Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Auditor General: "Strong case to reopen Schenley"

From the change.or website, Schenley petition:

Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner included observations about Schenley in the cover page of his audit released on Monday.  The full report can be found at http://www.auditorgen.state.pa.us/Reports/School/schSDoftheCityofPittsburgh010213.pdf , including the following: 

"...recently there has been debate regarding whether the decision to close the school was a wise one, and whether the asbestos contamination is as significant as once projected to be.... The divided Board is a clear indication that some members believe that Schenley is still a valuable asset to the school district.  Community members have made a strong case for the school to be re-opened, and for the original decision to be reconsidered."


Questioner said...

PG article on this topic:


Anonymous said...


If a child is taught by a non-certified teacher for a certain period of time a notice to parents of the students being taught by that teacher goes out. Does the same procedure exist for principals? Do principals have to pass a state test in order to be certified?

Anonymous said...

Typically, teachers and principals are recommended by University Schools of Education after successfully completing a required series of courses. The University submits the completed requirements for the individual applying for certification to that State's Department of Education which issues the certification(s). The issuing State Dept. of Education keeps a record of every certification. When a new certification is approved it is added to those previously approved on one document where each "certified" area is officially listed.

Many educators frame their Certification(s) and post it prominently in offices or classrooms.

Anonymous said...

All educators working in PA schools are required to have PA certification in their area of responsibility whether it be Superintendent, Deputy, Supervisor (with area of specialty identified) Principal (Elementary and/or Secondary), Teacher (Elementary) or (Secondary with English, Math, Science, etc. specialty identified), Reading Specialist, Counselor, etc.

Certified educators should not be in positions outside of their area(s) of Certification.

Anonymous said...

What about what the audit says about Berdnik and his $140,000? Weiss seems to have an answer for everything.

Mark Rauterkus said...

There is a property, a price, an elevator and the shaft. Guess what the taxpayers and citizens get?

Questioner said...

By the end of the first year of law school students have an answer for everything. It's a game and a challenge, take the least attractive defendant or set of facts and come up with some kind of plausible argument in support.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is in fact the Solicitor's job to have an answer for everything and this solicitor is quite literally "Super" at his job. The answers do not have to be objective since the job is to protect the employer.

The problem is that those listening to the answers do not know enough to seriously question the response.

Just as PPS Board members do not know enough to question PPS administrators and so they just rattle on with responses that do not answer the questions but leave the Board members satisfied or too confused to pursue the issue.

The same thing happens with Central Office who are also ill-equipped to give real answers or even honest answers to questions.

The saddest thing here is the failure to educate. Rather the focus is always "all about the money."

Anonymous said...

The two people at PPS who function at the top of the game are the solicitor and the chief of staff/PR person.

The earn their money keeping the district out of deep trouble and spinning the failures to look like success.

The educators, human resource people and finance folks have failed miserably to educate and to balance the budget---in ways that advantage students and teachers who are the bottom line for schools to succeed at their purpose.

Anonymous said...

From the article:

"Over a five-year period starting 2006-07, 10 principals and 117 teachers lacked proper certification . . "

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/impending-sale-of-schenley-high-in-pittsburgh-worries-state-auditor-general-669577/#ixzz2HUn6nRvX

"10 principals and 117 teachers" without proper certification ????

How can this happen? Does anyone at Central Office play by the rules?

The kids are the ones paying the price.

Were any of these principals and teachers at CAPA, or Sci-Tech, Allderdice, or Obama?

How many of those lacking certification were in Homewood or Hill Schools?

Anonymous said...

Another insightful article.

Pa state auditor criticizes Pittsburgh Public Schools decisions ...
Teachers and principals working without credentials and expenses from the resignation of two administrators cost Pittsburgh Public Schools more than ...

CORO is the way in acquiring An ADM job. famed

CORO leadership graduates are running the interiors of PPS Board. As for Principals-Are the PELAS truly certified ? Are the current Career Ladder people with their pay truly being taught certifiable curriculum and instruction methods and courses to pass for certification.

PELA for principals. Ando now for the other Instructional leaders more in-house training. We are encountering this genre from MR-we go to other venues for certification. This is with accordance of the Union endorsement. They place the money in contractual job titles in their bonded signed Union contract. Example Career Ladder teachers.

What is happening people are getting away with not having certification-they only hedge the certification as an issue when they do want to hire or retain an employee. Someday check out and read the job description and the reposting of jobs at the HR site. All new hires come from LinkedIn Network.

Carnegie Mellon, CORO!

THe PPS teacher training achools are bombarded with confusion and subs for Career Ladder Teachers..
And will they be truly certifiable under law-I doubt it to be a Curriculum and Instruction Specialist.

Many parents this year are very disheartened by the changes in many of the schools that are magnets. Add this gem of an article and the questions are flying.

Anonymous said...

11:30 - There is only one way to be legitimately "certified." To get that certification, you need first the required University courses of study, successfully completed, then approval from the state with the required "Certificate."

Not PELA, nor PULSE, nor CORO, nor BROAD, nor GATES can substitute for the requirements, nor can they grant a PA "certification."

Somebody needs to check the current status. The State Auditor General reported on previous years. If PPS got away with it then, can we expect that those numbers have multiplied? Hopefully not!

Yet with achievement declining it could be one of the accumulating reasons.

Jodi Spolar knows the requirements, but her office is full of BROAD managers and interns who are making the decisions.

Anonymous said...

From the Trib article:

“Some of these cases involve varying interpretations of certification guidelines,” said Ira Weiss, the district‘s solicitor. He said his office would work with human resource representatives to resolve any disputes about credentials needed for a job."

Certainly any of us can have "interpretations" of just about anything. However, Pennsylvania "Certification" requirements are legally defined and NOT OPEN to INTERPRETATION.

No surprise this District has sunk to 494th out of 500.

Where is the state in all of this controversy?

Yes, PDE has 500 districts to monitor, but Pittsburgh is a big one and should be closely monitored since it affects the lives of so many children.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/3259087-74/district-wagner-audit#ixzz2HVFNIpEi
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr.Wagner,

While you are looking at strange decisions and odd expense quotes, why not take a look at the Pittsburgh Public Schools in general? The stench may knock you over, and it indicates that something is beyond rotten.
Make sure you look at administrative salaries. Make sure you look at the decisions of each board member. Make sure you bear in mind that this is a "school district" which is funded by the public.

And remember that you are from this city. There is a duty to do what is morally and ethically right for our children, something that has been forgotten. The Schenley High School saga is but the tip of the ice berg. Ask your colleague Mr.Zappala.

A great many people should be made to answer for malfeasance.

Questioner said...

Mr. Wagner's term ends on January 15. His office had 500 districts to audit while at the same time funding for that work was being cut back. If we as taxpayers want extensive audits we have to be willing to ask for them and pay for them. It is possible that the audits could pay for themselves in money saved.

Anonymous said...

Someone needs to remind Ira that his office was charged with working with Human Resources after the last State audit.

Anonymous said...

This post from ANON in the previous blog as an entry-exhibits the totality of every element of Jack Wagner's audit. In addition, every listed comment under this heading.

This ANON comment just keeps illustrationg the downward spiral of what happens to be the direction of choice for hiring practices.

What is the rationale of taking taxpaper dollars from our paychecks and our propety taxes to hire absurb people for youth movement, or justify that the ADM is limited with the choice of talent. Let us gather older experencied people with credentials and give them a chance and look at credentialed people.

Age, degree should be a factor-not some college person that graduate and attendes some training school that received a paper certficate for leadership or has expereince in playing games mix9ng business leadership with educational leadership?

Anonymous said...
Is this job posting an example of why there are so many questions about the competence of PPS administrators?

From PPS website for Employment Opportunities:

Job Title - Coordinator of Instructional Leadership

Job Type - Non-Certified

"Prior experience as an educator and exposure to leadership development organizations (e.g., CORO, Leadership Pittsburgh, Broad) is preferred"

"The Coordinator of Instructional Leadership (Coordinator) is responsible for managing and monitoring implementation of the Instructional Leadership Specialists (ILS) work stream. This work stream, which began during the 2012-2013 school year, will support a new cadre of principal coaches, Instructional Leadership Specialists, as they strive to develop the instructional leadership of the District's principals." Starting salary at $84,000+

Notice that this requires only a Bachelor’s Degree. NO CERTIFICATION required ? ? !

Also,(Eli) BROAD training is listed as "preferred."

To develop instructional leadership of the PPS Principals ? ! ?

January 6, 2013 4:0

Anonymous said...

PPS is not newsworthy.

If a journalist or politician wanted to scrape the surface regarding the level of serious corruption (millions of dollars) regarding PPS, they would have a hell of a story.

Sad thing is, it isn't sexy enough to cover. The local media doesn't help. The most press CAPA got this year was when a CAPA teacher was horribly assaulted outside of school by non-CAPA students. The Lelock story got buried for god's sake!

Theresa Col-lazy is my school "bored" rep. I have attempted to contact her. So far..nothing. PPS does what they want with no accountability. I am only one vote.

Questioner said...

Plse leave out the name calling.

Anonymous said...

ANON January 10, 2013 1:06 AM

Lellock posted bond the end of last year-out of jail awaiting his January 25th hearing(somewhere around that date)

Will there be countless court delays-news coverage and a witness list?

Another carpet cleaning deal?

Anonymous said...

Or maybe he got out on a reduced bond because he decided to implicate someone higher up????? Hmmm I wonder who?

Anonymous said...

I wasn't trying to be a name caller. I do believe Ms. Colaizzi is very lazy. She votes with obvious Broad foundation influence. It benefits HER, all but 2 board members follow her lead. She does not visit schools, she does not return emails nor does she seem to care. Her son got a job with PPS in the middle of 400+ furlows...mission accomplished.

I call it as I see it.

Anonymous said...

When she was running, she appeared at Open House-- announcing she would be around in an almost threatening way-- fast forwardPELAs appear, all hell breaks loose, and she doesnt dare walk the mean halls of an elementary school.

Anonymous said...

I recall hearing Ms. Colaizzi and Ms. Hazuda reaping praise on Brashear during a board meeting or two in 2012. Mrs. H reps the area feeding Brashear. Ms C. must at least have visited some schools in 2012, she may have also mentioned King. She doesn't have many buildings in her area of representation.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Board Members know very little about their schools.

The people in schools put themselves in great jeopardy if ANYTHING with the slightest negativity is revealed to the public.

Board members should be looking into suspensions, and alternatives to suspensions, tardiness, blocked admission to classes, alternatives for late students, daily lesson objectives, classroom diagnostic results, remediation strategies for those not achieving the needed skills, alignment of content in EVERY class to the required skills, homework policies, if-how-when homework is checked, how-when-if parents are updated on child's progress or lack thereof, etc.

Board members should know these things and hold meetings with parents around all of these issues.

Board members are in place to inform and interact with children and parents in their region's schools. This is who they were elected to serve. They were NOT elected to serve central office or Broad/Gates. Really!

Anonymous said...

10:09 Until the people begin to elect those with an education background like Dr. Holley, the suggestions you outline above will not be addressed by Board Members. They're knowledge in education is limited so they rely on information from Central Office Admins.

However, in terms of getting out into the schools and returning calls, there was only one Board Member who the public could count on and that was Darlene Harris. I remember how she got out to visit schools on a regular basis and met with parents and community reps during her time of service. She made it her business to know what was happening in each of the schools she represented. If there was a concern or a special event at a school all you needed to do was call her and she was there. Even as City Council President she still keeps up this practice. Darlene is a community leader who remembers who elected her and why. She RESPONDS!

Anonymous said...

11:25 - You are right about the background experience needed for Board members; but, there is no substitute for visiting very frequently the school and the classrooms (sitting in on lessons) and holding meetings with parents!

At least you have some sense of what is going on and what questions to ask---asking questions that you would ask if your child was a student there.

There really is no substitute for on-site observations and meeting with your constituents. (The only thing you get from central office is a creative version of what they want you to believe.) Why would they tell you anything else?

Anonymous said...

The other thing about Darlene Harris was that she actually read every word of all that paperwork they gave her.

You didn't have to agree with much of what she said; but you did have to respect the time and serious consideration that she gave to her work and responsibilities.

She really tried to represent her district instead of central office.

Anonymous said...

If we are going back, Alex Matthews came out to his schools. And many teachers would contact board members if a school was over the edge. This board has bought into "blame the teacher" As far as training-- this is the LAST thing to wish for-- Sumpter was "Broad-trained to be a school board member." Remember the idea of electe4d boards came in as an alternative to politically appointed board. They are meant to be representatives of the general public and therefore watch dogging the $$.Not rubber stamps!
To begin the turn around-- public needs to demand that this board right now deals with the hotline again and the questions that arise. Then, have regional meetings -genuine town hall type- not pretend A+( funded by Broad)
Citizens with proper I.D. do have the right to request a visitors pass and visit their schools-especially parents-- get in,observe, and talk to your neighbors

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said January 11, 2013 12:44 AM

Mrs. Col"s son got a job with PPS in the middle of 400+ furlows...mission accomplished.

How and where did her son get a job this school year 2012-2013?

I cannot believe Colaizzi's son got ajob in PPS this year>

Please tell me I am correct-there were ans still are furloughed people.

Where is it in the Board minutes.

Colaizzi did vist Brashear High last year in the 2011-12 school year.

Anonymous said...

Colaizzi visited Brashear? Isn't Allderdice her district? Was her son Franco working at Brashaer?


Anonymous said...

I heard Colazzi's son, Franco is working at Greenway but not in the capacity as a teacher. It doesn't matter what he's doing when many employees have lost their position. I'm sure a furloughed teacher could do the work he's been assigned. Are our PFT leaders aware of this? If not, they are now as I'm sure they frequently monitor this site just like Central Office and Board Members. So let's see if Esposito and Company investigate this issue and provide a response.

Anonymous said...

This has become the obvious nepotism thread.

Franco Colaizzi first made headlines in 2007, he made serious cash as a senior at Allderdice as a tutor. It des not matter, PPS is the corrupt gift that keeps on giving.


Questioner said...

On the other hand people should not be prevented from working for Pps because they have a relative on board. There need to be clear procedures. Maybe HR does have procedures in place but they are not well known.

Anonymous said...

Earning just shy of 7k during your senior year is a nice chunk of change.

Anonymous said...

What rules? They make them up as needed.

Anonymous said...

Re: Agreement b/t PPS and Pittsburgh Police

If no progress toward a signed agreement has been made shouldn't everyone drop everything and do nothing until one is reached?

This seems of paramount importance to me.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said January 11, 2013 10:26 PM
Greenway not in capacity of a teacher.

Ms. Colaizzi’s son has what capacity at Greenway-The Online Academy or in the Professional Development Staff, Classical Academy, or Gifted?

Please be more specific-this is an example of no postings and placement in a position.

Additionally, getting paid by taxpaying dollars from all of us WITH NO BOARD MINUTE HISTORICAL INFO ON HIM THIS YEAR.

always has had and will be having a job at the Board for 12 months. During the school year, in the summer-but please be more specific.

Many are struggling to work-paying taxes to bout.

I would appreciate a true answer for the sake of knowing

Anonymous said...

Franco Colaizzi was a great worker-at our campsite. He was always there pitching in and giving a 110%.
He loved the kids-the kids loved him. He did not have my kids, but being in the same Pod by the end of camp the kids got to know him-we all got along and they loved him as well.

He is no slacker, but a real genuine worker, and a pleasure to have around pitching in as an equal. I observed him working daily like myself-he was one of us -his parents should be very proud of him.

I never felt once, that he wanted to treat me less or have me treat him better. He is an enterprising person and has the energy that enlivens all our energy levels even higher. Especially my kids and mine this past summer-when it was very hot!

We all worked and earned our money and he did as well- So if people complain about him being paid or working-I‘ll be glad to write a reference of how great he worked from my observations.

I hope to have the pleasure working with him again in any capacity with PPS.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone was questioning his work ethic or character. Nepotism is simply wrong.

Reccomend him on his Linkedin page.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said... January 14, 2013 at 10:11 PM

I am uncertain about nepotism-but you might be right with the Board of Ed.

We need not go in the lengthly genrational and spousal history of all the Board employees.

But, I will state Franco at this juncture is worthy of an hiree in varied capacitites. I wish some of us can have that great start and work with him.

As for Linkedin, CORO leadership-is is such a statement that is wiping out educational administrator candidates that are classroom honed to work in other capacities outside of teaching.

Plus, give Obama swim team a great big hand in the WPIAL-let us give a high 5 to Mr. Rauthkus-I hope he is still the swim coach.