Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A tale of two schools - part 2

Good day, Dr. Rice.

I hope that you are well. I appreciate your efforts to teach Kalamazoo's children.

I write to you with a lengthy missive, and ask your indulgence and patience.

I am the divorced mother and quasi-custodial parent of my 4 sons, three of whom have Kalamazoo school ties. Kyle Gene Daley missed an entire year of classes at Kalamazoo Central while he was living with his father some years ago. He has still not completed his GED. At that time, I emailed your predecessor and even the state board of education, as I know that his absence was a clear violation of Michigan Law. I believe it is called parental educational neglect. I do not recall the response in specific, but do recall being amazed that a child could stay out of school for an entire year, and the custodial parent not be held accountable, or at the very least - a call be made to the non-custodial parent apprising me of the issue. I have copies of letters sent to Mr. Daley (unbeknownst to be) indicating that Kyle needed counseling and suffered from chronic depression.

The years since the divorce have been tumultuous on my sons, as on many children, as I am sure you are aware. They have gone back and forth between Utah and Michigan - the oldest, Ryan went back to Portage Northern because he wanted to get more AP credits than he could get in Utah - he is a national honor student and is currently in University in Utah. The second son is Kyle whose shoes were stolen from him the year he "disappeared" from Kalamazoo Central school - where was Kyle's keeper, I wonder - Dr. Rice? Is there a record that he was reimbursed for the shoes. Kyle came to live with me in Utah as he realized that his father's was not the best place for him. He told me the day we were to register him for school that he had been out of school for the entire year of 8th grade. He wrote a note and placed it on the seat, fearful of my fallout. Believe me, Dr. Rice, I had to move heaven and earth to get the Utah school district to let him repeat the grade and give him an opportunity to catch up. The third child is Tye who missed his dad desperately and needed a father figure.

I write to you because Tye was awarded a full time 5 year all expenses paid scholarship to Eastern Michigan University. Last week, he found out that the scholarship was withdrawn because he is missing a 1/2 credit on his transcript, and he had to move out of the dorm and wait another semester.

Tye is an amazing man - resilient, not easily flustered and is not worried if he goes to another school. He is just as happy to go to Western. I have raised my children to be resilient and go with the flow, but in this case, I want Kalamazoo Public Schools to step up to the plate for once for the Daley family and do something!

There was a miscommunication or miscalculation in the transcript when he switched from Kalamazoo Central and back to Utah.

For your information, when I found out, quite by accident that Tye had not enrolled in school for his senior year in Utah - more fallout from the divorce - I went to the vice principal at West, wondering why I had not been advised that Tye had not registered for school, even though I had made SEVERAL calls to the guidance office requesting his schedule, and several calls to the website support person as the website was down frequently at that time. Her response to me was something like: "our guidance counselors have 600 students each." Dr. Rice, I don't care about the 599 students - I care about Tye. West High has failed him, even as Salt Lake City fails the other 40% minorities. This cannot and will not stand. Given my lack of confidence in the competency of the Kalamazoo High's administration, I would like you to have someone on your staff look into this situation. Tye is missing a 1/2 credit. It should not be that difficult to track it down. The error is between West High and Kalamazoo Central. I am confident that you can resolve this discrepancy expeditiously.

You will also be interested to note that my youngest son, Bryce is attending school at Chime Elementary. Historically, I have had great relations with his teachers - I have learned my lesson - I don't trust educators to watch out for my kids whether I live in the same state and attend parent teacher conferences or not. I telephoned the principal of Chime over a month ago and apprised her that I am not receiving email notifications, school reports or even an occasional phone call to advise me of Bryce's progress. I am still waiting to get a progress report or phone call - Bryce is in advanced classes.

Please understand how frustrating this is to be trying to raise children in another state for economic reasons and not getting the follow through from the schools that I need. I am a good parent, but can only be as good as the "village" that I am forced to entrust my children to. I cannot continue to rely on their father who for his own reasons will not co-parent with me effectively even 10 years after the divorce. I know that my sons are not the only children who have suffered under the enormity of an acrimonious divorce. Please let your counselors and teachers know that they should be extra tender and forgiving of kids struggling with these issues. I have not seen Bryce, the youngest son in almost 2 years - I am going back to court to have them enforce visitation. I am heartbroken to have to resort to this, but again, I can only do so much.

Please look into these respective situations and provide me with an expeditious response. I believe 48 hours is an appropriate time. I will be in Michigan later this year and am prepared to meet with the Governor after I request transcripts of my sons, along with filing a GRAMA request for the emails sent to your predecessor and the state board of education if I do not receive a satisfactory response.

I do not know the genesis of the individual who is responsible for Kalamazoo's Promise - she or he clearly wanted to remain nameless. What I do know, is that one of the Daley boys is going to get through college without being in debt, or a statistic because of being a child of color or product of divorce, even though Bryce went to Kindergarten late in Kalamazoo public schools because his shots were not up to date. (I am still not sure how that happened, since he had been in daycare since infancy).

You can reach me at 914.328.0620 should you have further questions.
Thanks so much for your time and consideration.

Annette James Daley

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