Confirmed: Former Police Chief Andy Chambers is TESD Safety Consultant and other notes from Finance Committee Meeting

As follow-up to last week’s announcement by TESD Superintendent Dan Waters to hire former police chief Andy Chambers as a security consultant, I attended the District’s Finance Committee last night.  The meeting started with Waters making a statement addressing the criticism of Chamber’s hiring.  A couple of things I learned from his remarks — Waters stated that he had no knowledge of the issues surrounding Chamber’s departure from Tredyffrin Township police department a year ago.  Waters also wanted to set the record straight that he did not ‘hire’ Chambers.  He made the recommendation to the School Board; the decision required their approval.

I found it incredulous that Waters could claim to have this close association with Chambers yet know nothing of the controversy surrounding the former police chief.  Tredyffrin’s supervisors suspended Chambers for allowing his son to drive a police vehicle that was involved in an accident and his failure to report the incident.  An anonymous tip notified the members of the Board of Supervisors.  Although Chambers was allowed to retire, he left the township under a dark cloud of controversy.

Following Waters statement, I sought further clarification from the school board.  Unlike Waters and Chambers, T/E school directors do live in our community and could not claim to have not known the circumstances behind the police chief departure.  Board president Kevin Buraks, read from Community Matters, quoting my words, “…The focus needs to be our children and keeping them safe, not the additional drama and controversy that a consulting contract with Chambers may present.” 

Although I spoke of concern for the hiring of Chambers (given the circumstances), Buraks claimed that the police chief’s suspension has nothing to do with the safety of the kids and therefore has no bearing on his serving as a safety consultant for the District.  Buraks said that the decision to hire Chambers was based on the recommendation from Waters and was a unanimous decision.   I found Buraks complete disregard of former police chief Chamber’s actions (which caused his departure from the police department) incredulous.

I asked if Police Supt Andy Giaimo was aware of the District’s decision to hire Chambers before announcing to the public and the answer was yes.  According to Waters, Chambers was hired at $125/hr. under contracted services and therefore there was no contract or RFP (request for proposal) apparently required. There was no further discussion of Chambers’ qualifications, other than restating that … he knows our community and the schools.

I believe that the public has the right to participate in issues and be privy to what elected officials are doing by seeing discussions and debates in the open with all the facts clearly stated.  In the case of hiring former police chief Andy Chambers as a safety consultant for TESD, that opportunity did not exist.  I understand the need to act quickly in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy, but I believe it is also vital to the community, that all options be adequately vetted and to have a voice in decisions. The school board directors, like the members of the Board of Supervisors, are in their elected positions to be the voices of the people.

Following the Andy Chambers discussion, the Finance Committee moved to their regularly scheduled agenda and discussion of the 2013-14 budget.  It is interesting that the discussion of outsourcing the custodial staff was minimal.  In the last couple of years, the TENIG union was often seen as the target for revenue savings but there was no date set for initiating a RFP for these services.  Reading between the lines, I think the TENIG staff and the aides and paraeducators who were on the chopping block for possible outsourcing may be safe for another year.  A new expense item in the budget is the District’s security enhancements – the costs of the protective 3M film for the school buildings is not yet known but the District has allocated $250K in the budget for upgrading the security.  Some of the enhancements are already underway, including additional cameras and a buzzer system.

The 2013-14 projection model summary with Act 1 index revenue indicates projected revenue of $110,769,734 and projected expenditures of $113,567,247, which gives a projected budget deficit of ($2,797,513).  Applying the Act 1 tax increase of 1.7%, $1,500,000 and the revised deficit is ($1,297,513).  The District has applied for Act 1 exceptions but there was not a recommendation at last night’s meeting whether or not they will be used.  The court date for Vanguard’s property reassessment appeals is April and, depending on the results, may have a significant impact on the District’s revenue numbers.

Another potential yearly source of revenue for the District is from tax-exempt properties that may no longer be tax exempt.  Chester County is reviewing and identifying TESD tax-exempt properties – once the District receives the report, these properties will be sent a letter and questionnaire to confirm tax-exempt property use.  If a property’s use is no longer tax exempt, there is potential for revenue for the District.

Note:  Ray Clarke and Neal Colligan also attended the Finance Committee meeting; I would welcome their comments on the financial details of the 2013-14 budget from last night,

73 Comments

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  1. To me, the biggest issue is whether Chambers tried to cover-up the misconduct/resulting acts involving the use of the police vehicle and to what extent he may have done so.

    Different departments have different policies on the use of police vehicles outside of official business. Whether any policy was broken along those lines needs to be looked into, but more important to me is whether Chambers tried to cover anything up. Any attempted cover-up should immediately disqualify him from this position. Where there is smoke, there is no doubt fire – and the potential for a future inferno.

    Chambers should only be hired with a complete public vetting of this issue that has a satisfactory outcome.

    It would be entirely unacceptable for the school board to approve his hire without a thorough investigation of this, AND making the entire investigatory results available to the public.

    Anything less would give the appearance of favoritism and a strong appearance of impropriety by the school board.

    If the school board hires Chambers without a complete public vetting of what happened, it will demonstrate the school board puts the safety of children below benefiting fellow government agents who have committed bad acts – and perhaps lied to cover-up said bad acts,

    [Reply]

    TE resident Reply:

    What if Chambers was capable of covering up or not reporting other issues for years?
    It just seems like an unhealthy choice most of all in the best and positive interest of our schools. Or at the very least the community should weigh in a lot more then it is here or on PATCH.

    [Reply]

  2. >>If the school board hires Chambers without a complete public vetting of what happened, it will demonstrate the school board puts the safety of children below benefiting fellow government agents who have committed bad acts – and perhaps lied to cover-up said bad acts,<<

    Not sure this logic has any merit. If they take advice from a former long term employee of the community, they must want his advice. I assure you this is a decision about pragmatism, not cronyism. "fellow government agents" is a bit of a stretch.

    [Reply]

    politeia Reply:

    If Chambers has a history of misconduct and covering it up, who is to say he won’t do that with school security and put kids in danger?

    Not saying he would, but it could happen, so I don’t see that as a stretch as a concern.

    If it is demonstrated Chambers covered-up his own misconduct within the police department and the school board hires him, they are not doing their absolute best to hire someone who has a spotless record to make sure kids are safe.

    I also don’t see that as a stretch as a real concern.

    And to believe “fellow government agents” don’t have each others backs is not a stretch in the least.

    Look what happened with Miss Suzie and how she got off repeatedly with a cake walk expunged sentence for driving drunk with kids in that car and later being drunk and disorderly with the cops not showing for that hearing since she was on the zoning board and dated a supervisor.

    How is that a “bit of a stretch”? It’s a fact.

    [Reply]

    Cowardly Anon Reply:

    I understand your concern….but I don’t think school board employees and former police share the collective description too easily….”fellow government agents.” Most of the players on the TESD live outside the township of Tredyffrin. And what I disagree with is the need for a public vetting. I don’t think many if any of the school board are involved in Tredyffrin politics — something Kevin has tried to explain over the years. It’s an a-political body. So I don’t think they had the first notion that Andy was retired during a suspension for violation of his job.
    NOW they know. Let’s see what they do. Write to Board@TESD.NET and express your concerns. Can’t be anonymous there, and your comments are part of the public record. But if this is as important as you say it is to you, go for it. Those 9 people are apolitical, but they often turn to you for your vote.

    [Reply]

    Susan T. Reply:

    “It’s an a-political body. So I don’t think they had the first notion that Andy was retired during a suspension for violation of his job.”

    Do you honestly believe that the school board did not know about Chambers??

    Besides, its not ‘political’ to know what is going on in the community (the Chambers matter was all over the newspapers and the local TV news.) Your statement that the school board did not have the “first notion” about Chambers doesnt say much about the school board, I would expect tour elected officials to be more informed.

    politeia Reply:

    CA – I’ll leave this to Tredyffrin residents in meetings as I am not a resident. Just voicing my views from what I have observed – in Tredyffrin and LM.

    Make no mistake in LM the school board is made up of political creatures who have been endorsed by the LM commissioners where the commissioners have even promoted them in campaigns.

    Both school board members and supervisors/commissioners come out of the same local party apparatus/party committees.

    These people are all buddies and often feel they are superior members of a special club – and they cover for each other in LM.

    Perhaps that is not the case in Tredyffrin, but I’d be surprised if it were not so.

  3. Interesting meeting on the financial front. The Board Committee did a quick back-of-the-envelope approach to closing the preliminary deficit that included the Act 1 Tax increases of $1.5 MM, adoption of all budget strategies listed (increased expenses of $349,000) and a $1.2 MM contribution of capital reserves that would approximate the one-time TEEA bonuses agreed to in the last two-year contract. While this approach does not represent “policy”, it was a good exercise and it gives the public a good insight into the Board’s thinking regarding the 2013-14 budget framework. It also obviates the need for tax increases under the Referendum Exception for this year.

    Now the editorial: I applaud the Committee for finding another way to cover the preliminary budget gap other than tax increases under the Referendum Exception; I did feel like they came close to “adopting” the Act 1 tax increase….at least at this point in the process. There’s a lot of tax increases that can be adopted under Act 1…1.7% ($1.5 MM) is the maximum, 1.6%, 1.5%…are also acceptable numbers. The key, in my opinion, is still a critical look at spending. Preliminary 2013-14 expenses are $113.5 MM and budget strategies (if ALL accepted) could add another $349,000…this would be a 6.5% spending increase over this year’s projections. Some of this is beyond local control (PSERS), some is by contract (bonuses) and some is just incremental spending creep….It’s far too early to just accept spending at this level…and I know the Committee agrees.

    As far as the back-of-the-envelope approach, I would support a fund reserve contribution in lieu of additional tax increases but I would probably characterize the contribution differently. The approach presented last night identified a contribution to off-set the one-time contractual bonuses to the instructional staff. As this is a negotiated payroll item, I would look at this as a mission critical expense and absorb it into the normal funding sources. I would, however, see the PSERS increase differently. The Board has accumulated over $18 MM historically into a reserve account for PSERS, the Future Retirement Rate Stabilization account. To date, it has never been committed to a budget for that purpose. I would make my capital contribution to that cost driver. PSERS increase next year to the District totals some $2.7 MM but the cost to the District is only half of that as the State reimburses 50%. I’d make that my reserve contribution…I think the optics are better as the reserve account already exists.

    Future Note: This TENIG outsourcing strategy will, and should be, widely discussed. On one hand, this would represent a major strategic shift in the manner in which the District provides these services. The savings would be a big number most likely in excess of all budget strategies combined and it could/should be an on-going savings impacting future budgets. On the other hand, there are potential human costs associated with adoption and potential unintended consequences to our educational operation. The community should engage in these discussions if they are interested.

    I’m sure the Board would appreciate broad-based input on this matter as this strategy develops. THIS would be a sustainable, strategic, cost-saving shift but would certainly have an impact on the people involved. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about this in future months…probably in Community Matters first!!!

    Sorry for rambling!

    [Reply]

  4. Dr. Waters and the school board now know the circumstances under which Mr. Chambers was forced to resign. Since they can no longer claim ignorance, it is unconscionable that they are going forward with this decision.

    For the school board and the administration to send the message that character doesn’t matter is irresponsible and hazardous.

    [Reply]

    TE resident Reply:

    I guess they can ease up on children and mistakes now?
    This is the example we’re setting and at a nice price tag per hour!

    Makes me worry that Dr. Waters or Chambers hid a lot of the parents. Maybe for good reason but it is a concern.

    [Reply]

  5. I’m concerned that TESD is installing a film over its affairs, and it’s both ballistic and opaque.

    On the Chambers business: we heard last night that the Board voted to approve the contract as part of last week’s Consent Agenda. The topics there are mysterious at the best of times, but in this case the matter was not even in the published agenda, but apparently included in the verbal reading at the last minute. Maybe someone has seen the recording and can confirm. And Dr Waters said he had no idea of the reason behind Chambers departure. Really? Really? Anyway, it sounded as though the Board has to approve the specific scope of work to be performed under the now-contracted rate.

    The Committee spent a long time spent discussing financial reporting process issues, perhaps to cover the lack of new detail on the budget strategies. The new, reduced form, discussion of the last month’s financials proved only that providing less context by removing last year’s comparisons serves only to confuse.

    The big news is the recommendation (I think it got to that point) NOT to apply for the Exceptions approved last week in the preliminary budget. This is supported by the recognition that most of the deficit is accounted for by the one time payment as part of the TEEA deal. (I differ with Neal on this: to my mind, that one time payment is an appropriate use of the fund balance). Also, there are many cost saving actions left unquantified.

    I wonder if anyone has run an analysis of tax increases vs election years?.

    The financial projections on which the budget is based continue to be less than fully explained.

    This year’s budgeted expense of $110.3 million was based on projected expenses for last year that were $5.5 million higher than the audited outcome of $101.7 million. You’d think that this year’s expected actual (on which next year’s budget is based) would therefore also be $5.5 million less than this year’s budget – or if not, why not?

    However, next year’s budget of $113.6 million (including the $1.2 million one time payment) is based on projected expenses for this year of $107.8 million. – that’s only $2.5 million lower than the budget.

    So in the two years to next June 30th, annual expenses will have increased by $10.7 million (10%), excluding the one time payment. There are some good explanations for some of the increases: PSERS, the deferred teacher salary increase and special ed expenses. But we have no idea if those are fully explanatory. Last year, the budget materials included at least the current year projection; this year, they start with the budget for next year so we have to look up old agenda materials for context.

    In a business environment it’s vital to see the context for financial results and projections, and to document the key drivers of change. It’s disappointing to see the district move in a counter direction.

    OT: After the apparent dismissal of the platinum coin idea to avoid the coming debt ceiling debacle, I heard that the Administration’s Plan B is indeed a “nuclear option”: a plutonium coin.

    [Reply]

  6. One more irritating issue regarding Chambers not yet addressed here is that the taxpayers are already paying his pension and full healthcare expenses for him and his family – plus the net additional costs of his replacement on the Tred Police. He should have volunteered his services pro bono to the community like so many others do.

    [Reply]

  7. I wouldn’t get too excited about the lack of budget details at this time. The proposed preliminary budget (approved Jan 8th) and the preliminary budget (to be passed later this month) are very rough estimates used only allow the district to apply for Act 1 exceptions (PSERS and special ed). It’s early. The current year is only half over and the Governor has not even given us an idea what he plans for educational funding. The documents that really matter are the proposed final budget (May) and the final budget (June). The pubic will have 5 more months of commenting pleasure. [smile]

    [Reply]

  8. Susan T

    “Your statement that the school board did not have the “first notion” about Chambers doesnt say much about the school board, I would expect tour elected officials to be more informed.”

    I am speculating and you hope I am wrong. Easy fix — ASK THE BOARD. People who are involved in these issues have a tendency to not believe others could be unaware. Let me assure you — people have lives that do not revolve around local politics. And changing police superintendents is local politics. Go ask 5 friends if they know the name of the current Superintendent, and who his last 3 predecessors are. That’s all in the past 10 or so years…if they get two names I’d be shocked.

    I know it was written here during the elections — ASK QUESTIONS of the candidates. Everyone sounds up to speed when they communicate about kids. If these situations concern you, perhaps you will spearhead an effort to demand more accountability during the election process.

    [Reply]

  9. Poletia,

    You said,

    “Make no mistake in LM the school board is made up of political creatures who have been endorsed by the LM commissioners where the commissioners have even promoted them in campaigns.
    Both school board members and supervisors/commissioners come out of the same local party apparatus/party committees.
    These people are all buddies and often feel they are superior members of a special club – and they cover for each other in LM.
    Perhaps that is not the case in Tredyffrin, but I’d be surprised if it were not so.”

    You are absolutely correct. Make no mistake, there is no difference between LM and TT when it comes to politics. Anyone who suggests that the local parties are not behind those elected here are mistaken (and naive). Who drove the hideous yellow school board signs in the last election. If that wasn’t political I don’t know what is. I remember all the chatter that the school board candidates didn’t have anything to do with the signs and they probably didn’t, but the party supporting them on the ticket did. I’d call that school board politics. I know there are former SB members who comment here that will disagree with my opinion and maybe when they were on the SB it wasn’t the way it is now.

    [Reply]

    politeia Reply:

    The local parties run the show in all townships and they like to to give the appearance they cater to citizens, when the truth is they are all about themselves, their egos, their party buddies, and their other special interests.

    Anybody in an elected or appointed position in a township is there due to the local party in charge wanting them there.

    Candidates are hand-picked by this self-serving club to be presented to citizens who blindly vote party line for the most part. Goes to the point a previous poster made that the vast majority of citizens can’t name any local officials. They count on this. This is how the party in the majority gets their hand-picked choices in elected and appointed positions – and when citizens speak up against them, they will always circle the wagons in unity as you have seen all too often lately in Tredyffrin.

    They have this down to a science. Absolute power corrupts absolutely – and it does not matter if it is D’s in charge in LM or R’s in charge in TT,

    [Reply]

    Cowardly Anon Reply:

    The newly elected SB President in TESD ran against the endorsed Republican. The past President was endorsed and ran as a Democrat. The one before that came from Easttown.
    There is no question those in LM are buddies — but ask those serving on the school board exactly how much competition they faced for the R endorsement….if any. They are not hand-picked so much as they are recruited. The Rs and Ds in Tredyffrin go out and try to encourage candidates to run. The campaigns are trumped up as competition. No question those yellow signs were about the BOS competition to maintain R dominance. I have often mocked R leadership for being so concerned about the township when your taxes tehre are 10% of school taxes….but one look at the current school board and you will readily see that you have volunteers, some of which had no real knowledge of what serving on the board would require.
    Once on the board, many stay because there really are no candidates aching for the job, and they don’t want to see the “spiralling down” that others fear. The unions organize state and nationwide. Local boards rarely even compare notes. As little as 30 years ago, the School Board was filled with pro-bono lawyers who were there to sign off on the Superintendent recommendations. One of the results then was the Valley Forge Music Fair lawsuit. And remember, Tredyffrin was 87% R in the 60s.

    When the district closed Paoli Elementary, school board “politics” changed, and activist parents got involved and changed the dynamic. WHile there was still an endorsement process, the Ds didn’t have any process at all. It has literally been only in the last 10 years that the Ds looked for and sponsored candidates.

    Why share all this? Because the school board IS an apolitical body which may be elected by signs, but is not run by either party.

    Ask to join the Safety Committee…contact a board member and ask what you can do.

    [Reply]

    not so new......post-er Reply:

    Statement from new Board President Kevin Buraks:

    “When Dan strongly recommends that Andy Chambers be hired and that he’d be the perfect person for the job, we’re going to listen to that recommendation. I don’t have any reason to doubt Dan when he makes a strong recommendation that is the best thing for the district.”

    I understand and appreciate that Mr, Buraks respects Dr. Waters and his recommendation. However, there are strong opinions that run contrary to Dr. Waters’s from people in local law enforcement and from people who live in the community, who have had closer working relationships with Mr. Chambers than Dr. Waters. When law enforcement professionals cannot endorse Mr. Chambers for a task that addresses their area of expertise, I think we should listen to their opinion.

    I also believe, due to the controversy surrounding this matter, there should be a complete public vetting of this issue with entire results made available to the public.

    politeia Reply:

    CA – Note how I said the local parties hand pick both the the elected AND appointed officials and citizens just blindly push the party button not knowing who they are voting for.

    The government agents appointed by the local parties have the real power and they are the individuals who are really in bed with the local party leaders because these appointed officials tend to stay around a long time – and through numerous rounds of elected types who come and go.

    The elected types then cater (in my view work for) the high ranking appointed officials instead of the citizens like they are supposed to. It’s an elite (in their view) little club where they all run the show how they see fit as a little group with very little concern of what citizens think.

    I’ll give you two recent examples in Tredyffrin.

    With the recent JD township web posting fiasco and the ensuing citizen outrage, did the supervisors circle the wagons to protect (if not support) JD, the township manager and the police chief – or did they listen to the citizens and did any supervisors agree with citizen complaints and did any supervisors have anything negative to say about JD, the township manager or the police chief?

    Did the new township website policy really change anything in a way that citizens wanted?

    In regards to the hiring of Chambers, did the SB listen to citizen concerns about Chambers and did any SB members voice similar concerns, or did they just do what Waters wanted?

    The party bosses don’t want you to know this, but this is how it works.

    Our elected “representatives” in township first and foremost work for and have an allegiance to the hand picked (by the local party) senior staff like the township manager and school superintendent. After that their allegiance is to their own group, their local party committee, and local monied interests that can help their careers (especially for elected lawyers on the township level and those involved in real estate for a career).

    The citizens come in last and are generally an after-thought. If anybody in local government is caught with their hand in the cookie jar and citizens complain, they all circle the wagons and either defend their political crony or remain silent and wait for it to die down while ignoring citizens.

    If somebody really screws up (short of murder) they are not fired. They get to retire and keep their pension and benefits while no elected official bad mouths the retiring appointed official who should have been fired. You will see they actually praise the “retiring” official who really screwed up so as not to give the peon citizens a sniff that all is not perfect and that they are not absolutely in charge.

    The JD debacle is just on e example of how entitled these bozos feel – and how they know they will be protected.

    politeia Reply:

    Here’s a good YouTube that describes various forms of government.

    I think it is obvious what type of government we have in the country at all levels, and it is neither a democracy or a republic.

    http://youtu.be/DioQooFIcgE

    Ask yourself – does Tredyffrin have a democracy (do elected officials listen to citizens – and especially when citizens disagree with them? Does Tredyffrin have a republic where the rule of law if followed where government agents like Miss Suzie, JD and Chambers don’t receive special treatment, or is Tredyffrin truly an oligarchy – and does the same hold true all the way up to Washington D.c.?

    not so new......post-er Reply:

    Sadly, most people don’t even know what a republic is, much less that our founding fathers intended us to be one. If asked, many Americans would say we are a democracy. Not one time is the word democracy mentioned in the constitution. We are supposed to be a republic. And we better be careful, because we’re losing it.

    …….and to the republic for which it stands……

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  10. To me, the controversy over the details of how and why Mr. Chambers resigned misses the point in a very big way. The main point should be whether he is really the best possible candidate for the job. It seems to me his main qualification is that he was previously chief of police in TE. OK, well we have a new chief who I certainly hope has a similar qualifications as a police officer. Shouldn’t a school security consultant have other more specialized qualifications? Were other candidates who might actually have more expertise and knowledge about focusing on preventing and responding to the specific kinds of problems about which we are most concerned following the incident in Newtown, CT (vs. policing generally)? If not, perhaps the school district should put a bit more effort into their search.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Paul, I could not agree more. The problem is that the only reason that I have heard for Chambers hiring from Superintendent Waters is personal; he’s known Chambers for years and that Chambers knows the community and the schools.

    When I questioned the school board in regard to the choice of Chambers, their response, as stated by Board president Kevin Buraks, was that Waters had 35 years of experience as an educator and they trusted his recommendation of Chambers.

    Beyond serving as chief of police for Tredyffrin Twp, what other qualifications does Chambers have to serve as a safety consultant for the District? In the year since he left Tredyffrin, did Chambers start a safety consulting company … has he worked for other school districts or … in the corporate world as a safety expert? No idea — but if did, those additional qualifications were not stated at last week’s safety meeting or during last night’s Finance Committee discussion. I do believe that the former police chief helped with beefing up safety post-Columbine and post-VA Tech but I believe that was in his role as the chief of Tredyffrin’s police department. That being said, we have a very capable new police superintendent, Tony Giaimo (who worked under Chambers for years). It seems to me that Giaimo is as qualified as Chambers to do the job. I want the best safety expert that the school district can find to review the buildings, the emergency processes, etc. — the million dollar question, is that person Andy Chambers? How many safety consultants were interviewed?

    [Reply]

    TE resident Reply:

    Exactly Pattye:

    Was he the best candidate for the role? I think Dr. Waters is over stepping his power and like usual the board lets him get away with it.

    My big concern is if Chambers may or may not be well liked among the department and if it’s wise to hire someone that left under his circumstances. What message is that for our town, parents, and most of all students safety?

    [Reply]

    Cowardly Anonymous Reply:

    Perhaps Dr.Waters statement was too plain. he and AC may have known each other for a long time, but he has known Chambers for years in a professional context. I may be weong, but I don’t think they play golf together. His selection was presumably based on his observation and experience with him. I am assuming he trusts his judgment. That comes from longevity.

    This is a “not to exceed” authorization as I understand it. Is anyone aware of a job description? He hired him for advice. I think Ret. Capt. Chambers should work pro bono, but in no way do Dr. Waters “overstep his power.”. He is the Chief Exec of the TESD. HE is the professional in charge. If this consultant doesn’t contribute, he won’t be used much.

    [Reply]

    From The West Reply:

    Pattye —

    The current police Chief is willing and able to provide manpower and expertise to do exactly what Chambers was hired to do…and would do it for FREE.

    This is Waters helping a friend and the TESB failing in protecting taxpayers.

    This school board — all of them, regardless of party — have to go.

    [Reply]

    Kevin grewell Reply:

    I presume you are running for the board? And recruiting at least 4 others of like mind to run also? (takes 5 votes to really change things) You will need the endorsement of a party, or do it independently. Either way it will cost you maybe $5000 to have a shot at being elected. I don’t know about the democrats but the republicans expect you to pay for your campaign. Seriously though, if you feel that strongly that your views and concerns are not being represented you should go for it. It is your right and i totally respect anyone who tries. You might even change the dynamic in some positive way. But it is not easy.

  11. I guess the real lesson is Dr. Waters lives in a bubble if he didn’t know the reason Chambers suddenly retired? Or everyone deserves a second chance and should be hired and paid well and be forgiven for dumb mistakes?

    My fear is if Chambers has a grudge with the department he was once a leader of? What if he doesn’t implement having more police around the schools?

    The bos took $50,000 of our tax money and botched advice.
    How can we trust Chambers and knowing Dr. Waters isn’t in the know with township happenings is a slight worry how safe are our children after all?

    [Reply]

  12. I was about to swear off blogging, and still mean to (because I get attacked personally so often) but I will go one more time because this is so important:

    Several posters on this topic have spun vast paranoid conspiracy theories regarding the supposed complete, utter, absolute, and total control over the school board by some sinister cabal of political party bosses. (cue Dracula laughter: “Bwa-ha-ha-ha, Bwa, BWAHHH!!!!”)

    School board members are all (ALL mind you, ALL!) arrogant, egotistical (yet somehow spineless and puppet-like) political careerist hacks, who care only about their own self aggrandizement, pleasing party bosses, all at the expense of the public, whom they care about not at all. And children? Why, they practically eat children . . . . . . .

    Now we also read that the “hand picked” puppets include the superintendent and presumably the janitor too (watch out! there’s a microphone hidden in that toilet paper roll!)

    Hey people – there is good medication for this condition, nowadays. Sure, conspiracy theories are fun. I like them too. They make great fiction, but in this case it is not true. There are no alien bodies at Roswell and Oswald did shoot JFK with a crummy mail-order Italian Garcano – alone. There may be a smoke-filled back room somewhere, full of George Orwell pigs, but my guess is they oink mostly about how frustrated they are at their failure to achieve the desired control . . . .

    It is hard to imagine a more thankless, abusive, and frustrating arena for public service than a school board.
    It is a crummy platform to launch a political career, is unpaid, and does not come with any “little ‘ol suitcase of money” as in political payola. The kind of political animals described would have to be very misguided to advance their supposed personal agendas in the school board. I guarantee you there are not a lot of people lining up to volunteer for this. They day is coming (and perhaps is here) where parties will have to beg and twist arms to even fill candidate slots.

    So, as one who got elected INDEPENDENTLY to begin with and then worked with both political parties (and pissed them both off equally, no doubt) I am here to tell you it ain’t so.

    Sure, it has gotten more political in the sense that there are now two parties with resources instead of just one, and elections are contested with a lot of noise and ugly ass signs. But once on the board, people for the most part do what they think is best. When I was endorsed by the Tredyffrin Republican Committee (“TTRC”) they did not grill me about some right-wing litmus test, they asked two questions: “What are you going to do to keep taxes low as possible?” and “Are you willing to finance your own campaign?” That’s it. After election, I go ZERO phone calls, emails, letters, or personal visits from ANY Republican agent, committee member, enforcer, hit man, or operative. No men in ninja masks came to my house at night, not even when we raised taxes by nearly 10% one year. The late John Waldyer and a couple of his people would come around once a year – at budget time – as citizens – (they had every right to do that, just like anyone else) and plead on behalf of the taxpayers. Then we would raise taxes anyhow. So much for sinister Republican hegemony! And that was when there was no Democratic party to speak of, and no Democrats on the board!

    I know several of the current members, some of whom I served with for years, and they are not doing the bidding of any political party. These are volunteers, people, for the most part parents who got involved because of some quality of schools issue. They do exactly what they think is right. They do listen to the public – but to listen does not always mean “agree.”

    Think about it: The board is 3 Democrats and 6 Republicans. The current and prior board presidents are Democrats. The 6 Republicans voted them in (unanimously). Think the TTRC controls the board? Or maybe you think the Democrats control the board with their 3 votes? Talk about wagging the dog!

    Now, both parties have many ethical, intelligent, patriotic citizens. They are just exercising their constitutional rights and are to be commended for active citizenship and the intention (if not the actuality) of building a better community. They both have their share of partisan extremists drunk on their own Kool-Aid. Both parties are capable of bad behavior when the extremists get control. I called out the TTRC for the “No EIT” campaign, but the Democrats, while being very impressive and professional recently, have also committed political abuse int he past (remember “Mr. Tredyffrin?”)

    Is there an attempt to gain improper influence? I don’t know about the current chairs of the two parties. They may try with someone, but I don’t have any evidence for that, and even if they try, it is obvious they have not been successful. Most of the current board are too independent minded for that to work. You might think Mr. Broadhust running an associate from his own law firm was an attempt at such incestuous control, but on the other hand, it could just have been he thought she would make a good candidate, or maybe he could not get anyone else to agree to run for this horrible thankless job. In any event, she was unable to unseat the Democratic board president, Karen Cruickshank. Where is the sinister control? True the campaign was untruthful, but if the TTRC really controls things, why are the last two presidents Democrats?

    So you all think it was a poor decision to hire Andy Chambers. Maybe so, but it does not mean there is any X-Files conspiracy here. As Sigmund Freud said: “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” And sometimes a mistake is just a mistake – if it is a mistake.

    [Reply]

    politeia Reply:

    I’m not going to personally attack you.

    I’m just going to suggest that one reason you say you get personally attacked is because you insult and viciously attack posters you disagree with instead of discussing the issues you disagree with in a reasonable manner.

    I also don’t appreciate my views being exaggerated into into some vast conspiracy.

    Please post in a respectful manner to other posters, or I would suggest taking our own advice and and swearing off blogging.

    [Reply]

    Cowardly Anonymous Reply:

    Pol…
    I think Kevin was simply expressing exasperation at the continued references to the TESD board as if it were the LM board. LM has huge political issues and has the lawsuits to prove it. LM has had at least 3 superintendents since Dr. Waters became the Supt. at TESD. So I think the essence here is let’s get back to a topic that has value in the discussion…There is likely no political component to Chambers being tapped for this, and if enough push back occurs, to the board, they will re-examine. Dr. Waters has kept his job in TESD for a long time…starting as Principal at Conestoga. He has cancelled school for snow warnings because he can picture high school kids driving…he is ALWAYS about the kids. if Andy was an expedient choice, he will only use the advice that comports with the mission. Kevin Buraks stood behind the choice because Dr. Waters has earned the respect of those he works with. Andynis ONE member of the safety committee….

    [Reply]

    politeia Reply:

    So why didn’t Kevin say that instead of going on a very defensive and personal attack?

    I still wonder why not one member the the TESD did not raise any concerns about the hiring of Chambers based on his background – whether it be concerns about character or whether he has the best qualifications.

    Sorry, but it does remind me of LM when the SB rubber stamps what the superintendent wants and ignores citizen concerns.

    It gives me the impression the SB views Waters as the all-knowing bureaucrat and what he says goes, while citizen input does not matter.

    flyersfan Reply:

    politeia,
    I think Kevin did say what was needed. Maybe the school board just accepted the fact that they trusted Waters? You may not agree with that if it is so, but that doesn’t matter.

    politeia Reply:

    And there in lies my question, FlyersFan.

    I know how it works in LM.

    Does the SB in TE question the administration, or is it usually just a rubber stamp? Does the SB ever shoot down school administration ideas, or are the decisions already made in the backroom before they are brought before the citizens of TE?

    Not saying there is some evil conspiracy (as has been suggested in an insulting manner). This is just how school boards (and township boards) have gotten used to working in PA over the decades, and I’d like to see some more transparency (actually – a lot more).

    In this instance of Chambers it appears to be a rubber stamp. How about other decisions?

    That can educate readers as to whether TESD board is independent with free thinkers where they consider views outside of their close working relationship with school administration.

    There seems to be some former SB members who post here. I’m all for hearing how the process works and how transparent it is in regards to making sure TE citizens are informed and involved.

    [Reply]

    not so new......post-er Reply:

    Politeia,

    Kevin and I got into a back and forth over this very issue on November 5, 2012. Like you, I wanted to know how the process worked and Kevin kindly answered.

    I did not interpret the information the way he would have liked me to so he got irritated, but I appreciated the information all the same. The thread is Tredyffrin Solicitor Vince Donohoe claims that government does not seek to supress public comment…….Really? Kevin explains in great detail how the process works in his comment dated Nov. 5 2:52pm. If you follow our back and forth to the end, you will see what I mean.

    [Reply]

  13. Kevin, that was great! Thank you for respectfully and eloquently spelling out some of the recent history (facts) about the board. I know some of the folks on the board too, and they are indeed independent and focused on doing the best they can for the community. I agree that it is curious why anyone would want that job. I wonder if some of the loudest critics would step up and accept the responsibility for such a position, and do so thinking that they will please 100 percent of the people 100 percent of the time. I doubt it.
    Stick around. I look forward to reading your entries.

    [Reply]

  14. Pol
    The school board respects Dan Waters and the job he does. As an elected board of volunteers, they respect his experience, training and wisdom. the obsession with the process of hiring a consultant is misdirected. Dr.Waters is not a bureaucrat.
    If there was a job description and a new position and a search involved, I.e. for a District Director of Security, then all the things many are looking for here would have been in place. This was to get input on “hardening the schools” and it will not be the only source of input. police serve on the Safety Committee now. This is one more set of eyes that has a long history with the players. There is no cost of getting someone up to speed. This pick was expedient.
    IF the community wishes to INVEST significant money on this topic, we would once again do well,to talk to law enforcement in both townships. Townships are not restricted in what they can spend, and the control of law enforcement officers is on them. These are educators whose mission now is broadened to address security fears…not security failures. Chester-Upland is broke,,but they have metal detectors and armed security. And stuff still happens.

    We The People are not exactly all on the same page.People reading and posting here are news (and politics and gossip) junkies. Just because we think it — doesn’t make us right. I believe there was no intent here other than to get the process moving with all due speed. Is Andy Chambers the only answer? No. This notion that he is the best available has never been claimed, even by those picking. He was their choice for a myriad of reasons, but it does not eliminate the expansion of the process for the future. One thing I can reference from experience (I worked for a company with a rather visible private securitynforce

    [Reply]

  15. That got sent prematurely….
    The caveat in our litigious world: If we hire a security consultant who recommends that we install metal detectors at every building, put bullet proof materials on every window, require staff to be trained in weaponry…and they put it in a report…if we decide NOT to follow the advice, and ome day, something happens which might have been mitigated or stopped HAD we done it, then as part of the legal discovery process, there will be major trouble. SO do not aeek advice you do not have the culture and resources to accept and implement. When Dr. Waters said AC knew the schools and the culture, there was more to that answer than a long time relationship. Be careful,what you ask for.

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    interesting. And you bring to light another problem… Lawyers.

    [Reply]

  16. As a reminder, one of the earlier posters brought up a comment about Andy’s hourly rate. I have to agree. For someone who has a generous PD pension & a paid family health plan, I find it absurd that the TESD is paying him $125/hour, unless this will be of very short duration. If not …

    [Reply]

  17. I suggest that the people who are losing faith in the integrity of governmental decision making processes get involved and become a strong voice for change and for transparency and accountability in our local government and school.

    [Reply]

  18. transparency and accountability…like infinity impossible to define to everyones satisfaction

    [Reply]

    not so new......post-er Reply:

    If you can see through it, it’s transparent

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    I just think those are two words that are thrown around. Waters was transparent. He announced it. Is it me or are some folks just never satisfied, never content to take a deep breath and see how it shakes out? Just just in this issue but with everything?

    [Reply]

  19. Transparent — kind of like the opposite of using your name when you make a statement. If I don’t know who you are, should I really care what you think? Where is the credibility?

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    If you are speaking to me, I don’t know who you are either Coward……if not then ignore this, Maybe you are respondng to not so new.. Frankly most of us are anonymous here, and we want accountability and transparency! Kind of funny really

    [Reply]

    politeia Reply:

    Everybody in LM knows exactly who I am. I stand up in township meetings, give and actual name and state I am politiea on the Save Ardmore blogs and ask citizens to Google certain key words that would take them to a top of the page Google result to blog threads like this one so citizens watching at home on TV can become more aware. That’s my little part in regards to transparency.

    I post anonymously, however, to counter the argument from government officials in LM who were demanding to know who anonymous bloggers were so they could intimidate them.

    Thus, I blog under a pseudonym to remind bloggers that they have a Supreme Court approved constitutional right to blog anonymously – and the Supreme Court specifically mentioned the possibility of government retribution in supporting said right (and we have seen the government retribution with a citizen who does not blog anonymously in Pattye’s case) .

    As for transparency, there are exceptions to the Sunshine Act where the school board MAY meet in secret executive session.

    There is not ONE exception where the school board HAS to meet in secret executive session.

    The school board could legally do EVERYTHING it does in open, public school board meetings if it wanted to.

    I agree that there are certain should be done in executive session.

    However, my experience with school boards and township boards is that they take every exception where they MAY meet in executive session and take it in a manner absolutely as far as they can to keep everything as secret as possible.

    Why can’t there be some give and take? Why all the secret backroom meetings where the decision is already made with no public input under executive session where the school board (and township boards) only discuss in public that which they are legally required to do?

    That to me is an insult to citizens and tells me these boards don’t want citizens involved and feel they are the almighty decision-makers – and not the citizens as it is supposed to be,

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Thanks Politeia. Question for you — You say, “there are exceptions to the Sunshine Act where the school board MAY meet in a secret executive session” — curious, would this be one of those cases? A couple of years ago, Tredyffrin Twp supervisors took a vote on the ‘sidewalks at St. Davids’ matter at a BOS meeting without the matter having been listed on the the agenda. Because this was a Sunshine Act violation, the motion was reversed at the next meeting. The agenda for the last school board meeting on Jan 17 did not include the hiring of Andy Chambers. The discussion occurred during the executive session and a ‘consent agreement’ to hire Chambers was then voted on by the school board at the meeting. Frankly, I don’t see any difference between St. Davids and the Andy Chambers hiring — the only difference is that St. Davids was the BOS watch and Andy Chambers the School Board. However … and this is a big however, what I don’t know is if the Sunshine Act applies the same to school board matters as it does to township matters. Your thoughts?

    [Reply]

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    The Sunshine Act enumerates six reasons for holding executive sessions. Briefly stated, they are as follows:

    1. To discuss personnel matters, including hiring, promoting, disciplining, or dismissing specific public
    employees or officers, but not including filling vacancies in any elective office.
    2. To hold information, strategy and negotiation sessions related to collective bargaining agreements or arbitration.
    3. To consider the purchase or lease of real estate.
    4. To consult with an attorney regarding litigation or issues where identifiable complaints are expected to be filed.
    5. To discuss agency business that would lead to disclosure of information recognized as confidential or
    privileged under law including initiations and conduct of investigations of possible violations of the law and quasi-judicial deliberations.
    6. For public colleges or universities to discuss matters of academic admission or standings.
    .
    Now, some more detail regarding the “personnel” exception. At first glance it would appear that discussion of the Chambers matters was appropriate for an executive session. However, “Commonwealth Court has ruled a wastewater treatment consultant under contract to a sewer authority was an independent contractor, not an appointed officer or employee under the terms of the Sunshine Act. The personnel exception does not apply.”
    .
    It appears the school board made a mistake in discussing the Chambers matter (I believe he is a consultant) in executive session. This is probably an honest mistake that could be made by anyone who is not familiar with court interpretation of the Sunshine Act.

    Source: Open Meetings, The Sunshine Act, January 2009
    http://www.agriculture.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_6_2_75292_10297_0_43/AgWebsite/Files/General/sunshine/Open_Meetings-Sunshine_Act_Overview.pdf

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Thank you Keith for the explanation. Based on this information, it would appear that a ‘mistake’ was made since Andy Chambers was being hired as an independent contractor. And you are right, we all do make mistakes — I make them almost daily :) So now, how does the school board fix the mistake? At this point, I am not certain whether Chambers has begun the work or whether there has been billable hours. To make the process transparent and open for citizen commentary, are you of the opinion that the decision should be reversed at the TESD meeting on 1/28. After discussion of District safety needs and specific consulting qualifications with a RFP spelling out the specifics, maybe the process could move forward more efficiently. Keith, do you think this is a plausible solution?

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    As one can see from my last post, it is difficult for a layperson to interpret the Sunshine Act. Let’s assume I’m correct in saying the board erred by discussing the Chambers matter in executive session. I’d be going way beyond my area of expertise by suggesting a remedy. Your remedy would certainly confirm the TE board is interested in public input and committed to transparency.
    .
    In the Commonwealth Court case mentioned above, the legal remedy was to release the audio recording of the executive session. In essence, the public got to hear the deliberations. They just had to wait for 18 months for the Court decision, but the public still had no chance for input. I doubt that the TE board records their executive sessions, so this remedy won’t work.

    politeia Reply:

    The way to fix this violation of the Sunshine Act is to nullify the existing contract with Chambers as it is illegal and for the school board to have an new open meeting regarding the the hiring of Chambers with a full public vetting with school board members/administrators discussing their reasons to hire/not hire Chambers openly and in public with full public comment allowed in the open and public school board meeting on the hire so that it abides by the law.

    I hope MLMN picks up on this. I have to wonder about an “honest mistake” that violates the law when it comes to hiring someone with a questionable background for such an important decision involving the safety of school children, but perhaps it was just an honest mistake.

    If so, how did it get by the school board solicitor and what is the point of paying him if he does not understand the law?

  20. FF– indeed. Not speaking to you…but trying to point out to NSN that demanding transparency in an anonymous post is kind of …. silly. The board’s email address will not forward any unsigned emails….
    As to my Cowardly Anonymous title — that’s only because I gave up using my name and getting treated personally and poorly…..so I took up the JDB label. :)

    [Reply]

  21. There was no RFP and there won’t be one. This is not an honest mistake — it is not a mistake. This is a not to exceed hire which was on the consent agenda. Before we call it a mistake in violation of the law, let’s remember this was not a contract. This is a consulting agreement that was disclosed and confirmed through the consent agenda. Ut is not a personnel matter, but also the only sunshine violation is when a quorum of the board meets and makes a private decision. If this was discussed loosely, then taking it to the board for affirmation is the proper procedure. This is NOT a contract — this is a not to exceed agreement on the rate to pay Mr. Chambers. He is NOT hired as the director of security. He is ONE MEMBER of a committee, brought in to offer additional perspective. I said before — hiring someone is different than having an approved consulting agreement, but this is NOT an important position. This is another pair of eyes. IF we hire a true “school security consultant” there is the legal exposure that we have to do any/everything suggested….and even on this site, when people suggest we will have search and metal detectors entering our buildings, people are not 100% behind it.
    Remember — Sandy Hook and Columbine and Batman killing involved disturbed individuals. As far as I am concerned, every dime should go to mental health initiatives. They have several approved psychologists on retainer — no violation in hiring them, right?
    No reason to defend the decision made by the board. It was not a good one. But it was not an illegal one, and the conspiracy mentality is really getting dangerous. These people are US….neighbors and community members. If they hear from people, they will reconsider. This is NOT a contract.

    [Reply]

  22. CA,
    .
    I believe you are wrong in your reasoning. You state, “the only sunshine violation is when a quorum of the board meets and makes a private decision.”
    .
    Not so. The Pennsylvania Sunshine Act requires all public agencies to take all official actions and conduct all deliberations leading up to official actions at public meetings. If the board met in executive session and deliberated on hiring Mr. Chambers, then they probably violated the Sunshine Act even though the official vote was taken in open session. It doesn’t matter if it is a contract or not. We’re conjecturing that the board deliberated (illegally) in executive session and based on that deliberation, took a official action to disburse funds to Mr. Chambers. We, of course, can only conjecture since the meeting was closed to the public.
    .
    The current Sunshine Act took effect on January 3, 1987. This law replaces the old Open Meetings Laws of 1957 and 1974, Under the old law, public agencies were required to hold open meetings only if votes were taken or official policy adopted. This led to the frequent abuse of discussing and deciding issues in so-called
    “workshop” sessions, with the official public meetings being relegated to conducting formal votes on issues already decided in advance. The current Act requires that any deliberations leading up to official actions also take place at public meetings. Municipal governing bodies have no authority, either under the municipal codes or the Sunshine Act, to conduct “workshop” sessions.’

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    So, you are saying that it does not matter whether it was a contract or not, if they discussed it in executive session then it violated Sunshine Act. We KNOW that it was discussed because that was the explanation given to me at the finance meeting. Plus, they would have ‘had’ to discuss it during executive session because they approved the consent agenda at the end of the school board meeting on 1/7 — there would not have been a consent agenda if it hadn’t been discussion. Right?

    [Reply]

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    Pattye, your reasoning seems sound, but we’re not experts in the law and we were not present during the executive session. We can only conjecture. There may be an alternate explanation. These questions seem appropriate for the board to answer. Give them a call or send an email.

    [Reply]

    Ray Clarke Reply:

    A couple of points on this, as I understand it:

    1. Per the explanation at Finance, CA is right that the Board approved a rate for services, not a contract to perform a set amount of those services or to deliver a specific outcome. It is up to someone (Waters? the Board?) to decide how much of those services, if any are needed. Perhaps the public input and Dr Waters’ new understanding of the situation may influence that decision.

    2. It’s possible that the Board did not meet prior to this being placed on the Consent Agenda. Perhaps Dr Waters sent a memo to Kevin Buraks with the specific language to be read into the Agenda? That actually may not be a better scenario than a possibly illegal meeting, though! It would imply the Board approved the consultant and the rate, either without understanding what they were voting on or with no regard for the background, and in either case, deeming it not worthy of discussion.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Ray, my understanding was that the matter was discussed in executive session on 1/7. Because the executive session was right before the Board meeting there was not time for it to be on the agenda.

    [Reply]

    Ray Clarke Reply:

    Thanks, Pattye. I missed that. This whole thing is a bit of a mess.

  23. If they discussed it at Executive Session, it depends what they discussed, but if they discussed Andy Chambers, then it was a violation. A violation of the sunshine act is just that — a violation of the sunshine act. http://www.lgc.state.pa.us/deskbook06/Issues_Citizens_Rights_02_Pa_Sunshine_Act.pdf

    Here’s the bottom line: if they were told in Exec. Session that he was hiring Chambers, someone should have spoken up that it was okay to be told, but not to deliberate. As Ray says above, the board did approve the relationship at the meeting. It’s sad to me that so many think this has an evil motive at its core. This is why good people, with simply skills and not an agenda, are unlikely to pursue public service.

    Since this is a matter of security, I think any violation could marginally be “explained” as “agency business which, if discussed in public, would lead to the disclosure of information protected by law, including ongoing investigations” It is normally up to the board to want to police itself against violations — someone/anyone can speak up and challenge it. There are, as always, lawyers on the board who along with anyone who can read could point it out. The important verb is “deliberating.”

    Again, this was subject to a public vote. You are right — they should not have deliberated on hiring him in private….but as Ray points out, they did not hire him. They approved a rate for the consultant.

    I understand the interest in the topic, but I seriously think we are looking for boogey men. If you don’t like this relationship, complain about it. If enough people complain, they will no doubt pull back. But as someone wrote above, if this is a small angry minority, the violation was not egregious much less super secret behind closed doors meant to topple civilization.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    I am certainly not “looking for boogey men”, just looking for the correct process to be followed. This situation is eerily similar to the St. Davids sidewalk debacle. If you recall, the Board of Supervisors voted to return escrow funds to St. Davids Golf Club – however, the matter was not advertised on the BOS meeting agenda. There was a public outcry in regards to the way it was handled, including the threat of a lawsuit by John Petersen. A month later, the BOS reversed and rescinded their prior decision. The fact is that the St. Davids situation really was not about sidewalks the same way that this current TESD isn’t about Andy Chambers. Frankly, I don’t think it should require as you say, “ … If enough people complain, they will no doubt pull back.” The School Board should just accept responsibility that this situation was mishandled and and take the necessary steps to correct the situation, as the BOS did for the St. Davids matter.

    [Reply]

  24. Using jargon, this is a Mexican Standoff…mutually assured destruction. Right or righteous? In the game or in the stands. For who, for what? At the next meeting, Kevin b will make a statement, or will pretend it’s in the past. Perspective. But unlike the BOS, who continue to never deliberate in public (only to listen), the TESB will learn from this mistake of burying something in the consent agenda.

    [Reply]

    politeia Reply:

    And why was it buried in the consent agenda with a last minute vote while quite probably violating the Sunshine Act?

    Is that a common occurrence for this SB, or did it just happen to happen this one circumstance where there was a hire that could be controversial if made in the light of day?

    [Reply]

  25. Pol:
    My computer is acting up and I apologize for some disjointed and perhaps duplicate posts. It is not a common thing to have stuff buried, but obviously it happens and there is no denying that. I have called this board on it more than once.
    Having said that — I honestly believe that in this case, these people had no clue that it was controversial. We can all say it was big headlines, but I promise you — no it wasn’t. People on this blog might know about it, and lots of people do, but I promise many if not most of our community has no idea. If they thought it would be controversial, I don’t think they would have done it (accepted Andy). No reason to. The relationship was not personal.

    [Reply]

  26. It’s hard for me to believe “these people had no clue.”

    I think it’s more that this is what happens when a leader reaches great success in achieving and keeping power and where he is allowed to operate in an environment where he is free to make his own decisions or where his decisions are rubber stamped by board members who are supposed to serve independently. When a leader has been in power for a long time, the pride that blinds often sets in and causes a leader to act in ways that are foolish and improper.

    I think that the boards’ processes need to be changed to include genuine public participation.

    There is a reason our consitution begins with “We the people” .

    [Reply]

  27. I think you need to understand just how uninterested the public is. “Genuine participation” involves going to meetings — not just waiting for a controversy and jumping all over it. And as I said earlier — every single thing that John thinks he caused would have happened without his input. The Superintendent has the lattitude to do exactly what he did, and the board does NOT consult the solicitor when making a routine approval. In this case, the blow back from the community to a topic they were NOT aware of was enough to rethink it.
    And NSN — I am incredibly annoyed that you are making such a bold statement about Dr. Waters. Enough that you change names so that you can make this complaint under many identities, but the conclusion you reach as if you have a clue as opposed to gripe is destructive. There is no superintendent in this region as committed to the CHILDREN OF THE DISTRICT. Perhaps parents don’t get what they want because you don’t agree, but to call hiring a long-time associate who has been a key contact in all things related to school safety who is now retired “foolish and improper” is simply judgment rendered by someone who knows what they know, but has no clue what they do not know.
    I don’t get why you have a problem with Dan. Hvae you EVER met a Superintendent at any other district? Call up board members in as many places as you can find — boards do NOT rubber stamp. They did in the 60s and 70s…but not now, not here, not ever. Agreeing with a consullting agreement is NOT rubber stamping. Misguided…expedient…but not lemmings.

    [Reply]

    Not so new Reply:

    Cowardly,

    I post under one name.

    If I am irrelavent, (I need to understand just how uninterested the public is) then how can my conclusions be destructive.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Your opinion is welcome on CM. Opposing views encourage dialogue (and are relevant).

    [Reply]

    We the People Reply:

    Cowardly,

    Do you suppose (there’s a new word for the list) that the public would take a stronger interest in matters concerning the district if they had the benefit of full disclosure?

    If not, I’d like to hear what measures you would suggest to get citizens to participate further.

    [Reply]

  28. I don’t enjoy knowing Dr. Waters hired Chambers without consulting with our current super. of police.
    I think it’s undermining authority when two police figures (Tredyffrin and Easttown) are at a general meeting taking concerned questions from parents (granted many questions got to the discard pile)
    and a choice like this has been made.

    Nobody discredits Dr. Waters for his years and all our district stands for. However if you want to rehire someone regarding ‘safety’ and our children’s welfare let’s let the police in on it before you make some big choices.

    Also don’t throw it out there to our public our police force is more present. Or will be.
    How about letting the community know that we need to hire two officers yesterday according to our $50,000 expert and could stand for more. Let’s be honest to our tax payers and our school safety and the welfare of our town.

    [Reply]

    We the People Reply:

    If your saying that full disclosure (I use that term now for the benefit of Flyers Fan and others who have grown weary of the the terms transparency and accountability) and honesty would go along way in sparking public interest, then I agree.

    Conflicting information and/or no information keeps citizens confused and riddled with self doubt.

    [Reply]

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