GPS Superintendent: My Way or the Highway

You gotta hand it to Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Dave Allison: When he knows he’s wrong, he doubles down and dares anyone to make him change. He doesn’t even bother to sugar-coat his disdain for people who try to help him see matters from a different perspective.

Here’s a letter from a parent who has sterling credentials in the school board business. Superintendent Dave Allison’s response follows.

Dave,

After the ill-timed october vote by the Board to close GJHS, you sent a letter to the parents at GrJHS and MJHS and a separate letter to the 6th grade feeder parents. These letters advised about the vote and told the upcoming 7th graders that they would be attending new jr high schools based on the enclosed proposed boundaries.

The community is overwhelmed and confused by the amount of incorrect information circling. The division in the community is frustrating to many, and due solely to the way all of this has been handled by the district since September.

I urge you to send a letter explaining what took place on Jan 8, the errors made in not following the laws in ARS 15-341, the errors made in the first boundary map sent (you stated another was posted online but no communication has been sent to parents to look online), and the circumstances that are upcoming regarding the possible “do-over”.

I do not believe there is a way to sugar-coat it. The best thing the administration can do is start now to be open, transparent and forthcoming with 100% factual information. That is the only way to start to rebuild trust with the community…and rebuilding trust takes extra effort and a long time.

The newspaper recently stated that the board will be voting to send the closure to the SFB on the 22nd, but in reality, the board will be voting on whether or not they should send it to the SFB. If this is not good for the district as a whole (which we certainly have proven in many ways), then this Board needs to do the responsible thing and stop the action.

Therefore, the community needs to know what is going on, and the board needs to approve whatever is sent out by your office for accuracy. The incorrect information that has been sent regarding this situation is messy and needs to be cleaned up. Parents need to know that mistakes were made by the administration and board in their October decisions. Parents need to understand that, at this point, GJHS may not be closing and it’s possible that no school will be closing in 2013, or 2014. They need to understand that the slate is being wiped clean from an action perspective. Unfortunately, the lack of trust and faith, in information that comes from admin at this point, is high. Admitting mistakes doesn’t make the district weaker, it makes parents want to regain the trust they want to have.

Thanks so much,
Parent

And here is good ole Dave’s response. All you really need to know: “I would do some things the same.” In other words: “My mind is made up, quit trying to change it with facts.” The BIG question: will the new governing board do what Superintendent Dave Allison tells them to do? You know, like the previous board did. Without question. Without facts. Full speed ahead! Here’s the response:

Thank you for your email. I agree that if I had to do this all over again I would do some things differently and I would do some things the same. I will admit that I did not think it was necessary to request authorization from the SFB to “close” GJHS as GCA students would have moved into the school meaning that no square footage would be taken out of use. I know that in working with the SFB during the growth time in the District funding was based on a formula that related to enrolment and square footage. Square footage was also based on whether the school was elementary, junior high or high school. When information regarding the issue of repurposing GJHS was sent to the SFB, its staff informed the district administration, based on the formula, that they had no problem with the concept. Again, I do agree that I should have asked the Board to request the SFB to approve the closure of GJHS however, there is still the opportunity to do this and that is what will occur on Tuesday evening.*

Your point of sending a letter out is well taken, however, I will not be sending one out before the next Board meeting. After the last Board meeting I did ask for a very strict legal opinion on the sequence of events that should occur so no mistakes are made on the issue of closure. I did not receive the letter from the lawyer until today. I did not want to send a letter to anyone until I knew the correct legal process. Because of the holiday on Monday I did not feel I would have time to get the letter written and then sent out to all of the affected parties in time for the next Tuesday’s Board meeting. As you are aware the Board will be asked to vote on a resolution asking the SFB to approve the closing of GJHS for the 2013-14 school year as this is what the Transition Team recommended. If the Board approve this resolution then I will send out letters within two days of the Board meeting informing the affected parents that the Board will be holding a public meeting at the Board meeting on February 12, to discuss the closure of GJHS for the 2013-14 school year.

At the January 22, Board meeting the superintendency and Jodie Dean will be presenting answers to some of the questions you submitted at the last Board meeting.

I would agree that there is incorrect information out in the community. This is unfortunate as it has caused confusion. Hopefully some of this information can be corrected at the meetings on January 22 and again on February 12.

I know that we disagree on the benefits of closing GJHS and repurposing it for GCA, however, I can well understand an appreciate your opposition to this recommendation.

I may not have answered all of your questions or concerns but I wanted to reply to you before the end of this day.

Thank you.
Dave

*Big Fat Asterisk: “I do agree that I should have asked the Board to request the SFB to approve the closure of GJHS however, there is still the opportunity to do this and that is what will occur on Tuesday evening.” Some questions: what exactly will occur at the January 22, 2013 board meeting? Is this a prediction that Dave will ASK THE BOARD TO VOTE or is it an indication that it has been determined that  THE BOARD WILL VOTE FOR WHAT DAVE WANTS?


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