Brought About By This Watchdog Site
Due to the hard work of child advocates and contributors to this web site, Lovejoy ISD children, parents and taxpayers now have:
Help for children with learning differences:
- Dyslexic program, Alpha Phonics and qualified trained dyslexic teachers
- More parents who are educated about their rights
- Increasing number of children getting 504 modifications
- An educational forum where the message isn't controlled
- Special ed director instead of the Collin County Coop
- Check registers on-line
- Detailed operations budget
- Taped school board meetings
- The Lovejoy School Board no longer hides in executive session for three hours and allegedly violating the Texas Open Meetings Act.
- Detailed School Board Meeting Agenda Packets
- Those school board members who have done business with the school district are no longer on the school board. In addition, school board members who are KNOWN to have "windfall profits" from Lovejoy ISD real estate decisions are no longer on the board. Many of the school board members who are friends of those who profitted from Lovejoy ISD real estate decisions are gone as well.
This does not mean the Lovejoy School board has a "clean bill of health".
There is still more work to be done. Lovejoy kids need honest people to step up and run for school board. Lovejoy kids need parents who are watching.
Education of Children with Learning Differences
Before this web site exposed the systemic neglect of children with learning differences, these children went undiagnosed and unaided. This practice continues today, but is somewhat better.
Lovejoy ISD has used the Collin County Coop which has serviced up to ten school districts at a time. When the Lovejoy ISD school board voted to build secondary, the Coop was never brought into the decision-making to ensure adequate funds were available to support children with learning differences. This may be because at that time Lovejoy rarely identified children with learning differences making it easy to ignore their needs.
"Gift-grading" is still used at Lovejoy and it serves to camouflage a child's failure to learn. Parents who see all A's and B's on report cards will be happy and won't be at school requesting testing for their children and modifications which can be expensive. Identifying learning differences is a legal requirement. If learning differences are caught early, academic problems can often be "nipped in the bud", saving expensive interventions down the road, in addition to, and more importantly, saving a child's self-esteem and future.
Section 504 children can have a variety of learning differences including dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD, but also diabetes, and numerous other differences that require some help in order for these children to be successful in school. Parents would be horrified if Lovejoy ISD were to withhold insulin from a diabetic, yet Lovejoy ISD has withheld services for other Section 504 children for years.
Lovejoy parents who paid for testing from well respected doctors and hospitals such as Scottish Rite Hospital, have been turned down for 504 modifications for dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADD, and a variety of other learning differences. Some parents have received 504 modifications, but those modifications were never implemented.
Al Breedlove, Hart principal has denied 504 modifications to numerous parents, saying that he did not want Hart elementary to be known as a "504 school". He has said this in front of the parents and teachers.
Parents are often told that 504 modifications are like special ed, or that children with 504 modifications will graduate with an alternative diploma that will keep them out of college. This is not true! In fact the opposite is true.
If you have a child who needs 504 modifications, the modifications must be IN PLACE BEFORE college in order for your child to receive the modifications in college. Colleges cannot discriminate against your child because of 504 modifications.
For many years, there have been stories of Lovejoy children with learning differences being told not to show up for TAKS testing. Lovejoy would not be held accountable for dyslexic children, who could not read, if they did not show up on test day. It took a brave individual to report one case. (this is not the only case)
Principal resigns February 21st, 2005 after being put on administrative
leave for "suggesting
that a special-education student stay home to avoid taking standardized
tests", according to school records.
We are proud that we have been able to help children!
Helping Children with Learning Differences
Dyslexic classes - It took a brave Lovejoy mother to bare her soul on this site's forum and expose Lovejoy administration's denial of services, before Lovejoy administration FINALLY hired a dyslexic teacher and brought in a REAL dyslexic program, Alpha Phonics. This is a well respected program that helps dyslexic children learn to read. Every school district in the surrounding area have had dyslexic programs for years and have serviced these children. If you have a dyslexic child that can read today, please be sure to thank Laura. Without her willingness to share her story publicly, your child would not be able to read. Thank you Laura.
SOME Section 504 Children are finally getting legally required help when their parents find this site and know their rights. A great deal of accountability information was added to this web site year 2003-2004. Parents contacted the child advocates who have provided much of the information on this web site. As parents became more educated as to their legal rights they pushed back to get the help that Lovejoy ISD had a legal and moral obligation to provide. Now the number of children with 504 modifications has risen.
Educating parents on their rights and 504 modifications:
Several parents have called with questions concerning what they have been told by Lovejoy ISD. We have been proud to offer help by educating these parents, at no charge, about their rights and dispelling the myth of 504 modifications perpetuated by Lovejoy ISD.
Special Education Director has now been brought on board and Lovejoy will not be using the Collin County Coop which serviced ten districts.
Line-item Budget - Proof of Promises Made
The battle for transparency began with a request for a line-item budget as the Lovejoy school board was presenting the option of expanding from K-6 to K-12 to the community. A TEA financial expert and another school finance expert told several community members that Lovejoy could only afford to offer a "bare-bones" education. This assessment was in stark contrast to Lovejoy ISD's presentation to the community which promised an education with a full slate of REGULAR TRACK classes, plus 32 pre-AP/AP classes and GT classes. (Lee Alvoid Curriculum on Lovejoy ISD site)
Concerned community members wanted to see the financials that backed up the promises made. In a public meeting Rich Hickman told a crowded room that Lovejoy had a budget and we could get it from elementary namesake, Robert Puster. The following day, Dec 12, 2002 Robert Puster, did not have a budget for Lovejoy, but a budget from Sanger ISD - a district in no way like Lovejoy ISD.
Over 100 citizens signed a petition to the Legislative Budget Board asking them to require Lovejoy ISD to give the taxpayers a line-item budget.
Carol Ray, Lovejoy superintendent, who misinformed the community about what could be offered their children resigned shortly after a Letter to Editor asking for a line-item budget.
Lovejoy ISD steadfastly refused to provide the information when public information requests were filed.
Alleged Violations of Texas Open Meetings Act
Several Lovejoy School Board members called several community members the night before the most critical vote in Lovejoy history and informed us that the board would vote to allow the citizens a vote on whether Lovejoy consolidated with Allen or not.
This topic was never on a meeting agenda prior to the next evening's vote. This meant that either these school board members were psychic or they were allegedly meeting in violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act and discussing official business out of the public eye.
Lovejoy residents that showed up to Lovejoy School Board meetings would often find that the Lovejoy School Board would recuse themselves to "executive session" behind closed doors and out of the public eye for up to three hours. The perceived intent was that the school board was "waiting out" the meeting attendees. There were several real estate deals that transpired during these meetings that benefited Lovejoy School Board members and board members of the Foundation for Lovejoy Schools.
School Board Meetings were not taped.
No School Board meeting agenda packets were available for meeting attendees, making it difficult to follow the discussions.
School Board Meeting minutes from this time period and prior are still missing from Lovejoy ISD web site prior to Ted Moore's arrival.
Lovejoy ISD's check register is now on-line.
A Lovejoy parent/ child advocate and Peyton Wolcott worked together to make this happen. This Lovejoy parent served on Governor Perry's 65% Task Force which requires public schools to spend 65% in the classroom. The Lovejoy parent suggested to legislators, and TEA commissioner that in extreme cases such as Katrina, that schools be given the flexibility to spend less, but be required to put all financial details on-line so taxpayers could verify how their tax dollars were being spent. RP47, requires schools to post their check registers online if they spend less than 65% in the classroom starting in 2010.
Lovejoy ISD was gracious enough to post their check register on-line early after a phone call from Peyton Wolcott.
Texas Open Meetings Act - The Lovejoy ISD school board members no longer hide in three-hour executive sessions. The meetings are video-taped.
Lovejoy Agenda Packets and Minutes On-line Now
Lovejoy ISD has so far ignored requests to put the old meeting notes on-line, but there has been a BIG improvement in the information available.
Lovejoy has finally shared a detailed line-item budget with the public after a six year battle to get this information.
Lovejoy school board members who are KNOWN to have profited or potentially profit from their positions as school board members are no longer serving on the school board. (Known, being the key word here - That is not to say that others have not or will not.)
Sue Hoffman, who voted to build the high school on the property adjacent to hers, which is now for sale as OUTSTANDING POTENTIAL COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT SITE.
The high school is the only Lucas property with sewer access making adjacent properties more valuable as commercial property. Hoffman & school board refused to mark proposed school sites until after the elections that made the high school a reality.
As part of the Lovejoy School Board Hoffman participated in three hour executive sessions allegedly violating the Texas Open Meetings Act.
John Walsh served on the Lovejoy School Board for 15 years. During eleven of those year Mr. Walsh made $583,896.
Four and a half years of invoices have never been made public, so the total amount of business the Lovejoy School Board gave to fellow board member Mr. Walsh has not been determined.
More to come...