Friday, October 26, 2007

Nasty Kids In the Schoolyard Are Not The Only Bullies In CT Schools

The Hartford Courant reported on legislators who are pushing for tougher bullying laws in CT. Apparently there is going to be a push by some CT legislators to expand the four-year-old anti-bullying statute in the upcoming legislative session. The current statute requires that school officials report incidents of bullying to authorities.
Because the law defines bullying as repeated acts, school districts have a lot of latitude, and acts of aggression or threats that are not repetitive often go unreported, said state Rep. Andrew M. Fleischmann, D-West Hartford, co-chairman of the education committee who spoke at the conference. In the upcoming legislative session, there will be an effort to redefine bullying to include single acts, Fleischmann said.
Interestingly enough, with all the emphasis on bullying articulated by "my pal" Rep. Andy Fleischmann, he certainly doesn't seem to care much that parents have been bullied by the school system as well. The school administrators threaten, coerce and harass parents who have withdrawn, or are seeking to withdraw, their child from school to homeschool them!

Isn't it incredibly ironic that schools, and legislators like Fleischmann, say they want to do something to stop the bullying that goes on in schools and yet school administrators practice it themselves and are allowed to get away with it!

School administrators bully parents with threats of calling DCF to force parents into handing over medical records, or signing papers they don't have to sign, or otherwise coercing and harassing them into doing other things. They violate doctor patient privacy, they make illegal false complaints and referrals to DCF, and they have been caught fabricating unexcused absences - and there is no consequence for them! Coercion and harassment are crimes in CT, but try getting a policeman to arrest a school administrator for these crimes and you may have a rude awakening. Some parents are getting ready to start filing lawsuits.

Over 40 families have been threatened in CT so far this year by school administrators, and despite DCF's best efforts to change policy to prevent their agency from being mis-used and abused by intentional false reporting by these administrators,(which by the way wastes time and money and other DCF agency resources) the harassment has not ended.

Rep. Fleischmann has yet to support any effort by fellow legislators and the homeschool community to end this bullying and abuse of authority by school administrators. In fact, he has intentionally thrown roadblocks in the way of passing legislation that would have helped parents avoid bullying by administrators (see here and here).

It's nice that Fleischmann wants to make this calculated political move to do something about the bullies in the schoolyard - but how about the bullies in the principal's and superintendent's office?

It's not surprising though, because Fleischmann has done his share of bullying as well, using his political clout and control of government purse strings. Andrew Fleischmann used his political position to coerce Hartford Association for Retarded Citizens into becoming a union shop.

He joined with 15 other legislators in writing a coercive letter to the Hartford Association for Retarded Citizens in January 2006 saying that if they didn't vote "Yes" to bring in Union 1199, that his support of continued state funding to their agency might be in jeopardy.

Even the liberal Hartford Courant, who endorsed him as a candidate for office last year when I ran against him, had this to say about the issue:
(Hartford Courant: Mar 31, 2006. pg. A.6)
It's one thing for politicians to be ardent supporters of the labor movement. But when state legislators take the side of a union in an organizing campaign, they go too far.

Sixteen Connecticut lawmakers did just that recently when they wrote a letter to employees of the Greater Hartford Association of Retarded Citizens before a Jan. 13 vote on whether to join the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199. The legislators, all Democrats, suggested they have a strong voice in the level of funding the nonprofit agency gets from the state.

"We pay attention when District 1199 members talk to us about changing laws to protect clients and to increase the funding for developmental disability programs," the letter said. Agency workers voted 111 to 48 to join the union.

The letter was clearly inappropriate.

To their credit, Association of Retarded Citizens officials challenged the election before the National Labor Relations Board. Unfortunately, an NLRB administrative judge ruled against the nonprofit. A spokeswoman said the agency would file an appeal this week.

Had the elected officials written a letter threatening to deny or cut Hartford Association of Retarded Citizens funding if the employees voted to unionize, District 1199 would probably be the party complaining about unfair labor practices.

It's offensive for lawmakers to apply their strong-arm tactics on nonprofit organizations that rely heavily on state funding to provide services for the most helpless residents in Connecticut.

State legislators are elected to protect the interests of the taxpayers who pay their salaries, not the interests of a single labor union.
Also this from columnist Laurence D. Cohen (from LEGISLATORS MOONLIGHT AS UNION HEAVIES, Hartford Courant: Jan 15, 2006. pg. C.3)
Here are the 16 legislators who chose to leverage your tax dollars into a blackmail scheme intended to sabotage the union election at the Hartford Association for Retarded Citizens:

State Sens. John Fonfara, Eric Coleman, Gary LeBeau, Mary Ann Handley and Jonathan Harris.

State Reps. Minnie Gonzalez, Evelyn Mantilla, Marie Kirkley-Bey, Art Feltman, Douglas McCrory, Andrew Fleischmann, David McCluskey, Tim O'Brien, John Geragosian, Peter Tercyak and Margaret Sayers.
With Fleischmann's charge against bullying, could this be a grand case of "Hey pot...this is kettle ... you are black."

Andy - The homeschool community and parents all across Connecticut are waiting for you, and your co-chair of the education committee, to end bullying of parents. Will you continue to say it's ok for school administrators to be bullies? Are you going to continue to give school administrators a free pass to abuse their authority this upcoming legislative session as well??