The state’s Board of Education has ordered the city’s school board to hold a new hearing on a request from parents to change their childrens’ bus stop at the corner of Crystal Lake Road and Prout Hill.
The city’s in October denied the request, which came from several parents who said their children, ranging in age from 4 to 11 years old, have to stand in the road in the morning and “dodge cars” because there are no sidewalks at the site and the property owner there won’t let the children stand in her yard.
The parents appealed the decision to the school board’s Transportation Committee, which held a hearing on Nov. 15 and upheld the full board’s decision to keep the bus stop at the corner of Crystal Lake Road and Prout Hill.
One of the parents, Patrick James, appealed that decision to the state education board last month, arguing that the transportation committee’s hearing was invalid and procedurally flawed because the committee did not give adequate notice of the hearing. The state school board’s Impartial Hearing Board heard the case and issued a decision last month siding with James. The board said the transportation committee’s November hearing was “one-sided,” and ordered the local school board to hold another hearing on the issue.
“To be meaningful, the other party must be heard from and allowed the opportunity to present evidence, call witnesses, cross examine witnesses – in other words, to be seen and heard,” the state hearing board said in the decision. “He did not have a fair hearing.”
James today declined to comment on the issue, but in an email statement regarding a blog he posted earlier criticizing school leaders he said, “The public perception of our school system is poor, which is a shame. There are hundreds of teachers, lower level administrators ( principals, vice principals, curriculum directors and department heads) and other employees that work hard every day to provide a safe environment for our children to learn in, and do a fantastic job of providing a top notch public education for our children. Unfortunately, the public image of the system is seen by the public from the top down, not the bottom up. It is my hope that the Middletown BOE as a whole will come to this same conclusion, and make the necessary positive changes in leadership required to correct the negative image so we can all move on from these past issues together, as a community, and change the perception of our schools and the city as a whole to what it should be: A great place to live and work."
School Superintendent did not immediately return a call seeking comment.