Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Thursday, March 31, 2011

PHS Assembly: District's responses raise more questions

The flap over the assembly program at Plainfield High School last week that included local representatives of the Nation of Islam continues.

Courier reporter Mark Spivey has a story in today's print and online editions (see here), in which PHS principal Brian Bilal, BOE president Lisa Logan-Leach and BOE member Renata Hernandez defend the program.

Maria Pellum thinks that better communications by the District would have helped avoid misunderstanding (see her blog here). Olddoc is spurred by the incident and the reporting of it to ask plenty of questions (see his post here).

After reading the Courier story, I have even more questions.

Why are we just now being told that the program was put together by the guidance department? Both Ms. Belin-Pyles and Principal Bilal left us with the impression at the Board meeting Tuesday that the Assembly was in the principal's bailiwick and of the principal's doing. So now it's the guidance department? (NOTE: The commenter at 9:08 AM says Dr. Bilal did say the guidance department put the program together; I do not have that in my notes. I stand corrected on the commenter's say-so. -- Dan)

Spivey writes --

...several schools officials all described the assembly as a secular anti-violence program coordinated by members of multiple religions...
This is not exactly what was conveyed at Tuesday night's board meeting, at which Minister Muhammad spoke as though he was the sole organizer of the project. It was only later mentioned in passing by Board member Rasheed Abdul-Haqq that Chamber of Commerce president Jeff Dunn was a presenter. If it was indeed broadly based, why wasn't that brought out clearly at the Board meeting?

Lastly, the matter of whether boys and girls were separated for the Assembly has not been addressed at all. As I said in my previous post (see here), that seems to have been the matter that set off the wave of rumors, confusion and misinformation in the first place.

It still needs to be addressed in a straightforward manner.

Were the boys and girls separated during the Assembly or were they not?

If they were not, why not just say so outright?

If they were, please explain the basis for doing so.

As I said in my previous post, better communications would have shortstopped the matter.

They are still lacking.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

Dan -- that is so untrue. The principal said SPECIFICALLY that this was a program that his guidance department developed and that he required them to supply him with references of any proposed speakers and purpose of the event. Where were you?

Secondly;Mr. Muhummad also said the program was part of A "COMMUNITY" initiative which you and everyone else conveniently left off. Last check "community" usually means more than one person.

Why was Mr. Dunn's portion conveniently left out of your story. I remember there being more than just a mention of him being there. Why Dan, Why?

Also Mr. Haqq also stated his support of the program and its positive purpose. I believe he said it was the best he had ever seen. Yet he is not included in your opening statement. Why Dan, Why?

3rd - When Ms. Hernandez asked, and I heard her, did they violate any law by having the students sit sectioned off by sexes to the lawyer, did that not confirm that they were separated within the SAME assembly receiving the same messages by all the presenters. Come,come now. Why Dan, Why?

What is up with you asking a question of the CSA that had just been asked and answered 5 minutes earlier. So much for your undivided attention. Which by the way is why the students were separated. To get their undivided attention and limit detractions. It's been a time tested practice.

You being a reporter and all, why didn't you take the opportunity to interview Mr. Muhammad to get all the answers you claim you want.He was very personable and I think he would have answered any questions you may have had.Why Dan, Why?

So the real question is why write a half-aZZ story when you could have had all the facts you wanted right from the gentleman himself. Why Dan, Why.

On transparent, open and honest, (with honest being the operative word here) communication YOU receive a Barely Proficient!

Anonymous said...

It appears that the program is designed to help kids stay off the street. Obviously our Rec Department isn't doing it, so why not allow a group who, I believe, are truly concerned about keeping kids off the streets to come in and try to help.

As far as girls and boys sitting separately, why is this an issue? I find this less offensive than when we start our council meetings with a prayer to God.

Let's stop with the small stuff and focus on what matters.

Why aren't these kids getting a good education? Why aren't grade schools using a standardized curriculum? Why are these kids failing in the school system. Girls and boys separate in high school? Frankly, it sounds like a good idea to me.

Dan said...

@ 9:08 AM --
I did not hear Dr. Bilal say the guidance dept. had developed the program, and I was trying to keep good notes. I stand corrected if he did.

I reported Mr. Muhammad said he was 'anxious to build a citywide effort'; I do not recall him saying it already existed (or listing the participants).

If you read my first post, you will find that neither Mr. Dunn nor Mr. Abdul-Haqq were left out, and I specifically state Rasheed deemed the program one of the best he had ever witnessed in twenty years involvement. (How could you have missed it?)

You're right, Ms. Hernandez did ask about the seating. You're saying they WERE separated. My interpretation of her question was, WHAT IF they were separated?

Are you saying that you were responsible for deciding to separate the students, or know how the decision was made?

If so, why are you the first one to say it was 'to get their undivided attention'?

And if it's a good thing, why isn't it done in all Assemblies, so that it is so usual it wouldn't be UNusual. And if for Assemblies, why not throughout the school's classes?

If you were part of the team that put this event together, don't you think all this flap could have been avoided by a little more careful explanation of what the purpose and method was?

After all, the word got out in the community from someone inside PHS -- whether students, teachers or admin -- and could not have got started by anyone outside the building.

If you read my first post, you would have seen I didn't oppose the Assembly, but suggested the adults who should be modeling communications for young people need to be at the top of their game, which this definitely seems not to have been.

Anonymous said...

I don't subscribe to any religions but Plainfield youths could do a lot worse than to be influenced by Sons of Islam.