LRSD conversations | Arkansas Blog

Friday, April 25, 2008

LRSD conversations

Posted By on Fri, Apr 25, 2008 at 11:06 AM

E-mail conversations among members of the Little Rock School Board continue to reveal ongoing issues of interest to those still interested in the School District.

There is, for example, lawyer John Walker's letter about the potential coming end to additional state financial support. It's addressed to Board member Larry Berkley and also resumes past criticisms about the district's involvement in establishment of a public education foundation.

Then there's a note, on the jump, from Board member Melanie Fox to Superintendent Linda Watson that raises a concern about discipline in the classroom and a student assignment issue.


Dr. Watson,
I just wanted to touch base with you about some of the speakers last night.
I have tried to stay out of the Forest Park Pre-K issue due to my relationship with the staff, parents and students.  I know that you discussed this issue with me early stating that there was not enough evidence to warrant this child being placed in Pre-K instead of Kindergarten.  You also indicated that ABC would not accept this child under their guidelines.  However, this child does fall into the ABC category and ABC has indicated that their rules do not apply to him.  At the time, I accepted that and was happy that the process was working.  You can imagine my disappointment last night when an attorney representing this family spoke about this issue and provided the board with a plethora of information about this situation. There is compelling documented evidence such as: letters from Dr. Eugene Lu (a reputable pediatrician),  an evaluation from A Step Ahead Therapy For Kids, documentation from Arkansas Children’s Hospital (examiner Beth Nutt), letter from the Preschool Director of Westover Hills Preschool, letter from Let’s Talk Speech Pathology Services, LLC, a developmental assessment report from Pulaski County Tri-District Early Childhood as well as an occupational therapy evaluation, that indicates this child needs to be placed in Pre-K.  This would not only benefit this particular child but all the children that would be in his Kindergarten class as well as the teacher.  According to the information that was presented the review committee from the LRSD never even met this child, much less assessed this child.  In my opinion, we need a better protocol to deal with this type of situation for all the children of this district.  Please give your attention to this matter today since the Pre-K letters are going out.  I feel that if we do not address this immediately, we will open up the district to litigation now and in the future.
My other concern is the discipline issues that the CTA spoke about.  I have also had a few calls from teachers, aides, bus drivers etc that have indicated that discipline has become a concern.  The CTA is right in the fact that teachers should be teaching not constantly disciplining children.  Everyone needs to be working together to solve this issue.  Again, your immediate attention to this matter would be greatly appreciated.
Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help with these matters or call if you would like to discuss further.


From: Watson, Linda []
Sent: Friday, April 25, 2008 5:05 PM
To: Melanie Fox
Cc: Diane Curry; Dianne Curry (ADE); Armstrong, Charles;; Baker Kurrus; Larry Berkley;
Subject: RE: Last nights speakers


The handbook that you referenced is used for training secretaries, which is clearly stated on the first page of the book.  Attorney Eddings recommended that information be removed from the handbook.


I agree with you that we have discipline problems and some principals may not be following the Student Handbook.  We need to know when this is occurring so that we contact the principals.


A memo will be sent out to principals regarding discipline.





From: Melanie Fox []
Sent: Friday, April 25, 2008 2:10 PM
To: Watson, Linda
Cc: 'Diane Curry'; 'Dianne Curry (ADE)'; Armstrong, Charles;; 'Baker Kurrus'; 'Larry Berkley';
Subject: RE: Last nights speakers


I appreciate your response to the Pre-K issue; however, I would like to put some real handbook guidelines or policies in place to keep this from happening to any student.  Our handbook states “A parent seeking to enroll a kindergarten-eligible child in the LRSD Pre-K program must submit a written request supported by an independent medical or developmental specialist that placement in pre-K is in the best interest of the child.”  This family did that and throughout this process, no one from the LRSD evaluated or even asked to evaluate him and no one called the licensed professional who evaluated him.  There needs to be some process and it needs to be clearly articulated to the public.


As it relates to discipline, I have heard from more than one school.  I realize that we are in the home stretch and there is a lot of spring fever going around but we still need to emphasize that any inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated.  Parents and students need to know that learning still needs to be top priority. Maybe, the district should send a note to all middle school and high school students reiterating our guidelines concerning iPods, cell phone, pagers etc.  And then the teachers need to enforce the guideline, the principals need to back the teachers up and the central administration need to back the principals up.  The district has around 6 weeks of school left for this term and we should not ease up.




From: Watson, Linda []
Sent: Friday, April 25, 2008 1:38 PM
To: Melanie Fox
Cc: Diane Curry; Dianne Curry (ADE); Armstrong, Charles;; Baker Kurrus; Larry Berkley;
Subject: RE: Last nights speakers


Mrs. Fox:


I understand that an attorney represented the Fiskens; however, there are two sides to the story.   The Tri-district Committee, which he referenced, is an arm of the LRSD and governs Prek issues for the three school districts.  Therefore, LRSD personnel have been and are involved in the process. It is my understanding that the Tri-district administers assessments and is governed by educational guidelines that are different from those of private providers. Therefore, assessments were conducted by Tri-district and the results will be interpreted and presented to the Fiskens’ in a meeting. I understand from Mrs. Barnes, that the meeting has been scheduled and a staffing will be conducted to address the issues surrounding this child.  I further understand that the child may be developmentally delayed, but it may not be to the extent that it falls under the guidelines that would require the student to remain in Prek.  Whether this child is ABC or not, is not the issue.  We have the same rules for ABC as non-ABC students. We have also sent all of the information from Tri-district to Attorney Eddings for review.


As far as the CTA is concerned, they have not brought the individual instances regarding discipline to my attention or the associate superintendents so that we could address their concerns.  I talked to Mrs. Koehler after the meeting and she stated that the situation she discussed in the Board meeting was regarding one school.  Had she discussed the situation with LRSD personnel, we would have been able to respond.  It appears that teachers are going straight to the CTA, without using the Building Coordinating Committee or directing the concerns to the associate superintendents when principals are not following the Student Handbook.   


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