Thursday, April 29, 2010

Accusations fly at charter school board meeting

Wed, Apr 28, 2010 0diggsdigg to


FERRYSBURG — More than 100 people jammed the music room-turned-board room at West Michigan Academy of Arts and Academics on Tuesday night, criticizing school board members and the personnel company involved in the recent firing of the school's director.

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The audience of parents, students, teachers and staff spent almost three hours of comment time denouncing the decision to remove the man they claimed was respected and loved by almost everyone at the school.

Demonstrators were on the street Monday and Tuesday, protesting the ousting of Tom Stout and working to get people to attend Tuesday night's regular meeting of the charter school's Board of Education.

The meeting crowd rose and cheered when Stout entered the room and made his way to a front row seat, moments before the meeting was called to order.

Board President Judy Bregman made a statement claiming the board had nothing to do with the firing. She said they were made aware of it Friday afternoon by the personnel company contracted by the school. Stout was terminated Saturday.

Ed Culberson, of the personnel firm Advanced HR, told the audience that the situation was an ongoing issue that was not resolved. He said Stout was let go because he continued to do things that were not in the best interest of the Ferrysburg school.

Culberson declined to give a specific reason for the firing — indicating it was best that the former director leave now, rather than at the end of six more weeks when Stout planned to retire.

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A new director, Travis Thomsen of California, is scheduled to be in place July 1.

In the meantime, Culberson confirmed that his company had contracted two people — who had helped the school in a search for the new director — as interim directors. David Peterson and Harry Rossi, both former school superintendents from northern Illinois, will be meeting with administration and faculty at WMAAA this week. Peterson arrived at the school Tuesday afternoon and attended the board meeting. Meetings with staff were scheduled for today.

Peterson said he hoped to address parents' concerns about their children's welfare and how they were dealing with the loss of Stout.

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Stout made a statement at Tuesday night's meeting, criticizing the board — most notably Bregman — and accusing board members of repeated violations of the Open Meetings Act and conflict of interest because of her friendship with the school's curriculum coordinator, Connie Stewart. He encouraged the crowd to "question policy and decision-making at every level," and told parents they needed to "take their school back."

Several audience members asked that Bregman and other members of the board step down so the new director can start with a clean slate when he comes to town. Others accused Stewart of bullying teachers and also asked her to step down.

At the beginning of the meeting, eighth-grade students Mackenzie Fairfield and Lorenzo Pretta — who are in Mandy Deboer's Introduction to Film class — made a presentation on bullying and showed a 30-second public service announcement the class produced.

"This has been an ongoing issue in our school," Fairfield said.

Parent Wendy Swenson brought up the topic of the video after a couple of hours of comment on the director situation.

"I teach my children that bullying is not acceptable," she said.

Swenson noted was an underlying theme of bullying brought up by parents and teachers at the meeting, in relation to curriculum and activities. She said the allegations of bullying, conflict of interest and possible illegal activities of a staff member being investigated by Stout needed to be continued.

Bregman said she would reply to questions asked that night by e-mail and the responses would be on the school's website. In response to a question from the audience, Bregman emphasized she would not be able to answer all of the questions.

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Many of the people in attendance directed their comments to Dan Matthews, a representative from Grand Valley State University, the entity that oversees the charter for WMAAA.

Parent Andrew Ross said they needed GVSU's help to eliminate the atmosphere of hostility "which affects our children's learning environment." He asked Matthews to have the university investigate the possible conflicts of interest between board members and staff, and to investigate school attorney Errol Goldman for the same type of issues.

After most of the audience left, Matthews — who gave a report as scheduled on the agenda — said GVSU was bound by state rules that they had to follow in overseeing the charter school.

"We cannot get involved in personnel matters," he said.

Matthews spent most of his time talking about how well the school was doing, despite the conflict.

"When you look at the data, this is a great school," he said. "This is one of the top performing schools in the state of Michigan."

Ron Lindquist, grandparent to a current WMAAA student, said about the only choice parents had was to "contact your (state) legislator and make that board elected and responsible to" the people.

The academy's Board of Education is appointed by GVSU. When there is a vacancy, applications may be filed, but the board then selects the next member.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pet Peeve of the Week - Week 2

To start, please review -
Pet Peeve of the Week disclaimer –
1. YES, I know that all of you won’t agree with my logical weekly assessments – too bad, don’t read them.
2. YES, I know that there are plenty of things that I do daily that you would like to list out under this heading – too bad, get your own blog.
3. NO, I’m not writing about anybody in particular, so don’t take things so personally if I happen to touch on a subject you don’t agree with. [and if you can’t handle it, you may want to stop reading now… I’m not planning to filter these posts to protect you over-sensitive readers…..ya, you know who you are.]

You see these cars every day. The ones with the bumper stickers that say

Ok, so what are these people really thinking?

1. SO……. I bought this car from my great Aunt Sally, and she had a bumper sticker on the back, and I’m too lazy to scratch it off, so I’ll just leave it on there even though I realize McCain will never be named president…….
2. OR……I am not very fond of our current president, and in fact did NOT want to see him elected, so I will keep my bumper sticker on my car for the rest of my life, so everyone that sees me will know that I do not support the current president regardless of what he does/doesn’t do to help/hinder our country…..
3. OR……What? There’s a bumper sticker on my car? ….hmmm….I guess I didn’t realize that I never took it off after the election was over in 2008…..
4. OR……I am quite certain that McCain WILL run again someday, and will be named President of the United States, and in fact, he will also ONCE AGAIN realize that Palin would be an excellent choice for Vice President, so he will choose her as his running mate, and they will FOR SURE be elected this time around – and my car will be READY!…..

Pet Peeve of the week: People who want other people to know that they are either living in the past or the future, and therefore must spend very little time focusing on the present.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Conversations with Tyler....

How many times can I say, "Yep, he's just like his dad...."
Today alone I said it 3 different times to 3 different people.

Because Dan is gone so much lately,
I am able to find laughter in my
"Conversations with Tyler".....

Starbucks drivethru voice:

I'll have your total at the window, please pull ahead.

(as I pull ahead):
You don't have to tell me my total, because I already know it's $4.19.


How do you know that?

(giving him the look):
Believe me, it's $4.19. But, I use my card, so I save $0.80 cents. So, it's really only $3.39. Isn't that AWESOME! I get my syrup for free.


I don't know, Mom.
sounds to me like pretty pricey syrup.......

Friday, April 16, 2010

Pet Peeve of the Week

I decided to start this Pet Peeve of the Week, in hopes that I will actually be able to come up with ONE annoyance per week.
Then, after some thought I laughed.
Yep, this should be NO problem……

To start, please review -
Pet Peeve of the Week disclaimer:
1. YES, I know that all of you won’t agree with my logical weekly assessments – too bad, don’t read them.
2. YES, I know that there are plenty of things that I do daily that you would like to list out under this heading – too bad, get your own blog.
3. NO, I’m not writing about anybody in particular, so don’t take things so personally if I happen to touch on a subject you don’t agree with. [and if you can’t handle it, you may want to stop reading now… I’m not planning to filter these posts to protect you over-sensitive readers…..ya, you know who you are.]

How many times do you hit the “SEND” button in a day? In a world where you almost have to be a better writer than a talker, I probably send close to 75 emails a day, not counting my facebook comments. Ok, so when you people get my emails in your inbox, what actually happens after that?
1- Am I in the “delete hers without reading it” category?
2- Or do you actually skim over it, and then hit delete?
3- Or do you just read it, and leave it sitting there in your inbox, and then talk to me about what it says the next time you see me?
4- Or do you actually open it, read it and reply to it?

If you wanna be a #1 person, fine. Honestly, you people don’t bother me at all, as I already know that you could care less about me.
If you wanna be a #2 person, fine. Honestly, you don’t bother me at all either, as you are pretty much just a nicer, more polished version of the #1 people.
If you wanna be a #4 person, I heart you, as you are just like me.

But, these #3 people – SERIOUSLY.
#3’s, let’s talk.
If I send you an email
and ask you a question
and you don’t reply to it
Yet, then I see you a week later
and you say something similar to …
“Oh, hi, Kristie….ya….got your email last week, ummmm, ya that should work out for us, we’ll be there.” …..
Do I really need to explain why this is ANNOYING?
Talk about a complete waste of YOUR time and MY time.
Why not just hit the little button that is labeled “REPLY” and type the words “Sure, that should work” and then hit the little button that is marked “SEND”.
If you take the time to read your email,
what in the world is so hard about replying to it?

Not to mention that I totally have a wrong impression of you, as I have just spent the last week of my life thinking you were a #1. When in actuality, you weren’t a #1, you were a #3.

Pet Peeve of the Week – People who give other people the wrong impression about themselves.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Why dads usually know best.....

Kristie CookDaniel Cook: hey....BFF.....wanna get pedicures this weekend?? I could use an outing with my best friend....
Daniel CookKristie Cook: Who r u talking too. .I get confused on FB. R u asking me if I want a pedicure? Or someone else. ;)
Kristie CookKristie Cook
well, let's see....i am talking to my best friend...that would be you....which would explain why I wrote on YOUR wall......
Daniel CookDaniel Cook
Okay. I'm not sure how to write on a wall. Black berry is confusing sometimes. ;)
Kristie CookKristie Cook
LOL babe. you crack me up!
Kristie CookKristie Cook
but the real question remains......pedicures?
Kristie CookKristie Cook
by the just 'wrote on a wall' when you posted this.....LOL
Daniel CookDaniel Cook
Okay well u will have to teach me a little more.
Kristie CookKristie Cook
are you avoiding the real question? :)
Daniel CookDaniel Cook
No what the heck r u talking about
Kristie CookKristie Cook
lol .......pedicures.
David HulingsDavid Hulings
Suggestion: call him on the phone

Saturday, April 10, 2010

UPDATE Eyliana

If we could bottle up the sheer JOY and save it for another day or another kid, now would be the time to do it.
As her favorite holiday passes, we realize - WOW, when did she get so old?

Eyliana continues to spend her days in the kitchen where she belongs. With help from Grandma Robin, she bakes almost every weekend, cupcakes being her specialty. She loves to try different recipes, and recently got a new book from Crate and Barrel entitled "500 Cupcakes" along with a new "bake and take" cupcake pan.


If we could bottle up the confidence and save it for another day or another kid, now would be the time to do it.
As Spring approaches it's peak, we realize - WOW, this kid rocks!
Tyler spends many hours preparing for his big theatrical debut, as Jack (and the beanstalk) in the school's version of Into the Woods, Jr. He will perform on April 30th and May 1st at MCC's Overbrook Theatre.
If you are interested in attending, please let me know how many tickets you will need, as both shows WILL SELL OUT! (I promise) Many pictures (and hopefully video clips to come!)

If you can't find Tyler this Spring, and he's not in the drama room practicing - he will be on the soccer field, preparing for an upcoming successful soccer season. If you would like to catch a great game, his schedule is listed here!

UPDATE Kaitlyn

If we could bottle up the maturity and save it for another day or another kid, now would be the time to do it.
As Kaitlyn turned 16, we realized - WOW, we did good.
[By the way, how did we do that?]

As part of her sweet-16 celebration, we took her to Chicago for an over-the-top weekend. The pictures say it all. I tried to only pick my favorites....

Ok, so I have alot of favorites.

Kaitlyn will also be spending her Spring time preparing for a successful soccer season at Fruitport High School as the Captain of the JV Soccer Team! If you are interested in checking out one of her games, you can find her schedule here!

Love this song!