• December 29, 2014

Killeen ISD candidates discuss platforms

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Posted: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 12:00 am

Candidates vying for a spot on the Killeen Independent School District Board of Trustees discussed their platforms and answered questions from residents during a political forum Monday at the Lions Club Senior Center in Killeen.

The forum was sponsored by the Killeen branch NAACP and the League of United Latin American Citizens Council 4535.

Four candidates — Lan Carter, Brockley Moore, Aya Eneli and Marvin Rainwater — are running for the Place 4 seat.

Carter said her parents instilled in her the importance of acceptance and the power of education.

“I value education,” Carter said. “I am passionate for education for all of our students.”

Carter, who taught in

Copperas Cove ISD for three years, said she knows the inner-workings of school districts.

“Teachers do a lot of work that we don’t give them credit for,” Carter said. “If our teachers aren’t happy, our students aren’t happy. We need to be more proactive on the school board.”

In response to a resident’s question, Carter said if she could change one thing about the district, she would alleviate unnecessary duties that cut into the teacher’s time in order to let the teacher “get inspired” and allow that positive energy to funnel down to his or her students.

Retired Staff Sgt. Brockley Moore said it’s important to get parents involved in the educational process.

He also said it’s important for the board to represent a mixture of the community in terms of having educators and business leaders on the board.

However, in response to a resident’s question about the school board reflecting the racial makeup of the community, Moore said diversity was an overused word.

“I didn’t have a black teacher until I was in the ninth grade. Race has nothing to do with teaching a child,” Moore said. “When you vote for someone, don’t vote for Brockley because he is black. Don’t vote for Brockley because he’s a veteran. Vote because he’s going to get out there and bust his butt for your kids.”

Eneli said something that’s been lacking in previous political forums for this election is discussion about the future of Killeen ISD students.

Eneli, who will have five children attending Killeen ISD schools in the 2014-2015 school year, said the board “certainly (does) not need another retired educator on the board.”

“I hear a lot of talk about budgets and the day-to-day challenges that we face,” she said.

“What I’m not hearing is: What is our vision for your youth?”

Eneli said it’s important for children to be excited about school.

“Our school district is a good one, but to do really great, we have to get kids and parents excited about school,” she said. “If we are graduating students who can’t read, who can’t write, who can’t communicate, that’s a problem.”

Marvin Rainwater, who retired after 43 years with Killeen ISD, said the most important thing for the district is the children. In order to serve the child, Rainwater said the board has to serve classroom teachers.

“If you have a personal relationship with a child, that’s an intrinsic motivator to help that student learn,” Rainwater said. “I want to free up classroom teachers’ time to allow them to be able to do (that). ... The most important thing in the Killeen ISD is the child.”

Terry Delano, 54, Killeen ISD school board vice president, is running unopposed for the Place 5 seat he currently holds. He said he tries to make the best decisions possible for the district as a whole.

“I’ve tried to be a good listener, tried to be well-balanced and look after the needs of (not only) the teachers and students, but also the taxpayers,” Delano said.

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18 comments:

  • PennyK posted at 10:23 pm on Mon, Apr 21, 2014.

    PennyK Posts: 4

    Oh Lord! Nothing in this city is even remotely close to slavery. That comment is as bad as Eneli comparing working for UPS to slavery. That is a comment she made both times I heard her speak.

    You are mistaking thinking that Rainwater's supporters are overwhelmingly white. You make it sound like a person should vote for someone based entirely of the color of their skin. I am a Rainwater supporter and I will speak to as many people as possible. I know several black people I have spoken with do not think Eneli can relate to them or vice versa since she mostly grew up outside of the United States and she lives in a $400,000 house. That is not someone the average voter white, black or hispanic can relate to. I know quite a few black people that are supporting Rainwater.

     
  • PennyK posted at 10:15 pm on Mon, Apr 21, 2014.

    PennyK Posts: 4

    How is a child to enrich their education outside of a classroom? That's easy...It's called parents!

    I teach kindergarten and you would be surprised at the amount of homework I get back that is in cursive handwriting!

     
  • PennyK posted at 10:12 pm on Mon, Apr 21, 2014.

    PennyK Posts: 4

    Please read about the purpose of a PTO. The PTO is made up mostly of parents with a few teachers sprinkled in. It is not the place to voice concerns unless they have to do with getting teachers/kids some supplies or items to enrich learning.


    You may be unhappy with the education your child is receiving but please walk a normal week in my shoes as an elementary teacher and then tell me I am not doing enough. 99% of the teachers in this district go above and beyond. Just because you disagree doesn't mean you are right.

    There is nothing wrong with a Substitute having 24 college hours. In Belton you only have to have a GED and for West Lake High you can get a position with 30 hours.

     
  • DaMan posted at 3:13 am on Thu, Apr 17, 2014.

    DaMan Posts: 17

    As stated in earlier posts I believe in transparency and being factual, so for anyone that would like to view the Texas Academic Performance Reports (TAPR) for their child's school they can do so by visiting this official webpage http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/tapr/2013/srch.html?srch=C

     
  • DaMan posted at 3:03 am on Thu, Apr 17, 2014.

    DaMan Posts: 17

    It sounds like you are very proud of your achievements at West Ward. A review of West Ward's Texas Academic Performance Report (TAPR) shows that African American students in the 3rd grade met standards while African American students in the same schools from grades 4-5 failed to meet campus, district, and state levels for proficiency. If this is something to be proud of please let me know, if you want to delve deeper into the statistical trend analysis you will see that in grades 4-5 African American scores for 2013 were lower for black students in every subject matter of testing, meaning the statistical trend is going backwards or not improving.

     
  • DaMan posted at 2:53 am on Thu, Apr 17, 2014.

    DaMan Posts: 17

    Funny you should mention the PTO. Our PTO is headed by a man named Irving and he has stated in a PTO meeting that the PTO is not the forum for parents to address their complaints and issues with school at. How ignorant one must be to tell parents that the PTO meeting is not the forum for parents to address their concerns apparently the PTO at Haybranch is only for fundraising. I have been reading your comments all day on here and funny that I would go on the Elect Aya Eneli facebook page and see you asking questions there, however in none of your comments on her facebook page did you mention the comments you made about her campaign on this webpage. You have already made clear on this webpage that you are a supporter of Rainwater and have told Eneli that you feel all you are getting from her is rhetoric. Rainwater, Delano, and Carter have not come up with a plan to address poor test scores for black students. Taking responsibilities off teachers is not a plan. Teachers in this district are already not doing enough especially at the elementary school level. The standards for being a teacher are awfully low in this district even if it is being a substitute teacher. Any time you can qualify for any teaching position with 24 college credit hours is a shame and a joke.

     
  • truebluebell posted at 7:21 pm on Wed, Apr 16, 2014.

    truebluebell Posts: 17

    I taught at West Ward and many of my students did not have internet at home. Knowing this, I made sure to make time for them to use the school computers on particular assignments. No, the parent did not see homework in that subject that night, but that is because of the need to allow every student the chance to succeed. It is pointless to send home homework that a child cannot do at their home. I don't know if that is the case at Haybranch, but it could very well be. The best way to enrich what your child has learned in the classroom is to talk about it and have them explain it. I did this with both of my kids. The most important question I would ask myself as a teacher is "how does this child learn?" Some kids are very tactile, some kids audio, some visual. Figure out the best method for them. As a teacher I tried to incorporate as many learning styles as possible. We did a lot of in class projects because they needed to draw it, touch it and see it. We did experiments at least once a week. I do know the one factor that we had working against us was the lack of parent participation. A good PTO can do a lot for students. Having said that, I had a lot of single parent households and I understand that work is a priority over a PTO meeting. It is a tough situation that I do not have answers to, but Mr. Rainwater and Mrs. Carter's answer of taking off some of the extra duties from teachers so they can focus more on teaching is what compelled me to put them at the top of my list.

     
  • DaMan posted at 3:32 pm on Wed, Apr 16, 2014.

    DaMan Posts: 17

    Here is an article specifically about Rainwater's conduct from KDH:

    Parents angered by KISD special ed program
    Andy Ross The Killeen Daily Herald | Updated Aug 16, 2012

    By Andy Ross

    Killeen Daily Herald

    Despite Killeen ISD administrators' expressions of confidence in the school district's special education program, several parents of autistic children enrolled in KISD are unhappy with the current state of affairs.

    The main target of criticism is Willow Springs Elementary, where multiple parents are now speaking out about disputes with school leaders over safety concerns and visitation policies they claim are out of touch with the needs of their children.

    One of those parents is Felicia Grissett, who last week said she applied to have her two autistic children transferred out of Willow Springs. The move comes three weeks after the school's assistant principal issued Grissett a letter effectively denying her access to the campus until further notice.

    "Should you return to Willow Springs Elementary without a scheduled and approved meeting, your actions would be considered a criminal trespass on school property and will be referred to law enforcement," reads a portion of the letter from assistant principal Betty Hermosillo.

    According to Grissett - who has worked as a substitute teacher at Willow Springs - her relationship with Hermosillo and principal Marvin Rainwater grew strained this year after her daughter was threatened repeatedly by another male student.

    Claiming her concerns were not being addressed, Grissett filed an official complaint in late September, saying she felt student-to-teacher ratios were inadequate for safe classrooms. Soon thereafter, in response to the same student reportedly making another threat, Grissett visited the school to complain in person. That's when she said she was told to stay away.

    "How are you supposed to know your children are safe?" Grissett said. "As a parent I have to make sure my children are safe, and if my daughter is telling me she's not safe in class, how do you consciously leave your child at school knowing there is a child terrorizing your children in the classroom?"

    Interviewed on Monday, Killeen ISD Superintendent Robert Muller commended KISD's performance on special education, but stressed he could not comment on specific claims from parents.

    "I'm not familiar with complaints coming from any particular campus, but I will tell you as a matter of record we can't talk about individual issues," Muller said. "We can't talk about individual students. We can't talk about individual parents or the issues they might have."

    Lynn Young, KISD's director of special education, also said she couldn't address whether she had heard about complaints reported at Willow Springs. The director said the district is fully committed to serving autistic and other special needs students.

    Young said approximately 4,000 special education students currently attend KISD. Self-contained classes teaching SKILLS curriculum - a model containing both academics and life-functioning skills - are offered in eight elementary schools, 10 middle schools and all four high schools.

    "I'm very proud of our special education program," Young said. "I feel like we've got a lot of very hard-working teachers and campus administrators that work very, very hard to meet the individualized needs of students in Killeen."

    Yet regardless of KISD's view, reports of troubled parents persist. Brenda Sayre is another mom who says she is trying to transfer her autistic child out of Willow Springs.

    Sayre said the same student who was threatening Grissett's daughter had bitten and attacked her son multiple times last year. On another occasion she said a different student drop-kicked her son in the chest.

    In January she filed a level 1 complaint, saying she disagreed with decisions the school was making on placing students with violent behavior in the same classrooms as autistic and other special-needs students.

    Sayre's most recent problem came the first week of this school year, when she said she learned her son had been left unattended for a period of time. Sayer said she visited the school to complain and it wasn't long afterward that a new attitude on campus visits was adopted.

    "It's like he (the principal) wants to run the place like a prison," she said. "If you want to see your kids or find out what's going on with them, you have to have a meeting with him and only stay 15 minutes and then debrief with him afterwards. If you don't agree to the debriefing, you don't get to go into the classroom."

    Chris Jenson, whose autistic son recently attended Willow Springs, seemed to confirm Sayer's and Grissett's accounts.

    "There were quite a few issues with a couple of kids being aggressive and not being handled properly to ensure nothing happens to the rest of them (other students)," Jenson said.

    Having heard of the complaints about access to Willow Springs this year, Jenson said he is sympathetic. He believes parents of autistic children are especially sensitive to staying in touch with their kids' lives at school.

    "As far as general education, I can see where that might work," Jenson said, referring to stricter policies on visitation. "But as far as special education, kids in the classroom in my experience thrive on parent volunteers being able to go and check on classrooms."

    It's a point Grissett also agrees with.

    "It should be a little different," she said. "Our children are disabled and some of them cannot speak for themselves. The worry we have as parents is how our children are being treated because there are a lot of things swept under the rug."

    It's not just Willow Springs where parents of autistic students have reported feeling left out of the loop.

    In August, Darla McGowan voiced her anger to KISD after her third-grade autistic son was moved from his home school of Trimmier Elementary and placed in a therapeutic learning class at Sugar Loaf Elementary.

    McGowan said the decision for the move was made at the last minute and without the required meeting between herself and administrators known as the Admissions Review and Dismissal Committee (ARD).

    "I told them my son doesn't have a behavior problem," McGowan said. "He doesn't need to be in that class and that you didn't explain what it was - you just stuck him in there."

    McGowan said an ARD meeting did take place soon after her objections, and her son was moved back to a special education class at Trimmier.

    "We just had his 30-day ARD meeting, and he's doing excellent at Trimmier," McGowan said.

    Contact Andy Ross at aross@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7468. Follow him on Twitter at KDHeducation.

     
  • DaMan posted at 3:27 pm on Wed, Apr 16, 2014.

    DaMan Posts: 17

    Here's a story from KXXV:
    By Christine McCarthy

    KILLEEN- A handful of picketers gathered outside Saegert Elementary School on Tuesday to protest alleged abuse at the hands of a substitute teacher.

    Cassandra Whiteside says her six-year-old son Stephen Whiteside, Jr., came out of school yesterday and said the teacher had pulled on him in the hallway between classes.

    At the side of his mother, Stephen held a sign that read, "I was hurt by a sub here yesterday." Other picketers held signs about "justice" and "zero tolerance for abuse against kids."

    "The teacher grabbed and squeezed his arm really tight, and it hurt really bad and it made his fingers numb," Whiteside says.

    She met with the teacher and the principal to discuss the incident.

    "I said, 'Why did you put your hands on my son?'"Whiteside says. "He just stood there. He didn't deny it, nor did he affirm it."

    Leslie Gilmore, spokeswoman for Killeen ISD, can only say the alleged incident is under investigation.

    The substitute teacher was off campus Tuesday.

    Whiteside wants him fired and she is considering pulling Stephen out of the school.

    "I'm an advocate for kids," Whiteside says. "I send my son to school to learn and not to be hurt by any teacher. Now my son's scared to go to school."

    Until the teacher is gone or the school district at least addresses what happened, Whiteside is not going anywhere.

    "I'm out here picketing for justice. If there's no justice, there will be no peace," Whiteside says. "I'll be out here all day every day to speak out for my son."

    Whiteside plans to picket before and after school Wednesday as well.

     
  • DaMan posted at 3:16 pm on Wed, Apr 16, 2014.

    DaMan Posts: 17

    Another item of discussion, you say the schools only used STAAR approved teaching methods to prepare students for testing then how good of a job can they be doing when black students at over 20 area elementary school for the past two years are either failing to meet campus, district, and state proficiency levels? The problem has become systematic and beginning to show an endemic crisis that is leaving black children behind.

     
  • DaMan posted at 3:13 pm on Wed, Apr 16, 2014.

    DaMan Posts: 17

    In your comments you also incorrectly assumed that I do not ask my children everyday what they have learned. My mother has been an early childhood educator and director for over twenty years and my brother is a high school teacher. From the tone of your writting you seem to think you are educating me, however there is nothing for you to educate me on or lecture me about. I have done the statistical research, I have asked the questions of the leaders of the school and the district. Personally I would never condone Rainwater in any school setting let alone the board. Perhaps it is because you are white and all the experiences you have had with him are befitting only the courtesies extended to white women and not to all other races of people and sexes. I had to have a friend and his wife come down from Colorado Springs to witness the level of disrespect being exuded by Rainwater while he was principal at Willow Springs and I will never support Rainwater in any capacity on this city's board and I will do absolutely everything to see his nomination blocked. I will not use underhanded tactics or unfounded information, I will use only personal experiences and media reports which have been published by this very media outlet.

     
  • DaMan posted at 2:17 pm on Wed, Apr 16, 2014.

    DaMan Posts: 17

    No assumptions to be made. We have teachers here at Haybranch that have not given out homework in over 7 months. I don't care how much homework they assign but to go 7 months without homework? How is a child to enrich their education outside of the classroom? What a bout parents and students with no computer and internet access at home? Have you seen the TAPR for area elementary schools? Look at the scores for African American children? Are all our children unable to learn or this systematic of the teaching approach or lack thereof. I speak with my children's teachers and their principals to ask what types of teaching methods they are using and they draw a blank. I am not making any assumptions, federal tax subsidies for education will drop especially with BRAC then what? This city needs to get real immediately and before the problems in this district become epidemic and rot the entire core of the education system. The early childhood development ages for children are of the utmost importance and according to the TAPR's and entire race of children (black) are failing to meet minimal requirements. The reasons our kids don't get homework is because parents don't spend enough time with their kids, and parents are educated or knowledgeable enough to duplicate these efforts at home. If you think I am lying I have the meeting minutes in black and white where the principal actually states this as justification for no homework. I invite you to attend the next PTA meeting with me at Haybranch in May so that you see personally what we the parents in this neighborhood are up against.

     
  • truebluebell posted at 12:14 pm on Wed, Apr 16, 2014.

    truebluebell Posts: 17

    Da Man, you are clearly someone who makes a lot of assumptions. You assumed incorrectly that I do not have kids in KISD schools and that I do not know how schools run (I used to teach.) Let me correct your prejudices against anyone who disagrees with you. First, textbooks in schools, some classes use the textbook, some use online resources, but I assure you they all follow the same set of requirements laid out for passing the STARR test. I have PERSONALLY seen my child bring home textbooks along with homework. Does he have homework everyday? No, if he is able to get it done during class, he doesn't bring it home. What do you think should be the amount of homework assigned to students each day? 1 hour? 2 hours? If your child is able to finish it in school does it not count? Instead of worrying about how much homework they have, ask them to talk about the concepts they learned that day. . As a former teacher i know for a fact that lesson plans are required. There was never one day that I didn't have a lesson plan for, even if it was a special event day. The administration at the school requires it. I should point out I worked at the poorest school in KISD so I know for a fact that the teachers in that school did not treat the lessons and students any differently than a teacher at any other school
    I am struck by your class warfare assumption. When I refer to your tax dollars, I am not merely talking about property tax dollars. The federal government sends tax dollars to KISD based on the number of military children enrolled, so you are paying taxes for school whether you realize it or not, so it is not a "class warfare" issue. I simply want my tax dollars to be spent wisely, for educational purposes, not "innovative" phony morale programs. The only person who benefits from programs like that is the person selling the program.
    I have evaluated all of the candidates. Mrs. Carter is a good candidate whom I would ordinarily vote for, but Mr. Rainwater's experience simply dwarfs hers. I am not voting for Mr. Moore. He does a lot of volunteer work at the schools which I admire, but I don't agree with his stand on charter schools. Mrs. Eneli claims to be an educator and then sits at the forum and says we should not elect another retired teacher or principal while sitting next to Mr. Rainwater. She has also held a raffle which violates campaign ethics rules. My concern with her, besides the negativity she displayed, is that she is a lawyer and couldn't be bothered to do simply research on campaign ethics. The other 3 candidates figured it out and they are not lawyers. Is she going to do that on the board? We need someone willing to put in the work, not just a warm body. I have yet to see her give any specifics beyond motivational platitudes. All three other candidates have, even if I don't agree with them. I want the best qualified on the board. 40+ years of experience from bus driver to teacher to principal is what leads me to vote for Rainwater. Please ask me why I am voting a certain way, do not assume.

     
  • DaMan posted at 8:11 am on Wed, Apr 16, 2014.

    DaMan Posts: 17

    Truebluebell you discuss budgets and accountability to taxpayers, but answer me this where are the textbooks that are being paid for by taxpayers? I'll tell you at school. Do our children use textbooks at school? I'll answer that for you NO. Where is homework for our kids? I'll answer that too, their schools aren't giving them homework? Where are the lesson plans that guide our kids educational instruction? I'll answer that too, schools are refusing to provide them or don't have them. Don't speak about accountability when you have not taken the time to investigate and research the real issues facing parents with students in these schools. I could care less if you pay taxes, the right to an equal and quality education is the guaranteed right of every American child and your comment on here reflects the point of view of someone propagating a class war which is being waged against my children and thousands of children like them spread out throughout this district.

     
  • DaMan posted at 7:57 am on Wed, Apr 16, 2014.

    DaMan Posts: 17

    I could not disagree with you more. Rainwater is absolutely the wrong choice as his election to the board would only further serve to continue the path of deceit and lack of integrity that is plaguing this school board. No comment seems to be an official policy of this board when it pertains to events or incidents taking place at our schools. When you speak about serving the taxpayers of this city that comment harks to the days of slavery when only property owners paying taxes had a say so in our society. There are thousands of parents in this city that are not taxpayers are their voices not to be heard. Budget experience is overrated especially considering the the fact that he will not directly control the budget and that the district employs accountants to handle the budget. Budget priorities are pre-set and therefore they are planned out fiscal years in advance. Please spare us the citizens of Killeen the melodrama of trying to convince us that Eneli is being negative. Honestly none of the candidates are aware of what is going on at any of the local schools, and are not engaging parents in the very community they hope to serve. If Rainwater is elected I can almost with certainty guarantee you that the racial make up of his supporters will be overwhelmingly white.

     
  • truebluebell posted at 11:01 pm on Tue, Apr 15, 2014.

    truebluebell Posts: 17

    I was disappointed to see the Eneli campaign stoop to negativity and condescension at the forum. She dismissed having another retired teacher or principal on the board while she herself claims to be an educator. It was clearly a dig at Rainwater. I prefer to see candidates debate based on their qualifications. In my opinion Mr. Rainwater is the best qualified. He has experience on the front lines as a teacher and as an administrator, which means he knows about school budgets. When making policy decisions he will have the benefit of having experience. As a taxpayer, he will be a wise steward of our money. He has concrete ideas, no just motivational doublespeak. I am happy that Mrs. Carter and Mr. Moore have ran positive campaigns that are well researched and ethical.

     
  • DaMan posted at 7:55 am on Tue, Apr 15, 2014.

    DaMan Posts: 17

    What our children and the parents of this city do not need is former failing principals, teachers, and administrators being handed another job. It seems as if the same people go from seat to seat and achieve nothing but a paycheck. Voter turnout in this city is ridiculously low so a winner in this election could really have less than 500 votes and become a member of the board?! I say there should be a minimum voter turnout set for elections and if that is not reached then the position should remain vacated. Putting the same people back into power is not an option especially when some of these people were responsible for current sad state of affairs that exists today.

     
  • DaMan posted at 7:41 am on Tue, Apr 15, 2014.

    DaMan Posts: 17

    I would not vote for Rainwater at all. KDH wrote an article concerning alleged accusations of abuse by teachers and administrators at Rainwater's former school Willow Springs Elementary and both Rainwater and the district refused to comment publicly on these very serious allegations. I have experienced firsthand the negativity and opposition that Rainwater brings to education as I had two children who attended Willow Springs Elementary. Under the leadership of Rainwater Willow Springs Elementary did not succeed or achieve at least by state STAAR testing measures. Under his leadership black students in particluar continued to achieve significantly lower test scores than their peers of other races.

    As for Brockley Moore he is wrong on the issue of race. There are several schools within KISD where majority of the student body is overwhelmingly African American. Of course it makes sense that parents want to see this diversity reflected on the board and in the classrooms, out children are looking for role models and mentors and it wouldn't hurt to have them to be able to see a black educator or board members that reflect their racial ethnicity.

    KISD at this moment at the elementary school level is failing to prepare kids for middle school and high school. If you look at the Texas Academic Performance Reports for local area elementary schools you will see that African American students are consistently scoring the lowest of all races in grades 3-5 on STAAR testing. At Haybranch Elementary School the principal insults parents by condoning a no homework policy because some parents spend time working their kids and some parents don't, a secondary justification for no homework is that parents are some how too uneducated to assist their children in performing homework.

    Haybranch Elementary is one of the worst performing schools in the entire district and it has been conveyed by property owners in the neighborhood that as a result of the school failing that they have been unable to sell their properties and rent to better tenants. It is a shame when the school is dragging down the neighborhood and creating an unstable environment for the very students that they are employed to teach. I see it like this , if you don't want to teach in the neighborhood leave and don't come back, the last thing our children need is teachers that look down their noses at them and treat them with contempt and disrespect.

    The KISD Director Robert Muller is aware about what is ongoing not only at Haybranch but at all local area elementary schools as it pertains to the education of African American students and remains negligent in performing his duties. Under Texas election law this is ground for removal from office , and if this continues I as a parent will look to rally members of this community to have him and the entire board removed for negligence in performing their duties.