Letter: Outrageous – Grosse Pointe News
About the publisher:
I am sending the letter I sent to the BOE meeting (Monday) night as I was attending a convention as an elected district delegate. I asked Trustee Ahmed Ismail to make my comments and when he asked President Joe Herd how this should be done procedurally, President Herd did not read the letter or take the time to do so. If I had been there in person, I would have had the opportunity to speak out publicly. I am very disappointed that my comments were not read at the meeting. Below is the letter I sent with Trustee Ismail.
To the GPPSS Administration, Board of Education colleagues and the community:
I have asked Trustee Ismail to read a statement on my behalf tonight as I have another obligation as an elected official in addition to my position as BOE Trustee.
I had to choose between events tonight and felt I had to prioritize the other event tonight.
I would like to make a public statement on several current and important issues.
1. The use of BOND funds made available for the currently closed – but unsold – Poupard and Trombly school buildings. I was shocked to hear how Dr. Jon Dean and wife Amanda Matheson admit during our facilities meeting last Thursday that the funds for these buildings have already been spent. Over $13.5 million has been committed to these properties and I am quite concerned that these funds have been used on our other bond projects without the BOE being notified. I have repeatedly asked about these BOND funds and never received a straight answer until last Thursday.
Perhaps the discussion of expanding or enhancing the Trombly property for an ECC would have been different if we had known that $13.5 million could have been used.
While use of these funds may have been required to cover additional work discovered on the other properties, use of these funds should have been transparently shared with the BOE.
2. The demolition of the IA building in South. As a member of the Facilities Committee, I do not recall any discussion of the demolition of the IA building at GP South. This is an issue for the BOE to vote on. What is most concerning to me about this proposed demolition is the fact that significant funds will be required to move the boilers into the main building and that post demolition will require an exterior renovation of the Boll Center. The administration has planned to demolish this building but has no plan what to go in this space. It’s irresponsible to demolish a building without a clear plan of what’s going to go into that space.
3. Finally, today I was informed by several people in the community about the survey that was used as a lesson activity in the GP South history class. The learning objective was to teach the students about McCarthyism and government interference.
There are a few things that are problematic about the way this assignment was carried out. First off, the survey was printed on official stationery so it appeared to be official from GP South.
Second, the surveys included intrusive questions about personal information: family religion, political beliefs, use of controlled substances, and history of mental health.
Most troubling was that the surveys were collected by the teachers. I have with Dr. Talked to Dean and he says the polls were destroyed.
While the teachers’ intentions may have been honorable, we only have word from the school that the information was destroyed.
Teachers are statutory reporters. If a teacher sees information about this survey, would they have to report it to counselors or social workers?
If this was really a class exercise, why weren’t the students instructed to tear up their own papers without having them collected?
Why did the teachers feel the need to use the official GP South letterhead with the names of all administrators?
The surveys gave teachers access to very private information. This order is a breach of trust between the teachers and the families. The school has stated that the surveys have been destroyed, but the potential for this information to be viewed by others is already there. The damage is done. Other students could easily have seen this information as well.
Who gave the teachers access to the official letterhead for this assignment? Are we to assume that the South administration team approved this? Or is official stationery available to all employees for any purpose?
I showed this survey to a fellow teacher. This colleague was horrified by what he saw and I let him read it without context or information from me. He couldn’t believe that this was given to the students and collected by the teachers.
I am concerned about the decision regarding the design of this assignment and believe that there are many ways we can teach students historical subjects like the McCarthy era without subjecting them to this kind of intrusive assignment.
Trustee of the GPPSS Education Committee
The following is the task Ms. Papas refers to in her letter to the editor.
Answer the following questions completely and honestly. Write only on this paper. Write only in ink. Do not discuss any question or answer with anyone. Don’t skip any questions. Do not mark answers or try to change answers after writing them on this paper. You have 15 minutes to fill out this questionnaire.
1. What is your full name? Don’t abbreviate.
2. What is your home address?
3. Do you have a mailing address that is separate from your home address? If yes, enter your mailing address here.
4. How many people live in your house?
5. Do you live with both parents? If no, who do you live with? Explain why you don’t live with your parents.
6. Do you attend a church regularly? If yes, write the name of the church. If not, explain why not.
7. How many bedrooms does the house you live in have?
8. Has anyone in your family ever been accused or convicted of a crime? If so explain.
9. Have you ever had trouble at school? If yes, explain what you did wrong to get into trouble.
10. Do the adults in your family vote regularly? If so, which political party (Democrat, Republican, other) do they typically vote for? If no, explain why they do not vote regularly.
11. Does your family have a car? What kind of car do you have? Is it paid?
12. How often do you go to the doctor? Why do you go to the doctor regularly?
13. Have you ever spoken to a counselor at school or been to a psychologist? Has anyone in your family ever seen a psychologist? If so, why were these visits necessary?
14. Have your parents (or guardians) ever lost their jobs? If so explain. If no, did your parents (or guardian) work in more than one place? If so, why couldn’t they continue working in the same place?
15. Is alcohol allowed in your home or is it served?
NOTE: Photo and poll questions are from a post shared on social media by a parent from Grosse Pointe South.