Archived Story

School board criticized for self-reporting SOQ compliance

Published 10:31am Friday, October 4, 2013

RICHMOND—School divisions self-report to the Virginia Board of Education in regard to compliance with standards of quality.

The most recent report is for the 2011-2012 school year. When the Franklin City Public School leaders were at the board meeting on Sept. 26, member Winsome E. Sears brought this up.

“That was self-reported, that you were in full compliance, but according to what we have discovered, you are not only not in full compliance, you are a great deal of a way off of full compliance,” she said.

One of the citations Sears had was made during the committee on school and division accountability meeting on Sept. 25.

At that Wednesday meeting, school board chairperson Edna King talked about how the school division had been in non-compliance for many reasons, but the only one that came up was evaluating superintendent Dr. Michelle Belle. The evaluation of a superintendent is supposed to take place every year, but at the meeting, King admitted that before November 2012, you’d have to go back to 2009 for Belle’s last evaluation.

When King became the chairperson of the board over the summer of 2012, she said ordering that evaluation was a priority. They went through the process that year and gave her goals for areas of improvement. At the accountability meeting, King said another evaluation took place in 2013.

“We set in place a direction for the superintendent to move forward to where we wish to go,” she said.

On the document, dated Aug. 1, 2012, the signature of Edna R. King is there, verifying the report that the school is in compliance with the standards of quality.

“We signed off thinking that the things we had put into place would have met the condition for compliance,” said King in a phone interview later. “I had several years ago suspected that we were not in compliance. I cited the concern several times. Having put some things in play, we felt like that would have addressed the situation.”

King said she suspected that the school board was out of compliance before she joined, but that she didn’t know that much about the standards of quality at the time.

“I used to love attending school board meetings, and I knew that education was not where it should have been,” she said at the accountability meeting. “I would sit there and cringe.”

Thinking she could help, King went to see if she could get appointed, which she did.

One of her attempts to get in line with the standards of quality was in ordering a desk book for all board members on the subject, so that school board members would have access to and use it. King said she ordered the book this past year.

She said things are changing.

“We have accepted full responsibility for moving the school division forward,” King said. “Our theme for Franklin schools this year, designed by staff, is ‘Striving for excellence.’”

  • johnhenry

    I don’t know who should come or go in the Franklin School system. I do know where they could go as starters for improving the schools. I will begin by asking this question. How many in the leadership have visited Carrsville Elementary School to learn how they achieved the Blue Ribbon Award?? They may be surprised at what they can learn on leadership in very little time. In spite of all the attempts by the I.O.W. boards to close it down the teachers have stood fast and continued to provide excellent education for the students. When leaders will not humble themselves to learn what is at their finger tips, its time for them to go. Franklin is a city with many issues that need to be addressed and corrected as does many others. In order to correct these, there has to a ten year plan that addresses all the short comings and goals and milestones set each year to improve the city overall. Franklin has many good leaders but it takes a city to build a city. Poverty and welfare contribute to many of the problems associated with improving the city. Expanding the city limits may help to correct some of the problems. Franklin has been a great city and still can be if all in the city will work toward this goal. We all need to forget about race and hire capable leaders and elect them also. We have several good leaders on city council but 2 members are just a pain in the neck and not qualified to represent the city in its time of great need and direction. We need to support these leaders and look for the vision to help the city.

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    • Kmart3008

      Well said!!!

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    • JustWondering

      There was a board meeting Tuesday nught. Why is there no announcement about changes? Who can’t see the urgency in this situation? How long do we have to wait? New leadership or dare I say just plain leadership is needed and needed now!!!!

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  • thomasmore

    Here’s a thought. It seems to me that not enough of the parents of the very children who are NOT making the minimum cut for the SOLs are pretty silent on this issue. Why not raise the cost of the utility bills (or even better, don’t raise the cost but let them believe it was raised) for those parents of the kids not making the grade and see how fast they get up in arms. Heck, they might even start a picket line outside City Hall to voice their displeasure.

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    • TaxMax

      Heck, because half of them aren’t paying their utility bills, just taking them to local organizations to get them paid. And the other half get them “free” or at a discounted rate.

      So their children see this and know they don’t have to care or bother about their grades because the system will take care of them.

      And I agree with DBenton, where are these “local leaders” who had to call WAVY 10 because of the utility bills and now don’t give a crap about these kids and whether they can read, do math or write????

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  • DBenton

    Ten years ago, when test scores in FCPS were on the rise, and higher than they are today, Dr. Farmer and the Board were constantly criticized by several well-known locals (Dr. Harris, Thomas Councill, and Yvonne Rose come to mind). Their general sentiment at the time was that FCPS was failing children, and specifically failing our African American children. I am befuddled as to why these three, as well as others in the African American community aren’t up in arms over the current state of FCPS. Why no public rants at Board meetings? Their silence is deafening!

    Apparently, Belle can fail miserably and still get a pass from those who only see color. This sad truth is why we will have such a tough time moving the needle in a positive direction. Unfortunately, it appears that not everyone is willing to talk honestly about the situation.

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    • JustWondering

      Board meeting tomorrow night. No time like the present for change.

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  • franklinsince50

    I think Mrs. King is clueless and Mrs. Belle just doesn’t care as long as she collects her paycheck. Disgraceful!!

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  • Jeff Turner

    I went to school with a broman, he drove the folks Catalina.

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  • Typhoon

    Belle and King should be so emabarrassed from downgrading our school system and shame to the City of Franklin they should both resign. The City Officials have put up with it far to long and need to be blamed that they allowed it to happen for so long. Belle and King should be FIRED immediately not next month or next week or tomorrow but NOW!!!!!!!

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  • Swampi

    The pathetic responses from Mrs. King and Superintendent Belle are more than enough evidence for the state to take over the Franklin City Public Schools.

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  • braves

    State needs to come in and give this school system a chance to thrive again! Get rid of King and Bellle!!

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  • Natalya

    Belle and King both need to be replaced over this mess. It is time for a new direction.

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  • Maxdoubt

    It is easy to accept responsibility for moving forward. My fear is that the very people responsible for the current situation in which FCPS finds itself are the ones taking responsibility for the forward motion.

    I’m not sure the magnitude of this situation allows for a responsible public body to let the school administration continue without top level changes. Make no mistake, The Virginia Board of Education IS going to place the FCPS under a division-level review at their meeting on the 24th or soon thereafter. Anyone who watched the Sept. meeting of the VBE can easily see the incredulity in the board members as they addressed the situation at FCPS.

    A division-level review is called for by the VBE to address a division-level failure to implement the Standards of Quality. The VBE was very clear that a plan needed to be in place by the 24th to show REAL changes AT THE DIVISION LEVEL to avoid such a review.

    IMHO: If for the sake of the future of FCPS, Dr. Belle does not resign by October 24 it is very doubtful she will be able to keep her job very long after the division level review begins to uncover the obvious shortcomings of the FCPS administration; and certainly not long once the review is completed and made public.

    Nothing less than the future of the City of Franklin hangs in the balance of the decisions that will be made in the next few weeks and months regarding FCPS. No hyperbole. Failures in education of this magnitude don’t get fixed in a few months and the longer it takes to begin REAL changes the longer it will take to fix the problems. Maybe as long as a generation. Or longer. The current state of FCPS is bad for Frankin, Southampton, Isle of Wight, PDCCC, taxpayers, students, housing prices, industry, small business, parents, teachers, tax revenues, public safety, the future, and on and on and on. For what it’s worth my advice is when you have been heading downhill for a while and you see a cliff ahead: CHANGE DIRECTION RIGHT NOW.

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  • broman

    She’s still there ?

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  • employee2

    I guess signing a document that you know/believe to be false is acceptable?

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