To: Florida Child Welfare Board
From: Lee Drury De Cesare; citizen, 15316 Gulf Boulevard 802; Madeira Beach, FL33708;727-398-4142; email@example.com
From: lee de cesare [mailto:tdecesar@taMPAbay.rr.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 14, 2009 11:50 AM
Subject: Public Information
Ms. Cobbe: May I have the names of the eight (or whatever the number) Special Ed managers such as Mr. Ron Smiley? Thank you. ldd
Subject: Systemic Child Abuse in the Hillsborough County Special Education Department Please consider this a formal request for the Florida Child Welfare Agency to review the patterns and practices of abuse by administrators in the Hillsborough County Special Education Department and in the Personnel and Professional Standards offices.
Practices of administrative child abuse came to light during a false charge of child abuse against a teacher by special-ed administrators Smiley, Morris, and Sosa. Kemp suffered extended punishment.
Teacher Steve Kemp has an education blog that sometimes includes issues that relate to the Hillsborough County schools. The blog is serious and deals with education issues in a respectful manner. It sometimes discusses issues that relate to the Hillsborough County school system.
Reader comments may be flippant, but Editor Kemp's comments are uniformly serious. Nevertheless, the blog caused the Professional Standards office to target Mr. Kemp on any pretext because the administration and board hate blogs because blogs provide information that does not agree with the Community Affairs' sanitized information of board and administration activities and decisions to make them look good.
The problem with Mr. Kemp's blog or any blog comes down to the fact that the administration and board want only information sanitized by the Community Affairs staff to reach the public about their running of the schools.
In a broader sense, the reason for board and administration hostility to teacher blogs has to do with their unwillingness to tolerate Constitutional free-speech discussions about the school system's administrative and board actions. They want to hide from the public what really goes on in administrative and board activities and decisions so that the public will remain ignorant of anything amiss and will believe that the Community Affairs gloss of school matters constitutes valid report of what goes on in the schools.
Innocuous as it was, Teacher Kemp's education blog represented a threat to that public-relations system of sanitizing reporting on the board's and administration's activities and decisions, hence was viewed by the board and ROSSAC administration as a threat that put Mr. Kemp on the administration's troublemaker watch list.
Teachers on this watch list are charged with Professional Standards violations on the slightest pretext to scare them about losing their job so that they discontinue blogs.
Teacher Kemp's class did not make a year ago, so Section 5 Supervisor Smiley and Principal Morris threw him into a classroom of profoundly retarded children whom he lacked training to superintend. He did not know the state restraint laws, for example.
Both Mr. Smiley's and Ms. Morris's job descriptions say that they are supposed to brief teachers before sending them into a classroom. One infers that this administrative obligation especially applies to teachers such as Kemp, who don't know the rules in a new teaching environment. Smiley and Morris ignored their documented duty and injected Steve Kemp into a classroom of profoundly retarded students with no briefing by the two administrators as was their obligation according to their job descriptions. An administrator named Sosa was also involved.
The department's giving seminars in different aspects of special ed testifies to special-ed's teachers' not knowing all aspects of the field. Morris, Sosa, and Smiley should have known that fact and responded by briefing Steve on what he did not know about care rituals of the children whom these senior supervisors put him in charge of .
The state restraint law represented a mystery to Steve. Mr. Smiley and Principal Morris gave Steve no data on restraint policy before putting him into a class room for profoundly retarded students.
Two of the retarded youngsters were large boys of about 175 pounds each who wanted to escape from the classroom by slipping out a door.
Worth noting is that besides the door to the hall, a door to an adjoining classroom was left unlocked. Steve Kemp says this room contained medical substances which if ingested by the wandering boys could have been injurious or worse. Potent evidence of supervisory careless attitudes toward student safety is that the supervisors had put these profoundly retarded children in a storage room instead of a classroom. The storage room--really a junk room-- had large objects with loose articles piled on top. The objects were pushed up against the room's walls. The two retarded boys were especially curious to investigate these insecure piles of materials and could reach to the top of the large objects to dislodge and cause fall the objects scattered atop them The falling objects would endanger themselves and others.
The senior teacher left Steve alone with the class while she went on some errand. The two large boys were in a mood to slip out of the classroom. Steve found a cord (given the inflammatory designation of a "coaxial cable" in the Professional Standards report) and looped it through the back of one boy's bus restraint to keep him from escaping while Steve chased the other escaping boy.
This stationery boy had still worn what apparently was a bus restraint. If I correctly understand the online state restraint guidelines, an attendant should have be removed the bus restraint when the student arrived in the classroom. But the previous attendant had left the bus restraint on the student. One infers that this regular staff person did not remove the bus restraint for staff convenience so that an attendant would not have to go to the trouble of putting the restraint on the boy again at the end of the day.
This dereliction of state restraint rules by regular staff apparently went unadmonished and unreported to Professional Standards by the supervisory staff of Mr. Smiley and Ms. Morris.
After Steve had pulled the cord through the loops in the back of the bus restraint and secured the seated student to the desk, Mr. Smiley and Ms. Morris entered the room.
Ms. Morris told Steve to remove the cord from the back of the bus restraint apparatus, that she "didn't want to lose my job." Steve says she gave the information quietly, but Ms. Morris reported to the Professional Standards investigator according to the investigator's notes that she had raised the roof. Mr. Smiley said nothing. He later maintained that the cord that Steve had looped to the bus restraint in the back went all the way around the boy. A physical-therapy observer refused to confirm this statement of Mr. Smiley. After these scenes, six days later Mr. Smiley went down to the Sheriff's office and filed a felony child-abuse complaint against Steve Kemp. Ms. Morris backed him up and augmented her performance when she had discovered that Steve had looped the cord through the back of the bus restraint's loops.
Why these two administrators left a child abuser teacher in charge of these same children in the same classroom for the next six days after deeming him a child abuser remains a mystery of these special-ed administrative minds.
The sheriff dismissed the charge the same day Mr. Smiley filed it. If one were to ask me why I think Mr. Smiley and Ms. Ross filed a cooked-up charge against Steve Kemp from circumstances that the sheriff found unworthy of a charge as well as a charge with the Professional Standards office, I would say that I infer that they thought lying about a substitute teacher's behavior ranked in their ethics system an acceptable way to call attention to themselves in the administrative hierarchy to hasten their climb up the employment ladder perhaps even as far as an office in ROSSAC.
Despite the Sheriff's throwing Mr. Smiley's charge against Kemp out, the Professional Standards office kept the charge extant for more than a year during which he was put on suspension with all the attendant worries of losing his job.
After a year had elapsed with Steve still on suspension, board member Susan Valdes asked Mr. Valdez, personnel director, how much longer the suspension would be in effect. Mr. Valdez said it was hard to tell because the investigation was incomplete. Ms. Valdes made no follow-up question. Nor did any of the other board members ask a question about this mysterious prolongation of a charge the sheriff had thrown out the day Mr. Smiley filed it.
A rational person would say that the few people interviewed should not have consumed a year's time. So there must have been some other motive unfolding. It is hard not to conclude that Mr. Valdez was foot dragging at the behest of the superintendent to pressure Steve Kemp to abandon his blog and to serve as an example to frighten the district's teachers so that they would not question the board and administration's mess-ups.
I believe a state agency such as yours, Mr. Cox, can get a copy of the Professional Standards account of this charge gratis and make your own judgment about the Professional Standards case against Teacher Kemp based on Mr. Smiley's and Ms. Morris's assertions. I had to pay $73.00 for mine as a citizen.
The fact remains that the board and administration kept Mr. Kemp on suspension for over a year because of this false restraint charge of child abuse while the administrators themselves had committed a series of actions that endangered the welfare of the children. But the Professional Standards office punished no one but teachers. Administrators, no matter how egregious their behavior, are exempt from Professional Standards punishment.
Thank goodness, Steve refused to buckle to administration-and-board coercion and still maintains his blog. That is the only good thing that has come out of this bizarre case. It gave a lone teacher the opportunity to stand up for his individual rights and dignity.
I infer that publicity on the Kemp case by blogs and comments from the public at board meetings effected Steve's being taken off suspension and returned to the classroom after more than a year.
The administration and board are reluctant to have the public know how badly they treat teachers because the public loves teachers of their own school years and reveres the teachers of the present who teach their children. This affection finds expression in John Adams' remark that "teachers affect eternity; you never know where their influence stops."
The administration via Professional Standards added three non-paid days to Steve's punishment from no cause but administration pressure to make him shut down his blog. These were in addition to the more than a year suspension he had already served.
Steve is now back in the classroom this semester, a sadder but a wiser pedagogue, but the board attorney, Mr. Gonzalez, delivered a thinly veiled threat after Steve addressed the board to ask why his case got such different treatment from that of an administrator at King High School who called pubescent boys into his office, ordered them to take off their shoes, ordered them to present him their naked feet, and proceeded to fondle their feet and crack their toes.
Steve pointed out that the sheriff's report on both his and the administrative toe popper got the same assessment from the sheriff but that he had got over a year's suspension while the toe popper administrator had walked away free with the administrative attitude of "He's just a card and a jolly good fellow."
The administration and board did not even order to toe popper to a psychiatric evaluation for the students' safety who would come in contact with him.
Mr. Gonzales had wrongly asserted at a previous board meeting that only Steve's sheriff's report said that further action might be needed by the board. The SPT had reported the accurate information that both Steve and the Toe Popper had gotten the same comment from the sheriff.
Then Mr. Gonzalez disputed with the reporter's accuracy. Mr. Gonzalez makes over $275,000 a year from tax monies. For that kind of excess in salary, the least he could do would be to master the documents that apply to school business and have enough public-relations sense not to dispute a reporter's accuracy, equivalent to waving a red flat before a bull because reporters are sensitive to any disparagement of their accuracy.
Belatedly discovering that he was wrong on this issue when he tardily examined the Sheriff's texts pertaining to Kemp and the Toe Popper, Mr. Gonzalez hastened to dictate to Ms. Kipley, head of Professional Standards, a redaction of the Toe Cracker file to gloss over his wrong interpretation and disguise it.
This feat demonstrates the board's and administration's and attorney's concept of integrity. When Steve Kemp addressed the board, he did not say he was dissatisfied with the disposition of his case; but Attorney Gonzalez switched the subject from Steve's question about disparate treatment of him and the toe-cracker, who got nothing save a mild rebuke and an avalanche of jocular administrative comments about what a card he was. The lawyer delivered a horseback opinion with the sly and threatening suggestion that if Steve were dissatisfied with his settlement, he could reject it and go to a hearing.
This response evaded Steve's question and represented patent attempt to shut Steve up by covert threats because he had demonstrated not the abject acquiescence that the board and administration demand of teachers but the temerity to question the wisdom and fairness of a board-administrative decision.
For the board and administration and their attorney, this defiance was revolutionary stuff, harbinger of when les citoyens refuse to eat cake but mount the barricades to fight.
My judgment says the attorney was trying to coerce Steve with the usual oblique threat of job loss if he didn't shut up and not ever dare challenge the board again in an open meeting. Board meetings are on public TV and can let the cat out of the bag about how the board and administration mistreat teachers.
When I learned of the special-ed administrative child-abuse procedures via the Kemp case, I sent to Linda Kipley, Professional Standards chief, with copy to Mr. Valdez, head of personnel, and board members my own Professional Standards charges against the three special-ed administrators involved in the Kemp case.
La Kipley did not acknowledge their receipt. When I emailed the lady several months later to learn what had happened to my charges against the three administrators, I did not get an answer and had to repeat my question about the status of the investigation of my charges against Mr. Smiley, Ms. Sosa, and Ms. Morris. I finally got a response from Ms. Kipley that displayed a mish mash sentence cobbled from the words of my emails to her in which she violated all the rules of scholarship as well as of courtesy to one of the citizens who pay her salary.
To a job that should have a Master's degree in criminal justice, psychology, or sociology, Ms. Kipley brings a home-ec degree. She is the Poster Child of the administration's and board's hiring of buddies, relatives, and sycophants, cheating the taxpayers of qualified people for jobs that pay sky-high salaries while many teachers must work second jobs to make ends meet.
This ill-qualified woman considers such treatment of a citizen who helps pay her salary her right, and Ms. Elia does not rebuke this uncivilized behavior in an administrator. The conduct coincides with the fact that only teachers get Professional Standards charges; administrators don't no matter how badly they behave.
Copies of Professional Standards Charges Filed Against Three administrators:
To: Linda Kipley, Professional Standards From: Lee Drury De Cesare, citizen 2/11/09
Professional Standards charge against Principal Morris of Special Ed.
Please consider this a formal complaint against Principal Morris of the Special Ed division.
In the matter of the case of Steve Kemp, in which a filing by Mr. Smiley with the Sheriff's office alleged child-abuse by Mr. Steve Kemp, I protest its validity on the grounds that Ms. Morris along with Mr. Smiley and Ms Sosa bear responsibility in the situation for their not providing Mr. Kemp the instruction he needed before he entered the special-ed severely retarded classroom. The three's job descriptions detail those obligations that they they either didn't know or ignored.
Ms. Morris's Job Description:
• Proactivity: Demonstrates readiness to initiate action and take responsibility for leading and enabling others to improve the circumstances being faced or anticipated; • Organizational Sensitivity: Is aware of the effects of his/her behavior and decisions on all stakeholders both inside and outside the organization; • Oversees and is responsible for school’s instructional program and its results; • Oversees and is responsible for the safety and discipline of the school’s students; • Oversees and is responsible for the accuracy and timeliness of school’s records and reports.
Ms. Morris gave Steve Kemp no assistance that coincides with the obligations of her job. The only thing she said when she entered the room with Mr. Smiley and a physical therapist was that she “didn’t want to lose her job for child abuse.”
In fact, Principal Morris gave no instruction to Steve Kemp before she threw him into a classroom of severely retarded children with no debriefing. Steve had no education in or training to serve this student population. Ms. Morris gave Steve no advice or orientation to help him do the job right; she gave no information on state standards restraint rules. In these deficiencies, Ms. Morris shows derelict in her duties as a principal. Thus I file Professional Standards charges against her.
To: Linda Kipley, Professional Standards
From: Lee De Cesare, citizen Date: 2/11/09
Please consider this a formal complaint of breach of professional standards by Supervisor Smiley, Section 5, Special Ed Division.
Mr. Smiley I believe gave false witness to the placement of the cord on a student that forms basis for this charge against Steve Kemp. My comments act refutation of the charge of child abuse against teacher Steve Kemp filed with the Sheriff's Department by Mr. Smiley as well as with the schools' Professional Standards office.
Ms. Morris participated in and sanctioned the assignment of Steve Kemp to the substitute duty of teaching profoundly retarded children without ascertaining his training or giving him a debriefing on things he needed to know to function in a new teaching environment.
Mr. Kemp has no academic credentials in caring for profoundly retarded children. His special-ed education is in teaching children who have trouble reading to read better.
Mr. Smiley's Job Description: • Help teachers develop a strategy for the instruction and assessment of the subject area curriculum so that every student develops to his maximum potential; • Be responsible for assisting the administration in monitoring absences and arranging coverage of classes when no substitute is present; • To insure dissemination of information and subject area supervisors to all members of the department and to insure understanding of all directives issued; • To assist the Principal and Assistant Principal for Curriculum for evaluation of teachers within the department and, when necessary, work with teachers to improve instruction; • To become a trained classroom observer eligible to serve on Preparing New Educator Teams. • To work with teachers within the department to produce the highest standards of teaching (This includes visiting classrooms, making helpful suggestions for improving lesson plans, counseling with teachers within the department, and coordinating the work of the group to achieve departmental standards.
Although Mr. Smiley visited Mr. Kemp’s classroom, he spoke not a word to Mr. Kemp in accordance with the mandate in his job-description directives to educate a new teacher on special-ed protocols for that new job.
Instead after the lapse of a week in which he, Principal Morris, and Administrator Sossa left Steve Kemp in the same classroom with the retarded students he was to be formally accused of abusing, Mr. Smiley went to the Sheriff’s Department and filed felony child-abuse charges against Mr. Kemp for his hooking the harness one student had in place attached by Kemp because he entered the room uneducated in restraint protocols. Kemp had attached the cord through the back loops to the back of the bus restraint's loops with a cord to the chair to immobilize him while Kemp dealt with another child's trying to run away.
The sheriff’s office dismissed the felony charge that Mr. Smiley filed on the day he filed it, but the administration continued its baseless charge for over a year against Mr. Kemp when it is the supervisory people like Mr. Smiley who should have received citations for abuse of Professional Standards.
Principal. Morris's Job Description:
• Proactivity: Demonstrates readiness to initiate action and take responsibility for leading and enabling others to improve the circumstances being faced or anticipated; • Organizational Sensitivity: Is aware of the effects of his/her behavior and decisions on all stakeholders both inside and outside the organization; • Oversees and is responsible for school’s instructional program…and its results; • Oversees and is responsible for the safety and discipline of the school’s students; • Oversees and is responsible for the accuracy and timeliness of school’s records and reports.
Ms. Morris gave Steve Kemp no assistance that coincides with the above duties of her job. The only thing she said when she entered the room with Mr. Smiley and a physical therapist was that she “didn’t want to lose her job for child abuse.” She gave no help to Steve Kemp before she threw him into a classroom of severely retarded children. Steve had no education in or training to serve this new student population.
Ms.Morris gave Steve no advice or orientation to help him do the job right... In this lack Ms. Morris was derelict in her duties as principal; thus I file Professional Standards charges against her.
To: Linda Kipley, Professional Standards From: Lee De Cesare, citizen Date: 2/11/09
Please consider this a formal complaint of breech of professional standards by Supervisor Sosa in the Special Ed division. This charge acts refutation of the charge of child abuse against teacher Steve Kemp.
Ms. Sosa was one of three the Special-ed administrative employees who assigned Steve to the substitute duty of teaching profoundly retarded children without ascertaining his training. Mr. Kemp has no academic credentials in caring for profoundly retarded children. His education is in teaching children who have trouble reading to read.
• Ms. Sosa’s job description says that her duties include the following; • Provide support for ESE teachers at assigned school; • Assist teachers in monitoring the effectiveness of curriculum and materials used in the classroom; • Assist teachers in the pre-referral process of intervention strategies, observations, and conferences; • Provide in-service for general education teachers as needed; • Provide program-specific orientation and training for newly hired teachers; • Assist in developing intervention strategies in regard to behavior management and school discipline; Provide support for parents and function as a liaison to the school, parents, and community agencies.
Supervisor Sosa was derelict in these duties when she and Principal Morris with Area Director Smiley's sanction threw Steve as a substitute teacher in a room the population of which was profoundly retarded children. Neither she nor Ms. Morris nor Mr. Smiley gave Mr. Kemp any orientation or comments on his caring for this unfamiliar client base, not a word.
This behavior represents dereliction of Supervisor Sosas’s written duties. I therefore protest her behavior and ask that she be subject to a Professional Standards charge.
Liable in addition for Professional Standards rebukes are other senior people aware of the situation who did nothing to protect the children. These are Mr. Valdez, head of personnel ; Ms. Kipley, head of Professional Standards; Ms. Elia, superintendent; and all Board members, to whom I had sent emails regarding this situation.
Those cited in the above paragraph knew what was going on or should have known since their constant theme at board meetings is about child safety and their pristine dedication to it. They knew about what one infers to be the habitual derelictions of the Special-ed supervisors charged with responsibility of insuring that the children had safe environments and competent attendants; knew about the disgraceful junk room that the severely retarded students inhabited. These most senior people who constantly invoke "child safety" as their most cherished pursuit sat on their hands did nothing. Knew that Steve Kemp had committed no offense that deserved a year on suspension with an additional three days added to the final agreement in his case after the year elapsed; knew about the Professional Standards office's being used as a punishment and terror device to keep teachers silent and compliant for fear of losing their jobs.
I hope that the fact that this charge involves administrative personnel does not frighten or deter the Child-Abuse Department from treating this case like that of any other child-abuse complaint.
I hope there is no bureaucratic and administrative collusion that excuses the consequences of high-level employees and even board members and the attorney in this case from submitting to investigation and receiving the State Child Abuse professionals' judgment of the situation.
A lack of rigor and objectivity in response to this complaint will continue the injury of children in the Special-ed section of the Hillsborough County Schools, and defeat the mandate of the child protection agency to safeguard children's wellbeing.
I trust that the Child-Protection people will do their job in this case as in any other although my submission involves high-level members of the school system's hierarchy. Their practices of child abuse reflect an attitude of laizzez faire toward special-ed children's lax supervisors that is not acceptable in state employees charged with the safety and welfare of these vulnerable children.
Please let me know if I can provide further data or answer any questions.
Lee Drury De Cesare, citizen 15316 Gulf Boulevard 802 Madeira Beach, FL 33708 firstname.lastname@example.org
c: Governor Crist's Child Abuse Council;
Eric Eikenberg, Chief of Staff of Governor Crist; All Members, Hillsborough County School Board; All Members Hillsborough County Children's Board; Random Special-ed Employees