Another parent, Donna Gagnon-Smith, urged the board to learn from this incident, to review its policies and to be accountable to the public for its [the board's] decisions. She also encouraged Middletown parents to vocalize their concerns to the BOE: "we will not tolerate this...we give you our kids during the day and you are supposed to take care of them."
The only other public comments to the board came from Macdonough parent Ed McKeon and Middletown Schools Association President Stephanie Alderman. Mckeon asked the BOE to provide a public report on redistricting, especially as it relates to possible overcrowding and racial imbalance at Macdonough. Alderman informed the board that the Middletown Schools Association (MSA) was reconstituted by the eleven Middletown PTAs, and she invited board members to attend MSA meetings as well as their local PTA meetings. [author's note: more information on MSA's purpose and goals will be available in a future posting. For now, MSA details are available here.]
After the public session, the board attended to a few business items and then went into Executive Session. Five extended MHS Field trips were approved: FFA to its National Convention, BlueTube Television Club to FL, Blue Prints Conference to NY, a Drama Club Festival and the World Language group to Spain. Several board members expressed concern initially for what happens to the students who DON'T go on the trip (i.e. if the teacher is gone, what is the quality of the education for those students left behind?), but they were reassured that field trips aren't even approved internally at MHS unless the faculty member can articulate how the trip aligns with his or her curriculum and how student learning is impacted.
Superintendent Michael Frechette reported that opening day went well, and that a commission from the State Department of Education visited last week. It met with several principals and teachers, and Frechette told the board that the recommendations taken back to the State BOE after its time in Middletown could change the future of education in CT.
There were no committee reports because most committees start meeting this week or next. The action items concerning the Personnel and Feasibility committees were tabled until the October meeting so the BOE has time to discuss relevant issues pertaining to these committees at its upcoming workshop on September 28th.
Before going into Executive Session, Board Chairman Ted Raczka justified the session as follows: "The taser incident is of great concern to the board. We're going to think it through long and hard...violence in our schools is not to be taken lightly and we deplore it." Raczka also stated his specific reasons: "first, we're going to be discussing a student's name and we have to protect his right to privacy, and second, there is a clear chance of litigation in this matter."
The next regular Board of Education meeting is Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 7pm in the Council Chambers, Middletown Municipal Building, 245 deKoven Drive.