Parents Get the Cold Shoulder from Lily Tram

You know things are mixed up when journalists get great responses from Gilbert Public Schools, but students and their parents, taxpayers and citizens are given the cold shoulder when they ask questions. Or when an elected representative can’t figure out how to at least pretend to be impartial about matters before the elected body.

Lily Tram was Acting President of the GPS governing board for a brief time. Lily Tram managed to alienate a broad swatch of the citizenry with her attitude toward a major controversy, the same controversy that swept EJ Anderson from her seat on the GPS governing board. What follows is a series of communications between Lily Tram, journalist Hayley Ringle of the Arizona Republic, and a parent of a student at Gilbert Junior High School. We assume that you, our treasured viewer, are aware that there is a controversy within the Town of Gilbert, Arizona over closing Gilbert Junior High School to repurpose the campus as Gilbert Classical Academy. Westie’s blog posts on the subject are here.


Hope you had a wonderful New Year. I’m wondering where this parent got their misinformation from. It appears that there has been alot* of misinformation going around and I hope this is not a scheme to sabotage the focus of student education and in this case students at Gilbert Junior. The district has already submitted the request some time ago to the school facilities board and GPS has not received a response to the request as of yet.

I have not attended the transition committee meetings because the meetings are for the committee members to allot time for them to work together collectively to propose a recommendation for the transition of GJHS. The recommendation should be based on the best interest of students and the district, not for personal interests of parents or board members, which is why in my opinion board members should not be in attendance at these meetings.

I understand that the progress was a slow start with some committee members who didn’t support the closure of GJHS and have hindered the progress. It will be unfortunate if the committee does not come to a consensus and delay the recommendation or the closing of GJHS because the ones most affected by this will be the students where they should be the top priority.

I am hopeful that we will receive a positive recommendation that will provide enough time for committee members to organize a meaningful and memorable closing celebration for the current GJHS students. Also let the students get excited about moving on to their new schools. We want GJH school to close with great memories of a wonderful school, students and staff, not the controversy this process has been made out to be the past couple of months.

Let me know if you need any followup comments on this issue. Thanks.
Lily Tram

A parent thought this correspondence portrayed this board member’s prejudices and preconceived ideas, and understandably so. This intrepid parent went directly to the source of her concern, writing:

Ms. Tram, in response to your letter to Hayley Ringle, dated January 1, 2013:

Am I to understand that anyone who doesn’t support the closing of GJH is hindering the progress of the transition committee? If that is the case, you as the board put us in that position when you made this an “us against them” situation. I was also under the impression that as a citizen of the United States that I had free will and could have a different opinion then someone else.

How can you have an opinion that GJH parents are trying to stall when you weren’t at the board meeting when this was decided AND you never bothered to attend any transition committee meetings to see where everyone was coming from? Your presence at a transition committee meeting would not have had any impact on the recommendations from the committee because observers were NOT allowed to comment or interact with the committee members during the meeting. Your presence would have made YOU better informed and then you wouldn’t have accused the GJH parents of trying to “sabotage the focus of student education and in this case students at Gilbert Junior.”

The parents of GJH met several times over the course of the last 3 months and I am here to tell you that there were several parents who stated that they were voting to keep the school 8th grade only next year NOT because that was what they (the parents) wanted, BUT because, after long discussions with their children, it was what their child wanted. Now tell me that we, the GJH parents, are focusing on our own interests, Ms. Tram.

A Parent

No, parents, it’s not nice to tell this board member what you think, even if you’re nice and polite. Accuracy isn’t a trait that’s respected, either. Lily Tram’s bottom line: “And I didn’t say what you think I said. So there!”

Thank you for your email and I appreciate your feedback. I didn’t realize that my email to Hayley was sent to the public.

I believe you have misunderstood my comment. There appears to have been individuals who have hindered the process and I did not name them. Of course you can have your opinion of where you support or not support the closure of GJHS or the students. It’s the process and progress of the recommendation that was slow to come.

I watched the board meeting from the video stream so I am aware of meeting. I did not attended the transition committee meetings because the meetings are for the committee members to allot time for them to work together collectively to propose a recommendation for the transition of GJHS. The recommendation should be based on the best interest of students and the district. I’m not sure where you refer to ‘sabotage’ comes to play here. We just want the best for the students and the future of the district for the students.

We have received the recommendation last night and hopefully we will move forward with the students’ best interest. Thanks again for your concerns.

Lily Tram

* A couple of different parents pointed out some pretty glaring errors in Lily Tram’s email messages. Those mistakes are important because Lily Tram is, actually, like running a school district where kids learn to read and write. The parents pointed to the common mistake using “alot,”instead of “a lot,” which is one of several errors in Lily Tram’s email messages:

Just to explain – I was wondering if she used the word “alot” (which is not a word) or if it was a missed space in the retype (which I have done…)

[The answer was that the text was copied and pasted, so there was no transcription error.]

NICE! I just love when people in charge of educating my children cannot take the time to play by the same rules that they expect my children to live by. If my kids were to make the grammar and spelling errors that are shown here they would not pass the AIMS test, let alone the class. Once again, I am so very sad to see this…and to think that they are allowed to get away with it, because no one will call them on it is just sickening.

Westie is pretty sympathetic to mistakes in public posts — Westie knows that sometimes a keyboard has a mind of its own. However, another parent highlighted an even more serious issue in Lily Tram’s email messages:

Lily Tram is flat out wrong — or possibly misinformed herself. This is not being done to stir up controversy. The controversy is already there. It scares me how disconnected decision makers can be.

Just another beautiful day in the Town of Gilbert, where the school district is being run by … Shakespeare said it well, “The world is grown so bad, that wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch.” (Richard III.) In modern English, to convey that things are all mixed up or that the world has gone mad, we often say: “The lunatics are running the asylum.”

So here’s a big question: Who in GPS is playing the role of Nurse Ratched?

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey. Nurse Ratched has become a stereotype and a popular metaphor for the corrupting influence of power and authority in bureaucracies. Nurse Ratched is the fifth greatest villain in film history, according to the American Film Institute. “This is undeniably one of the best films ever made in the history of movie making…” In 1975, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest swept all four major academy awards. Stars Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher.

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