these administrators’ performance was being objectively evaluated, and there was no explanation whatsoever for how the money was to be apportioned…it was just Borrelli Doctrine on full display…”sometimes, we just need to trust our Superintendent”.

Let’s talk facts for a moment – as a result of my cajoling and insistence, Dr. Heinz publicly detailed the formal process by which administrators are, in fact, reviewed. The State requires her to place these folks into one of four buckets – 1) unsatisfactory, 2) needs improvement, 3) proficient, and 4) distinguished. Dr. Heinz went on record to state that anyone falling into the first two buckets will not have their contract renewed with the District…the other two buckets contain people whom she wants to see grow and to be retained. Dr. Heinz went on to publicly explain the rubric she uses to review the performance of the administrators and how they are placed into one of these four buckets.

The role of the Board, in this case, is to insure that the Superintendent is evaluating these folks with objective criteria and following her methodology in a fair and consistent manner, rather than evaluating people arbitrarily and rewarding the sycophants while condemning her detractors. In my opinion, Dr. Heinz established, publicly, that she is, in fact, conducting objective performance appraisals of these folks.

So, with that established in my mind, the remaining question centered on the validity of the “comparable” data. Rather than take an average of all school districts in northern Cook County, as Dr. Heinz wanted to do, I complained loudly enough that she changed course and relied on the 5 “comparable” districts that the Board had previously identified during the last PREA negotiation. The Board, at the time, took into account such things as EAV, student population, number of low-income and ESL students, among others. Are these districts truly comparable to D64? I have absolutely no idea – there, I said it – I’m not sure. But, the alternatives I had in front of me were: 1) accept the northern Cook County average, 2) come up with my own list of comparable districts, 3) hire a consultant who knows far more than the Board to come up with a list of comparable districts, at a great expense to the taxpayers, or 4) go with the 5 districts that the previous Board identified after much consternation. Again, I have no clue whether these five districts are truly comparable – and my guess is that if we asked 10 “experts” to opine on it, we would get ten different answers.

In the end, it was through my leadership that the Board unanimously approved a structure which requires that Dr. Heinz publicly disclose the rubric for her performance evaluations and then allocates $57,000 amongst 19 people, BASED ON THEIR PERFORMANCE (with the average coming in at around 2.6%). At my request, we also gave Dr. Heinz $18,000 to use for a handful of administrators that had been hired long ago, far under market levels, and who remain under their peers in pay (based on years of service, performance, etc.).

I run a law firm for a living and I know, all too well, the difficulty in finding, grooming and retaining good talent. While it doesn’t all boil down to money, certainly workplace environment, challenging projects and pleasant colleagues all play a role – but, most of the time money is the motivating factor in most employee’s decisions to stay or go. Paying my staff appropriately for the job they perform proves to them that I value their work and that they are a appreciated and important part of my team, without whom I would not be able to serve my clients. I suspect that Dr. Heinz looks at her staff in much the same way.

If you watch the video from this Monday evening, you will see me sitting there, head in hands, for a good part of the “pay raise” discussion. I wasn’t doing it for show or to look like I was some pompous blowhard who was thoughtfully weighing the facts before handing down my judgment…instead, I was truly torn. I had previously demanded data for the public to see, which would make the whole process transparent and hold Dr. Heinz and her staff accountable. I didn’t get everything I asked for, but they came pretty close. I was uncomfortable with the notion of not giving these folks a pay raise – I’ve seen many of these administrators in action and, in my opinion, most are doing a very good job of running their respective schools and managing a bevy of teachers. I personally don’t think that we can equate test scores with administrator performance – in my opinion, take it for what it’s worth, I think that student success, test scores and the like, are affected almost solely by Dr. Heinz, her Superintendent of Curriculum, and the teachers who carry out their orders. Again, in my opinion, the administrators are more like managers of large institutions – they have budgets to meet, people to manage, and facilities to oversee – all on a micro, rather than macro level…and, in my opinion, most of these folks are doing a pretty good job of it.

So, after that longwinded explanation, if you still feel I failed the taxpayers of the District and didn’t score a victory for HITA, then I’m willing to accept the blame and the criticism. Thanks for hearing me out.

Richard “Rick” Biagi

Vice-President

Park Ridge-Niles School District 64

Tribune Editorial Shows Folly Of The “Borrelli Doctrine” (Updated)

09.18.17

In our last post we reported how Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 Board president Tony “Who’s The Boss?” Borrelli attempted to defend Supt. Laurie “I’m The Boss!” Heinz from criticism over her slush fund by insisting: “We have to trust Dr. Heinz that she is being fiscally careful with our money.”

From here on out we will refer to that bit of abject cluelessness as the “Borrelli Doctrine.”

And if you want an example of what can happen when school boards, or any other public governing bodies, subscribe to the Borrelli Doctrine, you need look no further than last Thursday’s (09.14.17) Chicago Tribune editorial titled: “How unique was Lincoln-Way? And where was the school board?”

That editorial addressed the indictment of former Lincoln-Way High School District 210 Lawrence Wyllie on federal fraud and embezzlement charges. Wyllie is accused of surreptitiously pocketing $85,000, and of fraudulently inflating the district’s financial outlook that resulted in the district’s undertaking of an additional $7 million of debt – even though none of that debt appears to have wound up in his pocket.

But the $50,000 he put into a dog training school, the $368,148 infusion into his annuity account, and the $30,000 of charges on his district credit card – all of which were approved by the Lincoln-Way school board members – caused the Trib’s editorial board to ask whether those board members were “daydreaming” or “asleep for the three-year period” when they voted their approval of those expenditures.

We’ll quote the most salient part of the Trib editorial verbatim:

Being a member of a village or school board shouldn’t just be an ego trip — it requires serving as firewall to the kind of alleged mismanagement that, in Lincoln-Way’s case, got the affluent district on the state’s financial watch list.

There’s also a crucial lesson here for taxpayers. It’s their money that’s getting pocketed in these scandals, their kids’ education that’s at stake, and their votes that can make all the difference between a school board member who cares and one who couldn’t care less.

Too often, suburban municipal and school district elections amount to popularity contests that steer clear of assessing a candidate’s acumen for sound governance and skeptical oversight. All too often, voters blindly check the familiar ballot names of incumbents. Or they pick a name that simply has a nice ring to it. Or, specifically in school board races, they rely on endorsements from the local teachers union, which has reasons to want friends on the board.

Ah, yes, the board.

Maybe when prosecutors and defense attorneys finish telling their stories, all of us will know the answer to a question with implications larger than Lincoln-Way: Where was the school board?

That editorial dealt with the indictment of Supt. Wyllie, but it could also serve as an indictment of the Borrelli Doctrine that encourages the bobbleheaded rubber-stamping of which we’ve been so critical over the past decade that this blog has been regularly posting about local government, its occasional successes, and its many failings.

The see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil approach to school board service has been the standard operating procedure not only at D-64 but also at D-207 for as long as one can remember, but Borrelli deserves the dubious distinction of being the namesake of the Borrelli Doctrine because he actually articulated it publicly.

For that, we thank him.

We expect that doctrine to be on display again this evening when the Board is scheduled to take up, once again, the approval of Heinz’s slush fund, now that she has provided the “data” and what passes in her world as an “analysis” of how D-64 administrators’ pay stacks up against certain allegedly “comparable” districts.

If you’re interested in that discussion, however, don’t plan on showing up at the Jefferson School Multipurpose Room until 9:00 p.m., because that’s when that part of tonight’s festivities are scheduled to kick off. That will be 2.5 hours into the proceedings, presumably after the Board members have already been sufficiently pounded down and fatigued by a “Facilities” presentation and, therefore, less inclined to aggressively spar with Heinz and Finance Czarina Luann Kolstad over their attempted justifications for the slush-funded administrator raises which can be found at pages 79 through 89 of the Report, starting with the somewhat confusing explanation that these raises are based on “comparable” districts rather than being “market adjustments.”

Not surprisingly, Heinz and Kolstad have chosen to work with the average “comparable” salaries rather than the medians of those salaries, the better to more easily skew the results using the outlier salaries of the most highly-paid individuals; e.g., two of Glenview’s three elementary principals are reportedly making $161K and $148K, respectively, (although no “years of service” are shown for them) compared to D-64’s highest one of six, who is knocking down a paltry $133K.

But guess what? Heinz and Kolstad don’t even include their calculations of the averages they came up with, so even that defective measure can’t be independently verified.

According to the Borrelli Doctrine, however, the Board – and the taxpayers they represent – should just trust Heinz, Kolstad and their numbers despite the numerous unexplained anomalies, such as a D-64 middle school Assistant Principal with 20 years of service making $107K while another D-64 Assistant Principal (with unidentified years of service) is making $117K.

Looking at all the numbers individually rather than by average, however, suggests that D-64 salaries are already pretty competitive. So why the increases?

Is D-64 losing its administrators to other districts? Is Heinz having trouble recruiting that 5-year Assistant Supt. Curriculum (“ASC”) from Glenview making $177K who won’t come to D-64 because the current 5-year ASC is getting only $155K? If so, why doesn’t Heinz recruit the 4-year ASC from Deerfield making only $108K, or the 4-year ASC from Libertyville making only $147K?

We don’t know.

But the real problem is that this “analysis” looks like a half-baked apples-to-oranges-to-grapes-to-cantaloupes effort – with incomplete (e.g., years of service) and anomalous data – thrown together by Heinz and Kolstad just to make it look like they have responded to Board concerns expressed at the August 28 meeting, so that they can push an already-weary Board to just say “Yes!” to slush tonight.

It looks like garbage in. The question remains whether it will result in garbage out.

Updated 09.20.17.  The result is “garbage out”: The D-64 Board voted unanimously to approve $75,000 that Heinz will distribute to 19 administrators – $57K based on performance evaluations, $18K as “market adjustments” in relation to 5 allegedly “comparable” districts, all of which appear to be performing at significantly better academic levels than D-64.

We have yet to watch the meeting video – because it’s still not posted on the D-64 site – but our stringers in attendance report that both Heinz and Kolstad, in the face of questioning by Biagi and fellow Board members Larry Ryles and Tom Sotos, responded with a barrage of purported “data” that had not previously been furnished to the Board members or posted on the District’s website for review by the taxpayers.

Unfortunately, rather than responding to that ambush by tabling the discussion until all that new “data” could be digested and evaluated, the Board caved.

Over two centuries ago Sun Tzu observed: “Secret operations are essential in war; upon them the army relies to make its every move.”

Once again, Heinz and Kolstad proved Sun Tzu correct. By keeping all that apparently decisive information secret until the 11th hour before dumping it on the over-matched Board and goading it into a premature vote, they won another battle of the public purse.

This time it was only $75K. But emboldened by knowledge of this Board’s weakness, you can bet Heinz and Kolstad will employ the same tactics to shoot for a whole lot more next time.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Can D-64 Board Melt Heinz’s Slush?

09.14.17

Recently we wrote about the roughly $33,000 that Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 would be spending the remainder of this budget year to put a modern-day “Officer Friendly” in Lincoln and Emerson Middle Schools from 8 to 10 hours per week – for what appears to be palliative reasons, at best.

Today we write about the latest boondoggle from D-64 Board president Tony “Who’s The Boss?” Borrelli and Supt. Laurie “I’m The Boss!” Heinz: A $70,000 slush fund so that Heinz can give raises to subordinate administrators of her choosing.

As reported by the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (“District 64 holds off on superintendent’s request for pay hikes to administrators,” Sept. 5), at the August 28th Board meeting Heinz insisted the money was needed to bring those administrators up to “market” rates, presumably to keep them from jumping to higher-paying jobs in other districts. The 2.62% average bump that $70,000 of slush give to the administrators just happens to approximate the 2.60% bump D-64 teachers are scheduled to get this school year.

Don’t you just love these kinds of coincidences?

How many of you taxpayers are getting a 2.60% raise this year for doing the same job you did last year? For that matter, how many of you: (a) work for employers who can’t pick up and move to another state or another country; (b) never have to travel more than a few miles to your job; and (c) have defined benefit pension plans that dwarf the equivalent Social Security benefits, include annual COLAs, are guaranteed by the constitution of the State of Illinois, and that you can start receiving by age 60, if not earlier?

If you work in the highly-competitive private sector, we’re guessing darn few of you. In the non-competitive public sector, it’s the rule rather than the exception.

We suggest that you watch the discussion of Heinz’s slush fund on the meeting video, starting at the 3:35:18 mark and running for slightly more than an hour. If you do, you’ll hear Borrelli say things like: “If you get a 2% raise when the CPI is 2.5, you’ve lost money in reality because you’re not keeping up with the CPI.”

In other words, Borrelli and Heinz want D-64 taxpayers to foot the bill for annual raises for administrators NOT because those administrators are working harder or better but, instead, simply so this special class of public employees doesn’t have to suffer the pinch of inflation like the rest of us do.

When was the last time you heard the directors or officers of a private-sector employer demean a 2% raise that way – assuming they were giving out raises at all?

Not surprisingly, Heinz mocks the idea of performance-based raises: “There are no schools in this area that do merit-based increases [because] that is not a productive way to encourage collaboration.”

Let that be a lesson to all you non-collaborative private-sector workers who bust your humps to earn your merit-based raises!

In past years under previous school boards, Heinz’s blind-pig funding requests were heartily endorsed by Borrelli and rubber-stamped by his fellow bobble-heads with nary a question or whimper. But back in July when Heinz first brought up this slush fund bearing a $75,000 price tag, Board vice-president Rick Biagi – elected just this past April – refused to buy Heinz’s and the District’s alleged financial guru Luann Kolstad’s representations about administrative pay “targets” based on “comparable” school districts, and the “bumps” needed to hit those “targets.” He actually demanded the underlying data.

Data? Heinz and Kolstad don’ nidd no steenkink data!

As with most of Illinois’ dysfunctional local governmental units, glorified bureaucrats like Heinz and Kolstad rule by a perverse kind of Divine Right – like English kings, pre-Magna Carta. And if they rely on any data at all for their decisions, they never voluntarily share it for fear that the few competent and diligent elected officials overseeing them, or motivated taxpayers who are underwriting their follies, will realize that the bureaucrats’ edicts and fiats are factually suspect, if not totally baseless.

So even the most benign taxpayer inquiries and criticisms are regularly met with the witheringly defiant tagline: “IT’S FOR THE KIDS!”

By the August 28 Board meeting the imperious Heinz still had not provided Biagi and the rest of the Board with the data requested a month earlier. Nevertheless, she seemed to be expecting a rubber-stamping of her $70,000 of slush until Biagi let her know at least one Board member would not go gently into that dark night – no matter what his fellow Board members wanted to do.

Rather than join in Biagi’s insistence on getting the data that allegedly supports Heinz’s bald-faced conclusion that her administrators were underpaid by “market” standards, Borrelli (at the 4:41:26 mark of the video) predictably leapt to her defense:

“So I think what it comes down to is trust: We have to trust Dr. Heinz that she is being fiscally careful with our money.”

“Trust, but verify” obviously is a foreign concept to Borrelli, especially when it comes to Heinz.

Fortunately, new Board member Fred Sanchez and, amazingly, even “Tilted Kilt Tommy” Sotos provided enough support for Biagi that, with Larry Ryles MIA, Borrelli and Heinz realized they didn’t have the four votes they needed. So action on the $70,000 and another $43,000 of slush (for about 25 non-union staff members) was deferred to this coming Monday (Sept. 18).

Before the D-64 Board votes to give one more dime of CPI-based raises or embarks on Heinz’s/Kolstad’s grand plan to push those allegedly underpaid administrators up to whatever “market” salaries are in comparable districts, however, we hope that Biagi, Sanchez and Sotos – and at least one more member of the Board, in order to create a majority – force open-session debates on the following policy questions:

  • Why should D-64 taxpayers have to provide District employees with inflation/CPI-based raises?

 

  • How many administrators (or teachers, for that matter) have left D-64 for the same or an equivalent position in another district over the past five years for money reasons – or for ANY reason?

 

  • If these administrators have been so “underpaid” for so long why hasn’t there been an exodus of them from D-64?

 

  • What specific criteria were used to identify the five “comparable” districts as “comparable” for determining the newly-sacred “market” for administrators in which D-64 allegedly competes?

 

  • Why is Kolstad trying to use “average” administrative salaries – which can be skewed by outlier numbers – from those comparable districts instead of median salaries?

Frankly, we don’t expect these policy questions to get resolved, or even addressed, before Heinz and Kolstad bend a  majority of the Board to their wills and walk away with their slushies, even if they have to give their solemn assurances – wink wink, nod nod – that they will “dive deeper into the data” before next year’s slush season.

But maybe, just maybe, this slush fund discussion is a sign that some real reform is starting to get traction at D-64. After all, hope does spring eternal.

At D-64, unfortunately, hope pressure is dangerously low.

To read or post comments, click on title.

School District 64: Not-Really-Secured Vestibules Meet “Officer Krupke”

08.31.17

“Dear kindly Sergeant Krupke,

You gotta understand,

It’s just our bringin’ up-ke

That gets us out of hand.

Our mothers all are junkies,

Our fathers all are drunks.

Golly Moses, natcherly we’re punks!”

If you’re over 21 and have received a proper education you should instantly recognize Stephen Sondheim’s opening lyrics of “Gee, Officer Krupke” from the iconic musical “West Side Story.”

Park Ridge isn’t the upper west side of New York City of the mid-1950s. And, mirabile dictu, The Ridge isn’t poverty-stricken, or dominated by two rival street gangs of “punks” whose mothers are junkies and whose fathers are drunks.

So why, exactly, did the Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 Board vote unanimously at this past Monday night’s meeting to approve a “pilot program” at both of the District’s middle schools that will have a uniformed “school resource officer” (“SRO”) stationed at each school, but only part-time?

According to a story in this week’s Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (“School resource officers to be stationed part-time at District 64 middle schools,” August 29), a rotating “core group of Park Ridge police officers” will spend up to 8 hours per week at Lincoln, while one “dedicated school resource officer from the Niles Police Department” will be stationed at Emerson for “four hours per day for two and a half days per week” – which we assume means 10 hours per week. That’s 8-10 hours out of the roughly 35 school hours per week.

Can you say “tokenism”? How about “charade”?

The cost of this “pilot program”: A measly $32,950. That’s not even a blip on the D-64 $70 million-plus radar, although the H-A article pointed out that the per-hour cost for the Park Ridge officers is reportedly “roughly $65 per hour” but only “$46.02 per hour” for the Niles officer, a $19 per hour delta.

And even though the H-A article reports that the idea of these school resource officers wasn’t proposed to Board president Tony “Who’s The Boss?” Borrelli and his fellow Board members by Supt. Laurie “I’m The Boss!” Heinz and her staff until July 17 – approximately one week after a Lincoln student and one from Maine South posted on social media a threat to use a gun at Maine South during summer school – D-64 officials insist that the “pilot program” is not related to that incident.

The real reason for this “pilot program”: That’s a little less clear, other than that its main purpose appears to be (according to the H-A article) “building positive relationships between students and the local police departments” in order to restore “the trust that has been destroyed over the years” between D-64 youth and the police.

The article also quotes Niles Police Cmdr. Robert Tornabene’s description 0f the SRO’s role as “a teacher and a counselor to students” who will “deal primarily with bullying issues and internet safety.”

What if that bullying occurs during the 25-27 hours per week the SROs won’t be at their posts? Nobody’s saying.

But it gets even better.

If an Emerson or Lincoln student engages in certain criminal behavior at the school – like, oh, say, dropping a bag of drugs in the hallway in front of an SRO – the SRO apparently won’t be allowed to do his/her police duty. Instead, he/she will act “like a staff member at the school…[and] not arrest someone for having something at school,” according to Cmdr. Tornabene.

Would that same standard apply if, instead of drugs, the dropped item was a Glock? Or a Bushmaster? Once again, nobody’s saying.

According to Supt. Heinz, however, school administrators would get first crack at any such “disciplinary issue” before it “reach[es] the police departments.” And both Tornabene and Park Ridge Police Chief Frank Kaminski acknowledged that SRO’s “would serve at the direction of the middle school administration while on duty at their respective schools.”

Does that mean that D-64, with the assistance of two different police departments, is instituting a program that basically requires an officer sworn to uphold and enforce our laws to refrain from doing his/her police duty but, instead, to delegate it – at least in the first instance – to an unsworn, untrained school administrator who may have the authority to tell the SRO what to do or not do?

Brilliant!

We can only hope that a lot of important details about this “pilot program” are missing from that H-A article, because from that account this sounds almost too stupid to be true. However, if you read the three-page memo about the program on the D-64 website (“Report” at pages 8-10), you won’t find anything that makes it sound any smarter.

Then again, for a District that is blowing millions of dollars on not-really-secured vestibules – which won’t prevent the entry of a kid with an Uzi in his North Face backpack, or a dad with a Glock in his Burberry trench coat pocket, or a mom with a 9mm Beretta Nano in her Gucci purse, or a delivery man wearing a suicide vest under his green windbreaker – putting cops in schools for a few hours a week while effectively neutralizing their police powers sounds like par for the course.

Or more like 18 holes of double and triple bogies.

To read or post comments, click on title.