"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, March 16, 2009

KIPP Fresno Part 2: Questionable Leadership Ability

Mr. Tschang's and others' actions exceeded the bounds of the law. --Notice to Cure and Correct, p. 8
I received an email this morning from a source who suggested that the atrocities at KIPP Fresno represent the "tip of an iceberg" in terms of crimes against children in the KIPP brainwashing camps. The source wishes to remain anonymous out of fear of ending up on a "KIPP hit list."

The following excerpts of the District Report, Notice to Cure and Correct are from pages 8-21:

Kia Spenhoff witnessed Mr. Tschang (hereafter referred to as T) put a garbage can on a student's head. Mr. Tschang admitted to putting a garbage can over a student's head because the student, _________, had been clowning around. The lesson was , "If you want to act like a clown then you'll look like a clown." The student was was required to pick up all the trash T dumped out of the trash can. . . .

A 5th grade class had their behavior tested by being left unattended in the cafeteria where a video camera recorded their actions. T told the investigator that this was an exercise to ask the students the question, "What are you doing when no one is watching? . . . .

Vincent Montgomery was the Charter School COO from February 2005 to April of 2006. He told investigators that T would ask him why the school was losing so much money on the school lunch program and instructed Mr. Montgomery to count students as present whether they were there or not. Mr. Montgomery disagreed because he thought that this practice was illegal. Mr. Montgomery also complained to T about the lack of due process in T's decision-making in whether to throw students out of school. Mr. Montgomery said that the staf would have weekly teacher and administration meetings and would vote on whether to keep a student or ask them to leave, and did not involve the Board in the process. Mr. Montgomery reported that before he left the Charter School he called KIPP Foundation to tell them about the problems he had with T but his calls were never returned.

Allegations that T constantly yelled at students occurred frequently. Chris Fraser, a teacher who taught at the Charter School during the 2007-2008 term, stated, "I often hear, or observed, T yelling at some student or other about some infraction from talking, to chewing gum, to not having a book while waiting in line at the bathroom, or because of some perceived disrespect. His yells were not simply talking loud, he was yelling at the singled-out student and doing so publicly." . . . .

Kia Spenhoff also reported that she had personally heard T yelling at kids, "and using profanity. He and a few other teachers have used words to make the kids feel bad about themselves, not just what they have done." Ms. Spenhoff also recalled an incident in the 2007-2008 school year where T yelled at a student in front of prospective parents. She stated, "T had a student in his office and he was yelling obscenities and screaming at the child so loudly that the new parents were looking at each other in disbelief. I recall I was in the office and I walked across the office and closed the door to the office. You could still hear him. I don't believe that those parents send [sic] their child to KIPP. I don't remember any particular words just the feeling of being uncomfortable. Also feeling a bit embarrassed that our Principal would speak in such a way to a child, let alone while new parents were in the office."

When asked about the yelling at students, T stated, "If parents are not happy with the school program, it is a school of choice. They are free (and indeed, encouraged) to remove their kids from the school. There are plenty of other public school options for their children." . . . .

[Following the shoplifting incident in which several students were reported stealing food from a local market]
. . . . T wrote an email to the teachers and staff outlining his response to the shoplifting:
Dear staff,

This evening, I received a call from the local police. Apparently, several of our students who take the bus home have been going to the _______________ and stealing food from it in a group. I understand that this has been going on for about a month.

1) Starting tomorrow, here is our follow up plan:

Transportation--Thes students have ZERO TRUST. They will not be allowed to take the city bus to or from KIPP this year. Their parents MUST drop them off and pick them up from the cafeteria everyday [sic] after school.

2) Isolation--For the time being, everyone in this group will be in TOTAL ISOLATION during the school day. This looks like sitting apart from other students in class and never communicating to peers; sitting in isolation during lunch with the advisory group and never communicating to peers; sitting in isolation during PE.

3) Restitution--Everyone in this group (and their families) will pay ______ back everything they took. . . .
Marcella Mayfield witnessed the punishment of the students by T and stated aht when she was in the office,
"T was walking in with one of the _______________. He started screaming at the top of his lungs 'You embarrassed the school, and what the hell were you thinking?' Those are the words I remember, but he was yelling other comments too. What I do remember, or what I was impacted by was thaat I had neve heard an adult scream at a child like that. The outburst caused me become frozen solid, like I didn't want to breath, and I felt it was extremely frightening." Ms. Mayfield also stated that for the first day of isolation, "During the entire day he would be screaming and yelling at the children off an don. I lost count of how many times he could be heard from the classroom." _______ was one of the students who was caught shoplifting, and she stated that on one of th edays they were being punished T told her and her sister, "Oh, you and your sister are going to the barber shop." When they asked why, T responded, "Because you are going to get your head shaved."

When asked about this incident, T stated, " The next day [after the shoplifting incident] one of the 7th grade students came in with his head shaved and ________ asked, 'What should I do with my girls?' I responded, ' This is what another family did, maybe you should try that.' She was asking for ideas and so I gave her one."

. . . . ___________ mother of two of the students caught shoplifting, received a call from CPS [Child Protective Services] a few days after the school punishment that her daughter _____ had made a suicidal threat at school. _______ said, "My first thought was, 'why hasn't he [Tschang] called me?'" When asked about the incident, T first stated that he did not remember the incident, but then stated that in situations like this, "We could call FUSD, and they would advise us what to do; which I did in this case." . . . .

A common complaint from students was that teachers were not letting student go the bathroom. Student ______ reported that there was a student in Ms. Sosa's class who urinated in his pants because he was not allowed to use the restroom. Student ______ who started with the Charter School in 2004 and just graduated in 2008, stated, "They would not let us use the bathroom during classes. Parents heard about this and they had to have a meeting to get hem to alow us this, to allow us to go to the bathrooms." . . . .

Former teacher Laura Allen stated, "we did encourage them to hold it when possible so as no to miss instruction. Accidents of this type did not happen to my students, but other students had accident [sic] because they said they could hold it, but couldn't, or they would go to the bathroom and because of the line, they could not make it." . . . .

Several former employees reported that T has issues with older teachers. Diana Gutirrez stted that T "recently make a remark that he was hiring just young and inexperienced teachers for next year so they could learn the KIPP way." Chris Frazer stated that when discussing a teaching position with T at the school, T says he didn't hire older people because they tended not to work very hard. Mr. Frazer reported that T went further and said that the school had a young culture and that Mr. Frazer would not fit in. In regard to these remarks, T responded that he did not say that he hired only young teachers, but "It is true that we have young staff culture filled with committed teachers who routinely work over 60 hours a week. Often, older teachers are not able to maintain this kind of pace." . . . .

Several students stated that students are not allowed to talk or socialize at all during school hours. when asked about this policy, T stated, "If parents are not happy with the school program, it is a school of choice. . . ."

. . . .The staff was administering over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, visine, and that spray to students. T said that evey year parents fill out a medical form stating that they would agree to allow office personnel to administer these medication to the students, but that he discontinued the practice last year. . . .

Student ________ said that in December of 2007, T told him to get on his hand and knees and bark like a dog. ________ said that it was metaphor to get him to stop joking around in class. _________, guardian of _________, also alleged that in the summer of 2007, T got upset at ______ for asking to call ________, took his cell phone, threw it, and told ______ to, "go fetch it." _________ confronted T about the incident and he said T stated it was, "my school and I run it the way I want it run."

T replied to this incident, " He was being defiant to a teacher prior to this. The teacher sent for me. He asked if he could use the phone to call his guardian and I threw it and said fetch. Parent complained why are you treating my child like a dog? I said, 'Then why is he acting like a dog?'" . . . .

Student ________ reported that students were called "gay" and "ignorant," and that teachers siad things like , "Go change your diapers, you're acting like a 2-year old." . . . .

Parent ___________ reported that T took student ___________ glasses away from him because _____ was constantly adjusting his glasses. __________ is totally dependent on his glasses and cannot see without them. T admitted to taking _________ glasses away. . . .

_________ also reported that T left a student named ______ on the side of the road 3 to 4 miles from school at 7:10 a.m. and she walked to school alone. T admitted that he was giving ______a ride to school every day and that one day she was misbehaving. T said he dropped her off at the corner of Martin Luther King and Church, half a block from the school.

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