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Multi-Year Disaster at Neva King Cooper Educational Center, Part One

As this is my first post, an introduction is in order.

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Homestead Public School-Neva King Cooper School. U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Photo: Wikipedia.

My name is Bill Detzner. In June 2015, I retired from a 30 year career as a special education teacher with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS). I spent the last 25 years of my career teaching at Neva King Cooper (NKC) a public school exclusively for profoundly mentally retarded students with IQ’s of 25 and below.

During my career, I was selected as my school’s teacher of the year. I served as my school’s union steward (United Teachers of Dade (UTD))  for 10 years and I was a department head.

During the 2011-2012, school year, NKC attempted to exercise its legal option to convert from a public school to a charter school.

MDCPS smashed this attempt using tactics that a court of law ( the case number is Florida DOAH 13-1492) ruled to be illegal reprisal and abuse of authority.

I have written a very lengthy blog about how MDCPS smashed this charter school conversion attempt and the series of actions taken by MDCPS over the past 5 years against the staff of NKC that appear to be retaliatory in nature. That information can be accessed at mdcpsallegations.com. My postings on this site will present the contents of my blog in shorter segments.

NKC serves students between the ages of 3-22. The goal of NKC special education teachers  is for some of those students to attend a sheltered workshop  after graduation from school. Students who cannot be placed into sheltered workshops are sometimes placed in group homes. Sadly, the curriculum my school has been using for the last 5 years, the Unique Learning System (ULS) will greatly reduce the number of students we place into sheltered workshops after graduation. (I will discuss this further later on in the blog.) Special needs adults take enormous pride in earning a paycheck and doing meaningful work. A special needs student cannot be placed into a sheltered workshop unless he or she is toilet trained, relatively free of maladaptive behaviors, and able to remain on-task to perform repetitive tasks.

Up until 5 years ago, the Neva King Cooper school’s curriculum was tailored to help students achieve these goals. Most of our students are not toilet trained when they come to our school. They also exhibit many maladaptive behaviors, and an inability to remain on-task for long periods of time. Up until the last 5 years, our curriculum placed a very heavy emphasis on toilet training, extinguishing maladaptive behaviors, and replacing them with more socially acceptable behaviors, and a vocational program  involving horticultural and other activities designed to increase on-task behavior in repetitive tasks.  With the permission of MDCPS, our staff developed its own curriculum, which we call the Small Step Curriculum (SSC), based on the concept of task analysis. Task analysis breaks complex tasks into a series of simple sequential steps. If a person performs all of the simple steps in the correct order, the complex task is achieved.

Up until 5 years ago, our staff achieved great success using task analysis to teach our students complex self-help tasks such as washing their hands and faces, brushing their teeth, combing their hair, dressing themselves (or assisting in dressing themselves) (this task was done while changing students to participate in our on-site swimming pool program), toileting, and feeding themselves. People who have suffered a stroke who can no longer independently perform these basic self-help skills suffer an enormous loss in self-esteem. Special needs children who master these skills experience a great deal of joy and pride in themselves when they succeed in learning these basic self-help skills.

I believe that the need for accomplishment is a universal human need. (I will discuss this further later on).

RELATED ARTICLE: Lawsuit – Miami-Dade School Board Violated Free Speech by Shutting Down Charter School Bid

EDITORS NOTE: The Neva King Cooper Educational Center is a historic school in Homestead, Florida. It is part of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools district. The school serves students with mental disabilities. The school was built in 1914 as the Homestead Public School and designed by August Geiger. In 1934 it was renamed the Neva King Cooper School. On December 4, 1985, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The property is part of the Homestead Multiple Property Submission, a Multiple Property Submission to the National Register.

Can Cleveland Roberts III be Trusted to Lead the United Teachers of Dade?

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Cleveland Roberts III (left) with Emmanuel Fleurantin (foreground right).

Mr. Cleveland Roberts III has declared his candidacy for the presidency of the United Teachers of Dade as the leader of the Empower U caucus.

Upon contemplating the facts and all available evidence of Adobegate, a fair-minded person may conclude that Cleveland Roberts III is not fit to hold elective office within the United Teachers of Dade given his arguably questionable actions while steward at Miami Norland Senior High School in relation to having fellow steward and whistleblower Trevor Colestock displaced while proven test cheater and non-union member Brenda Muchnick returned to Norland in January 2014 with no outrage or objections from him.

How can one reasonably expect him to lead the United Teachers of Dade when he betrayed his own steward and lied about him in the process; one union member (Emmanuel Fleurantin) was fired while a non-union member (Brenda Muchnick) was given a meaningless 30 day suspension for the same crime; Mr. Colestock was, and still is, displaced for doing what was right; and Mr. Roberts remained completely silent?

If Mr. Roberts could not and would not defend his own members and steward at Miami Norland Senior High School, how can UTD members anywhere else depend on him to represent and/or defend them?

Could it also be that Mr. Roberts lied to the UTD membership at Norland about these events?

Mr. Roberts sent a letter to all the UTD members of Miami Norland SHS titled “Response to Trevor’s Blog” on September 10, 2013. Roberts in his letter wrote, “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 stated, “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!”

Interestingly, contrary to evidence (emails sent between Mr. Roberts and Mr. Colestock and Mr. Gant’s Miami-Dade OIG Interview), Mr. Roberts writes, “I do not know the Inspector General nor do I call the Inspector General.  I do not encourage individuals to report to the Inspector General.  I also would not encourage anyone to go to the Inspector General’s office after they had already mailed the documents there before they had spoken to me.  (According to the article on Watchdog Wire).”

A month before Mr. Roberts made these statements to the Norland faculty and staff, Mr. Roberts emailed Mr. Colestock and Miami-Dade OIG Special Agents Lopez and Knigge confirming that he encouraged both Mr. Halligan and Mr. Gant to cooperate with the Miami-Dade OIG and come forward.

When Mr. Colestock replied back to the Norland faculty and staff rebutting Mr. Roberts’ falsehoods and offered his email as proof, Mr. Roberts emailed Mr. Colestock and the Miami-Dade OIG special agents back retracting his statement and calling it “a very serious lack of judgement on my part.”

Does Mr. Roberts consider doing the right thing, reporting test cheating, cooperating with law enforcement for the betterment of the school community and standing by a fellow union steward as a “very serious lack of judgement”?

Moreover, Mr. Gant in his interview with Miami-Dade OIG Special Agents Lopez and Knigge on May 17, 2012, told them that both Mr. Colestock and Mr. Roberts told him and Mr. Halligan to cooperate and come forward to the Miami-Dade OIG.

Caught in his lie by the OIG, Mr. Roberts decided to compound his error further at the faculty meeting later that day.

Confrontation with the facts usually shuts up falsehoods and befuddles one who lies.

As Mr. Colestock quashed the lie as the email attack did not work, Mr. Roberts had little options left at the end of this faculty meeting during the allotted ten minutes for union issues. 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.

According to this union leader, teachers are supposed to be quiet and cover it up; School Board Policies, state law, and Code of Ethics be damned!

Should a teacher engage in the cardinal sin of taking contractual and legal issues “outside of the building?” Teachers must lead by example, a good example. Like minded union members, can take the membership and the school out of this scandalous situation to a much better place. No one should be defending bad teachers!

This cheating scandal exposed a complete breakdown of institutional control as the principal and/or other school administrators did not rebut or refute the illegal actions and what was said at the faculty meeting, thereby being complicit in what was said and their actions. Cheating scandals make for a hostile working environment for those who desire compliance with the UTD contract and state laws.

Many faculty members refused to sign the petition seeking Mr. Colestock’s removal as steward for doing what was right. The petition was hand carried by a security monitor assigned to Mr. Roberts on school time. Twenty-nine members who associate with the “Adobegate” philosophy signed the petition. If these UTD members put as much effort into doing their jobs, Norland would be a much better school.

The petition went nowhere and related charges filed with UTD were dismissed.

Shortly afterwards, Mr. Roberts filed an unfounded civil rights complaint against Mr. Colestock which was dismissed shortly thereafter.

For those members running with Mr. Roberts in the Empower U caucus, why would you associate yourself with such a person with such a record and reputation?

As a UTD member and voter, why would you vote for Mr. Roberts after reading this and knowing now what you did not know before you read this article and the evidence?

Knowledge is power. Read, research, and vote wisely.

We report, you decide.

SOURCES:

http://watchdogwire.com/florida/2013/09/02/industry-exam-cheating-at-miami-norland-senior-high-school/

http://watchdogwire.com/florida/2013/09/13/school-librarian-attacked-for-exposing-fraud-in-miami-dade-schools/

http://watchdogwire.com/florida/2013/09/17/cheating-at-miami-norland-high-screw-up-and-cover-up/

http://watchdogwire.com/florida/2013/09/18/the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-in-miami-dade-schools/

http://watchdogwire.com/florida/2013/11/18/civil-rights-complaint-librarian-racially-motivated/

http://watchdogwire.com/florida/2013/11/21/miami-dade-school-board-gives-teacher-cheated-slap-wrist/

https://drrichswier.com/2014/01/20/troubling-jurisprudence-in-miami-dade-a-tale-of-two-teachers/

https://drrichswier.com/2014/07/31/miami-fl-court-upholds-firing-teacher-cheated-accomplice-returned-classroom/

https://drrichswier.com/2015/04/03/florida-and-georgia-a-tale-of-test-cheating-scandals-in-two-states/

https://drrichswier.com/2015/09/09/do-black-lives-matter-in-miami-dade-county-public-schools/