Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Unionville-Chadds Ford School Board director resigns, claiming Board has transparency and communication issues

The Unionville-Chadds Ford School District in southern Chester County is a high-ranking school district and often enjoys the same elite national standing for student test scores, etc. as the T/E School District. As an example, high schools from both school districts received gold level standing in the 2013 US News & World Report with Conestoga ranked #5 and UCF ranked #10 in Pennsylvania high schools. Because of their similar academic achievement levels and their geographic proximity (both in Chester County) the two school districts are often compared on Community Matters. Additionally, readers of CM may be familiar with regular commenter Keith Knauss, a member of the U-CF School Board, who often offers his experience and personal insight in our school district related discussions.

This week saw a surprise resignation of U-CF school board director Holly Manzone. On the surface, Manzone’s decision is not significant for TESD residents, but in reading the resignation letter (that includes the reasons for her departure), her words contained an eerie familiarity. During the recent League of Women Voters debate, most of the T/E school board candidates used buzzwords like trust, transparency, and open communication and morale issues. All but one candidate supported the need to improve the communication relationship between the Board and the residents. TE School Board president Kevin Buraks, who is seeking re-election, disagreed with his fellow candidates and stated during the LWV debate that the Board already provides an open forum for the public and that there are no morale issues in the District.

In her resignation letter, Manzone acknowledges the excellent quality of the Unionville Chadds Ford School District but criticizes the U-CF School Board for what she says amounts to ‘rubber stamping’ decisions of the Administration. Claiming that the U-CF School Board is a model for ‘poor governance’, meetings ‘scripted’ and decisions ‘baked’, Manzone states that she can, “no longer continue to participate on the Board on this basis without violating my principles and disturbing my conscience. I cannot allow my continued presence on the Board to connote agreement with these practices.” Manzone listed the following six issues in her resignation from the U-CF school board:

  • “Open discussion is frowned upon and dissent is squelched at both the public and executive meetings.
  • Meetings, especially public meetings, are often orchestrated, with many “pre-meetings” and phone calls behind the scenes to prevent genuine public discussion of contentious issues and avoid any embarrassment to the administration or the Board, i.e., “no dirty laundry.”
  • Executive sessions are over-used. If there is a way to characterize a topic so that it can be discussed privately in executive session, it is. Engineering topics in this way may allow the district to comply with the letter of the Sunshine Law, but it surely violates its spirit.
  • Community members raising issues are often themselves considered the problem. Energy is expended complaining about these individuals rather than focusing on improvement.
  • Access to underlying data and original documents is withheld, even if it is not confidential. “Confidentiality” is used as an excuse to withhold access to broad categories of data, without foundation.
  • Information is shared unequally, with not all Board members receiving the same background for deliberations. Also, private “votes” are held without canvassing all members.”

Manzone is not seeking re-election; and decided that to take her issues with the UCFSD Board public in her resignation statement. I have read some of the comments to Manzone’s resignation letter — several Board members (including Keith Knauss) have come out strongly against Manzone’s allegations. Conversely, Manzone does have her supporters, particuarly members of the public who have attended school board meetings. (To read the comments in the Unionville Times, click here.)

Similar to the issues raised by Manzone, we have heard several T/E School Board candidates voice concerns and suggest the need to improve the communication, transparency and trust issues in the District. My takeway — whether it is UCFSD, T/E or any other school board — open dialogue between school boards and the residents they serve is essential to building mutual trust; citizen input should be respected and welcomed.

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  1. I commend Dr. Manzone for her courage. In reading the Unionville Times comments from citizens, it looks like they face many of the same RTK issues that we have here. It’s kind of nice to know we’re not alone!

  2. This is an interesting development – thanks, Pattye, for bringing it to us. I suspect that there is another side to the story – Dr Manzone’s picture of the Board runs counter to the impression that Keith has given us here. I wonder if the timing of Dr Manzone’s November candidacy for Supervisor has anything to do with this?

    One part of the resignation letter caught my eye:
    “….the district administration failed to adequately investigate and pursue a clear violation of our residency requirements … the administration … ultimately struck a “deal” with the parties – without discussing their actions or the terms of the “deal” with the Board ….. When I asked for the reports underlying this course of action, I was told I could not see them…..”

    This is a specific example of a general concern that the Board is being led down the garden path by the Administration. I think that this is a huge challenge for School Boards, ours included. I would have liked to see the debate candidates answer my question about how many hours a week a Board member should invest in the District and whether they can commit to that.

    One way that the Board can be leveraged is through the transparency and community involvement we focus on here. That really made a difference and allowed the right decisions to be made after initially poorly thought-through ideas on aides/paras out-sourcing and the tennis courts.

    Specifically on the non-resident issue: that claim is a big concern, if true. T/E has a very specific policy, listing three conditions under which a non-resident may attend, and then:
    “Any nonresident student found to be attending TESD schools without qualifying under this Policy and without advance permission will be disenrolled immediately according to law”. I wonder if UCFSD has something similar?

  3. In a prepared statement to board members, Dr. Manzone said, “In my view, the best way to effect that improvement is to have open and honest discussion, based on facts and data that are unfiltered by administrators or others who wish to influence outcomes of decisions, audits and performance reviews. The administration and board have become more concerned with looking good than with confronting real issues that need to be addressed.

    Rather than address the allegations, in a response to seemingly prove her point, Keith Knauss, says “A detailed and vigorous response will be forthcoming “to protect our good reputation” and to ensure continuing public trust.” I would think it would be better for him and the citizens he represents to discuss Dr. Manzone’s allegations but that’s just my opinion.

    Paul Price a former school board member states “unequivocally, Holly was accurate in her portrayal of the school board.”

    Why would someone make these pointed, bold, detailed accusations if they were not true. She has nothing to gain but Keith and the other board members have everything to lose if just one of these accusations are proven true.

    The Board has called a special meeting for Monday.

    Why would someone who has served on this board make such bold accusations if she did not think they had merit. Keith said they have no merit and the notion that 8 board members would conspire secretly and behind closed doors to make decisions and hide information is “ludicrous.”

    Thank-you for stepping forward Dr. Manzone. You have uncommon courage. Citizens everywhere owe you a debt of gratitude.

  4. Of course, there is another side of the story.
    I believe Pattye has my email since we have exchanged numerous emails. I have a phone number. The district office has a phone number. I would have hoped that Pattye would have contacted someone, anyone, prior to running this article so a balanced story could have been presented.

    The other side is freely available in the same Unionville Times
    School board calls meeting to address Manzone allegations
    The Unionville-Chadds Ford Board of Education has called a special meeting for Monday, Oct. 28 to address the allegations made by board member Holly Manzone about a deal involving the residency of a student……..
    The statement goes on to address the specific issue that Manzone alleged was the subject of a “deal,” allowing an alleged non-resident to have students attend UCFSD schools……..
    I hope Pattye will give equal attention to the outcome of the Monday meeting.

    1. Thanks for the undate link to the Unionville Times article Keith. I have read the news accounts (and comments) since Monday’s UCFSD meeting including Unionville Times. At the time that I posted my CM article, the date of the special UCFSD Board Meeting had yet to be announced or I would have included it. I will be glad to give follow-up on CM. Ketih, could you (or a representative of the District) provide a statement after Monday’s meeting. Thank you.

      1. Pattye,
        I enjoy CM and believe you provide a valuable service to the community. But in this news story I have to question your objectivity. The board member who resigned is liberally quoted. There are NO quotes from the 3 dissenting board members in the news story and NO quotes from the additional 2 dissenting board members in the comments section. One might conclude there is selective reporting to forward an agenda of non-responsive school boards.

        1. Keith,
          My quotes are from Ms. Manzone’s resignation letter. I gave the link to the Unionville Times article, if readers wanted to read the article and the comments. Manzone’s claims of communication and transparency issues with the U-CF school board are stated as her reasons for resigning.

          In TESD, there are 2 incumbents seeking re-election to the Board. Incumbent Rich Brake who has stated that there are communication and respect issues that need to be corrected, specifically in the relationship between the Board and the public. Conversely, Kevin Buraks has stated that there is no improvement necessary as the communication is fine with the residents. Having attended most school board meetings this year, the combative atmosphere (between the Board and citizens) at many of the meetings is far from ideal. I am certain that if the other 7 members of the T/E School Board were quizzed on the personal thoughts of communications, trust, transparency, etc. – the responses would be mixed. Some Board members would agree with Kevin that everything is fine; no need for improvement and the District’s performance is the proof. On the other hand, I think that at least a couple of the current Board members would agree with Rich, that the District needs to improve the way the communicate with the public, specifically at Board meetings.

          Whether Ms. Manzone’s claims are accurate or not is up to the residents of U-CF school district to determine. However, Manzone must feel these issues are important. Otherwise, she would have let her school board term run out next month and not bothered to resign, allowing for publically scrutiny. It is obvious to me that just as TESD has school board members that vary on transparency and open communication issues, so do members of U-CF school board.

          I have no agenda Keith, except that as I said, “… open dialogue between school boards and the residents they serve is essential to building mutual trust; citizen input should be respected and welcomed.” If Manzone is completely wrong in her assessment of U-CF Board actions, and none of her claims are worth exploring – then I am certain you and the other 8 Board members will make that statement at Monday’s special meeting.

  5. I feel for Dr. Manzone in UCF. Her conscience guided her decision to take a stand and then she gets crucified by some of her fellow board members. I had to chuckle about Manzone’s comment about rubber stamping by the district administration. If I didnt know better Id swear she was talking about TE.

  6. The final straw for Dr. Manzone has been a situation in which she says the district administration failed to adequately investigate and pursue a clear violation of their residency requirements confirmed by investigative reports.

    She says the administration dragged their feet for more than 2 years – without discussing their actions or the terms of the “deal” (her quotations not mine) with the Board.

    When she asked for the reports from the administration, she was told she could not see them.

    Supt. Sanville says “residing is complex and it’s not always what you might think.” Well, the law – Section 1302 of the school code – provides that a child is considered a resident of the school district where his or her parents reside. It addresses divorce, children residing with either parent and the qualifications for school attendance under those circumstances and all other circumstances of residency. It’s really very straight forward and not complex at all.

    The response goes on to say that “the reason the district cannot divulge detailed information about every investigation is because the laws of confidentiality.” “Confidentiality laws protect these individuals and are closely adhered to by the Board and Administration. Then why didn’t Supt. and administrator Dr. Sanville hand over the information to Board Member and protector of public trust Dr. Manzone? The fact that he has the power to not reveal documents to a board member when specifically asked, is astounding to me. Her allegations have not been proven, but it sounds like the Supt. has an awful lot of power in UCF. Can our Supt. withhold investigative information when asked to reveal them to a board member? I’ve said this before, this says alot about who is really in power.

    Also, Dr. Manzone did not ask for information on every investigation, just this one, for 2 years.

    In her resignation statement, Dr. Manzone says that:

    access to underlying data and original documents is withheld, even if it is not confidential.

    Confidentiality is used as an excuse to withhold access to broad categories of data without foundation.

    Is that exactly what is happening now? Is Dr. Sanville and other Board members citing confidentiality as a reason to withhold information? Access to documents is denied to Board Members?

    Keith has been a regular contributor to Community Matters for quite some time and seems to be well liked and well respected by many. Regular readers and posters know I have directly challenged many of his assertions which are directly related to the current drama unfolding in his district.

    I have nothing but high hopes and well wishes for Keith and the UCFSD as they weather this storm and I have confidence they come out of it even better after having gone through it.

  7. Shining,

    You have stated a two popular misconceptions:
    1. The fact that he [the superintendent] has the power to not reveal documents to a board member when specifically asked, is astounding to me.
    Many people believe a school director has special rights as a school director to demand, obtain and view documents that would not be available to the general public. Not so. An individual school director has no greater access to documents than any other citizen. That said, a majority of school directors can vote to see confidential information as a group as long as it’s in the performance of their official duties. Why limit access to confidential documents by individual board members? It’s a check to make sure one rogue board member cannot misuse confidential information contained in personnel files, student records and/or investigative reports.
    2. It’s [residency] really very straight forward and not complex at all.
    Before someone thinks the residency law is “very straight forward not complex” I’m hoping they are conversant with the related court cases. Shining, have you read the two important ones?

  8. Thanks Keith,

    1.) An individual school director has NO GREATER ACCESS to documents than any other citizen. Is this a law? Is it subject to interpretation? Couldn’t administrators misuse confidential information too? Why are they allowed to have access to it and board members are not? What is the difference? Administrators may have motives that aren’t in the best interests of the child just like board members. What is the purpose of board members then if administrators have more and better access to district information and documents than the very people who are elected by the tax payers to serve the children and the citizens?

    2.) No I am not conversant with the related court cases and I have not read the two important ones. If you care to cite them, I’m interested in reading about it. Is this what you will use tomorrow night to justify the actions of your administration?

    I appreciate your comment. I am always interested in learning about how this process works and this is another huge piece to the puzzle.

  9. 1) See Bangor v. Angle where an individual board member was prohibited from accessing personnel files. There may be a TESD policy that limits and addresses access to confidential information.

    2) See the PA Supreme Court case. Cumberland Valley School District v. Thane

  10. Thanks again Keith,

    Angle was a school board member in the 90’s who was examining portions of teacher personnel files which included evaluation reports, observation reports, criminal clearance certificates, teacher contracts etc.

    Cumberland Valley vs. Thane is a case about dual residency and who should pay for a special school for a child with learning disabilities. It has nothing to do with the issue of records.

    Dr. Manzone asked for the reports underlying the course of actions about a deal that was struck.

    I’m not a lawyer but I would think school board members have a right to have access to reports underlying the course of action about a deal that was struck, especially since it involved a question of residency at tax payer expense.

    If school board members have no say in a residency issue, what exactly do they have a say in? who decides what they have a say in? The supt.? Seems kind of arbitrary to me.

  11. Wait for the full story to emerge on Monday night. Then we can discuss the issues.
    By the way, you missed the school board press release where it was stated that – “What can be confirmed is that no “deals” have been made.”
    Someone is lying. I can confirm that no deal or any semblance of a deal was made.
    Just keep in mind that an individual school director has no special powers. A majority of school directors does have extensive powers to carry out duties as enumerated in the PA School Code.

    1. Keith — In your comment you refer to someone lying and that there was no ‘deal’ made. Are you referring to the issue of whether or not a specific family actually resides in the UCF school district? Any updates from last night’s special meeting?

      1. Defame and deny. Hard to understand how one could even come close to using the word “lying” when you see Dr. Manzone’s chronology of events and what she quotes in Dr. Sanville’s letter.

        1. Hi Kristin, that does seem like a pretty harsh accusation. Sometimes with information, people interpret the same events quite differently. Keith seems pretty upset by this whole thing and hopefully both sides can get together and come to an understanding that both sides can agree to.

          I read the time line of events. It seems to me Dr. Sharon Parker told the family the requirement for school enrollment was simply showing some documentation as proof of residency. It didn’t sound like the issue of where the family slept or how many nights a week they slept there was mentioned to the family as a requirement for enrollment when Dr. Parker was supt.

          If you could have your way, what would you like to see happen as a resolution to this problem? What do you think Dr. Manzone would like to see happen if she could influence the outcome? Is this issue in and of itself or do you think it is a result of the way the board operates? The way it communicates with each other? the way the administration communicates each one of it’s board members individually and as a group.

          Also, I’m most curious about why ALL the other board members seemed so blindsided by the actions of Dr. Manzone. They all (especially the women) seem to like and respect her completely. They say she did not mention this to any of them. Yet on Oct. 7, she was denied access to the records. Whose decision was it to deny her the records? Did the entire board vote no to releasing the records to her or was it the decision of a few?

      2. The Unionville Times has an overview of both sides of the story if anyone is interested in reading it. The details will be available in the minutes of the meeting due out in about a month. The details are lengthy.
        In the end, we have the story of Dr. Manzone painting a picture of a board that doesn’t take residency issues serious, a board that meets in secret, a board that hides documents and a board that is a rubber stamp for the administration. We have 8 other school directors saying the opposite.
        It frustrating to me that many people will believe that one.

        1. Keith,

          In the meeting last night you said you denied Dr. Manzone access to the records because of her “erradic behavior”. Was that your decision solely or did other members have a say? Did the 8 other members vote on it? Is that a valid reason for you to deny another board member records to a case? Is it valid for you to judge whether someone gets records based on your opinion of their behavior? You also said given her actions you were “pleased to see her resign.” Do you think that was a bit harsh and if you had to do it over would you change that?

          You said that you go to pre-meetings. Do you go to pre meetings with all board members or just one or two? You and Mr. Hellrung seem like you’re pretty good friends. Do you just call him and discuss board issues with him or do others get calls too. You said you call administrators before board meetings. Do you call Dr. Sanville or do you call others as well?

        2. Shining,
          You have (inadvertently I hope) taken my words out of context three times in your message above.
          Here is the full context:
          1. “The board unanimously rejected Dr. Manzone’s request. It was determined that the surveillance reports were outdated, of no relevance to the current situation and would only encourage Dr. Manzone’s inappropriate, erratic behavior.”
          That should answer you question on who voted and how. It should also answer your question on the multiple reasons why she was denied access. We limit access to confidential information to the minimum needed to make a decision.
          2. “I recognize the positive contributions of Dr. Manzone, but on balance and after the recent accusations, I’m pleased to accept her resignation”
          Measured, realistic, not harsh.
          3.”I’m proud to admit that I have pre-meetings, exchange email messages and talk on the phone often with fellow board members and administrators before meetings. There is nothing unethical, nefarious or illegal as Dr. Manzone would have you believe. It’s all part of being thoroughly educated and prepared to cast an informed vote on issues before the board.”
          That should answer your questions on conversations with others.

        3. Keith,

          1.) I’m not sure it’s right to diagnose a fellow board member’s behavior especially in public when you’re not a professionally trained psychologist. And especially since you are involved in the very drama that caused you to label her erratic. Seems to me that would disqualify you as an objective party. For example, someone could label you a controlling, mean spirited, spiteful board member out to destroy another board member because she feels ignored about an issue she deems important to the tax payer but you don’t. I know you’ll correct me if I’m wrong. You and Mr. Hellrung were the only two board members to label her behavior in a negative way.

          First you say the board unanimously rejected……. then you say we limit access to confidential information to the minimum needed to make a decision…….. What does that mean? Which is it in this case.

          2) I respectfully disagree. You and Mr. Hellrung were the only two board members to accept her resignation in a negative, very judgmental way. Others were warm, kind and seem genuinely sorry that she resigned. Mr. Hellrung said “she should resign in shame, not protest.” That’s his opinion. And in my opinion, harsh.

          3.) It does not answer my question. Do you call on the phone or have pre meetings with, the board member who called for an internal investigation to ensure the public is satisfied that transparency and accountability are at the forefront of board decisions? She hinted at the fact that there are things the board needs to look at, just like Dr. Manzone stated. I’m wondering if you ever call her on the phone and privately discuss issues with her. And do you talk to the same administrators or do you call all of them at different times concerning different issues.

          Thank-you. I’m glad we’re having this conversation because it helps me learn about what other districts do and how they handle issues and it makes consider how how our board operates and if they have pre meetings with each other and if they have phone calls before board meetings with administrators. Is it ethical? I don’t know. Seems subjective.

        4. Keith,

          Regarding your comment above, you say we limit access to confidential information to the minimum needed to make a decision.

          If board members in TE are being left out by not having access to confidential information needed to make a decision, how is this any different than what you say you do in Unionville Chadsford? Would you say this is a common tactic that many school boards use to make decisions?

          And on a completely different topic, I would appreciate your comment on a recent article in the paper about the presense of Heroin in your High School. Was that a Board decision to allow that confidential information to be presented to the public or was it the police who made the decision to allow that infomation to come to light. How exactly does that work? Do the police have the authority to release that information without first consulting with your school? Did they talk to you before they released it?

          I have read where all high schools suffer from this problem and I commend UCF for having the courage and showing the leadership to come forward and talk about this devastating problem facing our young people today.

          Thank- you. Any information you could provide on these topics would be appreciated.

        5. Keith,

          In the affordable care act compliance thread, you say

          Third, at UCF, confidential information defined by information protected by law is given to the Board judiciously and only when necessary………….

          Yet above, you say, “we limit access to confidential information to the minimum needed to make a decision.”

          So in the second case, some Board members are left out and some are not, when it’s confidential information, right? Which Board members make decisions when it comes to confidential information? Which are left out? Who determines what is confidential? Do you see my point?

          I don’t know anything about the TE incident that Pattye refers to but I’m sure the Board members who are excluding others will make a case for their actions.
          Do you have any specific action this board member could
          take in order to get the information his/her position warrants him/her to have.

        6. Shining,
          You have misunderstood the statement, “we limit access to confidential information to the minimum needed to make a decision”.
          Let me rephrase. “The board asks for access to just enough confidential information necessary to make a decision, but that minimal amount of confidential information is made available to every board member”.
          Does that clear up the apparent contradiction?

        7. Keith,

          I am laughing out loud. You say “I have misunderstood the statement” then you say “let me rephrase and you change the wording of the statement that you say I misunderstood to make it more in line with the information that you now say you believe, but your prior actions on your board prove that in fact you don’t believe. You said yourself that access to information on your board is limited to the minimum needed. (And I would bet a lot of money that you are one of the minimum needed.) Are you and Dr. Sanville good friends?

          Thank-you again

          I am still interested in hearing what actions you would take if you were the TE board member unable to get information from the minimum needed, who have access regarding ACA.

  12. O.K. I appreciate that you are talking about it on C.M. As you know and as you and I have talked about in the past, people can take date and manipulate it any way they want to suit or further their own agenda. Maybe people are interpreting the data differently.

    You have your work cut out for you. We’ll see tomorrow how the citizens and parents in your school district interpret the data presented to them (hopefully) by both sides.

    You know by now how I interpret the data. We don’t see eye to eye but like I said I appreciate you talking about it.

  13. That’s hard for people to understand…only 5votes has any power, and the Superintendent is the CEO, reporting to the full board, If a single board member wants information, they must have a majority of the board approve the request.

    Did I read here that this member was not running again but is running for another office, which I wonder if she is allowed to hold both positions? Is there any chance this is Captain Renault shutting down the casino because he is shocked by the gambling. This is like certain TE members lamenting lack of transparency despite the TE policy that only requires ONE member to move a motion from Consent to Regular discussion. Running for Supervisor and all of a sudden getting free publicity? Oh wait…I don’t pay taxes there, so what business is it of mine?
    Never mind.

  14. Side, you have a constant need to ridicule and tear others down to feel better about yourself. It’s fine. You can make your points here even though you don’t live here, pay taxes here or have children in the schools here.

    Dr. Manzone has been a board member for 4 years, she has a Phd in neurobiology, and she obviously thought she should have access to the records too. I think alot of this is about interpretation. What records qualify for board director exploration and what records don’t qualify and who’s call is it? A judge in a court of law? Don’t know if Dr. Manzone or anyone else for that matter would want to take it that far.

    Thanks for waiting 2 hours before you posted. It must have been hard for you.

    1. Shining,

      If not living in a school district and paying taxes there disqualifies one from having the right to an opinion, as you repeatedly assert – then why are you commenting on the situation in Unionville/Chadds Ford?

      Don’t bother answering that. It is obvious why you do it – you believe it supports your narrative of corruption and lack of transparency in T/E. But there are major problems with this argument. 1) No one should draw any conclusions about Unionville/Chadds Ford until all the facts are known; and
      2) Even if proven true beyond a shadow of a doubt, what happens in UCF has ZERO relevance to T/E.

      Allegations about T/E require independent evidence, and evidence of wrongdoing in UCF does not qualify. In that regard, the case against T/E appears rather weak when it is asserted by board members who could have pulled the offending items from the consent agenda and forced a public debate, but chose not to do so. Also, criticism of the board must be viewed with suspicion when it comes from a board member who does nothing controversial – who avoids doing much of anything so as to keep his hands clean and run a campaign as an “outsider”.

    2. SL
      Fine to obfuscate as is your style…did not tear anyone down, and you ignored what I suggested. Dr. Manzone, like Dr. Brake, fail to act within the limited “powers” of their elected office. And you pose the hypothetical that is it interpretation. Board members have ZERO authority. It’s Board Education 101. It takes 5 votes to do anything that is not policy. The board setsolicy. The administration write regulations. F this was such a “deal” a motion to the floor asking for the information could have been brought to a vote.
      Then again, running for office and getting some “indignation” publicity can’t hurt either.
      Thank you Insider for recognizing then “woe is me” constant lamentation from our 100% anonymous commentator.
      With all due respect to Pattye’s heroic efforts here, the anonymity truly does make much of the contribution the “graffiti” of observers.

  15. Two sides to every story, but from what I witness and am aware of in LM and Radnor (on both the township and SD sides), Manzone’s story sounds very familiar.

    And the shame of it is she feels (assuming what says says is true – and it rings so with me) she has to resign rather than try and fight the good fight within the system.

    The “system” with local government in this area is set up to ignore, discredit, tear down, if not destroy anyone who bucks it – whether they challenge from the inside or out.

  16. I agree politeia, it’s much easier for board members and administrators to obstruct, stonewall, and deflect from real issues than it is for citizens to fight the bureaucratic wars necessary to ensure transparency, trust and citizen input are always included in the education system.

    I have seen a few of your comments on other sites and would like to see you post here more often.

  17. The Board meeting last night was all about how much the District liked her until she stopped playing by the unwritten rules of the board (Board Rule #1: make us look good no matter what). It’s clear with the documents released by Dr. Manzone that a deal was made by the Superintendent. He and the board may not call it a DEAL, but if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and swims like a duck, it’s a duck regardless of what you call it. The family clearly thinks they have a deal and even used that word. By focusing on Manzone, the Board and Superintendent don’t answer the questions the public needs to know:
    1) Why did the Superintendent change his mind on residency for this family? I sat through a work session in early 2012 where a Coatesville family hired a lawyer to see if the district would accept tuition money as their house was on property that straddled the District with Coatesville, but the house was actually on the Coatesville side. The Board members who were present made comments to the effect that these people should just pick up their house and move it over the line and how they didn’t want to “open up that can of worms” on tuition. Why is such favoritism being shown to this family and not those in Coatesville? Is it because they are rich? Did Sanville or the District get something in exchange for looking the other way on the tuition?
    2) How much money is involved? This article uses the plural for “student” so if it cost 13-17K per year per child and there are multiple years involved and multiple children, how much money did this deal/agreement/understanding/thing cost the taxpayers? What did it cost the district for multiple surveillance activities? This has to add up to tens of thousands of dollars, at a time when the District claims to be so concerned about fiscal matters. Take note teachers, bus drivers, support staff!
    3) Where was the solicitor in all of this?

  18. The issue of residency is complex and steeped in legalese. Read the law, the policy and the precedents….this is NOT a unique story. Families move into and out of districts specifically for schools, but each “case” has to be reviewed on its specific details. here’s an example: An elementary student is expelled from her own district for vandalism. Very Good student. The family rents an apartment in a neighboring district and “sets up house” so they qualify for residency there so their 6th grader can attend the middle school there. She’s in 6th grade, so most nights one parent stays in the apartment with her while the other parent stays in their nearby home in another district. This continues for 3 years and then the student goes to a private school for high school. Does she spend every night, summers or weekends in the apartment? No. Should the district she is renting in set up surveillance? The district where she rents has a “no tuition” policy. As a board member, I know this story well because my own child is good friends with this traveling student and has “play dates” with her at her house in the neighboring district.
    Is there a “deal?” or is this one of those cases? Because friends, this happens a lot. Kids live with relatives,with friends…accepting tuition is a slippery slope because it means you open your doors wide open.

  19. If this case is so legitimate, as you imply, then why won’t the supt. and board members spell it out for the citizens of UCF? Why won’t they release the records?

    I don’t understand your post. I got lost when you said “the student goes to private high school.” If she goes to a private high school, what difference does residency make? Like so many of your posts, I have no idea what you are talking about.

    The law is very clear about residency. It only gets confused when those in power want to confuse it for their own unknown reasons.

    1. Really, Shining . . . It is obvious that Sidelines was giving some hypotheticals to illustrate the problems with residency, to demonstrate that one can easily imagine cases where it is anything but “simple.” Or she may have used scram cases of which she is aware – but in either case it us clear that she was not talking about the current issue in UCF.

    2. Shining
      I don’t know if you are intentionally dense, or just not able to follow information. The “details” are private, regarding a minor. The hypothetical is about a student from 6th through 12th grade. Ill use fake district names to help you. Expelled from Upper Merion for vandalism (elementary students …nothing serious done, but did break into a school and paid fines). Rented in Radnor through middle school, and when family,,still unable to requalify for high school in their home district, they paid tuition at a private school. The public schools do not accept tuition students and the student wanted to LIVE AT HOME…and the family did not want to move. SO–anyone who wanted to spy on the child in Middle School was likely to conclude there was some secret deal with Radnor. But NO board member knew the details unless they asked the admin for details and had 5 votes to discuss it. And since the Supt is the CEO, and the board trusts her (Sharon Parker), no board member needs to know the personal,details of a minor child. A board member is elected to set policy, not run the schools.

      1. I stopped reading after the first sentence. I will not tolerate your name calling. It doesn’t work, doesn’t make you right and does nothing to strengthen your argument. As a matter of fact, it makes you look bad.

  20. It is not obvious and that is my point. Board members and ex- board members confuse the issue and when that is brought out, they blame, label, and name call the person bringing clarity to the situation in an attempt to control the outcome by making the courageous person who came forward look bad.

    It’s how people get in power and keep power and it is wrong.

    1. I would also add that there many situations that will look questionable to the public but will remain that way because matters involving minors are strictly confidential by law. Do not assume that there is wrongdoing or conspiracy when a minor is involved. There is a perfectly reasonable explanation, but the board and administration may not be at liberty to discuss the matter in detail.

  21. Another obfuscation. They could explain this whole thing clearly and in detail without involving the children involved in the situation.

    They don’t want to. Why is anyone’s guess.

    1. Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that you are correct, this has no relevance to T/E. And I think it is clear that no explanation will ever satisfy you.

  22. It has every thing to do with TE and every school district around.

    These are the very issues we’ve been talking about for years playing out in a real live drama before our eyes.

    Open discussion frowned upon
    meetings are orchestrated
    decisions made in private and in secret
    access to underlying data and information withheld
    information is shared unequally

    How can you say this has no relevance to TE? We have an election on Tuesday. The talk about this should be never ending but especially now. Use this information to make your pick on Tuesday.

    I can’t remember a time when a board member has come out and actually time lined an actual event like this and gave the public a very graphic view of how things really work.

    I don’t get the ho hum. IMHO, this is what we should be talking about, right now, two days before voting time, not Chesterbrook and who the new owner is when the building has been vacant for three years. It can wait another week. No offense Pattye.

    1. UCF “facts” (alleged facts) prove nothing about T/E. You have not made your case against T/E – you repeatedly saying things does not make them true. Meetings are not orchestrated. The discussion takes place at committee meetings – an issue usually goes through two or three committees, over a period of months, and there is often 50 hours or more of discussion. The committee meetings are:

      1) scheduled in advance and on the web site
      2) agendas are made available
      3) hand outs and materials are available to the public
      4) reports of committee activity is made by each committe chair at the monthly meetings
      5) citizens attending the monthly meeting can ask questions during the public comment period

      Now, the committee system is necessary, because if this was all done at one monthly meeting, it would be 24 hours long (probably more).

      A lot of people pay no attention and never attend a single committee meeting, then claim there was no public process, there was a rush to judgment, the meetings are orchestrated, the administration manipulates the votes, etc., ad nauseum. The board members who sat through 59 hours of meetings on the issue tend to be a bit miffed when they constantly hear these accusations over and over again.

      1. It’s true. The appearance of the noble theory of citizen control of public education is presented every meeting but it just isn’t true.

        It’s intimidating to go to a school board meeting much less stand up and make a statement at one especially if you are a parent with children in the district. Dan requires administrators and probably some teachers (I don’t know for sure about the teachers) to attend meetings. Parents do not want to stand up and make statements about their childs school or the administrators and teachers when the very people they are talking about are sitting in the audience. The administrators know this. It is orchestrated. And when citizens do stand up and speak, look what happens. It’s true, I haven’t gone to many meetings but I do watch them on T.V. I have said this before, citizens who speak are met with stone faces and tight lips. It’s like they’re talking to a wall.

        It’s clear who the “outsiders” on the board are too. They could not be treated with more disrespect and hostility. Sometimes I can’t believe what I am watching.

        If a citizen then decides to send an e-mail to the board, many times it goes unanswered and most just give up in frustration and that, IMO is just what they want.

    2. By the way, here is another thing. If I find a school district that just won an award for having the mist honest, open process ever, can I introduce that here as evidence that T/E is wonderful? That is after all your logic.

  23. School Board members are never motivated by personal agendas, intra-board alliances, and ego.

    Power never corrupts. Our elected official always act transparently. Politicians never cut back-channel deals.

    Just crazy talk from Manzone. An erratic female.

    Also, the government would never read your emails. More crazy talk.

  24. Well Keith, your own ex board member Holly Manzone who resigned because she said serving further would “violate her principles and disturb her conscious.” She claims that information is shared unequally and all board members do not receive the same background information for deliberations. She says private votes are held without canvassing all members.

    Why would she say this if it were not true? What did she have to gain?

    I believe every board member should receive the exact same information. There should be no secret meetings or phone calls. Every board member, regardless of time served should have an equal voice in the decision making process. They are all elected officials and should represent their constituents equally.

    It was reported in your paper that your supt. had a tough time answering the one question that was asked him the night you and Mr. Hellrung blasted Dr, Manzone and diagnosed her behavior in public. Why was he unable to conduct himself in a confident, straightforward way that night?

    I believe all board members should be treated by each other with respect and decency in public and in private.

    I am grateful to Dr. Manzone for giving us a window into your board.

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