TE School Board Votes to Outsource Aides & Paraeducators and Makes Records Public from Secret Executive Sessions

After two long years of battling to save their District jobs, it is now official – the TE School Board voted to outsource the jobs of 73 full-time aides and paraeducators to CCRES (Chester County Regional Educational Services).

In a School Board meeting that went until midnight, the School Board listened to a nearly endless stream of resident comments, which supported the aides and paraeducators, opposed the Valley Forge Middle School fencing project and those who called for Board transparency and public input on District matters.

There were many residents asking for the District to provide health care benefits but the Board was not moved by the appeals.  Kevin Buraks insisted that this was not a financial decision but that rather related to the District’s possible penalty of ACA compliance issues.  What is interesting is that the contract with CCRES includes the caveat that should CCRES be fined for ACA noncompliance, the penalty will be passed to the District (taxpayers).

When time finally came to vote to outsource the District’s aides and paras, School Board member Jim Bruce recused himself, for financial reasons – stating that he is on the CCRES Board of Directors, implying that this was a paid position.  (With an obvious conflict of interest, it is noted that Mr. Bruce has never recused himself from other previous CCRES-related issues and decisions).  During the outsourcing discussion, Liz Mercogliano stated her opposition on the issue but at the time of the vote, she abstained. Although she did not publically offer a reason, perhaps it is because her daughter is a part-time aide.  In a roll call vote, the other seven School Board members all voted for the CCRES as the vendor. The Republicans School Board members President Kris Graham, VP Doug Carlson, Virginia Lastner, Peter Motel and Democratic School Board members Kevin Buraks, Karen Cruickshank and Scott Dorsey voted together in favor of outsourcing the full-time employees to CCRES.

At midnight last night, the District’s aides and paras received the following email notifying them of the outsourcing decision.

To All District Aides, Paraprofessionals and Paraeducators who work more than 27.5 hours per week:

This evening CCRES was approved as the vendor for aides and paras who choose to remain working more than 27.5 hours per week.  The vote occurred during the regularly scheduled meeting of the School Board of Directors. We understand that you may have many questions, so we will be setting up meetings with CCRES and District representatives in the very near future. We will notify you of those meeting dates and times later this week. The decision deadline has been extended to Friday, May 15.

Best regards,

Jeanne Pocalyko
Personnel Director

Related to the outsourcing decision, Neal Colligan was notified at 4 PM yesterday by Art McDonnell, the District’s Open Records Officer and Business Manager, that the School Board had approved the release of information from the five secret Executive Sessions regarding the discussion of the aides and paraeducator employment change and the Affordable Care Act.  Various related records from the secret meetings were made public and are now available on the District website at ACA/Support Materials .

At the School Board meeting, District Solicitor Ken Roos explained that the Board waived their attorney-client privilege by making the records public.  With this latest action of the  District, I assume that the School Board has decided against an appeal to the Chester County Court of Common Pleas in the case of Neal Colligan vs Tredyffrin-Easttown School District and that the matter goes no further.

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29 Comments

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  1. What a shame. Good hard working people treated like they are nothing. If I were still working, I might think about calling out sick today. Use your sick time or you lose it especially if your planning on leaving. District has no care for these aides/paras. The only ones I feel sorry for are the students who these workers help. Teachers get ready for in and out aides/paras. For the ones who do stay god bless. Not sure I could work for the district after all of this. TENIG your next. Thanks to Pattye and all the others who fought this battle for the two years and more.

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  2. There’s a lot that could be said here, but it’s clear there’s little point. The only way to get this School Board’s attention is through the legal system. The resident comment process at Board meetings is a farce: questions are selectively recorded and selectively answered or misunderstood.

    The documents released under the RTK request confirm the merits of Mr Colligan’s case, but do nothing to reassure the public that the Board considered any creative solutions. This is a Board that has no trouble adding costs through additional teachers and administrators (and fences) with no ways to pay for them, but can not come up with an approach for providing healthcare by 2016/17 to a dwindling population of full-time aides and paras.

    Instead, those employees will now be asked to chose between working part-time for the District or working for CCRES – under what seems to be different (lower?) compensation and conditions than other comparable employees of CCRES? And TESD will have two different contracts with CCRES for the same job functions? The Administration provided no operational and financial plan for the likely mix of resignations, part-time and transfer choices, but that didn’t stop them making the decision.

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  3. Wow, what a bunch of dirtbags. Dorsey is my rep and he ran specifically on stopping any outsourcing. Total hypocrite.

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    Civility Please Reply:

    Dirtbags? I think you can make a point without resorting to name calling.

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    Will Reply:

    no. In fact, I was being nice. They deserve much worse, especially Dorsey.

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  4. Hypocrite is the right word! Dorsey did run on the platform to vote no to outsourcing. He is my rep also, he stood in my driveway and said he would stand behind the aides, the aides were the vote that gave him his seat on the board. He also came to school board meetings, using the podium as a political platform, and professed his stance for no outsourcing. Guess views are different once the votes are counted, they will be different at the polls next time too!

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    Alan Yockey Reply:

    I attended the meeting last week. The vote on Monday was not whether to outsource. That vote was back in February. Scott Dorsey voted “No”. On Monday the motion was who got the contract for the out sourced employees. Any statement that Scott Dorsey voted for outsourcing on Monday is incorrect. Here is the statement from Pattye’s post: “In a roll call vote, the other seven School Board members all voted for the CCRES as the vendor.” If you check the minutes from the SB meeting of Feb. 3 you can see the vote on outsourcing. I have copied it below.
    Upon the call for the question, by roll call vote, the motion passed by a vote of 7-1.
    Mr. Bruce Yes
    Mr. Buraks Yes
    Mr. Carlson Yes
    Mrs. Cruickshank Yes
    Rev. Dorsey No
    Mrs. Graham Yes
    Mrs. Lastner Yes
    Mrs. Mercogliano Abstained
    Dr. Motel Yes

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    Pattye Reply:

    Thanks Alan. Yes, as I stated in February, Rev. Dorsey voted no to outsourcing. I think the confusion is regarding his vote at last week’s school board meeting. Since Dorsey voted against outsourcing in February, some may not have understood why he could then vote for an outsourcing company. Jim Bruce did not vote because he has a financial arrangement with CCRES, presumably because of his Board position with the company. Liz Mercogliano abstained last week as she did in February. I’m not clear on why Rev. Dorsey would not follow through with his February ‘no’ vote and vote no against any outsourcing company. Because the vote was 7=1 in February to outsource, the dye was set — so why not stay the course and vote no for an outsourcing company.

    Again to be clear, as you state — the school board vote last week was not on whether to outsource but a vote to select CCRES as the outsourcing company for the aides and paras.

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    Shining Light Reply:

    This is their management style. They manipulate and co opt.

    Scott was made the Board Representative to the ICU/CCRES.

    He became comfortable with them through his association as Board Rep. Given his position, it would have been awkward and a sign of no support, for him to vote against them. If he were truly against outsourcing, he would have abstained.

    Through familiarity, his allegiance to the ICU/CCRES became stronger than his promise to stand by the aides and paras. And it was an easy thing to rationalize since he had already voted no in Feb.

    For those not closely intimate with all the workings of the process, Scott’s vote for CCRES gives the impression he is for outsourcing to the public at large.

    Bravo!

  5. Thank you Pattye and Neal, without you both, we’d have no voice. Your support will always be appreciated. It is apparent this Board really doesn’t have the community and students best interests in their agenda, nor do they hear the voices in front of them. Nothing anyone can do but get all your neighbors out on Election Day.

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    Neal Colligan Reply:

    You always have a voice and we’re all lucky to have Pattye. She’s the real worker here. Not only does she give the community a place to discuss these topics; she goes to fairly great lengths to “get to the bottom” on many of these important local issues. THAT takes time and a willingness to sit through numerous meetings, interface with the people involved and report back here. We’re all in her debt….

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  6. TENIG came close to losing jobs to an outside vendor the last time and it wont be long until its contract negotiations again. Seeing that Dorsey voted to outsource the aides, hes no help for us.

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    Shining Light Reply:

    TENIG EMPLOYEE,

    By the time, the TENIG contract expires, Scott will have had years of experience as the Chester County Intermediate (CCIU) Repreentative. My guess is, as soon as the election is over in November, he will be appointed to the Board of Directors replacing Jim Bruce who is stepping down and not seeking re election. The Chester County Intermediate Unit provides services to the 12 school districts in Chester County. This includes services to nearly 86,000 public and non-public school students and over 6,000 educators. CCIU’s major services include: special education and compensatory education programs; career, technical and customized education; mentor training and staff development; technology initiatives; consortia for school business operations; and curriculum services.

    The Chester County Intermediate Unit is one of 29 regional educational agencies established by law in Pennsylvania in 1971. Working between the Pennsylvania State Department of Education and the local school districts, the intermediate unit’s mission is to provide services that can be offered most economically at the regional level.

    CCIU Board of Directors

    The Chester County Intermediate Unit Board of Directors is comprised of one board member from each of the 12 school public school districts in Chester County, Pennsylvania. They are elected to office by the county’s 108 public school directors.

    Bonnie J. Wolff, President, Avon Grove School District
    James D. Bruce, Vice President, Tredyffrin/Easttown School District
    Diane Brownfield, Coatesville Area School District
    Jacqueline Fenn, Downingtown Area School District
    Carol Palmaccio, Great Valley School District
    Rudy Alfonso, Kennett Consolidated School District
    Timothy Alexander, Octorara Area School District
    Kristina Barcus, Owen J. Roberts School District
    Howard S. Robinson, Oxford Area School District
    Kevin Pattinson, Phoenixiville Area School District
    Jeff Hellrung, Unionville-Chadds Ford School District
    Susan Tiernan, West Chester Area School District
    Janice L. Heagy, CCIU Board Secretary
    Sandra McCabe, CCIU Board Treasurer

    http://www.cciu.org/page/19

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    Shining Light Reply:

    TENIG Employee,

    Also:

    Substitute Teachers, Aides and Nurses
    Effective July 1, 2015, the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) is partnering with Source4Teachers to manage the substitute program for CCIU programs and all participating school entities in Chester County. Source4Teachers is a seasoned educational staffing agency dedicated to providing qualified, trained and certified substitute professionals to school districts.

    If you are interested in learning more about substitute teacher, instructional assistant or nurse positions in Chester County, please visit the Source4Teachers website for more information on how to apply.

    http://www.cciu.org/page/213

    Company”). S4T, through its Source4Teachers and MissionOne divisions, is a leading provider of outsourced substitute teacher and paraprofessional managed services to K-12 schools in the eastern United States.

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  7. Yes, Reverend Dorsey could have continued to oppose outsourcing and abstained from voting on the CCRES vs. Delta T choice. But he knew the reality was that it was going to happen because he was the only voting SB member (Ms Mercogliano recused herself from voting on this) who opposed outsourcing, and he felt his obligation was to be sure the aides and paras had the better option.

    Having talked to him about it, I know he did not know how the rest of the Board was going to vote. At an earlier meeting, most members had expressed support for Delta T, and before Monday’s meeting, Scott had gotten a number of requests from aides, paras and parents to make sure the outsourcer was CCRES – a much better match for the well-educated and well-trained group affected in T/E.

    It’s easy to throw mud and then call people dirtbags. (lovely choice of word for people who volunteer for a thankless job that takes them away from family and job for 10+ hours a week. An especially inappropriate word to call a minister who spends all of his time helping children and families.)

    I am disappointed with a number of decisions this Board has made, and most disappointed in the secretive manner in which they’ve made them. I’m also disturbed by the way in which the public is treated when they speak at SB meetings. Yes, elected SB members are privy to information the public doesn’t know – sometimes because it is deliberately withheld – but SB members owe the residents of this District more respect when they express their concerns and opinions.

    The policy of taking all questions before cherry-picking which are worthy of answers is in practice absurd. It was so clearly put in place to avoid direct contact with the questioner and to dilute the issue or concern by the time any response is given. And if the question is misinterpreted or not fully answered, too bad. Try standing to restate your question and SB solicitor and cop, Ken Roots, tells you to sit down. (And at last week’s meeting, there were FOUR Tredyffrin policemen to back him up – on the taxpayers’ dime, no doubt.)

    This is, as Ray Clarke said, a farce. Administrators and SB members skim the list of questions as interpreted and scribed by Mr. McConnell, and respond only to those they deem “relevant”. Or more accurately, those they feel like answering with the information they feel like supplying.

    Real communication at televised SB meetings is almost non-existent. And School Board members have a policy of not responding to any resident emails – ever. As SB member, Mr. Buraks suggests, you need to show up at the appropriate committee meeting – some held at very inconvenient day-time hours – to expect a direct response.

    I agree the make-up and tone of this board has to change significantly if parents and taxpayers want real change in the way this Board operates.

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    Will Reply:

    Oh god, please spare us the bleeding heart craplola. I feel no pity for time away from family, These people volunteered for these jobs. I don’t care if he’s a minister. That means nothing. The guy ran on outright opposition to outsourcing of any kind! He is a total hypocrite. These are the facts.

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    Shining Light Reply:

    Scott is the ICU/CCRES Board representative.

    If Scott remained opposed to outsourcing, he would have abstained.

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    Shining Light Reply:

    The policy of taking all questions before cherry-picking which are worthy of answers is in practice absurd. It was so clearly put in place to avoid direct contact with the questioner and to dilute the issue or concern by the time any response is given. And if the question is misinterpreted or not fully answered, too bad.

    ————————————————————–
    Excellent description.

    SB meetings and especially school Committees run by parents should serve as forums for the exchange of ideas and information among parents teachers and citizen tax payers in the District. The goals should be to continue to improve education for children and provide a forum for discussion and possible resolution of areas of concern.

    Instead, the SB/Administration essentially presents a lecture/monolog to the public about what they intend to do, instead of inviting the public to converse with them about what could happen.

    There is no dialog with the community. Language is used to avoid communication.

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    Shining Light Reply:

    Although I’m not big on name calling or mud slinging, Will or anyone else for that matter has a constitutional right to speak to public officials any way they want. Public officials have a TREMENDOUS amount of power over our lives.

    As we have seen, they protect and guard their own fiercely, while they take citizens, parents, students and employees to task for exercising their constitutional rights.

    SB Directors, are supposed to represent our best interests, instead they sit silently by and say nothing about Administrator bad behavior, they push through actions that citizens are strongly against, and they work hard to conduct meetings in secret so decisions can be made with no public input. Meanwhile, they take citizens to task for exercising their constitutional right to speak freely.

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  8. First off if you are going to run your campaign platform around saving the aides don’t vote against it. If you do, please state why you are changing your heart and voice. You could be Mother Theresa but if you lied you lied.

    The cherry picking of questions is a total joke, yet fail to laugh about it.

    You want to raise our taxes, charge our seniors to park and play sports and we can’t ask serious questions to a board the public elects? Let alone the administration you continue to give a hefty bonus to year in and year out. Tell us why you continue to do that?

    While most elected positions are thankless. Ask yourself why did you run for the school board? What were you going to make a difference about? Making the teachers the best, or slapping the backs of the big wigs in charge? Or changing your heart and selling a soul or telling a lie or two to win?
    It all boils down to the root of all evil. Money. Never mind what may be in the best interest of children. My goodness no.

    In reality this is really about children and wanting the best for them. Most of us moved here because of the rankings, the opportunity and yet the people elected or promoted need to be called out on some serious BS. We punish our children if they are tardy, text, or fail to turn in work. Or break rules.
    Why should the public be hushed at meetings or surrounded by police?
    What are you scared of T/E? The very tax payers who want the best for their children and investment? Perhaps we the community can’t handle the truth. Bravo to this site and the people not fearful of trying to stand up and out.

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  9. I really hope this doesn’t negatively affect the kids. In my son’s classroom alone there are 4 children with aides…

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    Shining Light Reply:

    Christine,

    The best way to find out if this action negatively affects the kids in your son’s classroom and all the classrooms is to make sure and pay attention next year. Ask your son and ask your sons’ teachers how this action is affecting the kids and operations in the classrooms.

    Outsourcing companies are driven by profit and not by the same high standards that TESD demanded from their direct hire employees. Managerial control will be non existent in the classroom. Teachers will have no control over these employees, nor will Principals. This may be a problem because the employees will not be driven by the same mission as beloved aides and paras who live in the community and deeply care about the students.

    Please report back to us next year. I am very interested in hearing what you and others find out.

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    Tom Salem Reply:

    Actually my experience with outsourced employees are they are far easier to manage. They aren’t part of a union so if they do one thing that you don’t like, you call the company and they are gone the next day. The school district have been utilizing outsourced employees for years so it shouldn’t be an issue. Most of the contracted people I had working for me were just as reliable and mission oriented as my union employees because they knew if they did a good job their contract was extended.

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    Shining Light Reply:

    Tom,

    You say, “They aren’t part of a union so”

    Aides and paras in the TESD aren’t part of a union either so your point about

    “if they do one thing that you don’t like, you call the company and they are gone the next day” does not apply.

    And you’re right, school districts have been outsourcing employees for years but that does not mean it isn’t an issue. Just because school are doing it, doesn’t mean it is working. The only way to know if it is working, is to talk to teachers, TENIG workers, custodians etc. but most are too afraid to talk or too afraid to talk and say the truth.

  10. TENIG employee,

    Can you or other TENIG employees provide any insight or explanation on why members voted 23-21 to disallow 20 non-instructional aides to join TENIG.

    I know that TENIG employees, stop and thank co-signers of the letter for their part in the information written and submitted to the Board concerning the Sunshine Law violation as it relates to the Board’s secret deliberations around the decision to out source the aides/paras.

    Why would 23 TENIG members vote against this? It makes no sense to me.

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  11. You aren’t reading my statement correctly and it doesn’t appear from your statement you have any personal managerial experience with this type of thing. The concern I was replying to was about the aides and paras that will be part of the outsourced contract group. I was replying to the statement “Managerial control will be non existent”.

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  12. I’m reading your statement just fine and I have plenty of managerial experience.

    When reading about the risks of outsourcing, loss of control appears at the top of almost every list. You’re lucky you’re one of the few it seems to work out for.

    As I said, we’ll find out soon enough if the district is as lucky as you are.

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  13. Don’t know where you’re going with this. Very easy information to access in seconds so I’m assuming you will find something wrong with the source I site.

    Give me a source that you trust. Are you a wall street journal guy? A business publication guy? Or MSNBC or Time guy. Do you like Warren Buffet? Jamie Diamond? Who do you trust?

    [Reply]

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