Editor’s Note: First of all, In North Carolina governmental agency boards, which includes the Cleveland County Board of Education-the School Board-are supposed to keep meeting minutes that fairly and accurately describe everything important that transpired in their board meetings. These meeting minutes, when approved, become legal and historical documents regarding discussions and decisions made in those meetings. This means that if things important to the discussions and decisions are purposely left out, the meeting minutes are false. Probably sufficiently illegal to merit criminal prosecutions anywhere else besides Cleveland County, NC, USA. In regard to the CCS School Board, CCS Superintendent Dr. Stephen Fisher is the School Board Secretary in charge of keeping the Board Meeting Minutes.
The November 26, 2018 School Board meeting opened with another moment of silence. Here it is Christmas time and the Christian Churches in Cleveland County have again surrendered to the forces of evil and not signed up to give an Invocation. A sad reminder of how the Christians in Cleveland County have forsaken the future of their children. Those supporters of returning Christian Prayer in Schools sure did surrender in a hurry. I suspect Jesus is not happy about his so-called followers forgetting that Jesus was all in when it came to children. Just my opinion on that.
No citizens signed up to speak during the “Public Participation” either. Another bad sign that the parents of 15,000 students as well as others interested in our failing school system have also surrendered. Hopefully they will wake up during the next school board election. In 2020 if all goes well.
Despite everybody else surrendering our children’s future; School Board Member Danny Blanton has not given up his common-sense and probing questioning of the shenanigans going on at CCS. Here are three examples of Danny Blanton sending the other School Board members and Superintendent scurrying for cover:
1. School Improvement Plans: By state law schools are required to produce school improvement plans. The NC General Assembly is tired of wasting $Billions on third rate school performance when they are paying for tor rated schools. For example, CCS graduates 48% of its students who can’t read and do math at “proficient” levels.
When the School Improvement Plan approval came up on the agenda Danny Blanton made a motion to “hold off” on such approvals. According to Blanton the plans only included just a few parents, often just one parent, to the School Improvement Plan Team.
This set off various comments from others that was astounding as well as ridiculous. The law only requires one parent was one comment. Jo Boggs had the most stupid comment when she stated she didn’t think the School Board should get involved with the School Improvement Plans that she would eventually vote to approve. All the while knowing that CCS has failing schools, educational gaps that never get closed, facilities gaps that never get closed, high teacher turnover and other such institutional problems and issues. Coleman “Tom Cat” Hunt stated that when he was principle it was hard to get parents to get on board on the School Improvement Plans. Hunt felt lucky if he only enlisted one parent.
Little did Tom Cat know that he was closer to the real issue than he thought. Parental involvement is well known to be a major positive factor in a child’s education development and well-being. A Lack of parental involvement is very often an indication of a dysfunctional and unstable family and social structure. Most often associated with broken homes, single mothers, generational poverty, a lack of education, a lack of good role models and the lack of dependable family and friends. Parental drug use is often involved. The black community is over-represented in this category
A review of the same School Improvement Plans that Danny Blanton looked at also clearly showed the whole thing is phony to begin with. They were all essentially the same. The Plans consists of three parts: Goals, Leadership and Behavior; with no starting measures and expected finishing measures that showed a desired improvement. I could find no previous School Improvement Plans on the CCS website that ever showed any plans that were ever implemented and signed off that showed an improvement or no improvement. Nothing. Apparently, CCS fills out these forms they call a School Improvement Plan, the School Board approves them and they go into a file somewhere never to be looked at again. A bit of work done only because the General Assembly made it a law to do them, but the schools never actually implement anything measurable that can be registered as an improvement. Therefore, there is no improvement. As always.
This is obviously a fraud on the General Assembly and us taxpayers to say the schools are working to make improvements, when, in fact, they don’t give a whit. No wonder Jo Boggs didn’t care. No wonder Tom Cat didn’t care. No wonder nobody seconded Danny Blanton’s motion. No wonder the vote to approve was NO for Danny Blanton and Yes for everybody else.
And one more thing on this issue. Valid improvement plans of any kind ALWAYS call for finding problems and fixing them. That is the only way anything ever gets improved. Why the CCS Staff and School Board just doesn’t ever get that is beyond me. And apparently Danny Blanton too.
2. Danny Blanton reported to the school board that about half the food served to students for breakfast and lunch at school cafeterias is thrown away. That schools are no longer cooking nutritious meals themselves but are purchasing previously prepared packaged convenience food that is just warmed up. And the students just don’t like it and won’t eat it. This brought a silly response from Board member Phillip “Bully” Glover that the CCS Child Nutrition Department works hard to feed breakfast and lunch to children who often don’t get fed at home. Glover’s response is the typical MO for covering up a problem. People are working hard. People are working hard. People are working hard. Well, Mr. Glover, people can be working hard doing what they are told to do, but the work they are doing still could be done wrong. The right thing to do here is for the chairman to ask Dr. Fisher to prepare a presentation of the food services used at CCS schools, have observers at school cafeterias observing the amount of food that is thrown away and bring the findings back to the board at the next regularly scheduled board meeting. That is what real leadership does. Not just ignore a validly presented issue and go on as before. Another thing an effective School Improvement Plan could do was to evaluate the food service and make any recommendations for improvement. And implement as necessary. That is what real improvement plans do. That is what real leadership expects from their staff. Identify problems and fix them. Never ignore problems and hope nobody is looking.
But Nooo. The school board ignored this issue.
3. Danny Blanton questions whether or not the items the Child Nutrition Department wants to be declared surplus is actually broken, obsolete or is beyond its useful life during the presentation put on by the CCS Financial Officer. Mr. Blanton explained that there are many items that are sold as surplus that still are suitable for further use at CCS.
Editor’s Note: A common fraud in large and complex organizations is for a corrupt employee to submit useful and valuable items for sale as salvage and then purchase the items themselves for junk prices for their own use or resale for a profit. Lax management oversight encourages such criminal activity.
Danny Blanton cited several instances where equipment sold as surplus looked and Operated as new. Danny Blanton also stated that the Child Nutrition Department was selling pots and pans as well as other cooking related items that were not broken or obsolete. That he didn’t want these items sold until the food issue was resolved.
The first thing that came to my mind was the Finance Officer repeated noted that he was TOLD the items listed for surplus were broken or obsolete. Good leadership would have tabled this item until the next school board meeting and then brought in someone who could tell, as a matter of fact, the condition of the items put up for surplus.
But, Nooo again. A motion was made and approved by the Board to sell the items as surplus, ignoring Danny Blanton’s reasonable comments. Another clear example of a lack of leadership at CCS. Not only by the CCS School Board but also including the CCS Staff. A good leader would have tabled the motion until Danny Blanton’s concerns were looked into and evaluated. It is clear that good and competent leadership and fiscal responsibility is missing in action on the CCS school board majority. This can only be resolved at the next school board election in 2020.
4. During the discussion at the November 26, 2018 School Board Meeting about food served in school cafeterias being thrown away, other CCS Board members and staff stating CCS was following Government guidelines. Danny Blanton stated that he would call President Donald Trump and get something done about this. Well, Mr. Blanton and the rest of the school board and the CCS Child Nutrition Department, Mr. Blanton will not have to make that call. President Trump’s Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has already overridden Obama era Food Guidelines for schools to do exactly what Danny Blanton has suggested. That is serve food that the children will eat. Despite the New York Times always negative portrayal of President Trump, their article at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/08/us/trump-school-lunch-usda.html tells the tale about the food regulations CCS claims to be following. It is apparent the CCS School Board is complicit in selling off food preparation items at junkyard prices to make those in-the-know folks extra profits. With the possibility of kickbacks that such schemes often encourage.
Another related NY Times article at
stated Danny Blanton’s suggestion more clearly as follows: “If kids aren’t eating the food, and it’s ending up in the trash, they aren’t getting any nutrition — thus undermining the intent of the program,” said Mr. Perdue, who announced the changes with a signed proclamation on Monday after having lunch with students at Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg, Va. Mr. Perdue, a former governor of Georgia, was just confirmed last week.
We suggest the School Board and CCS Staff pay more attention to what is going on, a concept called “oversight,” in the Child Nutrition Department. A group well known for “loose” and probably illegal use of school credit cards on personal items (like a full body massage at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC) that the school board has previously covered-up and the DA refused to prosecute. Thank you, Danny Blanton, for bringing up these problems. CCS should immediately remove from the sale of surplus items anything used in the preparation and service of fool in school cafeterias.
Folks, you don’t have to believe a word of what I have just written. If you are looking for the truth of what went on, all you have to do is review the phony approved minutes for the November 26, 2018 school board meeting. Then you can watch the video of the meeting and see for yourself where certain important descriptions of the meeting were falsely and illegally left out of the meeting minutes.
Then, if you really care about the future of Cleveland County Students, you can file for the office of a School Board member or at least vote for better candidates than what we presently have now. The 2020 School Board Election will be for five open seats-a majority. The right five could immediately set a right and proper course for CCS. And dispense with all the crime, corruption, etc.