Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Board of Education: Statement Posted 07/30/13

Board of Education to Hire Consultants to Examine Questions Raised by Community

At a special meeting on Monday, July 29 at 6:00 p.m., the Wynantskill Union Free School District Board of Education hired two consultants who will provide an independent review of concerns voiced by the teachers’ union and community members.
“Our teachers’ union and parents have raised many questions about our school,” said Board of Education President Andrea Paone. “In order to provide answers to their questions, the Board believes we need outside consultants to provide independent reviews of the school’s human resources and educational programs.”
The Board contacted educational organizations seeking the names of qualified and experienced consultants—one to examine the district’s Human Resources practices and the other the Special Education and Response to Intervention programs.
The consultants will start this summer with work to be completed as soon as possible. Based on the findings, the Board would decide what further actions to take. Ms. Paone asked for the community’s patience while the district undertakes this process.
“We want to be objective and focus only on the facts,” said Ms. Paone. “Studies led by anyone within our district, even us as Board members, might not appear impartial. We want this to be completely aboveboard and unbiased.”
The Human Resources Study will include interviews of community members, teachers, staff, Board members and administrators. The consultant will introduce the process at the district’s regular August 15 board meeting and provide updates at subsequent public board meetings.
The Special Education and Response to Intervention study will review those programs and analyze Individualized Education Plan documentation. Consultants will also report on compliance with regulations and offer recommendations to improve the programs.
“Our hope is that these studies will answer the questions and help us continue to improve education for our Wynantskill students,” said Ms. Paone. Posted 7/30/13.

07/29/13 Media Coverage.

The number one question: Why is Dr. Lisa Henkel not being placed on paid leave WHILE this investigation is taking place?
The WTA president, Matt Lutz, handed over a 63 page document last night, to the Wynantskill Board of Education, "containing teachers' complaints against the administration and the superintendent that go back a year and a half." Some of these Board members have read some of these allegations before, in draft form, when the teachers and the BOE met to discuss the No Confidence Vote after it had been released. It doesn't seem just that she is permitted to stay and work while these allegations against her from the teachers and also from the parents are being investigated.

Hired by the Board:
Consultants: Who are they?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

BOE SPECIAL MEETING: Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday, July 29, 2013
6:00 PM in GD Media Center

There is one agenda item in regards to the hiring of the consultants for the investigation. I don't imagine it'll be that long, but important to attend if you're able.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Put her on paid leave

Put her on paid leave
It’s nice to see that the Wynantskill Board of Education is hiring an investigator to look into all the allegations and concerns from the teachers and parents regarding the superintendent. But what I would like to know is why they aren’t putting the superintendent on paid administrative leave while the investigation is taking place. It seems like the proper next step and that is what needs to happen.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Things that make you go...hmmmmmm

Listed on the Wynantskill Website - 07/25/13
You may be thinking "oh this is just another Board of Education meeting", and you would be wrong. Please note the location: Questar Boces Conference Room and the time: 2:00pm. They are gathering off site, during the day, and are not stating why.
The agenda for today, June 25, states the reason: 1.3 Grievance Hearing-Peter Mesh // Grievance Hearing-Karin Carmody.
The agenda for June 29, states the reason: 2.1 Appoint Independent Consultant for Human Resources and Special Education.
  • Why the secrecy? We as a community have made it very clear that being as transparent as possible is essential right now.
  • Is it possible this has something to do with the part-time communications service provided by BOCES, which officially started Monday July 22? If that is the case why is that not listed as the item topic?
  • Could it be possible that our voices are finally being heard?
  • Is it possible that Dr. Lisa Henkel will be put on paid leave? (Say it ain't so!) That is what many could be lead to believe because it does not identify the topic for the executive session.
  • When will we, as the concerned citizens, teachers and parents, finally know the results and/or topic of the meeting?
Thoughts? Comments? Remember these posts are anonymous. Let’s converse. Let’s share our thoughts and ideas with each other. Eye on the prize, this is for our children! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Original Blog: See Click Fix

This was the original online posting place for the community’s comments when this all came to a head. Since then it was shut down by the hosting site. The comments are still viewable. If you're new to this situation taking a look at this will give you the backstory. Start from the initial post and work your way down.

Title: School Board Screw Up
Issue ID: 176537
Neighborhood: Wynantskill
Reported: on
Description: "I cannot believe this was the best the Board could come up with for your Superintendent, this lady is a fraud. She ruined one school 6 years ago she will ruin this one. She is a parents nightmare. Wake up, just as she did here in the North Colonie she will due there is a matter of time. She is a very ignorant and arrogant person who actually is not as strong or knowledgeable as she appears. If things get too tough and screwed up she will walk away. Watch her every move and decision or you will get sued!"
(This blog has since been shut down for additional comments by the hosting site, as well as some of the content removed, however it is still accessible to be viewed.)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Board of Education: Statements Posted 07/18/13

(1)BOE Considers Outside Consultants to Review District Concerns

The Wynantskill Board of Education has begun exploring retaining consultants to look into the many concerns expressed by community residents at the Thursday, July 11 Board of Education meeting.
"The Board is considering ways to effectively answer the many questions asked at the last board meeting. We want to be objective and focus only on the facts," said Board President Andrea Paone.
Mrs. Paone said one option would be to hire outside consultants to carry out the work.
"The findings of someone within our district, even us as board members, might not appear impartial. We want this process to be completely aboveboard and unbiased."
She added that choosing consultants with strong backgrounds in Human Resources and education would give board members a clear picture of the district's personnel and education issues. There will obviously be a cost for these services, but the cost could be worth the getting expert, unbiased advice she said.
The Board of Education cannot formally act on this option until its next public meeting. Posted 7/18/13

(2)District Contracts with BOCES to Help Improve Communications

Responding to community requests for improved communications, the Wynantskill Board of Education has contracted with Questar BOCES for part-time communications service. "Our residents deserve to know what is happening in our school district. We learned at our board meeting on July 11, that we have to do a better job reaching out to our community," said Board Vice President Ann Marsh. The board decision reflects the members' belief that communications cannot be a secondary function. The communication person will work two days each week beginning Monday, July 22. His duties will include managing the district website, school newsletters, e-mail communications with parents and writing stories about student successes and district challenges. Posted 7/18/13

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Board of Education: Statement Posted 07/17/13

Board of Education schedules second meeting with teachers:

Representatives of the Wynantskill Board of Education will meet with members of the Wynantskill Teachers Association for a second time on Thursday, July 18. Board members Ann Marsh and Matt Hug met with WTA President Matt Lutz, former president Lisa Hancock, and teachers Jean Marie Steffek and Kate Cronin on Monday, July 8 in an attempt to resolve the issues currently challenging the school. Mrs. Marsh and Mr. Hug both described the meeting as candid and productive, but cautioned it was only a first step. They expect this Thursday to be the second in a long series of board and faculty communication.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Grace Pfiefer’s Statement to the Board of Education 07/11/13

July 11th, 2013

I wonder if Dr. Henkel remembers me?  I remember her.
My name is Grace and I am a sophomore nursing major at Utica College.  I am also a cheerleader and member of the Student Nursing Association and Drama Club.  I am now a counselor of 6 graders at the Halfmoon Recreation day camp program.
I am speaking tonight because I don’t want another child to experience what I did at my school under the supervision of Dr. Lisa Henkel.
It took me years of counseling to restore my self-esteem and self-confidence.  I still have flash-backs of how I was made to feel about myself at Boght Hills School.  No 6 or 7 year old special education student should be humiliated, physically and emotionally harmed, at the direction of their elementary school principal.
My IEP which promised an inclusion classroom was ignored by Dr. Henkel who felt she was above any special education program designed for a student.  It was her school and things would be done her way. The teachers that tried to help me were reprimanded and remained silent at my CSE meetings fearing retribution. 
I still have flash-backs of the numerous times I ran away from that school building. The adults called it bolting.
Their “bolting” - I called “escape”.
Escape from constant emotional and physical abuse I experienced while a student at Boght Hills while Lisa Henkel was principal.
My last day attending Boght Hills was in May of second grade 2002.  By then my mother was in a hearing process due to numerous IEP violations.  Dr. Henkel instructed my teachers to engage me in a behavior in a locked room and video tape it.  This film Dr. Henkel would “use” as evidence that I did not belong in her school.  As my teachers incited my behavior Dr. Henkel called the Colonie Police to respond to school with two armed police officers.  I was seven years old and weighed 60 pounds.  My mother rescued me that day and I never had to go back to that school and see Lisa Henkel again.
I urge you to listen to the parents and teachers who tell you something is not right.  Something was very wrong in 2002 and the only way it got better was for me to leave.  No child, parent or teacher should endure the pain I did under Lisa Henkel.  It’s time to take a stand and get back your school as you know and love it.  Thank you.
"Grace Pfeifer who was a student at Boght Hills School while Dr. Lisa Henkel was principal there was asked to stop speaking during the Wynantskill Union Free School District BOE meeting. Teachers Union President Matt Lutz invited Grace to speak."

07/11/13 Media Coverage. Little District. Big Problems.

Grace Pfeifer who was a student at Boght Hills School while Dr. Lisa Henkel was principal there is asked to stop speaking during the Wynantskill Union Free School District. With her is Teachers Union President Matt Lutz who invited Grace to speak. (Mike McMahon / The Troy Record)
The Troy Record: Parents, teachers continue to raise concerns over Henkel's 'good intentions' 

WNYT, 11:00pm (Ch. 13) Bullying. Intimidation. Morale at an all time low.  


WTEN, 5:30PM and 11:00pm (Ch. 10) Parents demand removal of Wynantskill superintendent at school board meeting (Two Videos: left video (1) 11pm, right video (2) 530pm)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Someone is listening, even if it is just a machine.

Below are three comments, from "Sound Off", about the Wynantskill BOE.
KEEP CALLING! 270-1201

"Sound Off" appears in the opinion section to The Troy Record. To have a message published in "Sound Off," call 270-1201. Personal attacks, obscenities, intolerant or biased messages, commentary on private matters and political endorsements are not acceptable. "Sound Off" comments are the opinions of the callers. The accuracy of the claims has not been verified by The Record.

07/07/13: They have problems
The Wynantskill Board of Education needs to get off the boat that is taking them down the River of Denial. They have real problems with the superintendent.

07/06/13: A cover up
I'd like to know why the Board of Education in the Wynantskill school district continues to ignore the vote of no confidence by the teachers. And put out information that doesn't really answer the points and resolutions. I think they're trying to avoid it and trying to cover it up. 

07/04/13: Can’t reach them
I'd like to sound off about the Wynantskill Board of Education. I'm wondering what they are doing about the debacle that is occurring over in the Wynantskill community. They have not responded to any of the public, nor have they reached out to any parents when they have actually said we are able to contact them, they fail to provide contact information. So, please, how do we reach them?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Document & Document & Document.

One of the single most important things we can do to help in this fight (in addition to attending the July 11th Board Meeting AND future BOE meetings until this is resolved) is to document, document, document.
It is clear that the Board of Education has no interest in investigating the concerns that both teachers and parents have repeatedly brought to them so it is now imperative for us to bring the evidence of Dr. Henkel's incompetence and demand action. Many children at our school have been denied services they are legally entitled to.
  • If your child has an IEP and was NOT provided remedial reading by a certified reading teacher AND/OR your child went months without RtI, please write down any conversations you had with the school regarding these matters, include dates and a description of the conversation, as well as anyone else who may have been in attendance along with any email exchanges.
  • If your child's teacher told you that they could not release your child's reading level or test scores please document this.
  • If you were denied access to BOE members or asked to not attend Board of Education meetings please document this.
In addition to bringing this to the BOE meeting, you can also file a complaint with the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Education using this link: http://www.counsel.nysed.gov/appeals/ While you may not be able to have anything prepared for the July 11th BOE meeting, there is always next month and the month after that and so on. The complaint process can seem overwhelming but there are many resources available and community members who are happy to help.

Please contact us if you have questions. We may not be able to answer them but can hopefully guide you in the right direction. Gdpride12198@gmail.com 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Gardner Dickinson: Time for Change
Please join us, the parents, guardians, grandparents, friends, citizens, teachers and taxpayers of the Wynantskill Union Free School District in demanding the immediate resignation of Superintendent/Principal Dr. Lisa A. Henkel.
The Wynantskill Teachers association has voted 28-1 in favor of a “no confidence” resolution against Superintendent Lisa Henkel. Below are points from the resolution, the complete document can be viewed at http://gdpride.blogspot.com/.
  • Dr. Lisa Henkel has used behavior that is not acceptable, such as bullying, intimidation and retaliation, when managing the staff
  • Dr. Lisa Henkel has inappropriately attempted to interfere with both staff members and parents attempting to access the Board of Education
  • Dr. Lisa Henkel appears to be incapable of performing the basic administrative function of developing a daily master schedule for the school
  • Dr. Lisa Henkel lacks a rudimentary understanding of how the school functions on a daily basis and disregards staff recommendations for adherence to Federal and State mandates                               
Dr Henkel has failed the students and parents of Gardner Dickinson.
  • Dr. Henkel has violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act by refusing to provide parents with the results of their children’s reading evaluations.
  • Dr. Henkel has failed to uphold state and federal laws and regulations by not fully implementing mandated Individualized Education Programs for special needs students. Thereby potentially exposing the district to costly compensatory education expenses.
  • Dr. Henkel has failed to meet legal requirements in regards to remedial services for Response to Intervention. RTI is a state mandate, designed to assist students in danger of not meeting state standards.
  • Dr. Henkel has repeatedly failed to respond to the questions and concerns of parents and has actively discouraged parents from presenting their concerns to the Board of Education.
Dr Henkel has failed the taxpayers.
  • Dr. Henkel will have FOUR administrative positions in the upcoming school year, for a district of just over 300 students.
  • In the past year, Dr. Henkel has awarded personal friends administrative consulting positions costing the district thousands of dollars.
  • Dr. Henkel has initiated legal action against a teacher that will cost the district tens of thousands of dollars without first exploring alternative remedial actions.
 We urge you to show your support by attending the Board of Education meeting July 11th, in the school library, at 7pm and by adding your name to the petition demanding the resignation of Dr. Henkel.

It's Time: For our kids.

It is said that music inspires.  
It's Time!
(this may not be viewable from a mobile device)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

How about the Wynantskill BOE "hire an outside firm to collect data and interview" in our district?

"Interesting that the Superintendent and BOE in Saratoga have decided to look into the cause to staff dismay at one of their schools at the apparent poor management by the principal. But in Wynantskill, where there is a teacher and parent revolt going on regarding the Superintendent, the BOE rejects both the staff and the parents. Maybe they should pay attention to Saratoga and show some respect to both teachers and parents and investigate."

The Times Union story ran today 07/02/13: Principal blamed for staff exits: Spa City school chief cites management style issue at Division Street

What do YOU want to ask our Board of Education, Thursday July 11th @ 7:00pm?

The July 11 BOE meeting is going to be a crowded one, RIGHT? If you have never attended a BOE meeting; there are a few things you should know beforehand:
  1. SHOW UP! We need you there to show community support.  
  2. SIGN UP! If you want to speak, or even think you may want to speak, you must sign up before the beginning of the meeting.   
  3. SPEAK UP! For those of us who think public speaking is super scary, you can just read a prepared statement; something as simple as “I request the BOE ask for the resignation of Dr. Henkel”.  But maybe you’ll be inspired to say more or you can always pass when your name is called to speak.  Remember, if you don’t sign up before the meeting you will not be given an opportunity to speak.
Note: There a time limit. The BOE asks that speakers limit their comments to fewer than 3 minutes. We can expect them to be especially vigilant in attempting to adhere to that time limit on Thursday July 11 @ 7:00pm!

What if you can’t come? What if there is no way in hell you would ever speak in front of a crowd of people, but have something to say? Write it down: on paper, on an index card, on a cocktail napkin, or here on the blog and we will try to find someone to ask your questions for you.

NOW, see you on Thursday July 11th @ 7:00pm!