Continuing our report on GPS superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s in-your-face rogue administration, we’ll show you exactly how she used her puppet Justin Sremba, principal of Gilbert Elementary School, to ram through a so-called reform without the knowledge of the GPS governing board.
Smoke and mirrors are an important part of Christina Kishimoto’s hell-bent mission to *reform* Gilbert Public Schools, disrupting student learning and destroying neighborhood schools in the process. When you see the documents liberated through public records requests, you understand why ousted board president Lily Tram resisted any semblance of transparency to GPS management.
The decision to reform Gilbert Elementary School into a Dual Language School for all students has been documented back to January 2016. You can bet the ground was plowed well before then; Christina Kishimoto probably salted the earth as well so that the newly elected board that will be seated in January 2017 would be intimidated if they tried to change things.
In response to a barrage of citizen complaints, GPS board member Julie Smith contacted the superintendent and asked for a report that addressed specific questions:
Governing board members should not be finding out about school-wide changes from members of the community. I am requesting a report to the board completed by Friday, November 4th containing the following information:
** What changes are being made to Gilbert Elementary school as a whole and what is the target initiation date?
** How will this affect current staff at the school and their job status?
** Where are families who do not wish to participate in this program being told to enroll?
** Why were the steps of an application to administration and then the governing board skipped?
** What is the cost of initiating this program?
Christina Kishimoto took false umbrage at the suggestion that this entire fiasco skipped the step of going to the governing board for approval. In her argument, Christina Kishimoto admitted the proposal was not submitted to the board, but might be submitted, if she decided she liked it. Note that this whole shebang is just a *pwocess* and not a done deal, or so Christina Kishimoto tries to imply:
Most of the questions posed by Julie in her email are part of the application that will come to the Board. The question regarding “skipping the Governing Board” approval is not accurate – since draft applications to me are due in December and then they go to the Board if they reflect substantive programmatic/design changes … The board will receive a school design presentation in December or January when the school-based teams have completed their research work. Please let me know if you have any further process questions.
The problem for Christina Kishimoto was that she indisputably was caught in lies and deceptions. She tried telling part of the truth in order to sleaze out of the mess she had made.
First, superintendent Christina Kishimoto apparently didn’t know that the principal of Gilbert Elementary School had informed parents that the Dual Language School was already set in stone. Second, she didn’t seem to know that board member Silly Jilly Humpherys had already informed the public that if students at Gilbert Elementary didn’t enroll in the the dual language program, they would be bused off to Burk Elementary School. Third, It’s a sure bet that Christina Kishimoto never expected some “Gilbert Elementary School Council Meeting Minutes” to be produced in response to a public records request.
We have our doubts about the authenticity of the Gilbert El site council minutes. The propensity of GPS administrators to forge signatures and *create documentation* when confronted with their own truthiness has been a subject of much discussion in recent years. Let’s just say that even if these minutes are indeed authentic, they still destroy Kishimoto’s proclaimed consensus for the Dual Language School at Gilbert El. Those minutes show that just a few people (the principal, two teachers, two parents, one classified staff member and one community member) decided to make this major change for an entire campus because it “fits within” Kishimoto’s philosophy.
The site council minutes show the principal presented the entire thing as a done deal from the beginning, and discussions were merely brief pro forma sessions designed to deceive the GPS governing board:
January 27, 2016: Mr. Sremba continued by giving an overview of school enrollment explaining that Gilbert Elementary did have a declining enrollment. He said that the Dual-Language program is very important to the school as it attracts many out of boundary families to the school … In further discussion of the dual-language program Mr. Sremeba said that it fits within Superintendent Dr. Kishimoto’s philosophy on schools and giving choices to families.
February 24, 2016: Mr. Sremba presented the council with the preliminary school design proposal. It is a detailed document with many questions designed to assist schools in moving forward with their design.
March 30, 2016: No discussion about the new school design for a Dual Language School.
April 27, 2016: Mr. Sremba continued by outlining the format for the Dual-Language program for 2016-2017. The fifth grade portion of the program will be cut for next school year due to the number of students.
September 21, 2016: Mr. Sremba continued the meeting with a school design update for the council. He discussed the grant awarded by GPS and how it would be spent on staff development, conferences, site visits and curriculum.
October 19, 2016: Mr. Sremba gave the council an update on the school design time line. He indicated that he would be at a dual language conference on October 20 and 21 so he was waiting to send home letters to families until he returned so he would be available for questions … He went on to tell the group about several school visits he had lined up with staff members to observe dual language programs. He also indicated that he and Mrs. Parra had recently given a presentation at a GPS Principal’s meeting.
Principal Justin Sremba indeed sent letters to families in October. An uproar resulted, which is how the community came to know about this massive change to a school that Kishimoto had orchestrated, using her pet principal as a puppet.*
Email to parents: Over the summer, Gilbert Elementary received a $15,000 school design grant from GPS to help propel our school with the transition to become a dual language school, beginning in the 2017-2018 school year.
For the 2017-2018 school year, kindergarten and first grade (current kindergarten students) will transition to the two-way dual language model … Throughout this process, we will hold informational meetings where you can ask questions and learn more about this exciting transition. We will also keep you informed on the transition through email, letters in backpacks, and through our our school’s webpage.
NOTE: The Gilbert El Principal’s Corner, a major source of communication to parents, welcomes families to the 2015-2016 school year. Sheeeeesh. We’re sure Justin Sremba’s other promised communications will be just as useful [not]. And as easy to find on the school’s webpage [not]. What we have here is another GPS marketing failure within a ridiculous but expensive new website. Double sheeeesh.
It doesn’t sound like there are any decisions yet to be made, does it? As we’ve already seen, it’s decided and done. Obviously, Christina Kishimoto never expected to have to turn over documents proving she lied through her teeth about how the Dual Language School originated. Kishimoto wrote:
The Dual Language School design suggestion came from parents, teachers and community members in the Gilbert El community who cited existing full school design models in neighborhood districts where fidelity to the Dual Language program is stronger and more consistent.
Justin Sremba apparently sent out a survey to Gillbert El parents AFTER the controversy erupted. There’s no date on the form, but it’s the last document in the public records produced, so we figure it was done as window dressing.
If you live in the school’s boundaries but don’t want your kids immersed in this Dual Language School, Christina Kishimoto has a few words for you:
Families who do not want this particular model will continue to have the option to apply for open seats in other schools.
A member of the community who also is a GPS parent translated:
So you have a comprehensive, neighborhood school that also has a special program that draws in more kids. Then you make a change that the staff and community don’t want and essentially ask students to leave if they don’t like it, just hoping that they end up at another GPS school instead of a charter, private, or home school. And you say that you’re doing it to address declining enrollment? Since when do you address declining enrollment by telling students to leave? I guess no one in this admin has a marketing degree … or a brain.
Here’s the coup de grace: the student enrollment data for Gilbert Elementary’s Dual Language program doesn’t show the program is popular enough to transform an entire campus into a crucible of Spanish instruction. There aren’t enough enrolled students to show anything at all, actually. This sounds like the smoke and mirrors, errrr, *dater* behind Christina Kishimoto’s push for a new home for Gilbert Classical Academy, a project that’s now estimated to cost more than $5 Million this year to turn out some 50 graduates a year in the future. The problem is that losses of a few students at every GPS campus, which is the reality the governing board faces this year [again] costs the district MILLIONS OF DOLLARS in state funds.
Gilbert El had 548 total students enrolled on the 40th day in 2015; 537 were enrolled this year at the same point. The 40th Day enrollment figures are a very important aspect of state funding for GPS.
Gilbert El Dual Language Program Enrollment:
2012 / 2013 – 94 students (K-5)
2013 / 2014 – 86 students (K-5)
2014 / 2015 – 100 students (K-5)
2015 / 2016 – 102 students (K-5)
2016 / 2017 – 94 students (K-4)
Question: How much money is enough for GPS? Answer: There never will be enough money to fund Christina Kishimoto’s quest for a national reputation.
Question: How do you *reform* a school? Answer: First, you fire all the adults. From her own mouth:
Be scared, Gilbert El teachers and staff. #SaveOurNeighborhoodSchools
*Big Fat Asterisk: Start your day smiling with a mental picture of Christina Kishimoto with her puppet principal, Justin Sremba. With her arm up his @$$ like comedian Jeff Dunham and Peanut. Or Bubba J. — we all know Kishi’s not smart enough to handle Walter.
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