counter statistics

Friday, February 24, 2006

Upper St Clair Parents Suing the School Board Over IB Cut

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

A group of about 350 Upper St. Clair residents says it plans to take legal action against the school board to force the district to reinstate the International Baccalaureate program.

The group formed a watchdog group that will consist of several committees who will monitor the school board and educational issues.

The Pittsburgh chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union will file a lawsuit on behalf of the community members as early as next week against the school district.

The school board voted 5-4 Monday night to eliminate the IB program, which enrolls more than 700 students in elementary, middle and high school grades.

About 1,000 angry residents showed up at Monday's meeting pleading with the board to keep the program. But the directors who voted to eliminate it had earlier said they opposed it on the grounds that it is Marxist, anti-Christian, un-American and too costly.

"What we have here [last night] is an entire political spectrum responding to an immense groundswell for simply having a fair process," said parent Graham Hatfull, who has a son in the IB program.

The crowd rose to its feet and applauded when Witold Walczak, legal director for the ACLU in Pennsylvania, told the crowd that he had assembled a pro bono legal team to challenge the school board.

"Even school board members cannot act with impunity," said Mr. Walczak, who lives in Upper St. Clair and has a child in the program.

Mr. Walczak said he could not elaborate on the details of the lawsuit.

The Upper St Clair Republican committee endorsed the nincompoops.

Republicans are writing this committee. Here's one letter that was posted to the Kee IP google group:

I vote in the third ward, district one.

I am embarrassed to have followed republican party recommendations concerning school board voting in the last elections in light of a precipitous vote to cancel the ib program at our schools. The committee has endorsed religious and xenophobic ideologs who are undermining the education of our children as well as bringing ridicule and humiliation to our township on an international scale. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

In the interest of our children, our citizens, our township, and our party, I urge the committee to publicly repudiate these endorsements and encourage a complete and open-minded discussion of solutions to the educational crisis facing this community.

Some on the committee tried to save the Republican committee from themselves.

As I have said in previous e-mails, I was the Rep. Comm. member who was assigned to go to the school board meetings and report back. I did this. When it came time for the endorsements, I recommended endorsing Billerback, etc., but I was outvoted. Keep in mind that the interviews and voting took place during Spring Break, when Vicki, Amy, and I were all out of town. Because I refused to support the endorsed slate and continued to actively work for the other slate, I had to resign from the committee. It is my understanding that a decision was made at the meeting Monday night to write a letter to the 4 endorsed candidates and show their displeasure at what is going on. I will believe it when I see it. And FYI, the vote to write the letter was not unanimous. I would encourage you all to write letters to your reps. They are listed on the township website.

This situation illustrates why it is critically important to pay close attention to school board races.

There is also going to be an effort to get a bill that allows communities to recall school board members through the legislature. It will be interesting to see how that goes. These nutball school board members have terms until 2009. They can do lots of damage in that time.