I attended the 2-hour community meeting this week on school safety. The current safety procedures and planned enhancements were presented by Kevin Buraks, president of the T/E School Board, Tredyffrin Police Supt. Andy Giaimo, Easttown Police Chief David Obzud, the District’s architect Tom Daley, TESD Supt. Dan Waters, TESD Business Manager Art McDonnell and head of TESD Safety Committee (and Vice Principal of Conestoga HS) Andrew Phillips.
There was much discussion from the various panel members about the need to ‘harden’ the schools – to make it more difficult for entry into the schools. Some of the safety changes expected to be in place by the end of January include a new buzzer system in each of the schools. After school starts each day, all doors will be locked and visitors to the schools must be ‘buzzed-in’. Visitors to the schools will now be required to show photo IDs. Additional security cameras are to be installed at each school. Glass at the front entrance of each school will be equipped with a 3M safety and security film. This durable safety film is impact-resistant, making it much more difficult for bullet penetration.
Rather than audience members directly asking questions of the panel, questions were written on index cards. McDonnell grouped the questions and during the last half of the meeting asked the panel members to respond to the questions. Many questions had to do with the safety of the children outside of the school buildings – recess on the playground, field trips, etc. in addition to the student’s safety before and after school in the buildings. Although the questions were wide-ranging, there was no discussion of ‘arming’ the teachers and or administration. Clearly, all questions were not asked, there was a gentleman behind me in the audience who complained 3 times to one of the runners picking up the index card, that his question had not been asked of the panel. Using the index cards as the means to ask questions controlled which questions would be answered.
Personally, the bombshell of the evening came towards the end of the meeting. TESD Supt. Dan Waters spoke of hiring a safety consultant to review the current security of the District. Based on the Tredyffrin’s recent consulting study to review its police department which cost the taxpayers $49K, just hearing the word ‘consultant’ sends up a red flag. But in the case of the school district, the ‘bigger’ red flag was who Waters named as the District’s safety consultant … Tredyffrin’s former police chief Andy Chambers! Waters stated that he had a personal relationship with Chambers, having worked with him for 25 years and that Chambers knew the school buildings and would not need to be brought up to speed as other possible consultants. Doesn’t Dan Waters and the School Board recall the controversy surrounding Chambers and his departure from Tredyffrin’s Police Department?
To refresh everyone’s memory — In December 2011, the former police chief Andy Chambers was suspended for 4 days as a result of allowing his 16-year old son to drive a township police car which was subsequently involved in an accident in November 2011. Chambers failed to report the vehicle accident to the BoS – the information was leaked to the supervisors a month later through an anonymous tip. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, Chambers ultimately retired while serving his suspension. To say that Chambers left Tredyffrin Township Police Department ‘under a dark cloud’ would be quite an understatement!
Given the background of Chamber’s departure from Tredyffrin’s police department, why would the school district want to invite the controversy that comes with his hiring as a safety consultant? Just because Waters has a personal relationship of 25 years with Chambers should not be ‘reason enough’ for his hiring as a consultant. 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.
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Although the incident leading to the resignation of Superintendent Chambers was unfortunate, I believe that he is totally qualified to advise the TE School Board. My contact with Superintendent Chambers during my years in office was always very positive. His experience and indepth knowledge of the community makes him superbly qualified to provide direction to the Board.
Former Rep Rubley,
With all due respect, former Superintendent Chambers had and abused the trust of the community. I submit that somebody who truly knows this community would not have done that. It’s also far from clear what qualifications, other than being Dan Waters’ friend, Chambers has. Your labeling of Chambers’ departure as “Unfortunate” completely misunderstates the facts and circumstances about his departure. He let his son drive a police vehicle, that was damaged. In response, Chambers tried to cover that up. But for the officers that called it out, it’s far from clear how Chambers could work with the TTPD on this matter.
Chambers abused the public trust. Why would we trust him on a matter as important as this? How somebody like you doesn’t get that starts to answer why things are in the mess they are around here. You are entitled to your own opinion, not your own facts Carole.
I submit that like Dan Waters, you too are letting a personal relationship cloud your judgment.
Government always looks out for their own when they screw up.
A citizen screws up? The full force of the law comes down on you.
Where was the board on this? Did they approve the recommendation? Or did Dr. Waters make an executive decision?
If they approved the recommendation, it’s illustrustrates the point that there is no line between the board and the administration because what public serving board would approve something as blantantly improper as this.
If the board didn’t know about it, Dr, Waters’s sense of entitlement is astounding.
It’s troubling either way.
Dr. Waters had to have known this decision would be highly scrutinized. I wonder why he thought this decision would be in the best interest of TESD? You can already obtain the same services Chambers would provide through Obzud and Giaimo for free. The Dr. Waters absolutely should have looked outside personal relationships for this decision. I believe the evaluation PSP would have provided for free would me more effective and valuable. If he made this decision on his own with no additional input, that would be very disconcerting.
Wow! It is amazing how incestuous things are in the TESD. Chambers may have been a police officer, but he has no experience in school security matters. This is nepotism at its finest for a home grown favorite. Our children will not be any safer with him at the helm. Unbelievable!
how many hours at 125 will the community be charged>?
I saw the meeting on T.V and Dr. Waters stated that after Columbine, the district benefited from a study and upgrades. He also stated that after VA Tech, a consultant was hired and not much came out of it.
At the end of the meeting, Dr. Waters went on to state that he has been friends with Mr. Chambers, the new consultant hired for this latest incident, for 25 years.
Aside from a personal relationship with Dr. Waters, what other qualifications does Mr Chambers have regarding the efficacy of his consultative services.
Since not much came out of the consultative services he received after the VA Tech. incident, why should we do this again. What is different about this time.
According to the listing on the Township web site, six polling places are located in Tredyffrin schools (two in New Eagle School, three in Conestoga, one in T-E Middle School, and one at VF Middle School.
Any plan for access control at these schools should include provision for voters, candidates, poll workers, etc. that would not require special ID, beyond that called for by state law.
Gene, Like is done in other school districts, isn’t the simplest solution to close the T/E schools on Election Day. My vote would be for the school board to address Election Day 2013 and make the necessary adjustments to the calendar.
I agree. For years I have advocated closing TE schools on election day to allow all precincts in both townships vote at the schools as is the case in other school districts. The SD could easily make these 2 days each year in-service days for the teachers.
To me, it’s always been a ‘no brainer’.
When did the board vote on hiring a consultant? Waters talked that the district hired a consultant following Columbine and Va Tech but I don’t recall seeing reports from either of those consultants. What were the safety results from those consultant reports, and did the district follow the suggestions. I would also like to know if the district produced a RFP to hire this safety consultant?
Don’t get me wrong, I want the kids and teachers to be safe in our schools, but is Chambers really the right guy for the job? There’s got to be some bad blood between him and the cops. After all, wasn’t it a fellow cop who blew the whistle about Chamber’s son driving the cop car and then wrecking it. If the school board feels that they need a safety consultant, there must be someone else that doesn’t have so much baggage.
I admit I don’t know any more details about the Chambers incidents than what has been printed. However, I interacted with him a few times, and always came away reassured that we had a person who knew what he was doing watching our backs, children and property. That being said, I don’t deny he had a serious error in judgement. I haven’t seen him since he retired, but I hope he wants to redeem himself, repair his image, and we get extra effort from him on this project.
That being said, I now write as an anxious parent with one child at New Eagle headed to VFMES next year, and another child starting at NEES in a couple of years. Andy Chambers is the best choice for this work. Think about it. Starting in about 2001 or 2002 he was second-in-command at TTPD, and in 2008, or so he took over as Superintendent.
Very likely, when he became Captain, he became the designated scene commander should any major incident occur within the TTPD jurisdiction including school scenarios. In training for this role, he would have already done several?, dozens?, maybe hundreds of table-top exercises, many of which would pertain to the schools.
Judging from the couple of times I ran into him at Diane’s or Gateway Diner where he was still dressed in black tactical clothing looking like he’d been up all night, he’s probably participated in, if not commanded, several tactical missions and exercises many likely involving school scenarios.
Finally, according to his colleagues’ comments when I participated in the TTPD Citizen’s Police Academy in 2003, one of Andy’s Lieutenants at the time, Lt. Dintino, basically “wrote the book” that is used in Pennsylvania by police tactical teams. This tells me that during the 2000’s, the TTPD tactical team, under Dintino, under Chambers, would have planned and trained for school scenarios years ago, and have been doing so ever since.
Now, do I have proof of ALL of this? Not exactly. Am I a guy that should ever have that much knowledge? Nope. Would I bet money that Andy directly, or indirectly, knows almost all of the schools’ weak security points TODAY without additional study time or expense? Yep. Do I think he should still be Superintendent after his lapse? Nope. Do I think less of Superintendent Giaimo? Nope. He’s got a (shrinking) police force to run. Any way to make them more efficient is welcome. Do I wish Dr. Waters would have not emphasized his personal relationship with Andy and focused on professional credentials? Yep.
Am I happy that Andy is involved, again, in making my kids, and their teachers safer using his unique knowledge of our school facility weaknesses, poor response routes (the Pugh wagon trail), and his time with one of Pennsylvania’s best tactical trainers? No question about it.
I understand your perspective of being a parent. I caution you not to fall into the trap of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt). I also caution you from making a conclusion based on emotion and as you say, anxiousness. I also read Andrea’s response below about the story with her daughter and how that related to Chambers. As compelling as that is to specific people, those anecdotes have nothing to do with the issue. They also ignore a number of important facts.
Looking at the matter objectively, I note the following:
o Other than conjecture and extrapolation, there is not a shred of evidence that Chambers has the specific expertise required to be a security consutlant in this context.
o Dan Waters noted two things about Chambers as to his qualifications: his knowing the community and his knowledge of the school buildings. I’d suggest that on that basis, the current Tredyffrin and Easttown police chiefs have the same expertise.
o I am not aware of any security consulting business Chambers has . As far as I know, he’s not been hired as a police officer, in either a patrol or command capacity. As I understand it, he has a landscaping business, the same business that he ran while he was on the TTPD. There are reports that there may have been an impermissible collusion of those two roles.
o Andy Chambers was effecitively dismissed from the TTPD, not for letting his son drive a police car, but for lying and attempting to cover up those events. I find it ironic that Dan waters would say as a qualification that Chambers “knows” the community. As I said earlier, if Chambers knew and respected the community, he would not have acted as he did. Officially, he was allowed to retire, which in my opinion was an outrage.
o The only way the supervisors and public found out about Chambers’ activity was through anonymous tips from those in the TTPD. That should tell us a lot. It says to me there was no confidence and no respect for Chambers in the TTPD. And in this role, he has to work with the TTPD? How is that possible? It seems impossible to me.
It seems to me that this matter deserves to be addressed without distractions. Facts and circumstances surrounding Andy Chambers amount to a lot of distractions. We really don’t even have to get to the point of evaluating whether Chambers is qualified. I have nothing personally against Andy Chambers. Looking at this objectively and professionally, Andy Chambers isn’t just a bad choice, he shouldn’t have been a choice. I also find it disturbing that the TTPD nor the School Board appears to have been part of this decision. How bad is this decision? Dan Waters should be fired for making such a decision.
I don’t think personal service consulting requires an RFP. (Architects, engineers, solicitors).
I’m sure if you go back and read the meetings of the safety committee for the past decade or so, you will see lots of input from consultants and others. In fact, I do not believe there was ever an official report produced in the past (I ‘m not sure but I don’t recall one) because that woudl create a liability if the district chose not to do some of the “recommendations.” And if you publish the security measures, you create a roadmap to bypassing them.
As to Chambers, I have no opinion on the blood with he and the cops, but I do know that getting advice from someone who knows what the market will bear as well as the overall character of the community is far more worthwhile than an RFP that might produce a consultant with a report similar to the report the generated from boilerplate info for the Tredyffrin BOS.
Again, the school district has limits on funding under state rules. The townships do not. If you want more security around the schools, speak up and get the townships to hire to full capacity.
I tried to speak up. But my card was discarded as was another question about Conestoga High School and hoping it won’t turn in to a ‘prison’ for the kids who adore the freedom there with free periods and coming and going.
This was the perfect evening for the township to know if we want police to get outside and mingle among our kids or have lunch (that was suggested or soon expected) perhaps hire a few more so our town and schools are the safest they can be.
Recess seemed to be a big UNKNOWN and wouldn’t it be great at random times police stopped by and was close by during recess to offer the kids the opportunity to be kids and get fresh air and fun and be protected?
I think Anthony Giaimo
Superintendent of Police didn’t want to alarm the parents already worried. It was a good chance for him to ‘ask’ for more bodies. By the way he was very well spoken as was the chief at Easttown.
I would like to agree with Doug Jones and Carole Rubley. As a parent, I had the unfortunate experience of my high school daughter being stalked by a predator from Upper Darby. This was under the watch of the superintendent that preceded Supt. Chambers. because it was a school issue, Capt Chambers was directed to deal with it. His familiarity with the district facilities and key players will –in my opinion–ensure that any report would reflect conditions of our reality. Any “consultant” would likely spend more than half their time getting up to speed. There is no controversy on Supt. Chambers credentials…after all, he rose through the ranks here to BECOME Superintendant. His judgment about his own son may ironically make him more qualified as well as sensitive to issues of school security, as he can understand the fear parents experience, and how much is at stake. As to controversy, I respectfully disagree that bringing in a vetted professional that you trust has any downside. it’s the information and advice produced we are seeking. The public has little if any reason to care who the person is, as long as their credentials are in place. There should be very little interaction–think of this job as the solicitor or the auditor–you don’t have to like them–you need to benefit from their expertise.
“Disappointed” above possibly overstates Rep. Rubley’s endorsement by suggesting she has produced her own facts, when I believe she is relying on her knowledge of credentials and conveying a comfort level, not some review of “public trust.” How is judgment about family conduct related to evaluating security in buildings? I’m asking, because I don’t see the connection.
Are you reducing what Andy did as “Family Conduct”? Uh….I think you, like Carole and Dan Waters, are letting some personal bias cloud your objectivity. The fact is, Andy lied and tried to cover up the incident with his son. That’s why he is no longer running the Tredyffrin Police Dept. It’s entirely connected. Ignoring facts is tantamount to creating your own facts.
For you to say that Chambers’ experience with his son somehow makes him more qualified is laughable. You were a School Board Member, right? Thank goodness you are no longer on that board.
Interest name. Since I previously posted as Township Reader, who went by TR, I really have no interest in your feedback. (Interesting that when I posted as Andrea, to associate myself with the school board, I got attitude towards females. When I posted as TR, most assumed I was male and the responses were far different. Kind of interesting….though some chose to be negative whenever they thought it was me. )
Anyway, you chose to usurp or disguise or tarnish any reputation I had gained with that name and now you “dont want to be attacking” former elected officials. All Rs. I think self-loathing is part of that? I love that you say we are former elected Republicans. Trivia question — what Democrats ran against me? John Waldeyer was the only Republican I ever met with in a formal capacity….and I think we know his reputation. If you read here, you certainly do.
As to your comment about me: I am more glad I am not on that board that you could ever be. It was the most thankless and scrutinized volunteer position I ever had. I did it for kids. I had parents who came and said their brilliant kids were not getting enough attention because of all these “special ed” problem children, and why couldn’t we have an elementary school just for the bright children? Really? Yep. I had parents having their 2nd graders being tutored in math trying to keep them above grade level, saying our classes were too large. Do you have any idea how much we aspire to be Lake Woebegone…and send everyone to Ivy League schools (or on atheltic scholarships). This community too often belittles and undermines and scrutinizes things without any first-hand knowledge of the topic at hand. Suspicion? Loads of it. I never said JD was wrong in all his comments — just that his choice of forum was incorrect and he behaved as a bully and blamed Pattye for problems he could have addressed on his own Do I think Andy was a good choice? I wasn’t party to the discussion or the conclusions. I was very satisfied with hisAndy’s efforts when my daughter was a crime victim. His achievements as he rose through the ranks here were well chronicled. He is a consultant. If the local police can’t work with him, then they are not professional in my opinion. Kind of remember “Catch Me If You Can” — who knows more about the district than someone who spent his career in law enforcement working with it?
Whether it is Andy or whomever, I am more satisfied with Dr. Waters and his steady hand on the tiller of the TESD. This shooting happened in Sandy Hook, remember? We are not doing a post-mortem on our district. After all — we “supersized” Conestoga amidst cries of turning our district into Columbine. We are talking about a TESD committee that now has an advisor/consultant on it making $125 an hour. That’s too much. Dr. Waters should not be paying Chambers that much and I have said so. BUT WHY are people complaining here? I said above –write the school board. I have no personal knowledge of what Andy Chambers did. And he resigned. He comes to the table with an abundance of prior knowledge that won’t cost $125 an hour to build.
So TR — whatever your point is — make it to someone else. These things have not happened on my watch, and safety breaches are what we are studying, not character. And let’s pretend syntax and style are not easy to camoflauge….because they are not. And for the record – my reference to Chambers is as a parent, not enhancing his credentials but making him likely more sensitive to the hyper-vigilance that our parents in this community express and expect.
Can someone please return us to the topic of school safety? As someone posted here, the addition of one consultant to a committee filled with people (many of whom are law enforcement professionals) is just not worthy of this political hack job TR is trying to do. If you oppose the hiring of Andy Chambers, oppose it someplace that matters. If the Board supports the decision, it’s in your hands.
The Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) is holding a Safe Schools Summit on Jan 31st for all Chester County school administrators and School Directors.
The State has a web site on safe schools http://www.safeschools.info/about
The Pennsylvania State Police will assess the security of schools free of charge. Assessments provide comprehensive examinations of physical facilities and operational procedures; identify critical assets, threat potential and vulnerabilities; and offer recommendations to improve security. http://www.safeschools.info/images/stories/RVAT_brochure.pdf
I’m thinking about the qualifications I would desire for a safety consultant. I’d want someone who was already familiar with the several high profile (Columbine, Sandy Hook) incidents and how they might have been prevented. I’d want someone who was already familiar with the dozens of one-on-one school assaults that occur each year and how they might have been prevented. I’d want someone who is already familiar with the top ten school hardening techniques, their effectiveness and their cost. What I wouldn’t rate high is the knowledge of how law enforcement should patrol or respond to an incident – that, I believe, is available for free from local law enforcement.
Good suggestions Keith. What are your folks in UCF doing? By the way, kudos on the SAT scores for UCF! I was perusing some sights and found this one
If you go down the list, it suggests Andy Chambers is one of those “risky consultants” He’s
– Law enforcement only (Previous)
– Part time (perhaps; who are his other clients)
– Somebody with serious credibiity issues.
If you apply Andrea’s anecdote with her daughter (which does not apply here but I’ll reference it becuase she did), this organization also cautions against hiring somebody whose reputation is built around one crisis event. The issue Andrea’s daughter went through, while no doubt a crisis for the family, was not the kind of crisis we are talking about.
I think it’s also fair to say that the last “crisis” we can recall for Andy Chambers is one that he did not rise to the levels that some are trying to prop him up to now. Seriously, what if there is something in he finds that some will want him to suppress? What if he finds now issues but feels the need to to find something? It all goes to trust, right?
Seriously Keith, given Andy’s background and the circumstances that he left the TTPD, would you hire him? Would you put your reputation on the line for him? What I’m getting from your comments is that the answer would be no.
I am amazed at some people in this community and how they could look the other way. These same people were not complaining when he was forced out as chief. And now there is the call for him. I don’t get it when there are other options available to us.
Hope that the District will also rely on external resources to avoid reliance on any one consultant’s advice. For example, a quick Google search found that Pennsylvania has an Office of Safe Schools within the Pennsylvania Department of Education that provides technical assistance to schools, including in the area of emergency management. (http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/office_of_elementary_secondary_education/7209/office_of_safe_schools/1152067) They also have grants for efforts to prevent and reduce violence on campuses.
I have to agree with Andrea, Carole, and Doug Jones on this one. Andy Chambers was the liaison between the Tredyffrin police and the school district for many years – back before he was Superintendent, when he was “Captain” Chambers. As such, he worked closely with Dr. Waters and the school administration on school security and student discipline issues. He would have been intimately familliar with the discussions and security enhancements made in response to the Columbine tragedy, as well as being generally familliar with the students and the community. No doubt he has been involved in SWAT type training. I think the forgoing makes him well qualified for the job at hand.
Yeah, he showed poor judgement in regards to his son (on that one occasion at least). I have two boys of my own, and I can think of some mistakes I made with them. It is easy to do, as every parent knows. I don’t think that is particularly relevant to the question at hand.
By the way, there was a report with specific recommendations that was produced by the consultant hired in 1999 – 2000 to review district security needs after Columbine. It was not made public – legitimately so – because that would only educate potential assailants. Don’t expect to see any such document released in public.
Wow, another former school board member agrees with Andrea and Carole. Kevin, Andy would have to work with the police department that effectively sacked him. As ti turns out, Chambers LIED and tried to cover up the incident with his son. How in the world do you, Andrea, Carole not see that as mattering? Word has it, he’s getting paid $125 an hour? And now you say the report would not and should not be made public? What the heck is going on here? Seriously, you condone rewarding bad behavior? No wonder this place is like a train wreck.
Kevin, Andy was the CHIEF OF POLICE. He doesn’t get to lie and cover up a mistake. If he had simply owed up to it, then yes, I’d say he would have been shown to have tood character. His lying and attempt to cover up shows a lack of character. Do you understand that is what you, Andrea and Carole are endorsing. It’s not lost on me that all three of you are formerly elected Republicans in this township. It comes as no surprise that folks like you are quick to come to the aid of your friend, regardless of what he did to abuse the public trust. I don’t mean to come off as attacking any of you. I am however, outraged that you three, as former elected officials that also held the public trust, would be so quick to downplay and ignore Andy’s transgressions.
Yes the cover up is troubling – always worse than the actual incident itself. But he is being hired to consult and advise on security matters and the key qualification is knowledge, which he has. For this type of position, that is the determining factor. For others, your point would be well taken. If I were in Dan Waters’ shoes, I might not have asked for Chambers – not because he is not qualified, but because of the appearances and the objections that some might raise because of the incident. But Waters apparently asked for him, and he (Chambers) is well qualified, so were I still on the board I probably would have gone along with the recommendation. Corporations hire ex-felons to advise on security because the key qualification is knowledge and nothing more. Not comparing Chambers to a felon, of course. What Chambers did cost him his job. Enough already.
By the way, if you think I am any kind of insider “Republican” you are very much mistaken. You don’t know me at all, and you don’t know how the board works. The TTRC wishes they had the kind of clubby control you refer to over the school board. They do not. I was the first Democrat to win a seat on the board in 1999, defeating a Republican endorsed candidate. In the last election, I supported Karen Cruickshank, Democrat and board president, with a lettter of endorsement in the newspaper. Her challenger was an associate working in the law firm of the TTRC chairman. On this blog I repeatedly pointed out the lies in the Republican campaign during that election and took them to task. Your comment about me having anything to do with any kind of innappropriate partisanship is way off target.
And your idea that the report should be made public is terrible. That would only give potential killers a road map showing exctly how to defeat any security measures we adopt to protect the kids.
Yes the cover up is troubling – always worse than the actual incident itself. But he is being hired to consult and advise on security matters and the key qualification is knowledge, which he has. For this type of position, that is the determining factor.
In your opinion. I’ll grant you, it’s A determining factor. You would agree that somebody could be an acknowledged expert, but have a checkered past and because of those distractions, not be hired for a job that uses his/her expertise.
As to expertise, and it’s far from clear whether Andy has the expertise you and some others give him credit for. Other than a personal relationship, feeling, etc, you and others don’t have a single objective shred of objective evidence to support your point. The only person I’m aware of that has sanctioned and endorsed this is Dan Waters, who is not a security expert. If he was so comfortable with this, then why not give the board and the public an opportunity to weigh in? Is there something like a Good Housekeeping Seal for this sort of expertise? Is there a certification? Would you have a tax lawyer handle criminal defense? Of course not. Andy isn’t even an employed police officer anymore? Why is that?
As for the GOP digs getting laid at your doorstep, I agree that has nothing to do with the matter as to you, Andrea and Carole. Besides, I know you are no GOP insider. They sacked you after all. What does matter is your collective rationale is off. You all are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.
Tell us Kevin, being the Andy supporter you are here, where were you when he was forced out? Did you think that was unfair? Were you defending him then? He would have to work with the TTPD in this capacity and that appears to be a fact you, Andrea and Carole have ignored.
My prediction, this appointment will get reversed.
Another point: you said “No wonder this place is like a train wreck.” You are outraged. Well, so am I – at your calling one of the finest school districts in the state a “train wreck.”
And I am not defending my friend as you suggest. I hardly know Mr. Chambers. I have never worked with him and know him only by reputation and by the high opinion Dr. Waters has of him. I have met Chambers at a few functions, and other than say “hello” I doubt more than ten words ever passed between us. Different story with Dan Waters. Him I do defend. He has shown good judgment over the years and has done a great job with the district. That’s why I would be inclined to accept his recommendation in a matter like this, even where, as here, there are some problematic aspects to it.
To be clear, you don’t know Chambers but you know Waters and are defending him. You know that Chambers lied and covered up an incident that led to his dismisal. He did that as the top law enforcement official in the township. In some contexts, that was a crime. Dan Waters has ignored that and has hired him. In Dan Waters’ statement, he cites his personal relationship and his feelign that Chambers knows the community. Nowhere are Andy’s specific qualifications cited.
With that as a background, you are transferring your knowledge and trust of Waters to Chambers.
The train wreck comment is directed at the community as a whole. This however, is a train wreck of a decision.
I guess if the school needs financial operation consultation, you would be OK with them hiring Harry Marrone as a consultant as well.
It’s your agument. The only one that has to be comfortable with it is you. You are somebody who belileves in letting people get a second chance to violate the public trust when they had already done so in the not so recent past.
Tell us Kevin, what consideration is the TTPD owed on this? Or, is it only your friend that gets to decide the rules of the game?
Interest logic you have Kevin.
When the superintendant stands up and confidently states that he awarded a contract to a friend of 25 years, I can’t help but be struck by what I consider a strong sense of impropriety.
I ask myself, is this hubris? or am I out of touch?
I’m with you on this one. I watched the presentation & Waters repeatedly referred to his personal relationship with Chambers as if that was all that mattered. Im sorry but the police supt let his kid drive a police car without a license and has an accident. If the supervisors had never found out, Chambers would not have been caught. I dont care if he is a nice guy, doesnt anyone see that the man broke the law. Based on what most of these comments, people seem OK with him collecting $ from the school district. I dont agree.
When lives are the issue, trust in the advice is paramount. Before he went into general administration, Dan Waters was the Principal of Conestoga High School. He came to this district into that job having served as a principal in other districts. His connection to Andy Chambers began in those days on the front lines. Dr. Waters has served TE at a very high level. I would say he has earned the right to select his own source of advice. I would also be confident saying that if the advice warrants additional input, he will seek it. Andy and Dan are fathers. Parents surely need to trust that this is about kids.
Kevin — I think the report was after Va Tech — we specifically did not do a written report after Columbine that I recall. We had input and formed the safety committee, but avoided any documents that might be subject to public scrutiny about safey recommendations. One of the ass’t principals at CHS in those days was married to a ranking State Police Officer and we got input from him as well.
Here’s my fear friends — 100,000,000 kids go to school every day We live in a violent culture, but we cannot even begin to imagine every threat. Either here or elsewehre, someone commented on whether we will extend our security concerns to playgrounds, soccer fields, YMCAs and more. People drive little tiny cars and big cars. They make individual trade offs on security vs. safety vs. economy. It does not mean they ignore safety. If you home school, will you put ballistic material on your windows? I know that’s not the level of concern here, but it is a level of protection available.
Again, we need to stay focused on the underlying issue here — kids at risk. The Columbine kids, the Sandy Hook kids, the Colorado movie shooter — every single attacker could have been identified by many people in their lives as strange and not right. I would suggest that adding mental health services to schools, to support kids and teachers of those kids, would be far bigger bang for our buck. GUidance services follow the 90/10 rule — 90% of time is spent with 10% of kids. Double the number of guidance counselors and you hit 10% more of the kids — or add serious non-labeling mental health operations at schools. I believe shootings happen at schools because that is where much of the hurt (memories) come from.
Agree 100% with your suggestion that most of the resources would be best spent on mental health.
I asked a question along these lines – dealing with the internal security of kids (mental health, bullying, anxiety) – that’s a serious issue at Conestoga and other schools – during the T/E Safety meeting and it wasn’t answered or addressed. The only talk of mental health i heard had to do with children feeling threatened by other kids who might have mental health issues. Another point was made that mental health services are available for anyone who asks for it. But most kids wouldn’t have the tools or courage to ask. Needs to be pro-actively approached, just like security cameras and panic buttons will be pro-actively installed. I left the meeting feeling very alone in my concerns.
Because Dr. Waters has served the district at a high level does not give him the right to award a contract to someone because the person is his friend. This is the definition of hubris.
The root of the problem lies within a culture that values taking care of friends and serving personal self interests over taking care to do the right thing and serve the best interests of the kids and the community.
I’d also like to know if this was an executive decision made by Dr. Waters or did he confer with the board.
Then write a letter to the board. Hiring a qualified consultant who happens to be a friend is more like it. The best qualifications in a person available is more like it. But to each his own. I confess my personal knowledge of Dan Waters reassures me this is not a friendly hire….this is a “meeting the need” hire.
Hubris includes extreme pride and arrogance. Anyone who knows Dan Waters knows he is TE Proud indeed, but arrogance is your call. Confidence? We are focusing on a single person in a very complex organization. Let’s consider switching back to the discussion of safety in our schools. ?
And “award a contract” may be an extreme description. Even the solicitor serves at the pleasure of the board.
I was at the meeting.
My question Which Art put in the discard pile. Was how did the district expect more police presence when the board of supervisors spent $50,000 of our tax money and ignored the study’s findings (not to mention the $$ for arbitration) and our force is stretched thin?
Another question did ask how many officers were on duty.
This moment was perfect to let the good community know the police are stretched thin. Anthony Giaimo
Superintendent of Police, answered it as if we’re fine.
I missed the bombshell of the evening. I have to start to ask maybe here in T/E to continue to inspire the future we should inquire about new blood in administration. Hiring our buddies to do a ‘consultant’ gig? Really Dan?
I find it disturbing that ex school board members are writing in and sending the message that character doesn’t matter.
Character does matter. I am not condoning or excusing what chambers did. But this is a different role. I would not hire him as a police chief. If I had been a supervisor at the time, I probably would have felt compelled to demand his resignation (because of the cover up, mire than the incident). But this is a consulting role.
I’ll give you an example. Suppose you are president of the united states. You become aware of a terrorist threat. Suppose bill Clinton has some knowledge that would help you design tactics to defeat the threat. Would you exclude Clinton from your list of consultants and advisors because he lied about his inappropriate sexual affairs? You would as president, probably get his advice for free. But even if you had to pay for it, you would not be hiring him for a position which requires high moral character, you would be hiring him for his specific (and unique and valuable) knowledge.
Even though you and I disagree on most topics, I have always admired and respected you. You are honest, open, direct and respectful. I get the sense from you that you truly want to be helpful to anyone who asks for it.
I find your decency especially refreshing. You make a point of revealing that you are an ex board member and every now and then you reveal that your brother in law sits on the current board. I think this is the honest and fair thing to do.
Perhaps these bias’s are too much for you to over in this case.
……………overcome in this case
Well, I don’t think so, but thank you for your comment!
Both separately and as part of their mutual affirmation society. Andrea and Kevin, to their credit, are not posting anonymously on this topic. To say character doesn’t matter, as Kevin has effectively stated, pretty much has me calling his character and integrity into question. Seriously, anybody who says directly or implies that character does not matter must not value character in their personal lives and dealings. May sound harsh, but that is the way I see it. They really are trying to defend the indefensible.
Thanks. Funny to me that you are happy Kevin and I are using our names. I have always used my name when I was speaking as a board member. I use a fake name when I don’t want to be debating or discussing as a “former board member.” What is your name? while it’s pretty obvious you enjoy the debate, you think Waters should be fired and now you predict the decision on Chambers will be reversed. Staying anonymous makes you cowardly brave on Waters, not brain science on Chambers. Of course he won’t keep the title. So we can assert our righteousness and claim we saved TESD from an evil-doer….and delay further the topic at hand: school safety. just once I challenge those who are indignant to get in the game and do,something pro-active to,address an issue and not just attack an approach to address part of the issue. Everyone went to school so everyone knows how they work. What other expertise do you have to offer to,get something done?
I made a logical observation which relies on the distinction between roles and qualifications for differing roles. You do not agree with my opinion, fine. I understand that thoughtful intelligent people can see these issues differently. I don’t have a problem with that. Now you are questioning my character, and I do have a problem with that.
I have stated (above) that Chambers would not be able to work in a position such as police chief after what he did, and that had I been a supervisor at the time I would very likely have supported a call for his resignation (I only say “very likely” because I was not there for the discussion and therefore do not have all of the facts – but I find it hard to imagine defending his ability to keep the job given what was known regarding the whole affair – you ask where was I at that time? I took no part, because I did not see any basis to defend Chamber’s job). But apparently you think this should result in some kind of “scarlet letter” and never working in this town again – in any capacity – not just as a police officer or supervisor. What kind of values does that communicate?
You think my opinion in this matter means that I “must not value character in my personal life and dealings?” Really? Quite a stretch. Insulting in fact. You think the appointment is a bad idea, fine. Stick to that. But cut it out with your offensive personal attacks and over-generalizations! For the record, I am an Eagle Scout and former scoutmaster who spent half his life promoting the character building program of the BSA, and who is generally appalled at the dishonesty and lack of ethics in public life today (did you read any of the blogs about the last election? who was it that was pointing out lies and calling for ethics in local political parties then? Say – WHERE WERE YOU?)
And while you are at it, please point out – with specific facts – where in any of my dealings on the school board I was ever dishonest or showed disrespect for the public trust or the truth.
And as for mutual admiration society, Andrea can tell you how often she and I disagreed and how difficult the first couple years were when I was first elected to the board. I do respect her, however, and often find myself in agreement. I don’t hesitate to say so when I do, just as I don’t hesitate to disagree. Long time readers of this blog will no doubt recall times when we locked horns. Like her, I call them as I see them. And like her, I often get attacked personally for it. Again, I don’t mind contrary arguments, but questioning my integrity becaue of one of my opinions is not called for and is quite offensive.
By the way, you are right to commend me for having the courage to post under my own name – by your own logic (you love to use my logic against me) you are a coward and worthy of criticism for not posting openly.
Based on your stated rationale for why you support Waters/Chambers, the way you underplayed Chambers dismissal from the TTPD, I simply reached the conclusion that matters of character and integrity, insofar as these matters are concerned, don’t appear to rank high on your list of priorities. You disagree.
Kudos on being an Eagle Scout. With stories like this:
I’d suggest given your stance on the issue in front of us, you may not want to boast your BSA creds. Chambers tried to cover up something as did the BSA. You appear to be somebody who likes to look the other way on at least some cover ups. At least, that is what I glean from your stance and your arguments.
Where is that message being sent? Can we look forward to you, TR and Disappointed writing an op-Ed piece using your real name(s)?
The character that concerns me is why we are so pre-occupied with a single member of the Safety Committee? And I have not endorsed Chambers…I only said my experience with the TTPD when I had a school issue was with Chambers…he was the “go to” guy on school matters.
I won’t speak for Kevin, but maybe former school board members actually are less concerned because we know how insignificant the selection is in the big picture. And I assure you that no one checks their brain at the door. The Safety Committee has been active and functioning regularly since Columbine. It was involved in the Conestoga renovation design. Adding a member as a consultant (I don’t agree with compensation) is just another dimension. Keith’s suggestions about other resources are most likely already in play.
Again, the US is safer today that almost anytime in the past 50 years. These events are random and the root is mental illness. If Chambers does not make a contribution, he won’t be an active contributor or participant. TALK to your board representation.. He serves at their pleasure.
i know andy chambers very well, the idea of him becoming a consultant is astounding to me. I know he spent a lot of time at the highschool but as for the other schools not much. also the table tops that were discussed were just that, he talked we did a few scenarios that he made up, but that is just what they were about an hour and maybe a few minutes more. I had suggested we do a complete scenario with our tactical unit etc. we did do one but not with the tactical unit per se. other districts have done full excersides in the county with the various full tactical units, fire companies, para medics and so on. not here at the h.s.
one thing that has angered me about andy is that he has claimed to have military service, navy seals marines etc. he could not and did not do or was involved in any military service for our country. he may have had a retired navy captain make arrangements for him to spend a day or two in coronado calif. with a seal team. but he was never a member of our armed forces. it angers me as a veteran myself to see all the marine corps items on his wall when he was supt. of police. If you listen to andy it is all andy, he has more “I’s” in his presentations and speaks a good line.i dont wish him ill will, but i know him well and all is not what it appears.
Mr. Huzzard, I noted that you were recently named ‘Volunteer of the Week’ in the Suburban, congratulations. Thank you for your years of service as a veteran and a Tredyffrin Township police officer for 30 years (including the SWAT team). I read that after you retired from the TTPD, you worked for 9 years in security at Conestoga and now at Thorncroft as a volunteer. Your firsthand experience and background add to the discussion.
I’m not a fan of Andy Chambers for many more reasons then there is time to tell. That being said, his input could be valuable as a former police chief who is familiar with our district. However, I am not sure he brings anything to the table that the current 2 police chiefs who are already participating in this new safety evaluation.
I do understand that as police chiefs, it is not completely part of their role to be ‘school safety experts.’ Nor was it Andy’s when he was chief. The police department’s responsibility is to respond to and meet the immediate threat of violence at the time of an attack. Prevention is only a part of it that they participate in, which they are doing.
I believe if you want to take a good look at our school safety practices, you hire a school safety consultant. Andy is not. BUT, he can help. I would imagine that if you hire a school safety consultant, you get exactly what the police study gives you back. Cookie-cutter reports that aren’t custom enough to the location. What Andy could bring to the table if consultants are hired is to bridge the gap between safety, prevention, locality and reality. Which in the long run could be more beneficial if they worked together rather then separate.
While focusing on new security measures both physical and emotional, I suggest it is time for an honest evaluation on the latter with regard to the millions of budget cuts that supposedly had minimal impact on kids.
Specifically, the following questions should be addressed:
1 – How has the increase in the factory model of education (additional classes at all levels) affected the level of personal interaction between students and teachers – the time where troubled students feel comfortable enough to talk to a trusted teacher?
2 – What impact has the reduction of the middle school counselors had on the quality and quantity of teacher concerns about students they teach?
3 – We talk about locking the doors once the day begins but do not address the hundreds of students who are left to roam the halls, sit in class unsupervised as teachers attend to meetings before the school day starts while the doors are wide open. Anyone see a problem?
4 – How well can the assistant principals at the middle school get to know students in their buildings with the additional central office responsibilities on top of their regular work load?
5 – How has the ever ballooning class sizes along with the ever increasing needs of the special education population within those classrooms impacted the quality of teaching and learning?
6 – How many teachers and administrators have been rushed to the hospital during the school day and why?
7 – Has the absentee level of teachers increased in relation to the new responsibilities they have faced in response to the budget cuts?
8 – What will be the long term impact of these changes on the quality of TE schools?
9 – When people ask teachers if they should send their kids to TE schools, why are teachers saying “no”?
10 – How can students feel safe when we are no longer a child centered district?
11 – Why do we constantly cry about money yet end ever year with millions left over?
I hope the powers that be evaluate the above questions. And, Kevin, I am sorry to say the district is spiraling down. I don’t see much hope unless the community and parents don’t step up and demand some positive action instead of trusting the talking heads who are masters at spinning the message.
I have been, and am concerned about the issues you raise. I don’t know if you saw my post on another topic (the NRA thread), but here it is in pertinent part:
1) “The best prevention is to improve our ability to identify and treat troubled kids (and adults too) before they commit acts of violence. While I have pointed out that most mentally ill people are not dangerous, it is true that most school shooters have serious mental health problems.
a) Providing lots of counselling services and school psychologists is extremely important.
b) Keeping class sizes small so that troubled kids get the attention they need and do not “fall through the cracks” is also critical.
c) Prevention of harrassment and bullying is essential too – the Columbine shooters and several others share this in common – they were bullied, and took out their resentment on their fellow students.
d) Training students, staff, teachers and parents to recognize warning signs (extreme social isolation and alienation, statements regarding a desire to hurt others, threats and plans – most school shooters telegraph their intentions in advance, often quite explicitly, often on the internet or social media).
e) Cultivating a climate in which students are encouraged and empowered to tell a trusted adult when they see or hear of any warning signs, backed up by an anonymous means of reporting such as a tip line.
d) Coordination with local fire rescue and police to make contingency and response plans, including lockdown drills.”
That was the earlier post (minus my comments on gun control) – now for a few additional comments:
As you may know, I got elected in the first place on a class-size reduction platfom, and currently I am not happy that budget pressures are putting upward pressure on class sizes. I think small class sizes are part of the answer. Also, I think that more guidance counsellors and school psychologists would be a start, as would a real comprehensive review of the effectiveness (or lack thereof) for our anti-bullying programs (Nowere near effective enough, in my opinion, I know from personal experience), and an in-depth study of how we could establish protocols to try and identify kids who need help early and make sure they get the help they need. Maybe there should be a working group of professional psychologists and school counselors who could make some recommendations regarding how best to accomplish this?
Physical security – “hardening the target” can only go so far, and while some reasonable steps can be made in this direction, we can never harden our schools enough to prevent a determined attacker every time. Most of the thought, money and effort should be along the lines of prevention and mental health, and keeping class sizes small.
I sincerely hope you are wrong about there being a downward spiral, but I fear you may have a point. But each generation of parents has to get educated and get involved in order to keep the schools great. I don’t know whether the parents today are going to step up or not. Frankly, I had my day. I am tired and quite beat up from the effort. Not to complain, but there is a burn-out factor, and I am well past that now. I hope some new parents will take up the effort in the future.
I hope you will take your very good questions to the school board and our state legislators directly, and encourage others to get involved as well. This blog, without more, is not going to result in any change.
every one of spiraling down’s points are valid – painfully so. one huge danger from the Community Safety Meeting is that it attracted about 200-300 people who are really, really focused on the hard safety issues. but there are thousands more that didn’t attend because that’s not their priority and are more concerned about academic issues. i hope the Board doesn’t interpret the attendance of that meeting as a gauge of the majority of residents. it’s a vocal minority – just like the NRA membership.
What I found troubling Diverse Parent is I attended the Board of Supervisors meetings because I had been asked if I felt safe in our township and did I feel we had enough police presence. I wanted to see how $50,000 of our tax dollars were spent and what a consultant suggested. Even with suggesting hiring more officers the board didn’t care.
There were very few town people at the meetings and it wouldn’t have mattered as the board was going to do whatever they wanted anyway!
Suddenly the CT incident happened and our schools are under fire for change, and a safer community.
Yet our district has low morale among it’s teachers and administration, face budget cuts, large classes, less prep time and we’re promised more police presence in the buildings.
Yet the community has no clue our men and women in uniform are stretched so thin that won’t always be possible.
Now we go and rehire someone who left under a cloud of questions and we’re (as parents) supposed to be quiet and accept it.
TE Res – Not supposed to accept and be quiet about it. I personally think Diverse is correct and it is a vocal minority, but no one will now that if you sit quietly. Talk to your Supervisors and your TE Board members….don’t fall into the “Silent Majority” trap….if you don’t agree with the decision, do more than blog about it. Talk to someone. You are not supposed to accept it….but change takes effort so if you dont’ put forth the effort — beyond complaining — you may have to live with it.
I have said here before — the township is tasked with the safety of our community. The schools are tasked with educating our kids. Sandy Hook happened in Connecticut, not here — but it has generated more attention on this topic — too late for the township budget? — but the schools have limited options. Rent a cops? If hiring Chambers was expedient and not the right decision, it is not irrevocable or forever. Talk to those who make the decisions.
When I post on this forum, I’m quite confident I am talking to the board. IMO, both the citizens and the public servants owe Pattye a deep debt of gratitude because this forum allows people to freely express themselves without fear of repercussion. It gives the board insight into the true feelings of the community because it is uncensored and unflitered.
When you attend an administrator school board sponsored meeting and you’re asked to submit questions on an index card so they can select which ones they choose to address in public, my appreciation for this forum is magnified.
not so new –
Thanks for your comment and to follow-up … I am disappointed to say that I know at least 3 people who attended the safety meeting, wrote out their questions on index cards & the questions were not chosen. It has been repeatedly suggested by some here to contact the school board directly rather than participating in the discussion on CM. The email address for the school board — firstname.lastname@example.org . We cannot be certain who on the school board follows CM, but I do know that TESD president Kevin Buraks had taken the time to read at least one of my CM posts, print out a copy and read it aloud at the last finance committee meeting. Based on that, I choose to believe that the commentary on this blog is read by at least some of the school board members. To let everyone know, the next monthly school board meeting is Monday, January 28th. Unfortunately, it is the same night as Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors meeting.
Not so new- (boy that is true) — The school board may well read here, but as with emailing them, if you do not choose to associate your name with your comment, it is given the weight of what it is — an anonymous comment, which in many cases is made by the same person using various names. Pattye does deserve credit, but in the same way that the BOS turned on this forum, the board is certainly not obliged to take anonymous shots as evidence. Pattye — your posts are not anonymous. Disappointed, TR, Not-so-new and even my name here are anonymous so far as we are willing to stand up and be counted.
I dont’ understand the use of index cards except that I have sat through many forums where they took questions from the floor (at the microphone in Conestoga comes to mind) and they were a waste of time because person after person made a statement and rarely was any new ground covered. The school board does not serve anonymously. The notion that you are fearful of retribution — what do you think it’s like for parents who serve on the board. If you belive what you ahve to say is worth hearing, then stand behind it. As you know, “Cowardly Anonymous” comes from JDB’s claim that’s what we all are. IN fact, he may be right. Pattye and Keith and Kevin sign their names. All 3 stand in the public domain, — kevin as a former board member, Pattye as a former candidate and blogger, and Keith as a current board member. Some on this board have threatened to go to Keith’s meetings an attack him there. Civility? Nice idea.
The only reason to use index cards is to control which questions receive are read at the meeting. For instance, I found it strange that the subject of ‘arming’ was not mentioned by any of the panel members … but more strange that there was not a single question or comment read on this topic from anyone in the audience. Looked to me like there had to be over 100 residents in the room. We know from CM that the subject of ‘arming’ teachers/administrators has been heavily debated with people weighing in for and against. You are right that the school board will not respond to anonymous emails but the index cards at the safety meeting, you were not required to include your name.
Fencing must have been one of the recommendations from the Chambers report, submitted to the Board after Dr. Waters hired “his friend” to come up with ways to “harden” the schools.
It doesn’t sound like the Attorney for the District or the Architect for the district provided good answers that make sense to tax paying citizens who attended the meeting last night.
The school district doesn’t view this as a community or neighborhood issue. They see it as a risk management issue. If they saw it as a community issue, they would behave much differently. It’s more about public relations for the School District than really doing things that keep children safe. Erecting expensive fencing around schools is identifiable. Parents can see it and district officials can use it as proof positive to show that school safety is being given the highest priority and whether it is effective or not is beside the point. It’s the same with drug, alcohol, tobacco and sex issues. The school doesn’t view these issues as community issues that should be addressed within the schools. They view them as “personal” issues that should be addressed at home. They approach these issues with risk management in mind more than thinking about he best ways to solve and deal with the problems.
I’m sure other low cost and no cost ways to harden the schools have been implemented. eg. simple awareness, locking doors, visitor sign in, etc. Safety experts agree that these methods are more effective but since parents can’t view these measures, tax payers have to pay alot of money for expensive fencing that really adds no value and does little to help the problem.
Dear Mr. McHugh,
Perhaps your new and don’t understand that Dr. Waters hired Andy Chambers as the first safety consultant almost 3 years ago. It was in response to the Sandy Hook tragedy.
Please read Pattye’s post above. It will bring you up to speed.
Michelle knows all about it. Perhaps she can help you out too.
*I don’t know Ed Sweeney, have never spoken to him, but like what I see and read. I have heard nothing but positive things about him from those other than Mr. McHugh and know that he has helped citizens with their problems by attending meetings and offering information helpful to the issues.