Tag Archive for: Miami-Dade

UTD President Fed Ingram (and Superintendent Carvalho) stick it to Miami-Dade Teachers on the Way Out to FEA

Fed and AC

UTD President Fed Ingram (left) and Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.

As previously reported in another article in January, United Teachers of Dade (UTD) President Fed Ingram is seeking higher office within the Florida Education Association at their annual Delegate Assembly in October.

To assist in this effort, and to apparently put M-DCPS Superintendent Alberto Carvalho in a good light and short change the teachers in the process, UTD negotiated a very bad deal Friday night in which teachers will not be given a step at all over the next two years.

Teachers will be given a definite “salary adjustment” on their current step for this year and a vague, uncertain salary adjustment for the next school year.

Obviously, teachers want their steps as they are four steps down and want to see progression and to truly advance.

Union members received an email Friday night complete with scare tactics of the consequences of voting against it.

“Teachers voted down a bad proposal in the recent past and got a better deal,” says Trevor Colestock, citizen journalist and litigant against M-DCPS. “They are obviously scaring the membership into voting yes by offering two years of security in supposed salary adjustments and minimal healthcare benefits in exchange for giving up their steps which is a raw and very bad deal.  No wonder UTD membership is dwindling and declining. This is just one bad deal following two previous bad ones. It just gets worse and worse.”

FEDruns4FEA-225x300Mr. Colestock goes on to make a very interesting point: “If Fed and UTD could not and would not protect and stand up for me, a decorated and accomplished steward that was correct about the test cheating at Miami Norland Senior High School as outlined in the Final Miami-Dade OIG Report, and stayed silent as I was displaced and currently undergoing litigation while a fellow union member (Emmanuel Fleurantin) was fired and another cheater who was a non-union member (Brenda Muchnick) is still at Norland to this day while teachers who did the very same thing are in jail in Atlanta, how can Fed and UTD stand up and look out for you at the bargaining table?”

“Obviously, given this deal that benefits the District, they did not and cannot, and I am voting no.”

To read the terms of the Tentative Agreement and the scare tactics, click here.

Shawn Beightol pointed out in his recent article that through three straight years of property tax collection surpluses the property tax revenue is available to fund a better deal and to offer a step.

Therefore, why cannot the teachers have a salary adjustment (cost of living) and a step (raise)?

Mr. Carvalho does well for himself as he makes about $318,000; most district administrators make between $150,000-$200,000 a year; and most principals make about $100,000 or more a year.

Miami-Dade teachers are asking: Why cannot the teachers who work the hardest and face the most accountability share in the financial success that the higher ups enjoy?

Mr. Carvalho used to be Fed’s chemistry teacher; apparently, he is still taking Fed to school and both appear to have a low opinion of teachers and their intelligence given this deal according to some.

Teachers may vote no in solidarity and get something better.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of UTD President Ingram is from Twitter.

Forget Sanctuary Cities — Florida has 7 Sanctuary Counties

The brutal murder of 32 year old Kathryn Steinle by Francisco Sanchez, a 45-year-old illegal alien, repeat drug offender and felon who was released from jail on April 15th, 2015 after San Francisco law enforcement officials declined to prosecute him, has become the eye of the storm in the public debate on immigration. Sanchez was in San Francisco because it is a “sanctuary city.”

Breitbart reports:

According to a March 2, 2015 “ICE Weekly Departures and Detention Report” obtained by Center for Immigration Studies expert Jessica Vaughan and shared with Breitbart News, there were 168,680 convicted criminal immigrants who had final orders of removal but who remained at large in the U.S.

Another 179,018 convicted criminal immigrants with deportation cases pending also remained at large.

Well San Francisco has nothing over the Sunshine State. Florida is home to seven “sanctuary counties.” The sanctuary counties are: Pasco, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Hernando, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.

These counties are perfectly located along Florida’s East and West coast lines to allow illegal felons, like Francisco Sanchez, to enter with ease.


Map of sanctuary counties (yellow) and cities (red) in the United States. Map courtesy of the Center for Immigration Studies.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies:

More than 200 cities, counties and states across the United States are considered sanctuary cities. These state and local jurisdictions have policies, laws, executive orders, or regulations allowing them to avoid cooperating with federal immigration law enforcement authorities.

These “cities” ignore federal law authorizing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to administratively deport illegal aliens without seeking criminal warrants or convictions from federal, state, or local courts.

Although federal law requires the cooperation, the Department of Justice has never sued or taken any measure, including denying federal funds, against a jurisdiction. On the contrary, the present administration has made it difficult for the states and localities which choose to aid in enforcing immigration laws. Federal law was labelled voluntary by the administration in a November 2014 policy memorandum signed by the Homeland Security Secretary.

Perhaps it is time for these seven counties to rethink giving aid and comfort to those who have at the least violated the law, and at the worst are criminal felons looking for their next victim?

UPDATE: The Center for Immigration Studies now lists only Clay and Alachua counties as sanctuaries for illegal aliens. Here’s the link: https://cis.org/Map-Sanctuary-Cities-Counties-and-States

EDITORS NOTE: It was San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi who allowed five time deported illegal alien Francisco Sanchez to allegedly kill helpless, unsuspecting Kate Steinle. If readers wish they may click here to send an email that admonishes and challenges San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and Board of Supervisors regarding their sanctuary immigration policy.


AZ Sheriff: Obama Has Made US ‘A Sanctuary Nation’ – Breitbart

Obama Writes Personal Letter to Nearly 50 Felons, But Continues to Ignore Family of Murder Victim Kathryn Steinle [+video]

You’ve Heard of Sanctuary Cities. But Do You Know What They Are?

Rick Perry on Sanctuary Cities: ‘This Is About the Security of This Country’

How Sanctuary Policies Have Directly Led to Thousands of Crimes Against Americans

Illegal immigrants responsible for almost three-fourths of federal drug possession sentences in 2014

Cultural Marxism: Nobel Scientist Sacked for Making Innocent Joke about Women

We just heard about the Miami high-school principal fired for soberly disagreeing on social media with the McKinney narrative. Now comes an even more outrageous story involving what’s usually called political correctness, but should really be labeled what it is: evil.

Sir Tim Hunt is a darn good scientist. So good, apparently, that he won the 2001 Nobel Prize in physiology. But none of this matters to the University College London, which just forced this esteemed mind to resign over a joke he made at a conference on women in science in South Korea. The quip has been called “sexist,” you see.

And what was his trespass? Did he take the podium drunken and make lewd comments about women’s anatomy? Was it a remark about wife-battery? It must be just awful, as the 39 words uttered have now ended his career. Here’s the joke he told attendees:

“Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab. You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them, they cry.”

No, I’m not joking. That’s it. Nothing more. Yet it inspired social-media campaigners to hunt for Hunt, and the 72-year-old was ousted from his research position. Is this shell of Western civilization we’re living in for real?

Hunt’s wife, Professor Mary Collins, whom The Guardian describes as “one of Britain’s most senior immunologists,” was not immune to the fallout. She said that her “relations with University College have been badly tarnished”; I guess this was for the sin of marrying a man who’d one day make a joke to which the evil ones would take exception.

This could remind one of the babies born in North Korean prison camps, who remain in those camps, sometimes being tortured, for having the temerity to be born to a female political prisoner. And it didn’t matter that Hunt and Collins quite sincerely did the requisite groveling. Writes The Guardian, “‘I stood up and went mad,’ he [Hunt] admits. ‘I was very nervous and a bit confused but, yes, I made those remarks – which were inexcusable – but I made them in a totally jocular, ironic way.’ …Collins clutches her head as Hunt talks. ‘It was an unbelievably stupid thing to say,’ she says.”

Actually, no, we live in an unbelievably stupid civilization. That the couple is so sincerely contrite only proves again that great scientists are often social morons. After all, what reflected in Hunt’s joke is untrue? Men have, I understand, fallen in love with female co-workers; it has even been rumored that women sometimes fall in love with male co-workers. And everyone knows that, as a general rule, women are far more apt to cry than are men — including when being criticized. So what’s the problem?

It’s that we live in an age of cultural despots who subordinate Truth to the “party line.”

Note that one hallmark of tyranny is that it compels people to deny what they know is true.

The reality is that Hunt has been a good little liberal boy, but it didn’t save him. His wife proclaimed her feminism, and his, saying that he did all the cooking and chores around the house. Female scientists came forward and said he was “immensely supportive” of efforts at sexual equality and advanced the careers of both men and women researchers. But no deviation from the party line is allowed by leftist tyrannies. It’s no different from when Joseph Stalin said he would destroy even the Old Bolshevik, and “his kin, his family. Anyone who by his actions or thoughts encroaches on the unity of the socialist state, we shall destroy relentlessly.” You must be a new Bolshevik, comrade — and make sure that nothing you said yesterday was “old.”

But the “new school” people, as another great mind, Rachel Jeantel (remember her?), put it, are in like Flynn. Black Boston University professor Saida Grundy tweeted that white males are a “problem population” and viciously taunted a white rape victim on Facebook, and she will still be assuming her BU position July 1. Professor Jacqueline Warwick of Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia said at a panel discussion that men should not be “allowed to speak first” in class, and she still has a job. Profane anti-Christian bigot and sex columnist Dan Savage once told high-school age kids to “ignore the bull[**]*t in the Bible” and called some of them “pansy-a**ed” when they took exception to his remarks, and he still gets paid to peddle perversion to students ($24,000 for one speech). But Hunt? He had to acknowledge, reports The Guardian, “I am finished. I had hoped to do a lot more to help promote science in this country and in Europe, but I cannot see how that can happen. I have become toxic.”

So let’s get this straight. While I’m not acquainted with Hunt’s work on cell division, I’m assuming that Nobel Prizes in science aren’t like the peace prizes, which can be awarded simply because you’re a “mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” as Joe Biden put it (Crazy Joe still has his job, too). This means that Western institutions will now choose ideological “purity” over a brilliant scientist. Is this not reminiscent of Marxist nations, which would often replace qualified doctors and researchers with goose-stepping incompetents?

The sad part of this submission to evil is that leftists are abject cowards and pack animals; stand up to them en masse, and they’ll scatter like the capons and clucking hens they are. Instead, legitimate freedom is being lost. Of course, there certainly are those in the hierarchy above Hunt who subscribe to the politically correct nonsense. But there no doubt are others who realize his joke was no big deal yet are making a calculation: “If I don’t fire the man, the guns could be turned on me and I’ll be next on the chopping block.” It could remind one of Ben Franklin’s words, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

And we are hanging separately, as sane people are picked off one by one and an iron muzzle descends across the West. It has already touched you, no doubt, as everyone is watching what he says. And barring a revolution, it’s only a matter of time before the effecting of oppression moves from the social to the governmental sphere, as we transition from the gag to the gulag.

Contact Selwyn Duke, follow him on Twitter or log on to SelwynDuke.com

Jailed in Atlanta, Walking Around Free in Miami-Dade: Different Strokes for Different Folks

On Tuesday, three Atlanta educators were sentenced to seven years in prison, and six others given terms of 1-7 years, for their part in the massive test cheating scandal in Atlanta Public Schools, with more prison sentences expected.  Two educators out of ten took the State’s plea deal- so far, the terms have not been reported.

At an emotional hearing, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter called the case “the sickest thing that’s ever happened in this town.”

Unfortunately for them, they did not work at Miami Norland Senior High School and participate in Adobegate, for if they had, they would be walking around free amongst us like Mr. Emmanuel Fleurantin and Mrs. Brenda Muchnick.

Florida, like Georgia, has statutes relating to test cheating and racketeering:

  •  Florida Statute 1008.24, “Test Administration and Security,” makes it a misdemeanor to engage in standardized test cheating: “A person who violates this section commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.”
  • Florida Statute 895.03, Section 1 states: “It is unlawful for any person who has with criminal intent received any proceeds derived, directly or indirectly, from a pattern of racketeering activity or through the collection of an unlawful debt to use or invest, whether directly or indirectly, any part of such proceeds, or the proceeds derived from the investment or use thereof, in the acquisition of any title to, or any right, interest, or equity in, real property or in the establishment or operation of any enterprise.”
  • Florida Statute 775.0844, “White Collar Crime Victim Protection Act,” states in Section 2: “Due to the frequency with which victims, particularly elderly victims, are deceived and cheated by criminals who commit nonviolent frauds and swindles, frequently through the use of the Internet and other electronic technology and frequently causing the loss of substantial amounts of property, it is the intent of the Legislature to enhance the sanctions imposed for nonviolent frauds and swindles, protect the public’s property, and assist in prosecuting white collar criminals.”

Adobegate was a host of white collar crimes that took place over the Internet as the tests were given online with the answers provided to the students by cheat sheets given by their teachers- Mr. Fleurantin and Mrs. Muchnick.

Though Florida, like Georgia, has the legal framework to pursue charges against those involved in Adobegate, Florida officials lack the motivation and inclination unlike Georgia, Texas, and Pennsylvania officials to prosecute them and seek justice.

Mr. Trevor Colestock, the whistle-blower, is of the opinion that other schools were involved and that Adobegate is being covered up to prevent others from speaking out and from exposing a larger and costlier fraud to Florida and federal taxpayers; is it so as to protect politically connected Miami-Dade County Public Schools officials such as Superintendent Alberto Carvalho?

Could it be that state and federal officials did not pursue Mr. Colestock’s complaints so as to avoid embarrassment and protect M-DCPS officials?

How far does Adobegate go?

What other schools and M-DCPS employees were involved and to what cost?

Only a thorough investigation will answer these questions, and the general public and Mr. Colestock, who was retaliated against for exposing Adobegate, are owed that much.

RELATED ARTICLE: Former D.C. Whistleblower Principal Adell Cothorne on the Atlanta Verdict

Florida and Georgia: A Tale of Test Cheating Scandals in Two States

Disparity: Convictions in Atlanta, Impunity in Miami-Dade Schools.

On Wednesday, an Atlanta jury convicted 11 teachers on racketeering charges, with mixed verdicts on theft and false statement charges, in connection with the massive test cheating scandal in the Atlanta Public Schools.

The defendants, including teachers, a principal and other administrators, were accused of falsifying and altering test results to collect bonuses (incentive funds) and/or to keep their jobs.

One teacher was acquitted and 21 others took plea deals. The 35 educators were indicted in March 2013 by a grand jury.

Prosecutors claimed and successfully argued that the educators conspired to cheat on standardized tests as far back as 2005 after feeling pressure from school district officials to meet federal and local testing standards.

The educators said the pressure came from their supervisors, including former Superintendent Beverly Hall, who died of breast cancer last month.

Hall, who was superintendent for more than a decade, and her lawyer had argued she was too sick to stand trial.

In their report, investigators wrote that Hall “created a culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation” that allowed cheating to go on for years.

Hall maintained that she hadn’t done anything wrong, but resigned during the investigation.

Jurors deliberated for more than eight days. The racketeering charges could carry up to a 20-year prison sentence, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Sentencing is scheduled for April 8, 2015.

This is a huge story and absolutely the biggest development in American education law since forever,” said University of Georgia law professor Ron Carlson. “It has to send a message to educators here and broadly across the nation. Playing with student test scores is very, very dangerous business.”

Logically, Mr. Carlson seems correct as the former Superintendent of El Paso, Texas schools, Lorenzo Garcia, was sent to federal prison, and five teachers and four principals were arrested in Philadelphia over the past year for test cheating with more arrests expected.

Yet, logic is being defied in Miami-Dade County, Florida, as citizen journalist and school library media specialist Trevor Colestock uncovered a massive test cheating scandal, Adobegate, at Miami Norland Senior High School; his findings verified by the Final Miami-Dade OIG Report; and the strange firing of one teacher and suspension of the other who was equally involved.

Mrs. Muchnick returned to Norland High in early January 2014.

To date, the teachers involved, Mr. Emmanuel Fleurantin and Mrs. Brenda Muchnick, were never arrested, charged, booked, and/or prosecuted as the State Attorney, the Florida Attorney General, and Governor Rick Scott refused to acknowledge this massive test cheating scandal and the almost $250,000 paid out through federal and state incentives to the faculty for an “A” grade for the 2011-12 school year tainted by cheating.

Each teacher at Miami Norland Senior High School received $1730.41.

Though the teachers got paid, the big winners from Norland’s academic successes tainted by cheating were school and district administrators: Reginald Lee went from being an assistant principal over the vocational department in which the cheating took place to the principal of Charles Drew Middle School and then Norland in November 2012; Luis Solano went from being the principal at Norland to the Associate Superintendent, Curriculum & Instruction at Collier County Public Schools in Naples; Nikolai Vitti went from being the Assistant Superintendent of the Education Transformation Office (ETO) at M-DCPS to the Chief Academic Officer of M-DCPS and then became the Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville; and Superintendent Alberto Carvalho became the Florida and National Superintendent of the Year shortly thereafter.

Also, the Florida Department of Education recently released information that revealed that Miami Norland SHS had 96 FCAT/EOC test invalidations over the past three school years.

Interestingly, 25 other public schools, all high schools, had more test invalidations that Norland, with 20 of the schools being in Miami-Dade, most of them in the Education Transformation Office.

The breakdown for the 26 schools, all high schools, in the graphic: 21 from Miami-Dade (96 at Norland-275 invalidations at North Miami Senior); 2 from Broward (97, 134 invalidations); 2 from Palm Beach (99, 100 invalidations); and 1 from Duval (110 invalidations).

For more information on how this information was obtained, please read pages 38-40 of the Test Score Validation Process manual proffered by Pearson.

Furthermore, the FBI declined to investigate as they deferred to the USDOE OIG who dismissed Colestock’s complaints and took no action.

Simply put, Florida and federal officials, unlike former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, passed the buck.

Perhaps politics played a part as Florida is, and has been, the epicenter of standardized testing since instituting the first high school graduation test in 1976, and reports of test cheating undermine the politics and profitability of standardized testing.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, a Common Core and standardized test proponent, is in lock-step with President Barack Obama on these issues.

During his tenure as Florida governor, Bush expanded testing significantly, with lucrative contracts for testing and scoring going to Pearson, while creating the school grading system through his A+ Plan.

Beverly Hall served as the Atlanta Public Schools superintendent for more than a decade and was named Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators in 2009. She was credited with raising student test scores and graduation rates, particularly among poor and minority students.

However, the award quickly lost its luster and was tarnished as the cheating scandal began to unfold when The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that some scores were statistically improbable.

Likewise, Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho was named the state and national Superintendent of the Year over the past year and lauded for the same accomplishments in test scores and graduation rates.

Could it be that Adobegate and high number of test invalidations on the FCAT and/or EOC exams over the past three school years went unanswered and unpunished to protect standardized testing and spare Mr. Carvalho, who like Beverly Hall is close to President Obama, from going down in flames like Ms. Hall and Mr. Garcia by the state and federal governments respectively?

A reasonable person may assume that Miami-Dade County Public Schools “created a culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation” when it chose to transfer and retaliate against Mr. Colestock for reporting, exposing, and publishing articles about the test cheating while returning Mrs. Muchnick to Norland and never seeking her or Mr. Fleurantin’s prosecution.

The implied message to teachers in Miami-Dade seems to be “keep your mouth shut about test cheating lest you want to end up like Mr. Colestock.”

The lack of inaction by the federal and state governments seem to condone M-DCPS’s actions and test cheating in general.

Like Atlanta, the victims in Miami-Dade County, Florida, besides the taxpayer, are low-income minority (mostly black) school children who are being denied the remedial help they need as false and misleading test scores suggest otherwise.

Where are the talking heads and advocacy groups who decry events in Brooklyn and Ferguson when it comes to test cheating in Atlanta and Miami? Why are they silent on these issues?

Question: Why is Florida rewarding test cheaters while Georgia, Texas and Pennsylvania are punishing test cheaters?

RELATED ARTICLE: Whistleblower Principal, Adell Cothorne, on the Atlanta Cheating Verdict

Miami, FL: Possible FCAT Science Cheating at Crestview Elementary?

An official complaint has been filed with the Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools regarding suspected test cheating on the FCAT Science exam at Crestview Elementary School during the 2013-2014 school year. The complaint is based upon a report from Mr. Keith Guthrie.

Guthrie stated he had suspicions about test scores on the Grade 5 FCAT Science exam involving two students (one ESE, the other ESOL). Mrs. Matilda Ysidro, told Guthrie that she witnessed the former Science Coach, and current Grade 5 Science teacher, Ms. Lori Caraccia assisting these two students last school year by “emphasizing” the answers on the science exam.

Guthrie came to me “for direction,” as his case is similar to the test cheating on the Industrial Arts exams at Miami Norland Senior High School in April 2012. Guthrie knew my experience with exposing test cheating. I have also represented Guthrie in past grievances and labor disputes with Crestview administration.

Guthrie told me that the events occurred while Ms. Caraccia was testing these two students for the Grade 5 FCAT Science exam during the last school year. Mrs. Ysidro told Guthrie she walked in on them and observed Ms. Caraccia “emphasizing” the right answers. During a second interview with Guthrie, Ysidro said as students were taking the test, if the student marked the wrong answer, Ms. Caraccia would tell them, “You better check your answer”, in some cases multiple times, until the student marked the right answer before moving on to the next question.

Mr. Guthrie deemed what Mrs. Ysidro told him as credible because the two students in question attended his classes. One student was ESOL, the other ESE, and both students failed his class. Both students hardly participated in class and displayed Level 1 performance on their last FCAT Reading exams. Yet both students scored Level 5 on the Grade 5 FCAT Science exam- a clear disparity between classroom performance and their FCAT Reading scores.

Guthrie said only five (including these two) Grade 5 students scored a Level 5 on the Grade 5 FCAT Science exam.  He knew the other three students; he tested them; and their scores were reflective of their classroom achievement and other test scores.

I advised Mr. Guthrie to email the Florida Department of Education Inspector General. He indicated he would email his complaint. Mr. Guthrie has not contacted the FL DOE IG at the time this column was published.

The Florida Department of Education investigators simply need to obtain the names of the five students who scored a Level 5 on the Grade 5 FCAT Science exam; identify those coded as ESOL and ESE and confirm with Mr. Guthrie that they failed his class.  After the two students, and potentially others, are identified, retest them using a different proctor. As the school went from a “D” to a “C,” and Grade 5 FCAT Science performance shot up from 27% in 2013 to 38% in 2014.

Recently school administrators have been involved in cheating scandals in other states (Atlanta, El Paso, Houston, and Philadelphia). Ms. Caraccia was the Science Coach appointed by the principal and on her leadership team. It will be up to the District, and the FLDOE IG, to determine whether or not school administration was aware of possible cheating (coaching) of these students and, if so, when they knew it.

The dramatic rise in Crestview’s school grade from a “D” to a “C” (Crestview scored 477 points; 42 points above the minimum of 435)  lead to a total a payout of $40,000- $50,000 in teacher incentives from the Florida School Recognition Program.

Hopefully it was an isolated incident, but given that test cheating at Norland went largely unnoticed and unpunished by the FLDOE and by law enforcement, the message is clear that cheating pays.

I am reporting what was told to me by Guthrie. This case is not unlike what happened at Miami Norland Senior High School two years ago.  Only a complete and thorough investigation will get to the bottom of how widespread the test cheating is, as was the case at Norland.

If substantiated, many troubling questions are raised: why is there cheating on different levels within the Norland feeder pattern?  What will the District do about it? Will the people involved go the way of Emmanuel Fleurantin or Brenda Muchnick? Time will tell.

The following is a comparison of FCAT Science test results for Crestview Elementary.

School Percentage Passing (Satisfactory and Above)
(Achievement Level 3 and Above)
2013 2014
Top of Form CRESTVIEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (1161) Bottom of Form
5 27 38 


School Percentage Passing (Satisfactory and Above)
(Achievement Level 3 and Above)
(Achievement Level 3 and Above)
(Achievement Level 3 and Above)
Writing Essay
(3.5 and Above)
2013 2014 2013 2014 2013 2014 2013 2014
Top of Form CRESTVIEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (1161) Bottom of Form
3 41 48  40 42  NA NA  NA NA 
4 55 56  61 58  NA NA  42 30 
5 49 55  42 48  27 38  NA NA 


FL Rep. Manny Diaz offers Trapped Students a Way Out of Failed Schools

Students in Florida that are trapped in failing and/or troubled schools may have new hope on the horizon.

The various misdeeds of the Miami-Dade School District, and the events that took place at Miami Norland Senior High School, in the aftermath of Adobegate makes the case for an upcoming House Bill concerning charter schools being sponsored by Rep. Manny Diaz.

An aspect of this bill, co-location, has unions up in arms about this legislation, but as a whistleblowing union steward who desires reform, I am for it and view co-location and competition as a viable remedy to reform the Miami-Dade School District, and other Florida school districts, for the better.

Simply put, co-location is the sharing of public school space by both charter and public schools, sometimes on the same school campus.

In Florida, charter schools are under the supervision of county school boards but privately managed.  As schools and school districts are very unwilling to reform themselves in terms of clean ethical governance, co-location makes perfect sense and just may force schools like Miami Norland SHS and districts like Miami-Dade to clean up their act, especially in the areas of compliance with professional development procedures, teacher observation and evaluation improprieties, test cheating, and treatment of whistleblowers for the betterment of the students they purport to serve.

A well-run charter school on the same campus as a poorly run public school akin to Norland would force the Norland’s of the state to change their ways and shape up, or the school districts that supervise them to clean them up, or else risk losing their students to the charter school on site as parents would have a viable alternative to an inadequate public school option.

During the 2011-2012 school year, two vocational teachers at Miami Norland SHS, Mr. Emmanuel Fleurantin and Mrs. Brenda Muchnick, and most likely persons unknown, engaged in massive test cheating on two Adobe industrial arts certification exams, hence of Adobegate.

With the assistance of cheating, undertaken by Mr. Emmanuel Fleurantin and Mrs. Brenda Muchnick, Miami Norland’s school grade went from a “C” for the 2010-11 school year to an “A” for the 2011-12 school year.

As a result, total federal funds (SIG, RTTT) given out due to a grade influenced by cheating was $100,560; the total state funds per FSRP was between $130,000- $140,000; the total overall combined federal and state incentive funds were $230,560- $240,560.

Each teacher at Miami Norland Senior High School received $1730.41 from all three payouts.

This affair is detailed in the Miami-Dade OIG Final Report and the Department of Administrative Hearings brief, issued by the School Board Attorney on January 8, 2014, justifying Mr. Fleurantin’s termination.

During the following school year, 2012-2013, Miami Norland SHS led the state in FCAT invalidations due to cheating with 13 student exams being invalidated.

The response by school district administration has been outrageous and unjust: Mr. Fleurantin, a black union member, has been suspended pending termination while Mrs. Muchnick, a white non-union member, received a slap on the wrist for the same offense from the same cheating scandal and is back working at Norland.

When one reads the Miami-Dade OIG Final Report and the Department of Administrative Hearings brief, one can reasonably conclude that Mrs. Muchnick is equally culpable and a reasonable person would think her employment was up for termination as well.

For my efforts, I as the whistleblowing union steward suffered an attempted transfer and a bogus CRC complaint devoid of merit (dismissed later) in September and an actual involuntary transfer on October 24, 2013, followed by another on December 10, 2013.

To make matters worse, my award winning library program has been closed since my departure, in violation of state law, and the students have not had library media services since then.

A Norland employee told me a week ago that students have been complaining about being unable to access library books, and one acted up.

Too bad the faculty, which apparently seems to care about their bottom line and financial incentives gained from cheating more so than their students, does not speak up about this injustice and defend the students’ right to read.

Whether the Norland faculty is silent due to complicity or cowardice, to quote Barbara Bush, a reasonable person may conclude “they are a sorry bunch.”

Sadly, Norland SHS is under the leadership of a principal who has two prior ethics complaints successfully processed against him by the FLDOE. Mr. Lee is a principal who has threatened me twice with retaliation (documented in grievances) in May 2010 and February 2013; a principal who has fabricated my observation and been caught doing so in a meeting on April 4, 2012; and a principal who has undertaken various forms of adverse action, in concert with the other union stewards and District officials, against me since late August 2013 for my efforts in trying to clean up the school.

As a parent of a Miami Norland SHS student, why would you leave your child to languish in what a fair-minded person may conclude are the clutches and the bad influences of Mrs. Muchnick, Mr. Lee, and a faculty that apparently could care less for your child when you can give them a better environment and educational opportunities on the same school grounds under the bill sponsored by Rep. Diaz?

Rep. Diaz’s bill preserves the concept of neighborhood schools and gives the parents and students of Florida trapped in similar situations throughout the state a way out.

If these events have transpired at Miami Norland SHS, and they have, you can believe that they have transpired (or are transpiring) at other schools throughout Florida.

Districts like Miami-Dade and schools like Norland SHS feel entitled to public funds and in their arrogance rails against those who expose test cheating, which leads to better school grades and enhanced funding, and other frauds while the state simply passes the buck and declines to take action.

Rep. Diaz’s bill would curtail the “business as usual” environment as parents would have the means to place their child in a better educational, and ethical, environment.

Unions and public education advocates have decried the fact that Rep. Diaz is in charge of this bill, but it is phony outrage as they have plenty of advocates in the Legislature that have significantly influenced educational bills over the past few years: Sen. Bill Montford, who is the CEO of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents and former superintendent of Leon County Public Schools; Sen. Don Gaetz and Nancy Detert, former public school superintendents; as well as teachers in both chambers, namely Sen. Dwight Bullard, a Miami-Dade teacher and a UTD member.

Critics decry Rep. Diaz’s involvement as a conflict of interest.

So he is a legislator with a passion for education reform that embraces charter schools; how is that different from Sen. Montford’s or Sen. Bullard’s passion for public education and the bills that they propose and support?

As with traditional public education, charter schools are deserving of advocates as well in the Legislature. The purpose of representation is to serve all the interests of everyone in the state encompassing all races and ethnicities.

The legislation proposed by Rep. Diaz will receive, as with any legislation, intense scrutiny in the appropriate House committee as well as the House floor as well as the appropriate Senate committee and Senate floor when it arrives there.

What really scares unions and traditional public education advocates, as well as school districts and the Norland’s of the state, is that they cannot continue on the same path collecting taxpayer dollars as they go with little oversight and with no accountability as it is on the horizon.

Miami-Dade civil rights complaint against public school whistle-blower dismissed

Cleveland Roberts, III. For a larger view click on the image.

Those who blow the whistle and interrupt the status quo are either met with respect or hostility from others.  In the case of Cleveland “Cleve” Roberts III, the PBS Coach at Miami Norland Senior High School and Trevor Colestock, Library Media Specialist at Miami Norland SHS and a Watchdog Wire- Florida citizen journalist, the whistle-blowing resulted in a civil rights complaint being filed.

Following Colestock’s article on cheating at Norland, Roberts may have been faced with angry faculty and staff members pertaining to his role, along with Colestock’s, of telling Norland SHS teachers Mr. Gant and Mr. Halligan to come forward to the Auditor General of Florida and the Miami-Dade Office of Inspector General. On May 11, 2012, Colestock, Gant, and Halligan went to the local Auditor General’s office in Doral and turned over evidence and gave statements about test cheating at Norland’s industrial arts program. Colestock appeared before two special agents of the Miami-Dade OIG on May 15, 2012, and Mr. Gant, and Mr. Halligan before them a few days later, to turn over evidence and give statements. Their efforts resulted in exposing Adobegate and led to the Final Miami-Dade OIG Report issued on August 26, 2013.

After speaking with officials from both agencies, Gant made plans to leave the school (he went to Ronald Reagan Senior High School) and Halligan resigned and retired (he became a full-time minister) because according to Colestock, “they were both afraid of reprisal.” Colestock stayed, managed his library media program, and enforced law and contract as a union steward at Miami Norland SHS until he faced reprisal in the form of “an illegal transfer on October 24, 2013.”

trevor colestock

Trevor Colestock, Media Specialist – Librarian.

Instead of emulating Colestock and exposing the cheating, Roberts may have given in “to fear and terror and proceeded to lie about his role and disparage me [Colestock] in the process via email and at a faculty meeting”, states Colestock. As proof Colestock notes that on September 10, 2013, Roberts sent a letter to all the United Teachers of Dade members at Norland SHS titled “Response to Trevor’s Blog“. Roberts in his letter writes, “Due to the enormous amount of attention that this Testing incident has drawn to the school from the OIG, The Miami Herald, WSVN and Watchdogwire.com;  and because I am mentioned in the online blog I am compelled to make a statement to you.”

Roberts states, “I understand my job as a teacher and UTD Building Steward. I am not an agent for the Office of the Inspector General or the Office of the Auditor General. I do not investigate cases against my colleagues, I do not gather evidence against my co- workers, nor do I recommend that they not receive bonuses that are due to them for their hard work.  I am not a “Watchdog.” That is not my job!! I report incidents!”

Colestock asks, “Does cheating constitute ‘hard work’ and deserve a ‘bonus’? Hear no fraud, see no waste and say nothing about abuses.”

Roberts then went on to directly attack Colestock. Roberts states, “I am deeply disturbed and disheartened to think that a staff member [Colestock] feels that our students are not intelligent enough to pass a test without cheating and that our teachers are not working hard enough in the classroom. Are we not entitled to our monetary bonuses because of an investigation?”

Colestock responded to the Roberts letter as follows:

“As for the allegation of me questioning our students’ intelligence, that is ridiculous. The investigation, and the articles, focus on instances of cheating and its impact on the scores, questioning performance and not intelligence.

We all know, as our students have demonstrated, that when our students study and apply themselves, they are capable of great things-the prime example being our increase in reading comprehension from 17% to 30% over the past two school years.

However, the level of productivity is a great disparity. The increase of passing students from 17 to 452 with scores 175-241 above the national average and completed in 8-22 minutes below the national average, coupled with cheat sheets and student testimony, tells anyone with common sense something is amiss. Moreover, when there are multiple records of unsatisfactory performance and there exists a passing score in 10-20 minutes, that is highly questionable. Put in context with reading levels and various EOC performance, this level of performance is unusual, especially given the presence of cheat sheets and student testimony.

This questions performance, not intelligence. The report and the evidence speaks for itself.”

In his letter, Colestock offered to provide a confirmation email from Roberts confirming his role in advising Gant and Halligan to come forward.

Later that day at the faculty meeting, instead of having a JFK Profiles in Courage moment, which one would expect from the designated building steward who is also an athletic coach and pastor, in which he would have defended his role in exposing test cheating as required by state law and school board policies, he actually apologized for “letting people down,” as the situation “was not handled in-house and made the news,” and offered to resign from being a union steward.

The harassment of Colestock was not finished as another union steward, Mr. Kebony King, crafted a petition seeking Colestock’s ouster as a union steward two days later, which garnered 31 signatures. Apparently some Norland union members, as well as nonunion teachers, took exception to what Colestock did by exposing cheating at Norland SHS, all within Florida state law and Miami-Dade school board policies. The real issue: the teacher’s federal and state financial incentives were in jeopardy due the test cheating at Norland.

On September 19, 2013, Roberts submitted a Civil Rights Compliance complaint against Mr. Colestock claiming that he was “cyber-bullied and cyber-harassed” by Mr. Colestock’s Watchdog Wire- Florida articles. However, on page 15 of the exhibit Roberts contradicts his statement from a month before due to pressure and being exposed. Roberts in his complaint attacks Colestock, Dr. Rich Swier, State Editor of WDW-FL and the Watchdog Wire- Florida website. Roberts checked the “Political Beliefs”, “Retaliation” and “Social and Family Background” boxes on the complaint form. However, Roberts’ attempts to accuse Trevor of politically and racially motivated harassment were squashed when the investigator assigned to review his complaint concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to prove those claims. Roberts subsequently withdrew his complaint.

Roberts should know, as a pastor and coach, that telling the truth about cheating is not cyber-bullying, cyber-harassment and defamatory in nature.

Unlike Roberts, Colestock gets it as he is fully knowledgeable of Florida contract and law and enforces it accordingly. Colestock understands that union stewards are equal to the principal and that good union stewards ensure that standard operating procedures, as they are equal to management and co-manage the school per the National Labor Relations Act and the Florida Constitution, are compliant with contract and state and federal laws for the well-being of the faculty and staff.

Colestock writes, “To union members in the Miami-Dade school district: As the United Teachers of Dade, by their silence and inaction, backed Mr. Roberts and Mr. King and stood idly by as they and the school district attacked me, an accomplished union steward who exposed test cheating and fraud, over the past two months, do you really expect UTD will protect and represent you in your time of need?   If UTD cannot and will not protect their stewards like me, who can and will they protect?”

Unlike Colestock, Roberts did not suffer adverse actions for his role, although a minor one, in exposing the test cheating at Norland SHS. Roberts complaint against Colestock may have been the basis for the Miami-Dade School District to act against Colestock and move him involuntarily to another school.  Colestock has paid the price for telling the truth. He lost his job, in contravention to state and federal law, for his rightful activities as a concerned citizen, an active and competent union steward and as a citizen journalist.

Colestock was the subject of an attempted transfer on September 16, 2013, which failed, and has been displaced from his job at Norland SHS since October 24, 2013. So exactly who has been harassed – Colestock or Roberts?

Reginald E. Lee, Principal, Miami Norland Senior High School

Colestock still remains displaced from Norland, where he is unable to enforce contract and state laws per his elected position as union steward. The district, as well as Norland SHS Principal, Mr. Reginald  E. Lee, and Roberts, is sending a message to their faculty and community. The adverse actions against Colestock effect those who may be willing to ensure compliance with law and union contract through oversight and quality control measures at Norland. Retaliation is the method to silence those who expose cheating.

“The District created this situation by never addressing the faculty, staff, and students following the release of the Miami-Dade OIG report on August 26, 2013, thereby creating a cone of silence,” states Colestock.

Following his articles on Watchdog Wire – Florida  regarding industry certification exam (Adobe PhotoshopDream Weaver) cheating by teachers as referenced in a Miami-Dade OIG report issued on August 26, 2012, the tepid response by the district administration, and the lack of any response by the Department of Education (all in the context of some quarter million dollars in monetary rewards to staff for the dramatic improvement in test scores), there has been a continuing/ongoing pattern of retaliation against him.

Colestock states, “I have not been critical of students per se, but only of dishonest teachers and dormant administrators, and because students did not share in the distribution of the approximate quarter million dollar award, it seems to be a fair inference that the student response (protests, threats) may likely have been instigated by adults (erstwhile colleagues) who felt criticized or targeted or monetarily threatened by my articles.”

“Because the cash awards for improvement have been distributed, because no colleagues or students have been brought to account, the consequences so far have been visited solely upon me – another involuntary transfer as of October 24, 2013.  The message to students and teachers is that the district is not backing Mr. Colestock and that he is fair game.  The message to the faculty and staff is to avoid emulating Mr. Colestock and what he has done in exposing wrongdoing,” notes Colestock.

The Miami-Dade school district, by their actions, wants teachers to be like Roberts and administrators to be like Principal Lee: keep quiet, look the other way on test cheating and fraud, disparage those who do expose it and go along, get along people. Is that what Miami-Dade public schools have come to?