Printed Letters: April 20, 2014
D51 should keep teacher, ditch GJHS administration
As a parent of a child taught by Jane White, I can personally vouch for her professionalism and quality as an educator. It is true that White demands a lot from her students, but as a parent and taxpayer, this is what I expect. Because of the high demands of White and several other teachers, our child has excelled at math and science and will pursue a career in engineering.
The real problem at Grand Junction High School is the toxic nature of the administration. Over the course of five years, with two children attending GJHS, we have dealt with issues ranging from the administration allowing student aides to illegally enter grades in the grading system to the extremely unprofessional and irresponsible act of releasing the names of minors who had reported threatening behavior.
The actions of John Bilbo, Jamie Moore and Ned Pollert during the past five years have resulted in an unhappy and unsafe student population, extremely low OHI (approval) numbers from GJHS staff members and frustrated, dissatisfied parents. Unfortunately, District 51’s top administrators, including Bill Larsen and the Board of Education, refuse to acknowledge any problems or take action and admit that the administration of GJHS is dysfunctional and hazardous.
District 51 upper administrators need to quickly deal with the real problem by returning White to her position and terminating the administrators at GJHS.
School board must investigate GJHS policies and procedures
Attending the school board meeting April 7, I heard and witnessed action by the board to dismiss Jane White, a math instructor at Grand Junction High School. It seemed some board members showed bias, based on their statements.
Subsequent to the motion and second to dismiss, two board members stated that the administrative law judge decision was hard to read and did not address the charges and that students and parents have experienced frustration. Subsequent to discussion on the motion to dismiss, the split vote prompted the board to send the decision back to the judge for clarification and to address the charges directly.
Since I am a Mesa County voter and our youngest child graduated from GJHS, I obtained a copy of the judge’s decision. The 17-page document opened with the decision summary which stated in part: “The ALJ determines that the School District has failed to prove a basis to dismiss and recommends that the Teacher be retained.”
That recommendation was followed by the judge’s “Finding of Fact” supporting the summary statements. One section, “The School District’s Failure to Comply with Its Evaluation Process,” contained 12 bullet points on deficiencies in the administration’s performance regarding correct and proper execution of policies.
In summary, it was alarming to read that during the five-day hearing numerous teachers at GJHS testified they were pressured to avoid giving Ds and particularly Fs. The testimony also included the assertion that the administation sought to minimize parental complaints and to ensure that students remained eligible for athletics, marching band competition and other activities.
Having read the entire decision, I believe it has little ambiguity. Therefore, our school board should investigate the ALJ’s findings regarding directives and conduct of District 51 with a focus on GJHS administration, i.e., the policies and procedures for grades that students earn vs. receive, and ensuring full compliance with administrative review protocol.
Country Jam editorial showed overly simplistic assessment
The editor takes an unfair and narrow view of the commissioners’ recent decision to require Country Jam to pay for enhanced law enforcement.
A pro-business stance does not automatically dictate that local government pay for the external costs that every private initiative advocates for. Rather, a calculated approach weighing the merits of the proposal and its economic and social impacts on the community against the costs of paying to partially fund that proposal, and local government’s ability to pay those costs, warranted or not, is the real pro-business approach to decision-making.
Given the actions that the county has recently had to take in order to match reduced revenues to continued expectations for adequate services from the citizens of Mesa County, the commissioners’ difficult decision regarding Country Jam needs to be viewed in a much more considered manner than the one used by the editor in his recent analysis of this decision.
After Legislature pits peaches, don’t boast about wine, skiing
Thank goodness the proactive Colorado Legislature has shot down the imminent terrorist threat of the 10-year-old state peach boy. As they say, we must not promote any single kind of Colorado produce.
Now, be sure to take down any boasts about wines or craft beers, which inherently belittle our fine milk and world-class dairies. Confiscate that “Ski Colorado” poster, which insults our four-star shuffleboard courts.