FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 22, 2020
———- Forwarded message ———
Sent from my iPhone
Begin forwarded message:
…From: Daniel Hanneken <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: June 22, 2020 at 4:27:34 PM EDT To: email@example.com , firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com , firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com , George Austin <gnewsm…
Dear Somerset, Public Schools School Committee. I am reporting to you that the Somerset Public Schools’ Superintendent failed to address racism that he witnessed taking place in Somerset. Superintendent Schoonover had an ethical, legal, and professional duty to act and he did not!
Referencing the below reports:
Parents complain about behavior of students – Special …
www.southcoasttoday.com › special › parents-complain… Oct 30, 2019 – … school resource officer and South Elementary School Principal Daniel Hanneken last Tuesday to discuss the situation. Crook said he thought … https://www.southcoasttoday.com/special/20191030/parents-complain-about-behavior-of-students
K-8 School Committee – October 22, 2019 https://somerset.vod.castus.tv/vod/?video=5fbbdd2e-e58e-4406-9a01-ea35281d5768
1.In these reports above, the incidents described (Oct 2019) taking place during the 2019/2020 School Year started in the 2018 – 2019 school year. This is what Superintendent Schoonover said about what he observed taking place last year:
A. I was surprised during the 2018-2019 school year by comments made by educators about students in the school who exhibit behavioral challenges, whether they are due to a disability or not. These comments indicated to me that there is a sub-culture in which ownership of all students’ success is not shared nor is there a consistent tolerance and acceptance of inclusivity.”
B. “Based on several troubling conversations that took place during the 2018-2019 school year with staff members and families, I support training at South that focuses on diversity, whether the diversity is based on race or disability, to create more culturally proficient school culture that celebrates differences in all of us.
Somerset Public Schools’ Superintendent made these comments outlining that he personally saw /heard that the students in question were discriminated against, but he did nothing. He violated their Civil Rights by not acting. The Superintendent was personally involved in conversations (more than once with) educators and staff members (who he is ultimately in charge of) but he doesn’t immediately (on the spot) address racism and discrimination. Superintendent Schoonover concluded from his own observations that an intervention (training) was needed “diversity based on race “and non-“tolerance and acceptance, and inclusion for all. Instead he turns his back and walks away. The Superintendent had an ethical, legal, and professional duty to immediately say and do something but chose to do nothing.
He never opened an investigation himself, never contacted the District’s Civil Rights Compliance Officer, never met with educators and staff members to discuss the comments and conversations that he was a part of, and never met with the principal of the school, me. The Superintendent never directed any school changes nor did he change the district’s approach to the mandated Civil Rights training required by DESE every year. He never provided any target and/or additional training for any employee under his command at South School. Superintendent Schoonover never met with (the current Principal of South Elementary School) me during nor after these observed 2018 – 2019 school year events. To date, I have no idea how many educators, staff members, and families are involved. Nor do I know the nature of these comments and conversations that he is refereeing to. Somerset Public Schools (local), state and policies require him to act. Again, he just turned his back and walked away when he saw racist acts and Civil Rights Violations.
Note: It is important to mention that the above two comments by Superintendent Schooner arrived in an attachment to an email that Tech Point generated to me. This was generated when my Year 3, End-of-Cycle Evaluation (my only evaluation, zero observations) conducted during my 3-year tenure as the Principal of South Elementary School. To date, I am not aware of any actions that Superintendent Schoonover has taken to deal with institutional racism and discrimination. Based on the reports (newspaper and School Committee meeting) and my statements below; Superintendent Schoonover had multiple opportunities to intervene but didn’t take any action therefore, he violated the Civil Rights of the students in question.
2. As stated during the October 22, 2019 School Committee meeting and the newspaper article summarizing that meeting you heard that the issues discussed started in the 2018 – 2019 school year and continued on the first day of the 2019 – 2020 school year and were still occurring during and up to the October 22 meeting. You also heard that the Superintendent of Schools admit that he didn’t get involved because it wasn’t an expulsion issue.
a. Again, why didn’t the Superintendent of Schools get involved during this school year? Based on his statements in item number 1 (#1) he should have immediately involved himself when he knew that events concerning the students in question were occurring again this school year (2019/20 SY)?
b. As the ultimate person in-charge with again firsthand knowledge (comments and conversations) of Civil Rights violations, institutional racism, and discrimination, why would he again not get involved? As the leader of the school system, he has the ultimate ethical. Legal, and professional duty to act, he once again turned his back and walked away.
3. Below is a request from teachers and the principal (myself) asking the Superintendent of Schools to get involved and for the third time he turned his back and did nothing.
a. Day 1 Complaint – On Thu, Aug 29, 2019 at 8:44 AM – From teachers
We would like to have a meeting to design a plan to best support all the learners in our classrooms so that all students feel safe and eager to come to school.
b. Day 1 Complaint – On Thu, Aug 29, 2019 at 8:51 AM Jeffrey Schoonover < firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
It is unfortunate that this happened on the first day but I trust that Dr. Hanneken will work with his staff to develop a plan to support all students. Developing the specific plans for students is within the principal’s responsibilities, not the superintendent’s. Jeff
c. From: Daniel Hanneken <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, Aug 29, 2019 at 9:26 AM
Subject: Re: Day 1 parent complaint
To: Jeffrey Schoonover < firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: Daniel Hanneken < email@example.com>
WILCO with this directive but this issue will land on your desk very quickly so could we please have a coordinated approach?
Memo for Record: Superintendent Schoonover never responded to this email. Superintendent Schoonover never met with teachers and staff ever. He did meet me on Monday, October 7, 2019, for the first time to have a meeting about the issue at hand.
d. It is important to note that Superintendent Schoonover did not share his concerns about the comments and conversations that he was a part of at anytime during these email conversations and/or our meeting on October 7.
e. So let me get this right, the Superintendent had things to share about the 2018-2019 school year, and states that “[he] I trust that Dr. Hanneken will work with his staff to develop a plan to support all students. Developing the specific plans for students is within the principal’s responsibilities, not the superintendent’s. BUT he trusts that I will make a plan however, don’t you think that I might be missing some critical information; that the Superintendent somehow fails to share with the building principal, for that plan?
f.. For the third time starting on Day 1 of the 2019-2020 school year), despite South using our Chain of Command and asking for help, the Superintendent of Schools turned his back on and walked away from this matter.
e. Again, the Superintendent of Schools having knowledge of racism, discrimination, and the existence of an exclusionary subculture at South failed to uphold his ethical, legal, and professional obligations to make sure that all students are protected. He once again violated the Civil Rights of the students in question.
4. In addition to above documents, I have several other pieces of paperwork that clearly outline that the Superintendent of Schools had several opportunities to intervene in this matter but he did not. On one occasion, members from the North Complex lied to us about a plan to intervene in this matter. students and our school.
Daniel Hanneken <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thu, Oct 10, 2019, 12:41 AM
to Jeffrey, me
Good morning Superintendent,
I have a huge problem with someone lying to a principal and using the Superintendent’s name to do it.
On Oct 10, 2019, at 10:21 PM, Jeffrey Schoonover <email@example.com> wrote:
No, I have not had a conversation about this.
I would like to give a quick context. I, the principal, made a plan and presented that plan to the Chain of Command. A plan that I developed to address “the specific plans concerning this matter” and I was lied to by CO.
Parents complain about behavior of students – Special …www.southcoasttoday.com › special › parents-complain…Oct 30, 2019 – … school resource officer and South Elementary School Principal Daniel Hanneken last Tuesday to discuss the situation. Crook said he thought … https://www.southcoasttoday.com/special/20191030/parents-complain-about-behavior-of-students
K-8 School Committee – October 22, 2019 https://somerset.vod.castus.tv/vod/?video=5fbbdd2e-e58e-4406-9a01-ea35281d5768
Again, it is important to note that during the events reported to the School Committee on October 22, the statements made by Superintendent Schoonover about racial discrimination were never shared with the principal, no discrimination case was opened, no educators and staff members were approached. No specific and/or target training was ever conducted by the Superintendent. Again, these statements arrived as an attachment in an email after Superintendent Schoonover completed my Year 3, End-of-Cycle Evaluation. Superintendent Schoonover never met with me to discuss the comments and conversations that he witnessed at South.
I am the only administrator reporting this matter in accordance with our ethical, legal, professional code to address racism, discrimination, exclusionary practices.
Because the Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Jeffery Schoonover failed to uphold his ethical, legal, and professional duties; it is my ethical, legal, and professional duty to act starting by notifying you (the Somerset Public School’s School Committee) of the Civil Rights Violation that occurred and to inform you that the Office of Civil Rights has been contacted in accordance with Somerset Public Schools Rights and Privileges Policy.
U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) 5 Post Office Square, 8th Floor Boston, MA 021109 (617) 289-0111
I would like to add two additional concerns that again demonstrate the Chain of Command is broken.
1.As you heard in the video – unsafe conditions are occurring across the district. In addition, you saw the request from educators at South asking the Superintendent to help “design a plan to best support all the learners in our classrooms so that all students feel safe and eager to come to school.” The Superintendent responded by saying it wasn’t his job!
Ever since I arrived in Somerset, three years ago, I have asked the Superintendent about the process concerning situations outlined during the October 2019 School Committee meeting. What the district calls, “dysregulated” students.
The Teacher’s Union representing all four Somerset Public Schools currently has a Level 2 Grievance filed on January 5, 2020, stating that the Superintendent has failed to provide safe working conditions.
I support that grievance.
2. Lastly, when I arrived at South in August 2017, the PTO identified to me their efforts since 2015 to get the unsafe parts of playground fixed. In October 2017, I personally showed the Superintendent the unsafe parts of playground surrounding the hardtop used during recess, PE, and for other activities.
During the 2018 calendar year, our safety committee during two different District Safety meetings raised this safety issue (once by school members and the other by the SRO). In October 2018, I once again, walked the Superintendent around d the playground showing him our safety concerns. He just turned his back and walked away.
In June 2019, two South students seriously hurt themselves on the unsafe playground. One broken their ankle and the other has a hairline fracture.
Following this event, the PTO went to the School Committee (which they had a right to do) to complain especially since the Chain of Command is broken. Children were hurt because the Superintendent failed to act to keep students safe.
These items presented clearly outline the Superintendents’ failure to act ethically, legally, and professionally in the performance of his duties.
I attest that the information provided above is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge.
Dr. Daniel J. Hanneken, Sr.
Principal, South Elementary School
Somerset Public Schools.
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