U-CF School Board president responds to member's resignation
By J. Chambless
The Unionville-Chadds Ford School Board.
Letter to the Editor:
As president of the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District School Board, I am compelled to respond to the inaccurate and unfair characterizations made by School Board Member Dr. Rock, who resigned on Dec. 9.
Upon resigning, Dr. Rock shared with the Board a letter outlining his concerns. I am troubled by and disappointed in Dr. Rock’s statements, as he is still refusing to share critical information with us.
In his final remarks as a Board Member, Dr. Rock charged that the district was “unwilling to offer our strongest commitment to support diversity and tolerance.” He further asserted that the superintendent told a minority parent that there is nothing the district can do to address their concerns in the absence of a specific and formal complaint that would be handled by our bullying policy.
These assertions are false. All concerns brought to us by any member of our community, formally or informally, have been heard and addressed. The Board and Administration have not and will not tolerate harassment or intimidation of any kind, and the safety and well-being of each and every student and staff member is of paramount importance to all of us. Dr. Sanville and his administrative team have in place extensive and thorough anti-bullying and anti-intimidation procedures, polices, and programs that have been used effectively in every school. We celebrate diversity throughout our curriculum and additionally through special programs.
Furthermore, Dr. Sanville’s open-door policy – available to everyone in UCFSD (and used by many on a regular basis) – allows for open and honest conversations about anything going on in UCFSD. Easy access to the superintendent is a hallmark of UCFSD and gives Dr. Sanville a direct line to the entire community.
We have significant evidence that shows all our programs and processes are working. Our recent climate surveys show strongly that our students, parents and staff feel that our school communities have mutual respect for individual differences. A review of our actual discipline reports supports these climate survey opinions expressed by our community, that bullying and harassment is not pervasive in our school district. We are always concerned with our school climate and actively work to promote an environment of respect, inclusiveness, and collegiality.
I also understand that no system is perfect and that there is always room for improvement. We have not and will not tolerate harassment or intimidation of any kind, and all of us have said this repeatedly in many different venues and ways. I encourage anyone with concerns to contact our Superintendent and/or any administrator or School Board member. We will respect privacy, and we will proceed with compassion and integrity. What’s most troubling about Dr. Rock’s statement is that he claims to have had conversations with residents who have experienced intimidation and harassment. We are obligated to investigate all cases of harassment. We have asked Dr. Rock repeatedly for the contact information of these residents, but he steadfastly refused to give that to us.
As an elected education official, Board members are required under Pennsylvania statute to come forward with these names so that we can work with these individuals in resolving any issues they may be facing. According to the Office of Civil Rights, “If harassment has occurred, a school must take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end the harassment, eliminate any hostile environment, and prevent its recurrence.”
Dr. Rock’s brief tenure on the Board was marked by a primary focus of finding fault with administrators and some fellow Board members. Despite numerous one-on-one meetings with both Dr. Sanville and I, and requests for him to pursue agreed-upon Board initiatives in his capacity as Legislative Committee chair, he refused to refocus his energies on the actual duties of the Board. This pattern picked up pace, and when Dr. Rock did not get the responses he sought from the Board, he struck out to create a public situation he could use as proof of his assertions. There is no place on a School Board for someone whose personal agenda is to undermine the very Board and District he was elected to serve.
In an effort to find the silver lining here, we are going to look at UCFSD as a whole -- as individuals, as parents, and as Board members -- to make sure that the policy of acceptance has permeated every building and every procedure -- and every student. There is always room for improvement and growth and I believe we are prepared to meet those challenges.
We have an open seat on the Board and seek qualified candidates to apply to fill the vacancy. The process, legal posting, and application are posted on the District website (www.ucfsd.org).
UCFSD stands firmly on the side of acceptance and support for everyone. I have complete confidence in Dr. Sanville, school administrators, faculty, staff, and volunteers. One has only to walk into any school on any day to see students and staff engaged in all kinds of educational activities that embrace the world as a whole. We recognize the changing nature of our community as new developments are built, homes are sold, and people age. We embrace everyone who chooses to live in our district and know that they expect the very best public school education we can deliver. We take that charge seriously as does Dr. Sanville and the entire team here in UCFSD.
On behalf of the UCFSD School Board I thank you for your partnership and continued support as we work together to continue to strengthen our school community and promote a peaceful, respectful and constructive environment.
Vic Dupuis, President
U-CF School District Board of Directors