UCPS (Finally) Provides Accurate DPI Capacity Numbers

For the first time in many years, UCPS has posted accurate capacity numbers. Let that sink in for a moment. I’ve been chasing down DPI capacity calculations from UCPS for several years. These are simple calculations based on formulas provided by the NC Department of Public Instruction. It’s basic math. Yet for some reason, UCPS has been unable to provide these numbers FOR YEARS. Melissa Merrell has been the head of the Facilities Committee for a few months and all of a sudden it’s raining data.

Todays post is sponsored by the word “Perjury”

I think it’s worth mentioning here that I reached out to Don Hughes personally as well as filing a FOIA request several years ago, in order to gain access to these capacity numbers. Dr. Ellis, Dr. Webb, and all of the BOE filed sworn affidavits indicating UCPS had no records for Core Capacity. A couple of months ago, Don Hughes admitted that there is a spreadsheet used to calculate Core Capacity for all of the schools and he has had it in his possession since he took the job running the Facilities Department back in 2009. What’s that word that means you intentionally made false statements under oath? Oh yeah, perjury. That’s the word I was looking for. Perjury. Don Hughes already acknowledged that he arbitrarily adjusted the Core Capacity numbers to make redistricting look better. We also have Facilities e-mails confirming that the Core Capacity numbers were changed to make redistricting look better. Now we know Don Hughes is just as dishonest as the rest of the gang. With any luck, Don Hughes will be unemployed by the end of this school year. You shouldn’t get a free pass when you intentionally put children in harms way to fit your personal agenda.

And now we return to your regularly scheduled post…

Back to the topic at hand. Over the last few weeks I’ve asked the BOE (again) to provide documentation on the various types of capacity measurements for our schools. None of it is complicated. All of it is very straightforward. Lo and behold, every single item I requested was provided, usually within a couple of days. Not only did Melissa Merrell provide the information I requested, I double-checked the math, and it appears to be correct. I ran my own Core Capacity numbers a couple of years ago and posted them on this website. The numbers I ran two years ago appear to be an exact match for the numbers Melissa Merrell sent me. Again, it’s not difficult math, so the fact that I had the right answer two years ago isn’t really a big deal. It’s shameful that UCPS was unable to provide such basic information for so long and they chose to resort to perjury to try and hide their manipulations.

Core Capacity

UCPS has committed to using a formula to calculate Core Capacity based on 4-seatings of lunch in the cafeteria. DPI offers several different formulas for Core Capacity, this is one of them. I’ve said it before, I don’t care which formula UCPS uses, so long as the same formula is applied across all the schools equally. This Core Capacity formula essentially tells us how many students the school cafeteria can feed.

Classroom Capacity

UCPS is also using a standard DPI formula for calculating Classroom Capacity. Classroom Capacity is based on the quantity of each type of classroom. General purpose classrooms are worth a certain number of students, chemistry classrooms are worth a certain number of students, etc. etc. All of those numbers are added together and you get Classroom Capacity. This Classroom Capacity tells us how many students a school can educate at one time. I’ve been told that for high schools with block schedules, DPI creates a lower number based on 77% attendance. I’m still trying to confirm this. However, the 77% value isn’t used in calculating anything else, so even if we throw that number out, it doesn’t change anything. It should also be noted that the physical size of a classroom doesn’t change the number of students DPI assigns to it for Classroom Capacity. A general purpose classroom that is 900 sqft in an older school counts for the same number of students as a 1,500 sqft general purpose classroom in a newer school.

School Capacity

School Capacity is a new construct that we haven’t seen in UCPS, at least not in the last few years. At first I was confused by adding a 3rd capacity measurement but after seeing all the numbers, this makes sense. If you look at the newer middle schools, their Core Capacity is more than 2,300 students because of their large cafeterias. But their Classroom Capacity is around 1,200. There’s no logical sense to shoving 2,300 students into a school when you can only teach 1,200 of them. Likewise you can’t shove 1,500 students into a school when you can only feed 1,200 of them (Sun Valley HS). This is where School Capacity comes into play. School Capacity is being set by the Facilities Committee and is based on the lower value of the Core or Classroom Capacity. If Core Capacity is too high, then School Capacity is set to match Classroom. If Classroom Capacity is too high, then School Capacity is set to match Core. It’s not arbitrary and so far, it looks like it is being applied equally across all the schools

In the near future, I will be writing up an analysis on what these accurate capacity numbers show with regards to the 2016 bond, as well as what these numbers show us about the redistricting plan. I’ll give you a hint though, we were 100% right about redistricting being a big steaming pile of bullshit. If you want to run the numbers yourself, you are welcome to it. You can find a copy of all these numbers for the schools related to the 2016 bond at the website www.ucpsbond2016.com, under Bond Resources. You can also grab a copy of the PDF file here.

Go, be fruitful, and calculate… or arithmecate… or… something… But take a look at the numbers. We fought long and hard to get access to accurate data. Turns out all we needed to get to the truth was get rid of Kevin Stewart. Raise your hand if this shocks you. This is me, not raising my hand.

-“Giddy As A Geek With Numbers To Crunch” Dad


As the clock struck 12 this afternoon, victory was handed to the people and parents of Union County. The corrupt and harmful practices of Dr. Mary Ellis, Dr. Mike Webb, and the Board of Education majority that encouraged and enabled them has a final expiration date. It will come to an end at the Dec 2016 Board of Education meeting. It’s official, they will no longer have enough votes on the new Board of Education to shove anything down our throats. We may have lost the fight on redistricting, but we absolutely won the war. We won, and we won big. Here’s the tale of the tape so far:

Dr. Mary Ellis – Superintendent & Dr. Mike Webb – Deputy Superintendent: Resigned in disgrace after violating their employment contracts. They both knowingly failed to disclose a private business relationship with a UCPS technology vendor, a vendor relationship worth tens of millions of dollars. They both oversaw the largest student redistricting in Union County history based on arbitrary capacity numbers created at their request by Don Hughes, Head of Facilities for UCPS. Despite parent warnings and research, this redistricting plan (which Dr. Ellis told us would be free) cost taxpayers nearly $1 million per year in lost transportation funding from the state due to the additional miles generated by the redistricting plan. Because of a shortage of buses (due to the extra routes and miles created by the redistricting plan), a number of buses were forced back into service despite having known mechanical issues. These issues were willfully ignored resulting in 1 bus overturning and crushing a mother & daughter and 1 bus spewing boiling engine coolant onto the legs of several children.

Richard Yercheck – Chairman of the Board of Education: He spent years working with private developers on a plan to rebuild Sun Valley High School in exchange for handing over some commercial property. In order to speed up the timetable for his developer friends, Yercheck implemented the largest (and most disastrous) student redistricting in Union County history. He also earned the dubious honor of bringing about the largest property tax increase in Union County history. A whopping 15% increase due to his failed leadership. Subsequently he lost the election by a landslide. He continues to meddle in the affairs of the BOE by proxy, for now.

John Collins – Chairman of the Board of Education: Resigned in disgrace after the BOE, under his failed leadership, refused to perform the annual review of Dr. Ellis which would have brought to light her unethical side business with a UCPS vendor. He refused any attempt to reign in Board Member Kevin Stewart and his threats of violence against the people of Union County.

H. Kevin Stewart – Chairman of the Facilities Committee: Resigned in disgrace after violating Closed Session policy and leaked the name of Rob Jackson as a candidate for Superintendent via Facebook, threatening harm against parents and fellow BOE members, and generally being an asshole to anyone who dared disagree with him. He famously threatened to redistrict students again if their parents didn’t vote to approve a bond for nearly a quarter of a BILLION dollars.

The following Board of Education members who supported the corrupt and failed leadership of Dr. Ellis also lost the election or were to afraid to file again for fear of facing the people they harmed:

  • Rick Pig
  • Rev. Jim Bention
  • Mike Guzman
  • Jason Marton

By refusing to face the people of District 6, Jason Marton handed the victory to Kathy Heintel who will now run unopposed. District 2 candidate Matt Helms will also run unopposed to take over the seat Kevin Stewart abandoned in disgrace.

New Superintendent

Earlier this week the Board of Education approved the appointment of Dr. Andrew Houlihan as the new Superintendent. I’ve not yet had the opportunity to meet Dr. Houlihan, but there is 1 thing about him that I believe you need to know:

  1. He didn’t hurt our kids.

I know, my standards might seem a little low, but that’s about all you need in order to stay on my good side. I don’t care about your politics. I don’t care about your opinion of common-core. I don’t care about your opinion on bathroom assignment. Sure, we can discuss those things and agree or disagree or maybe even compromise. But my minimum standard is don’t hurt our kids. With that being said, I’ve taken down the links from stoptheucpssuperintendent.org and it will no longer point to this website. Dr. Houlihan deserves a clean slate, and I will do my best to give him one.

Election Battles Remaining

While there’s no chance that the current BOE majority will maintain a majority for the next 2 years, there is still a little bit of house cleaning to do. Incumbent Christina Helms will try and keep her place on the Board against Dennis Rape and Lee Henage. Yercheck & Collins BFF Amelie Schoel is running in District 5 against Joseph Morreale. We still need to work together to elect Dennis Rape, Lee Henage, and Joseph Morreale. Knowing that Matt Helms and Kathy Heintel are unopposed, we can focus our support behind these three candidates.

We have a little more work to do in November, but for now, let’s celebrate our complete and total victory over the people who tried to hurt our kids.

-Vindicated Dad

Wait And See

On Monday, BOE member Jason Marton failed to appear at a joint-meeting between the Board of Education and the Board of County Commissioners. His absence is unusual because I’ve been told he was the author of the keynote presentation, which left BOE chair Leslie Boyd in the lurch. Predictably, the presentation was an absolute disaster and the $250 million CCEP bond proposal was pronounced dead at the scene. It didn’t take long for the BOE to realize that they had no backup plan in case the CCEP failed and so at the last minute they scrambled to make some changes. First, they moved Melissa Merrell into the Chair of the Facilities Committee. Second, they came back to the BOCC last night with a request for $50 million.

This smaller bond is for issues at Western Union ES, Porter Ridge MS & HS, Monroe HS, Sun Valley HS, Piedmont HS, and a new Transportation Center. The backlash from the community was immediate. Quite frankly, it’s been years since we have seen something on UCPS letterhead that was true and factual. We’re not used to a BOE that is willing to make changes and adjustments to their plans to accommodate reasonable concerns. We’re used to having harmful decisions shoved down our throats followed by a quick kick in the face as we are insulted and attacked. We’re so pissed off at this CCEP that we immediately went after the new bond before looking at the facts, myself included. It will take some time for us all to get used to a Facilities Chair that responds to our concerns rather than insults and ignores us.

Do we really need $50 million? My best answer to that at this moment is, “I don’t know.” At first glance, most of the issues on the list appear to be legitimate. These schools are the most overcrowded in the County. Yes, they got this way because the current BOE majority failed to fix it 3 years ago. Porter Ridge was overcrowded before redistricting and it was overcrowded after redistricting. Instead, they forced more kids into Sun Valley to make it a top priority of their now-defunct CCEP. Another failure of the current UCPS leadership.

Even though we didn’t create this mess, we still need to find a solution. The latest demographic study shows Porter Ridge MS & HS over their limits for the next 3 years. After that, there is a couple of years of decline and then the numbers bounce back up again. Sun Valley, Monroe, and Piedmont HS show the same pattern or slightly worse.

Unfortunately there is nothing we can do for the high schools that will impact the next 2 years. If the bond passes in November 2016, it won’t make a difference for 2016-17 or 2017-18. There are new charter schools opening in 2 months, but they aren’t launching with high school students. One of them plans to open a high school in 2-3 years. The next 2 years at these high schools is going to be horribly overcrowded and that is the legacy of Richard Yercheck, John Collins, Kevin Stewart, Dr. Mary Ellis, and Dr. Mike Webb. These people took a bad situation and made it worse, then they ran away leaving us holding the bag. We can’t change it. We can’t fix it for these 2 years, but we do need to look at what is coming down the pipe.

The way I see it, there are 4 possible scenarios for the overcrowded schools for 2018 and beyond.

  1. The new charter schools that are opening this fall might be enough to bring these overcrowded populations down a little. UCPS will be losing several hundred elementary and middle school students. The one school that is accepting middle school kids is right down the street from Porter Ridge MS. It’s entirely possible this school will take some stress off or Porter Ridge. If it pulls kids from Porter Ridge MS, those kids will also likely not go back into Porter Ridge HS. I think it would be wise of UCPS to look into the charter school transfer numbers ASAP. If the charter schools don’t make a dent in the middle schools, we can assume that it won’t be enough for the high schools in a few years either. We won’t know for certain until the 20 day numbers come out in September.
  2. We approve the bond and the funds are used to add capacity (cafeteria, media center, etc.) and the problem is solved. At the moment, the BOE has nothing they can present to us to show how they will add capacity. Half of the CCEP was Yercheck’s development deal and a transportation center, the other half was replacing mobile units with brick and mortar. None of it was going to add additional capacity. They had no backup plan, no contingencies, it was the entire CCEP or nothing, and they were 48 hours from getting nothing. I’ve been told this new (smaller) bond will add real capacity, not just replace MCR’s. It will take some time for Melissa Merrell and the Facilities Committee to put together the list of projects, and we have 5 months before we go to the polls. She has years of Kevin Stewarts bullshit to wade through and clean up. Let’s give her some time and see what she comes up with before we make up our minds on this bond.
  3. We approve the bond and UCPS hijacks the funds for other projects like a hybrid Sun Valley HS, laptops from Lenovo, or some other disaster. Let me be blunt. I trust Gary Sides, Melissa Merrell, and Sharon Harrell to do right by my kids. Leslie Boyd, Jason Marton, Christina Helms, and Mike Guzman have all gone out of their way to harm our children and I have no faith in their judgment. Most of these people are up for election again so there is an opportunity for a major course correction in UCPS leadership. However, we still don’t know which of these people are running again. We need to wait and see who puts their names in the hat over the next couple of weeks to see what the future may hold for the BOE.
  4. Assuming the charter schools do not make a dent, we can reject the bond and force a new BOE leadership 2-3 years from now to redistrict again. If these schools are overcrowded and we don’t add capacity, redistricting is a very real possibility. I’m not saying we have to fund a $100+ million hybrid school or else redistricting will be used as a weapon or punishment. I’m saying the schools that are overcrowded now will need to addressed or redistricting will happen again. If none of these other scenarios pan out, this will be our last resort.

We have plenty of time to let the new Facilities Chair gather information and provide some details as to how capacity will be added. We have plenty of time to see whether or not the new charter schools will make a difference here. We have plenty of time to see who is going to run for Board of Education so we can determine the likelihood of the old guard sticking around.

That’s my point. We have time. The bond vote happens in November. Let’s ask questions, do research, and see where the numbers are before we decide whether or not we will support this bond. Let’s all take a step back and wait and see what happens.

-Angry Dad

Another One Bites The Dust

Yesterday it was announced that Board of Education member H. K. Stewart resigned. For those of you at home keeping track, that’s one Superintendent, one Deputy Superintendent, one Board of Education Chairman, and one Board of Education Facilities Chairman all running for the hills. Collins resignation happened just before we found out that taxpayers were going to have to foot a bill for half a million dollars for Ellis’s early “retirement”. I wonder what going-away present we will find as Stewart makes his exit with his tail between his legs…

Surprisingly enough, I struggled with whether to write anything else, other than announcing the joyous news and leaving it at that. I’m aware of the some of the medical issues his family is dealing with and quite frankly, I don’t want to lump his wife and family into this mess. It’s not fair to them. Then again, Kevin Stewart is the one who attacks the wives of elected officials and women all over Union County, calling them heifers and witches, insulting them on internal UCPS e-mails. I can only imagine how he would react to me treating his wife and daughter the way he treats women who disagree with him. I will not stoop to his level and attack his wife and family, I will leave them out of this. However, if I were a friend or family member of H. Kevin Stewart, I’d give him a wide berth for now. He has a Weapon of Mass Karma coming his way and collateral damage should be avoided. While I won’t drag his family into this mess that he created, I believe the truth needs to be told.

Kevin Stewart is a vile, despicable man. He’s the physical embodiment of all that is broken in Union County. His racist rants blaming genetics for poor student performance would have had any teacher or principal fired on the spot, yet his friends on the Board of Education never had the fortitude to do the right thing. His social media posts with his firearms threatening parents who dare to disagree with him would have left him unemployed and probably in jail in a professional environment, yet his friends on the Board of Education never bothered to speak out against him. This man was a rabid dog on a leash and the people who held his leash were happy to use him against anyone who stood in their way. It makes me very happy to see this rabid animal is going back into his cage where he belongs.

Kevin Stewart is a bully, the kind of animal we raise our children to stand up to. Like all bullies, Kevin Stewart is also a coward at heart. He and I both use a keyboard to communicate, and neither of us are known for being overly kind with our words. But when the opportunity arises to go face to face with the opposition, I’ve shown up every single time. I’ve stood alone in court while Kevin Stewart hid behind a high-priced attorney. When Board Member Jason Marton offered to speak in our community and answer our questions, I was there, willing to ask the questions that Marton refused to answer. Over the last few years, I’ve asked for meetings with every single Board Member, even speaking with some of them for hours after Board Meetings. But not Kevin Stewart. He never had the courage to face me or any other parent in this County who had the audacity to disagree with him.

Now that he’s off the Board, he’s just another mentally unstable bigot on Twitter, and he will have to adjust to something that most of us have known all along. He is completely and utterly irrelevant. He had his chance to step up and make a difference, but the tale of the tape shows he was a miserable failure. I won’t post his entire “resignation” letter here as I have a policy against intentionally spreading lies. His resignation letter reads like something an athlete would write when they retire at the pinnacle of their careers, at the top of their game. People like Peyton Manning and Kobe Bryant could only dream of writing such nice things about themselves. In reality, Stewart’s performance on the Board was nothing short of a disaster.

Stewart was on the wrong side of every major and controversial decision made over the last several years. A few weeks back there was a survey of all UCPS stakeholders. The results of the survey showed that all stakeholder groups, including parents, teachers, and UCPS staff, believed that keeping UCPS moving in it’s current direction is the worst thing possible. Talk about an indictment of the current leadership. Yet somehow Stewart believes he’s the hero of this story. He’s delusional at best.

It will take several years to undo the damage Kevin Stewart and his handlers wrought on Union County Public Schools. He may have fixed a few important facilities issues here and there, but his leadership failures will likely cost taxpayers more than a million dollars. Most Union County residents will spend the better part of a decade waiting for their income levels to rise enough to balance out the 15% tax increase that Stewart brought us. Top of his game? Not likely. Abandoning ship after being found incompetent at the helm is far more accurate.

I will quote his closing comments though.

Godspeed my friends and may the future bode only good things for public education in Union County!

This is my hope as well. Thankfully, now that Kevin Stewart, John Collins, Dr. Mary Ellis, Dr. Mike Webb, Richard Yercheck, and Rick Pigg are gone, the future of public education in Union County is looking brighter and brighter.

And then there were 4…
Leslie Boyd
Mike Guzman
Christina Helms
Jason Marton

A bright future indeed!

-Angry Dad

Funding For Benton Heights – The Leader In Me

Apparently my last post (linked here) has touched a few nerves, and not just because of my “salty” language. It didn’t take long before the good people of Union County stepped up with offers to help donate and raise the money to fund The Leader In Me for Benton Heights Elementary School. For that, I have two things to say.

First, and foremost, thank you. To see this kind of a response to the kids who need our help the most, shows me just what kind of people we have here in Union County. For every Jason Marton looking out for his own interests at the expense of others, there are hundreds, if not thousands of others willing to help even when they have nothing to gain from it. I honestly believe we can raise the funds for this program if the BOE refuses to fund it. But I’m not about to let the BOE off the hook so quickly on this one. Which leads me to my second response.

I don’t think it’s time for us to fund it ourselves just yet. While I am willing to help raise funds for this, and donate some myself, I believe the funding for this should come from the Board of Education. I believe their unwillingness to cover the cost of the program is shameful and cowardly, and I believe we need to reach out to Leslie Boyd and put some pressure on her.

Why Leslie Boyd? Because Mike Guzman, Christina Helms, Jason Marton, and Kevin Stewart are all lame ducks. She’s the only one that will be sticking around for a couple more years and putting pressure on her to do the right thing might work. Of course, we tried putting pressure on Collins to do the right thing and that never bore fruit, so I’m not making any promises with Boyd. But at least she has something to gain in this scenario. From this point on, the rest of the BOE majority is completely irrelevant. Boyd has the opportunity to demonstrate some measure of leadership now that she’s likely to get moved up into the chairman’s position for a few months.

My suggestion is that you reach out to Leslie Boyd (leslie.boyd@ucps.k12.nc.us) and encourage her to step up and support the principal at Benton Heights ES.

I have a passion to represent all of the children of Union County. – Leslie Boyd

Let’s put some pressure on Leslie Boyd and see if her passion to represent “all” of the children of Union County includes the ones who attend Benton Heights.

-Angry Dad

Millions For Lenovo, Nothing For Benton Heights Principal

If, like me (and Kevin Stewart, John Collins, and Dr. Mary Ellis) you weren’t at the BOE meeting Tuesday night, there’s something that I think you need to be aware of. You can jump straight to it with this link here for the video. Apparently there is a program called “The Leader In Me“, which was designed by a Raleigh principal who was looking for a program to turn around her failing school. I’m not familiar with the program at all, and I know that you can’t trust everything you read on the Internet, so I won’t parrot what I read on their website. There are a few facts that I think are important though.

  1. This is an established program, with a proven track record in states all over the Country.
  2. This program was successfully implemented at Indian Trail ES, right here in Union County (funds were raised by the PTO and at the expense of some staff positions, according to the BOE meeting video).
  3. Implementing the program will cost approx. $60,000.
  4. The principal at Benton Heights ES, Mrs. Traywick, one of six UCPS schools that is currently failing, wants to implement this program. Principal Traywick has approx. $14,000 saved up from this years budget and is asking the BOE for the remaining $46,000.

That’s about it. It appears to be a good program with a good track-record of success at schools that are in desperate need of help. Gary Sides put forth the motion to amend the budget and add $46,000 to fund the program, Melissa Merrell offered the second, and everyone voted to approve the funding. Right? Of course not. Apparently the only people on the Board of Education who thought this program was worth considering were Sharon Harrell, Gary Sides, and Melissa Merrell. Mike Guzman, Leslie Boyd, Christina Helms, and Jason Marton voted against it.

If you are offended by “salty” language, I suggest you stop reading after the next couple of sentences. If you want my censored opinion on this, I say “Shame on this Board of Education for failing to provide a pittance for our kids with the greatest needs, when they are so quick to transfer tens of millions of dollars for laptops that were never budgeted over the last several years.” There, that’s my one sentence summary. If you want to know how I really feel, keep reading.


You have been warned.


Don’t complain to me if you read beyond this point and are offended.


Last chance.


This is complete and utter bullshit. We have a principal who asks for $46,000, and this Board refuses to fund the request. Are they insane? When a Leader steps up to the plate and offers a solution, you better damn well support that Leader. That’s her job, and it’s their job to support her. I can’t promise that the program will work, but it looks like this is a great place to give it a shot. And it’s not like the Board of Education has any better ideas for Benton Heights. The BOE’s solution to failing schools is to shuffle kids around to improve test scores. Principal Traywick wants to do right by her kids, and I believe this Board has failed miserably in supporting her.

If you watched that part of the meeting, you’ll see that there were a couple of reasons that were given as to why the BOE couldn’t provide funding for this.

First, they didn’t like that the request wasn’t filtered through the Finance or Curriculum committees. Since when have the Finance and Curriculum committees helped anything at all? When has this Board helped anything at all? This Board is in the midst of asking the County to fund approx. $100 million for a “hybrid” high school, yet all of the “research” and “studies” for this new school amounts to a single page document that has been passed around. $100 million dollars, and all of their combined effort is a one-pager? If this is the kind of crap that these committees call “research”, what’s the point in sending Principal Traywick’s request down that path?

Besides, it’s $46,000. How many millions of dollars has the BOE transferred out of the budget for laptops? I’m pretty sure it’s well over $10 million in the last few years alone. This Board will freely take $10 million of taxpayer funds, allocated for specific items, and then transfer it out and spend it on laptops instead. But they suddenly can’t support a local principal with a $46,000 request to try and turn around a failing school? “Come to Union County! Where we spend tens of millions on laptops for kids and have classrooms of tomorrow (sponsored by Lenovo and EducatRx), yet we refuse simple funding requests from the boots on the ground who are trying to make a positive impact on our children.” Talk about missing the forest for the trees.

Second, and this one really gets me fired up, Christina Helms and Jason Marton argued that if we do this for one school, we have to do it for all. Really? Since when did UCPS have a policy of treating all of the schools equally? Last time I checked, UCPS has dozens and dozens of mobile classrooms all over the east and central parts of the County. But when the County Commissioners offered to stop redistricting and fund a handful of mobile units for the western half, people lost their minds. Even Leslie Boyd, now Vice-Chairman of the Board of Education, told the BOE that this would be making “a deal with the devil”. Well, if mobile classrooms are good enough for the east and central, they should be good enough for the west too. If you do for one, you should do for all, right Christina Helms? The simple truth is that the BOE has been playing favorites with the schools in the Marvin, Cuthbertson, and Weddington clusters for years. Throwing God knows how much money at them while letting the rest of the County languish. Now they want to pretend that UCPS has some sort of fairness rule in place about school funding? Bullshit. Absolute bullshit.

And can someone PLEASE tell me what the hell does Jason Marton know about “if you do for one, you have to do for all”? He is without a doubt, the most selfish person I have ever met. He encouraged the Board to kick thousands of students out of their current clusters and send them to schools that he had already pulled his kids out of. When I asked him if he would be willing to do to his own kids what he did to our kids, he literally tried to run away to avoid the question. He has no place to utter the phrase, “if you do for one, you have to do for all.” If Jason Marton wants to “do for all”, he can send his kids to Benton Heights ES. And then maybe he might see Principal Traywick’s request in a new light. Maybe if his kids could be impacted in a positive way, he might reconsider.

Third, and finally, Jason Marton, champion for all students (and by all students, I mean just his own kids and pretty much no one else), argued that if they funded this program for Benton Heights, they might have to fund similar programs at the other 5 failing schools. NO $H!T SHERLOCK!@!!! That’s the first time I’ve heard Jason Marton say anything even remotely intelligent. He’s absolutely right. If Benton Heights implements a program that turns the failing school around, the BOE might have to fund that program at the other failing schools. Or, if the other principals of those schools come forward with their own plans to turn around their schools, the terrible burden of writing a freaking check for $46,000 each will fall on the shoulders of the Board of Education. God forbid! Let’s just redistrict more kids around to avoid having to fund programs that help schools that are struggling. And lets order another round of laptops from Lenovo while we play musical chairs with everyone’s kids. Yes Jason, the Board of Education will have to fund programs to help struggling schools. It’s your job. I think it’s great that you finally realized that, with only 6 months left before the voters reject you… again.

Let’s be honest here. Any school with the PTO budget can implement this program. But it’s beyond the reach of the PTO at Benton Heights. After all the hundreds of millions of dollars we’ve poured into the west, can someone please tell me why the BOE now suddenly thinks it unfair to add a $46,000 line-item to the new budget for a struggling school? Besides, as Melissa Merrell pointed out, this could be treated as a pilot program and if successful, would be rolled out to other schools as needed. Sounds fair to me.

Better yet, I know how we can fund the program. With Ellis and Webb resigning in disgrace, we can keep both of those seats open for 2 months. We can take the savings from those salaries and fund the program at Benton Heights. Ellis and Webb haven’t done a damn thing for our kids, so it’s not like leaving their seats vacant for a couple of months is going to do any harm. In fact, funding this program might be the best thing Ellis and Webb have ever done for the kids in Union County. How is that for leaving a legacy?

-Angry Dad

Good Riddance

Taking a page out of the Dr. Mary Ellis and Dr. Mike Webb playbook, BOE Chairman John Collins threw in the towel yesterday and resigned. He said, “I can no longer continue to put my own needs and the needs of my family and friends in a secondary position to the needs of Union County Public Schools.” I find this strange because back when he voted to extend Ellis and Webb’s contracts in 2015, he absolutely had no problem putting his friends first ahead of the needs of Union County Public Schools. In fact, that’s pretty much been par for the course for him for several years. When his friend Kevin Stewart runs off on an epic rant on social media AND his official UCPS e-mail account, Collins refused to get involved. Friends first, our kids second. Or third. Sometimes fourth. But never first. Where was John Collins when UCPS was telling parents in 2013 that redistricting was not being discussed? He was telling UCPS staff where to redraw the lines. When Ellis & Webb were caught in a major conflict of interest (and violating their employment contracts), where was John Collins? He was working out a deal with them to call off the internal investigation so they can “retire” with a clean slate. John Collins has been nothing but an absolute failure in leadership in every way possible and our kids are all better off with him gone. Good riddance.

And then there were 5…
Leslie Boyd
Mike Guzman
Christina Helms
Jason Marton
Kevin Stewart

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. November can’t come fast enough for 4 of them. At the rate these people are running for the hills, we may not have to wait 6 months to check another name or two off the list.

-Angry Dad

Case Dismissed

For those of you who hadn’t heard, the final hearing for our lawsuit against the Board of Education was yesterday afternoon. Most of the other Plaintiffs had already dropped out but I decided to stay on until the end. Yesterday the Judge granted the BOE’s Motion for Summary Judgment which officially puts an end to the lawsuit. Board Member Kevin Stewart has said I looked like an idiot standing there in Court, and you know what, I probably did. I’m not an attorney, I’ve never claimed to be one. But I’m a father, and I will always show up and fight for my kids. If showing up to a fight for my kids means I might look foolish in the end, so be it. If people want to harm my kids and the cost of admission for me is to stand in front of a nearly empty courtroom looking like an idiot, then I’m happy to pay that price.

I think that’s one thing that this Board of Education overlooked when they shoved this disastrous and harmful redistricting down our throats. We are parents. We will always fight. We will take a loss on the chin, get back up, and wait for the bell to signal the next round.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Theodore Roosevelt
Paris France
April 23, 1910

I’m ready for the next round.

-Angry Dad

Deputy Superintendent Dr. Mike Webb (Also) Retires In Disgrace

News is coming out today that Dr. Mike Webb, UCPS Deputy Superintendent and right-hand-man of disgraced Superintendent Dr. Mary Ellis will also be leaving UCPS. While I wish this would have happened a couple of years earlier, I’m excited at the prospect that two more of the public officials who harmed our kids are on their way out the door. I’m assuming that this also means he is not vying for the soon-to-be-vacant Superintendent’s position. Which is another reason to celebrate.

With Ellis and Webb running away to avoid public scrutiny for their conflicts of interest and unsanctioned outside employment, that leaves John Collins, Kevin Stewart, Michael Guzman, Christina Helms, Jason Marton, and Leslie Boyd awaiting their turn at the headsman. Five of them are up for election in a few months. I for one am hoping for a clean sweep.

I’m curious. At what point will the friends and supporters of these people acknowledge the truth? What else do we need to dig up to prove our case that this Board of Education, and these administrators are dishonest, greedy, selfish people who intentionally put children in harms way for financial gain? At what point will the Board of Education acknowledge their own mistakes and take ownership of their actions? How many more children have to be hurt? How high do our taxes have to be raised? How many thousands of students have to line up for a chance to win the lottery and get into charter schools to avoid UCPS?

One more down, six more to go. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

-Angry Dad

Superintendent Dr. Mary Ellis Retires In Disgrace

I was completely and utterly shocked yesterday when I heard the news. UCPS Superintendent Dr. Mary Ellis announced her premature retirement. If you’ve read my last few posts, you will know that I had predicted a completely different outcome.

Here is what we know. After Ellis and Dr. Mike Webb’s (failed) attempts to hide their involvement, two investigations were started. The NC State Bureau of Investigation was tasked with determining if any laws were broken. As I expected, they found that no laws were broken and no charges were filed. The SBI made it very clear that this was a conflict of interest, but a conflict of interest by itself is not illegal.

The second investigation was started by the Board of Education which holds the employment contracts for both Ellis and Webb. Both contracts forbid conflicts of interest and both contracts require Board approval before engaging in any outside employment. It was obvious to everyone what the results of this second investigation would be, it was just a matter of time before the results were made public. Two days ago, UCPS admitted that they had canceled the internal investigation and that no further comments would be made on the matter.

I had assumed this meant they were going to ignore it completely but I couldn’t have been more wrong. It looks like a deal was brokered between Ellis and her friends on the Board of Education, where the investigation would be canceled and the results buried. In return she would “retire” at the end of this school year. While I think it is ridiculous that Union County taxpayers are being forced to continue to pay her salary for the next 3 months, I have to give credit where it is due and acknowledge that someone somewhere on the Board of Education woke up this weekend and found that their moral compass was working again.

From the looks of it, I’m assuming (I know, my last assumption didn’t pan out too well) that this deal was to allow Ellis to save face and retire rather than let the investigation run to completion and be open to the public. The facts at hand are absolutely clear and no one in Union County believes that this is anything other than her being (rightfully) forced out. In September 2015, the BOE voted to extend her employment contract. A few weeks later, she’s being investigated for violating her employment contract. All of a sudden the investigation was called off and she announces her early retirement. No matter how much her friends on the Board try and let her save face, her career in education is over. The book deal that she was supposed to have (which the BOE approved) will likely disappear as well. Traveling the country speaking about being a great superintendent? That’s not going to happen unless these conferences don’t know how to use an Internet search engine. Her days are numbered and the countdown has begun. Tick. Tock.

Which brings us to Dr. Mike Webb, Deputy Superintendent and fellow officer in the same private corporations which led to Ellis’ fall from grace. We know that the internal investigation is over. We also know that his contract requires Board approval for outside employment, which he doesn’t have. So there are a few options for him. 1) He’s given the same deal as Ellis and he is given time to look for a new job elsewhere. 2) He’s promoted to Superintendent and replaces Ellis. 3) He remains at his current post and we have to continue to put up with him when a new Superintendent is chosen.

Option #3 is not likely. With his checkered past, he has to know that a new Superintendent will not want him around. He needs to get out while the getting is good.

Option #2 is also unlikely. At this moment, he is still in violation of his employment contract. Even if the BOE gives him a new contract as Superintendent, that contract will require Board Approval for outside employment, which he does not have. Unless the Board wants to publicly vote to approve of his conflict of interest, Webb will be fired the moment a new BOE majority is sworn into office in December 2016.

Option #1 is, in my opinion, the most likely scenario. So long as the investigation goes away, nothing is on-the-record and he can spend the next few months on LinkedIn searching for a new school District. Unfortunately for him, his best chance is probably an Amish community that has no access to the Internet. A quick Google search will make it clear to any employer why this “rising star” in UCPS is looking for new employment.

Of course, I could be completely wrong here as well. For all I know, an hour after I post this, he might announce his early retirement. Wouldn’t that be nice?

-Angry Dad