If I didn’t know any better, I would swear that he is describing the Rochester City School District. I’m willing to bet that conscious, active, and involved parents in Syracuse, New York City, Yonkers, Albany, etc… would all say the same thing about their school districts.In fact, I would bet that parents in predominantly black and brown URBAN school districts vis-a-vis predominantly white suburban school districts in and around Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Newark, D.C., Atlanta, Charleston Miami, and/or MOST, if not ALL mid-sized and /o r large districts throughout this thoroughly racist / classist nation-state (in every direction — North, East, South, and West) — would say essentially the same thing. The PERVASIVE, URBAN EDUCATION CRISIS IS TRULY (AS EDUCATOR AND WRITER JONATHAN KOZOL HAS LABELED IT) —- “THE SHAME OF THE NATION,” AND IT WILL NOT CHANGE UNTIL, AND UNLESS WE ORGANIZE OURSELVES, AND CHANGE IT. NO ONE IS COMING TO SAVE US. WE MUST DO IT OURSELVES.
The Struggle Continues…


Parent Engagement Advisory Committee: Meeting (Thursday, January 30, 2014 — 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. @ 131 West Broad Street, Room 1-E 134)

Committee members are listed below. All members were presents. In addition, Mr. Wallace Smith: RCSD Parent (who said he was invited to serve on the Committee), Ms. Carla Williams (RCSD Parent), Mr. Keenan, whose first name I didn’t get (RCSD Grandparent), and Mr. Fred Tanksley’s son and daughter (both RCSD students) were also present. The meeting was facilitated by Ms. Jacqueline Morgan, Confidential Assistant to Rochester Board of Education (assigned to facilitate by Van White).

Hilda Rosario-Escher: President and CEO of Ibero-American Action League

Makita Saloane: President of district-wide Parent Advisory Council

Fred Tanksley: Parent of an RCSD student

Meghan Delehanty-Reddington: Parent of RCSD Student

Joyce Duckles: Assistant Professor of Counseling & Human Development Warner Graduate School of Education
University of Rochester

Ann Braverman: Licensed Clinical Social Worker

George Moses: Community Activist

Howard Eagle: Candidate for Rochester Board of Education
Community Activist

Pauline McCleary: Business Manager, Minority Reporter

Most of the meeting was spent brainstorming ideas relative to ways of increasing parental involvement. Near the end of the meeting, we agreed on several POTENTIAL RECOMMENDATIONS, AND ALSO AGREED THAT WE NEED TO MEET AGAIN AS SOON AS POSSIBLE TO REVISIT / REFINE THE IDEAS BELOW. THE INFORMATION BELOW IS A SUMMARY COMPILED BY MS. JACQUELINE MORGAN (SEE MY NOTES IN RED).  

Parental Engagement Ad Hoc Committee

January 30, 2014

6:00 p.m.

Committee Recommendations:

  • Restructure the parent liaisons and home school assistants to report directly to the Board with oversight being provided by Board rather than building principals. [I believe the idea here is that – once the Office of Parent Engagement is reorganized so that it reports directly to the Board of Education — then parent liaisons / home school assistants would report to the Office of Parent Engagement — as opposed to reporting to building principals]. It should be noted that, if my understanding is correct, parent liaisons and home school assistants perform the same duties. As far as I understand, the only difference is that at the Elementary level, they are called parent liaisons, and at the High School level they are called  home school assistants. This is part of the reason why (as noted below, we requested job descriptions for both). If it is in fact one job description, (with two different titles) in my view, that’s illogical, and one small example of creating unnecessary bureaucracy, which Superintendent Vargas has been citing as a factor relative to the lack of effectiveness and efficiency].

  • Reorganize the Office of Parent Engagement so that it reports directly to the Board of Education with Board oversight.

  • Ensure that three (3) elected parents, via elections, sit on School Based Planning Teams (SBPT) at all times; and that there is audit and compliance enforcement to ensure that this is taking place. [This is a very important point — because School Base Planning Teams (SBPTs) are charged with the responsibility of developing School Comprehensive Education Plans (SCEP) — formerly known as School Improvement Plans (SIP). Each school is legally bound to have a Plan, which is suppose to represent the “road map” for improvement at each school. SBPTs are composed of administrators, teachers, support staff, parents, students (at the High School level), and sometimes other community members (optional). Each constituency chooses it’s representatives. In the case of parents, representatives are to be elected by parents, as opposed to being appointed or merely volunteering. In many cases, no efforts are made to hold parent elections. People are merely appointed or volunteer. Once SCEPs are developed, each constituency is suppose to sign off on the Plan — indicating their participation in developing the Plan, and their agreement with it].


In addition to the items listed above, I also have the following in my notes relative to a potential recommendations, which we all agreed on at the meeting.

  • Develop a Parent Bill of Rights (using parent-friendly language), written by parents for parents, which principals must adhere to.
  • Develop a mechanism(s) to ensure all policies are strictly enforced.

Committee Suggestions:

  • Ensure that staff is available who speak the language of parents order help them navigate District processes and system. [including those from numerous African nations].

  • Have the Student Placement Office provide orientation for parents who speak a language other than English when they register their children.

  • Request that parents speak to other parents at churches to get them involved the parental engagement process.

  • Develop different measures to determine the success of the Office of Parent Engagement.

  • Have parent liaisons report to the director of the Office of Parent Engagement.

  • Provide training (professional development) for principals to work with the Office of Parent Engagement.

  • Request that principals who model good parent engagement train other principals to model them.

  • Develop a way to measure the usefulness of Parent Connect.  It is found to be inadequate it should be eliminated.

  • Create a Parents’ Bill of Rights in parent friendly language written by parents for parents that principals must adhere to.

  • Ensure that parents understand their role in educating their children; make pathways available to parents. [Even as a brainstorming item, I raised concern about this — because, in my view, it has the potential to be condescending, paternalistic, and counter productive].

  • Ensure that funding for student services is directly managed by the Board.

Committee Requests:

  • Provide list of schools that currently have parent liaisons / home school assistants

  • Provide list of schools that currently do not have liaisons / home school assistants

  • Provide job descriptions for parent liaisons/ home school assistants

  • Describe the hiring process for parent liaisons/ home school assistants

  • Describe how Title 1 money is currently being utilized

  • Have the March 4th community forum recorded and streamed live

As I noted in a correspondence below, only two meetings have been scheduled by the RCSD for this Committee (the meeting which took place on January 30th, and a second meeting to take place on February 18th). As I also noted, I contacted Commission White, and informed him that, in my view, the Committee would necessarily need to meet more than twice — in order to finalize quality recommendations. His response, as noted below, was that he was leaving it up to each Committee to decide additional meeting times. Thus, at the end of our January 30th meeting, I suggested that we needed to reconvene as soon as possible to continue refining our work. All Committee members present (with the exception of Ms. Rosario-Escher —who left early) checked their calendars on the spot, and agreed via unanimous-consensus that Monday, February 3rd (6 – 8 pm) was the best time. Ms. Morgan informed us that she could not attend on Monday. Thus, I suggested that one of the Committee members could facilitate (I suggested Ms Markita Saloane: President of the District Parent Advisory Council). Ms. Morgan said that she would check availability regarding a meeting room, and would let us know. Events that transpired the next day (January 31st) were disappointing — to say the least, and in my view, a classic example of why the RCSD is having such a difficult time getting and sustaining widespread, broad-based parent engagement (see the string of emails below). 
Also, as noted in a correspondence below, my initial agreement to participate in this process hinged on creation of sufficient opportunities for the broader community to have input. With regard to such “opportunities,” I learned at the meeting on January 30th that a community forum has been scheduled for March 4th (6 – 8 pm) at the Frederick Douglass Resource Center, 36 King Street). I must say, this is a strange date — because, unless my understanding is incorrect, this is only a couple of days before the Committees are scheduled to make recommendations to the Board of Education. If this is in fact correct — then there may not be enough time to alter potential recommendations — based on possibly good, sound ideas that may be suggested during the scheduled March 4th community forum. Even if the Committees don’t meet again until February 18th — there’s a lot of time between February 18th and march 4th. It seems to me that at least two community forums should be in order, especially if the idea is to maximize opportunities for input from the broader community. Of course, there is no need for you all to wait — to begin having input. If there is anything that you would like for me to take to the table, please let me know. You may also want to contact Commission White directly: I’M PLANNING TO PUSH FOR AT LEAST ONE ADDITIONAL COMMUNITY FORUM, BUT WHETHER THERE’S ONE OR TWO — LET’S TURN OUT IN DROVES Y’ALL — TO SEND A CLEAR MESSAGE THAT WE DEMAND CHANGE AND IMPROVEMENT NOW. NO MORE EXCUSES.
Morgan, Jacqueline:

Hi All,

I have attached the email address for the Parental Engagement Ad Hoc Special Committee members as you requested.

As you know, you also requested to have an additional meeting other than the one that is scheduled for Tuesday, February 18, 2014.  A date was set for Monday, February 3rd to convene that meeting.  At last evening’s meeting I stated that was not available to facilitate meetings on Mondays and Wednesdays.  If you’d like to proceed with the meeting as scheduled for February 3rd, I will not be able to attend.  It has been brought to my attention that if that is the case the committee would have to find an alternate location to hold the meeting as district employees would have to be in attendance  that are held in the District’s buildings.

My availability to attend another meeting prior to February 18th is as follows:  Tuesday, February 4th; and Thursday, February 6th.  I am not available any other days prior to 2/18 as I will be out of town from February 7-14, 2014.  I am also available during the day between 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 every day, with the exception of Thursday, February 6 from 4:30-6:00 p.m., to meet with the committee if that fits into your daytime schedules.  Please let me know via email if you’d like to change the meeting date to one that I am available to attend.

Also, I am working on the recommendations, and suggestions that were submitted last night and will forward them to you today upon completion.

Thanks for the thought and hard work that went into last night’s meeting.


Jacqueline Morgan

Confidential Assistant to the Board

Rochester Board of Education

131 W. Broad Street

Rochester, NY  14614

585-262-8185 (phone)

585-262-8381 (fax)


Fred Tanksley: good afternoon miss Morgan:
I am looking at my notes and it looks like we had agreed upon a meeting time for this Monday February 3rd at 6 p.m.

Morgan, Jacqueline:

Mr. Tanksley, you are right, but I stated that I would not be available on Mondays and Wednesdays and the committee elected to meet without me.   Mr. Eagle said that you could meet without me, so I scheduled the meeting on the day that the committee selected.  However, President White would like me to be in attendance at the meeting.  That’s the reason for the change; in addition that the committee would have to find another location to me other than at Central Office as there has to be district staff on site if the meeting is to be held here.




Fred Tanksley:  I am open to what ever day fits for most of us, I am willing to rearrange my schedule as this is that important to me.  I always work on the premise that the good of the many outweigh the good of the one or the few.


Van White:

First,  Id like to keep our process uniform Among all the Special Committees. All special committees are being facilitated by Board staff pretty much using the same agenda format.  Second, it’s important that all of these meeting be recorded so that  we remain as transparent as possible. The District has special/new equiptment which allows for District  to record and duplicate for others when necessary. I hope this explains why it’s important that Ms. Morgan be at your next meeting.  Thanks!
Angie Quick Coleman
If we must change the date, I’m available Tuesday, February 4th!
Angie Quick Coleman: Has anyone else from the committee agreed to move the offset meeting date from Monday, February 3rd to Tuesday, February 4th or one of the other dates Ms. Morgan has graciously made herself available?  Please note, I will not be available on Thursday, February 6th due to a scheduled PTO meeting at my school!
Duckles, Joyce

Hello all –

I’ve been trying to follow the conversations, but I am also not sure when everyone has agreed to meet.  Is everyone available on Tuesday this week?  At what time?

I also am not available on either Wednesday or Thursday this week.

Thanks to all for being so flexible!



Markita Saloane: Hi All,

I have a meeting on Tuesday at Central Office from 5pm-7pm. I can attend this meeting, if moved to Tuesday, but I will be late.

I reviewed the list of recommendations and I thought we agreed on:

Reorganization of the Office of Parent Engagement including Parent Liaisons and Home School Assistants to report to the Board.

Creating a Parents Bill of Rights.

Enforcing all policies (not just the SBPT policy).

Please advise which date we will be meeting.



Van White
If no one is available (from District staff) for tomorrow’s previously planned meeting, I will step in and act as facilitator in place of Ms. Morgan.  So either way your meeting scheduled for tomorrow will go forward.
Howard Eagle:
I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow evening at 6:00 PM.



As you know, I had suggested (via the correspondence above) that Rochester Board of Education President, Van White publicize the names of individuals serving on the four (4) ad-hoc committees, which he recently established. I was not aware of the fact that he had already done so — via the article at the link below.

OBSERVATION: In my view, it would have been good to provide contact information for the members of all committees — in order to make it convenient for people who may want to contact committee members regarding suggestions, questions, input, etc… I assume that some members can be contacted here on Face Book, but I’m not certain if this is true for all.

As noted above, the Parent Engagement Committee had it’s first meeting earlier this evening (6-8 pm). It was generally a productive meeting. PLEASE LOOK FORWARD TO A FORTHCOMING, FULL REPORT.

Also I thought that some of you may be interested in the information below regarding potential opportunities to serve as parent / student representatives on the following Board Committees:

*Policy Development & Review Committee

*Excellence in Student Achievement Committee
*Community & Intergovernmental Relations Committee
*Finance & Resource Allocation Committee
*Audit Committee



Communication #1 Re: Van White’s Ad-Hoc Committees



First, I would like to apologize for the lateness of this correspondence. It was my intent to communicate about this — way before now. In any case, I will make every effort to report updates in a timely fashion.

I am writing to inform you that I have decided to participate in one of the ad-hoc advisory committees (“parent engagement”) mentioned in the article at the link below.

As many of you know, I have probably been one of the biggest, and most consistent critics of the Rochester Board of Education’s “leadership” and members. Thus, I assume that some would question my participation in this sort of initiative.So, I wanted to explain my reasons for doing so.

I have always maintained that I am ready, willing, and able to work cooperatively and collaboratively with anyone who is serious about actions designed to produce much-needed, and much-deserved, widespread, permanent change and improvement for Rochester City School District (RCSD) students and families. Whether this particular initiative has the potential to accomplish this — is yet to be seen. I have also (for many years) maintained that until, and unless WE establish a well organized, and well financed / resourced, broad-based, mass movement of parents, guardians, students, educators, activists, and anyone else who is really serious about academic and general change and improvement — it will not happen. The latter point is articulated in our 2013 Board of Education Election Platform, and has been articulated in all previous Election platforms that I have been a part of. Rochester Board of Education President Van White knows that this is my belief, which was reiterated during a phone conversation earlier this month concerning my participation in this initiative.

As noted in the article at the link below:

“White also said he has reached out to every candidate who participated in the 2013 [General] school board election to offer an opportunity to serve on one of the advisory committees.”

“These people represent constituencies; had thousands of people vote for them, and spent the better part of last year listening and learning from the people of our city. It only makes sense that we would tap into that resource as we look to develop a list of solutions to address the district’s most pressing issues.”

With regard to the quotes above, I had informed Commissioner White that I take very seriously the responsibility of attempting to represent those who give me permission to do so, and that (with regard to my participation in this initiative) I would make every attempt possible to identify, and communicate with, and seek input from those who supported me in the Election and/or otherwise. Therefore, this represents my first effort to do so.WITH REGARD TO THOSE WHO SUPPORTED ME IN THE 2013 GENERAL ELECTION, OF COURSE, I DON’T KNOW WHO ALL OF YOU ARE, BUT I DO KNOW THAT THERE ARE AT LEAST 2,194 OF YOU, AND I DO KNOW THAT MANY OF YOU ARE HERE ON FACE BOOK. If you know of others who supported and/or still support me, but are not here on face book — please share this correspondence with them.

I also articulated to Commissioner White during the above referenced phone conversation that my participation is dependent on the condition that there will be ample opportunity for what ever recommendations these ad-hoc committees come up with — to be vetted (subjected to examination and evaluation) via the broader community — BEFORE they are formally submitted / recommended to the full Board of Education. He agreed that this is an important step, and that it will happen.

Thus far, the parent engagement ad-hoc advisory committee has two meetings scheduled. THE FIRST ONE IS THIS EVENING, AND THE SECOND ONE IS SCHEDULED FOR FEB. 18TH. I sent Commissioner White a note expressing my belief that it is NOT realistic that any committee could come up with quality recommendations in the course of two meetings. His response was that he is leaving it up to the various committees to determine additional meeting dates. Thus, this represents one of the first issues that I will put on the table this evening, i.e., the need to schedule additional meetings. AGAIN, I SINCERELY APOLOGIZE FOR THE LATENESS OF THIS CORRESPONDENCE, BUT PLEASE KNOW THAT (FROM THIS POINT ON) — I WILL MAKE EVERY POSSIBLE EFFORT TO KEEP YOU ALL INFORMED — IN A TIMELY MANNER.

At this point, I am not aware of who other members of the parent engagement committee are. However, I will report this information as soon as I know. Nor am I aware of who any members are of the other three ad-hoc committees (student achievement, student and community safety, and concentration of poverty). However, in my view, as part of keeping the broader parent / family / general tax-paying community informed, and maximizing opportunities for broad-based input, support, and buy-in — I would suggest that the names of all committee members should be made public.


The Struggle Continues…