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Author Topic: School Board Votes NO on the lease. A lawsuit is expected.  (Read 16926 times)
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« on: February 12, 2014, 08:18:11 AM »



On January 22nd, The Corbett School District Board of Directors voted unanimously to renew the Corbett Charter School 7-0. ( For lead up to this vote and more information read here: http://corbettpost.com/csd-board-meeting-1-15-2014/)

Below are emails from Bob Dunton sent since the special board meeting February 11, 2014 where a vote of 5-2 NOT to renew the Charter's lease agreement took place. To see more about this topic you can read here: http://corbettoregon.com/forum/index.php?topic=803.0

More information and even audio from the most recent meeting can be found here: http://corbettpost.com/

*This board meeting did not comply with original ORS rules but apparently according to new rules - "online media" counts for notification. In other words - the notices that would usually be on reader boards or at the post office were not there as usual 24 hours prior to a board meeting. However, because it was mentioned on Facebook or the CSD blog - that counted.

On February 15, 2014, Bob Dunton sent an email confirming the allegations of Superintendent Trani's Affair with a staff member. You can read that email here: http://corbettoregon.com/forum/index.php?topic=810.0




OREGONIAN ARTICLE FROM 2/13/14: http://www.oregonlive.com/gresham/index.ssf/2014/02/corbetts_charter_school_must_f.html

GRESHAM OUTLOOK ARTICLE FROM 2/14/2013: http://www.pamplinmedia.com/go/42-news/210954-68501-corbett-school-board-denies-charter-lease

EDITOR OPINION PIECE FROM 2/21/14: http://pamplinmedia.com/go/43-opinion/211845-69880-corbett-board-must-revisit-lease-agreement-for-charter-school

GRESHAM OUTLOOK ARTICLE FROM 2/21/14: http://www.pamplinmedia.com/go/42-news/211774-69814-lease-denial-frustrates-families-teachers




From: Bob Dunton <bdunton@corbettcharter.k12.or.us>
Date: February 11, 2014 at 10:34:34 PM PST
To: Bob Dunton <bdunton@corbettcharter.k12.or.us>
Subject: Evicted

The District teachers and administrators (except DeeDee Hanes) lined up and pretty much torpedoed the charter school tonight.  People who smile and say hello every time I see them... I am beyond saddened.

We aren't done.  Two Board members stood their ground and said that the decision was bad for kids.  The others voted for the good of the teachers' union instead.

We're tired and headed home.

We're not done.  It's a marathon.  We'll get back to you soon.


--
Regards,

Bob Dunton, Director
Corbett Charter School






From: Bob Dunton <bdunton@corbettcharter.k12.or.us>
Date: February 11, 2014 at 11:24:44 PM PST

To: Bob Dunton <bdunton@corbettcharter.k12.or.us>
Subject: We're OK

Hi, All,

Done moping!  Now the rest of the story.  Read carefully.

I'm happy for the catharsis that was clearly experienced by a number of District people at the meeting tonight. They needed that.

But here is the scoop.  When the District turned down our offer of $70,000 per classroom next year (we currently pay a smidgen over $30,000), they also turned down our offer to create a lease agreement that was separate from the charter agreement.  Our rental agreement has always been part of the charter agreement (I was there at its inception), and the first time the charter was renewed the rental amount was part of the motion to renew the charter.  The board member who made that motion voted against CCS tonight.   This is public record.

So by refusing our offer to create a separate rental agreement and part ways amicably next year, the District left our charter agreement (which includes rental payments of $30,000 per year plus an adjustment based on State Funding) intact, which gives us the right to rent here for at least five more years and without any rent increase beyond inflation.

Their legal counsel says that their stance is 'defensible' because other charter schools have lease agreements that are separate from their charter agreements.  'Defensible' is a pretty weak claim, and other charter schools don't cross enroll and operate as a single high school.  Oh, and other charter schools have lease agreements that are signed and approved by the boards of both parties.  No such lease documents exist in Corbett.

I'm copying this email to our lawyer.  We have been gearing up to go to work on this.

This is just another step.  I think they have very little notion what they handed us when they renewed the charter agreement.

We're going to have a good day of school tomorrow.

--
Regards,

Bob Dunton, Director
Corbett Charter School




From: Bob Dunton <bdunton@corbettcharter.k12.or.us>
Date: February 12, 2014 at 11:36:40 AM PST
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: Fwd: Last Night's Board Decision

Fun with words!  If only repeating a thing made it true!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bob Dunton <bdunton@corbettcharter.k12.or.us>
Date: Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 11:34 AM
Subject: Re: Last Night's Board Decision
To: Randy Trani <rtrani@corbett.k12.or.us>
Cc: All List <alllist@corbett.k12.or.us>, all-list@corbett.k12.or.us


There was no lease to not-renew (whatever that means).  The board failed to create a lease, which means that the lease agreement is still part of the charter agreement.  The charter agreement is to be renegotiated within 90 days of renewal.  Corbett Charter School stands ready to enter into those negotiations.


On Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 11:31 AM, Randy Trani <rtrani@corbett.k12.or.us> wrote:
I know many of you may have questions about last night's board meeting and what it means for the future.   As always my door is open and I am happy to talk with you about this circumstance or any other thing that you want to talk about.  Just stop in!

The Board Directed me to share the following communication with the public as well>

Last night the School Board voted to not-renew the Corbett Charter School lease.   The Board also directed me to inform the public that the Board intends to provide for the continuity of each student's educational opportunities in Corbett School District.  First, the Charter School may find some other venue in Corbett School District from which to operate and each Charter family would have the choice to attend school at that new venue.  Second, in the next two weeks the Board will describe the process by which non-resident families can continue their student's education here on the main campus.  Look for updates to be posted on the District web site.

--
Randy Trani, Ed.D.
Superintendent Corbett Schools
35800 Historic Columbia River Highway
Corbett, OR 97019
503 261-4201



--
Regards,

Bob Dunton, Director
Corbett Charter School



--
Regards,

Bob Dunton, Director
Corbett Charter School





From: Bob Dunton <bdunton@corbettcharter.k12.or.us>
Date: February 12, 2014 at 12:09:58 AM PST
To: Bob Dunton <bdunton@corbettcharter.k12.or.us>
Subject: What's next?

Corbett School District will announce by March first how many students they will accept on open enrollment.  That's you!

If they announce about 480 openings, they intend to take all of you plus a new group of kindergarteners.

The best way to support Corbett Charter School is to apply as soon as they open up the process, fill up all of their slots, but DO NOT give in to any pressure to actually enroll early.  Fill out anything they want except the request for records.  That will save your place in the charter school.

Even if they do pressure you to enroll, you are not obligated to attend.  If we are still in the building, you can still switch back at your discretion.  In the meanwhile, they won't be nearly so comfortable as they had hoped, knowing that we are still a charter community and that we are in control of their slots.  That could be a huge bargaining chip as the legal proceedings unfold.

This plan has the advantage of both securing your place in Corbett (if you want your children educated by people who's priorities are slightly different that you are used to) and using that place as leverage should you choose to.

Win-win.

That's what's next.  Apply.  Have your cake and eat it, too.  Then keep an eye on the legal proceedings and we will be in touch regarding what your options are as things unfold.

Many of you aren't comfortable with playing 'hard ball'. This isn't 'hard ball'.  This is just thoughtful slow pitch!

Cheers, and all the best to each of you.

Bob



--
Regards,

Bob Dunton, Director
Corbett Charter School









From: Bob Dunton <bdunton@corbettcharter.k12.or.us>
Date: February 13, 2014 at 6:39:56 AM PST
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: Touching Base

Hi, all,

I don't have more details to share with you, but I do want to keep in touch.

Three things:

1.  One great way to support Corbett Charter School in the short run is to apply for Corbett School District's 'open enrollment' when they announce it in early March.   Open enrollment means that you don't need permission from your resident district in order to attend Corbett School next year.  If we pack their lottery with Charter kids, we own their lottery and your choices MATTER to them, which is a great bargaining position for us to be in AND assures you of at least one choice.

2.  Our lawyer believes that their attempt at evicting us in unenforceable.  We may have to live with being unwanted for another year, but you have to get it that my staff has felt the intense pressure of being unwanted virtually from the beginning.  As they say, "Hell hath no scorn like NOT being left out of the charter school!"

3.  True story:  One of of the unionistas who railed against us at the Board meeting gave me a hug earlier that same day and said, "Thanks.  I really needed that.  It's been a rough couple of weeks." I live in a most peculiar world.  Yesterday I shook hands with this same person and said, "We're still good, right?" The response?  "Yes, we're good."  Political theatrics.  Tears and trembling lips are pretty easy to produce on demand if the occasion calls for it. Just doing business, Corbett School style.

We have not slowed down a single step.  Had a good school day yesterday.  On the way to another.

--
Regards,

Bob Dunton, Director
Corbett Charter School






----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Bob Dunton <bdunton@corbettcharter.k12.or.us>
To:
Sent: Thursday, February 13, 2014 11:13 AM
Subject: If you support Corbett Charter School

Please don't participate in face book debates.  This is best left to the people whose job it is to be the best informed.  Public speculation and spectacle only help our detractors regardless of your intention.  I've already been told of erroneous claims 'in support' of us.  This is a high stakes conversation, and though I may sometimes appear to be casual, every word, and every 'slip', is crafted for effect.  I really need room to work!
Thanks for your tireless support and efforts.

--
Regards,

Bob Dunton, Director
Corbett Charter School



From: Bob Dunton <bdunton@corbettcharter.k12.or.us>
Date: February 13, 2014 at 11:22:15 PM PST
To: Bob Dunton <bdunton@corbettcharter.k12.or.us>
Subject: End it Now?

Hello,

Do you want to put an end to the Corbett School District conflict now? Would you like to know for certain that you have a secure home at Corbett Charter School in Corbett, Oregon next year?  I have a proposal.  (This, by the way, is what hardball looks like.)

Corbett is fully dependent on the income that your children generate.   If the friends of Corbett Charter School stick together, we hold about $3.3 million on our hands. That's a simple, unalterable fact.

If your children don't attend Corbett next year, the District loses $3.3 million dollars from their projected revenue. Can they replace those dollars through open enrollment?  No.  How do we know?  We have the only data in existence regarding the current demand for schooling in Corbett.  We have the new applications that came in for Corbett Charter School this year.  We have the numbers. Corbett has only the confidence that you are willing to be treated like numbers.

How may prospective new students are out there?  There are dozens of kindergarten applicants, each of which generates only half the funding of older students.  The District might reasonably accept 60.  That leaves them about 450 short of their necessary enrollment.

In grades 1-5, if they accept every single applicant, that will bring in 131 more students.  Now they are 319 short of their fiscal goal. 

Admitting every single 7th and 8th grader who applied will bring another 39.  Only 280 to go.

In grades 9-12 there are 31 applicants.  Now they are 249 short.  All done.  No more.  249 students short. $1,618,500.00 short. That number is conservative.

What will Corbett do with a $1,618.500 shortfall?  Lay off 20 teachers?  One can only speculate.

The news is even worse for the District if we just look at the high school.  If 150 Corbett Charter 10th, 11th and 12th grade students don't attend Corbett High School next year, the District loses $1,235,000.00 just at that level.  If they accept every new applicant in grades 10 through 12 (all 31 of them!), they are still down $975,000.00.  Their recourse?  Cut 10 or 12 high school teachers? That would make it literally impossible for Corbett to offer a secondary program. In days past Corbett has repeatedly visited the notion of sending all of their high school students to Reynolds.  Wouldn't that be something...

This is hard reality.  The $6500 per student that I am using is conservative.  Their actual losses would be somewhat greater.  The Reynolds conversation has literally occurred at the District Board level.  Old timers will tell that it crops up about every 20 years.  It was in the air when I cam to Corbett in 1999.

Corbett doesn't want to go there.  They will not.  So if every parent of the 480 current charter students could find the will to act as part of a single community, Corbett School District would be forced to give up its scheme to disown us and to face reality.

If just the parents of 140 current 9th, 10th and 11th graders put the District on notice that they will not tolerate the District's treatment of their chosen school, the conversation is over.  The District gives in.  Period.  They will have no choice (which should be the district motto, as often as I've heard it recently!)

Worse news for the District:  If any of the current new applicants have siblings in the charter school, the charter parents have even more leverage.

What is at stake for Corbett Charter parents and their children?  At the elementary school:  Imaginative Education, Philosophy for Children, Learning in Depth,  Mrs Neely, Mr. Clark, Ms. Reed Stuewe, Mrs. Dunton, Ms. Meadows, Ms. Carroll, Ms. Hammers, Mrs. Sims. 

At the middle school?  And exceptional and authentic thematic curriculum delivered by remarkable teachers who understand the intricacies of teaching that very unique age group:  Ms. Robertson, Ms. Dummer, Ms. Sinclair.

At the high school, at risk is one of America's best college preparatory programs. The AP program, the iPad program, the Scholarship program.  And most important of all:  Mr. Swanson, Mr. Robertson, Ms. Hedger, Ms. Ogden, Ms. Ducey, Mr. Goude and the Grumpy Old Man.

If we act together, if we require that Corbett School District acts with integrity towards us and toward your school, everybody wins.  The Corbett resident students win as much as anyone.

SOCIAL TRAP ALERT:  If everyone acts for the good of the group, Corbett Charter School wins.  If people are too caught up in seeking out their personal advantage, everybody loses. The approach that I am proposing requires a careful strategy that allows us to to deploy our leverage without exposing any individual family to possible negative consequences for standing up to the District.

How we do this?  We manage the information flow.  All information comes directly to me, and I don't share anything with the District until I have sat down with all of the parents who are willing to act and agreed that we have adequate leverage to overwhelm Dr. Trani's resistance to our presence.  Only then, when the outcome is judged to be inevitable, do we share the names of the parents who stood up and the number of students (unfortunately, since this is how the District sees them, as revenue) that they stand to lose.

You can win this.  Only you.  We can finalize it as quickly as you wish, with no exposure to any individual until we have a large enough group to provide safety for all.  This is a good plan.

How do we organize it?

Don't hit 'reply'.  Send me a separate email or a signed note on a separate piece of paper.  Tell me the names and current grades of your children in Corbett Charter School.  Include the names and current grades of any of your children who have applied to Corbett Charter School for next year.  Say in your note that you will not enroll your students in Corbett unless Corbett School District allows Corbett Charter School to have at least one more year on the Corbett campus.  Demand that we be allowed to eventually part ways in a manner that is good for kids.

I will collect the notes and keep them confidential.  When I receive enough to make Corbett School District's finances clearly untenable next year, I will call a meeting of all parents who have submitted a note or email and confirm with them that we have adequate leverage to force the District to behave ethically toward us. I will not release a single name to the district without specific permission to do so.

By the way, when Open Enrollment is announced, apply!  Fill every slot.  Tie up every option.  Take control.

Watch for notice to come that several of the teachers that your children hold most dear are taking a similar ethical stand but without a safety net.  They believe that, if necessary, they can attend the upcoming Oregon Educator Fair in t-shirts that say Corbett Charter School and choose among any number of offers that will come to teachers with CCS on their resumes and letters of recommendation under CCS letterhead.

This is what hardball looks like.  People sometimes say that they want power but are hesitant to take the responsibility that comes with it.  How about it?

Be well, my friends.  If this approach doesn't appeal to you, I understand fully, and you have no need to explain.  I expect to hear from dozens of you this weekend, which is why I'd like for you to stay off the 'reply' button.  The screen gets confusing and I don't want to lose track of a single act of conscience.

Your confidentiality will be protected.  The fact that we have a plan will be public knowledge.  If anyone asks what you personally are doing about it, it's perfectly OK so say that it's a family decision that you aren't discussing with anyone else. But the Corbett administration needs to understand what we are dong and to learn that the tactics of the playground bully only work on children.

Don't be alarmed when some people respond with yet another round of name calling.  (I have dibs on Voldemort!) They are right to be concerned. Their District leadership is playing 'chicken' with their children's futures.  Name calling might be their only available outlet.

The future is what you make of it, as they say.  You don't need to wait for someone else to save your school or secure you child's education.  How often in your lifetime will this sort of opportunity present itself?  I urge you to consider taking a stand.

Forgive how disjointed this must be.  It's late, I'm fairly tired and I want to get this out to you.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Enjoy the long weekend!
--
Regards,

Bob Dunton, Director
Corbett Charter School



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« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2014, 04:49:57 PM »

From: Bob Dunton <bdunton@corbettcharter.k12.or.us>
Date: February 13, 2014 at 4:32:44 PM PST
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: Q and A

Hi,

Please don't imagine that I wasn't hurt by the hate parade to which the Corbett Board and the audience were treated the other night. I thought I might give you one more back story that would help you put into context some of the comments that were made.  Nothing in this story was said or done with an understanding of confidentiality.

When I was still superintendent and was creating Corbett Charter School, the CEA was very intent on persuading the Charter teachers to join the Corbett union.  It is fine that they had that aspiration, but there was an incident in which Corbett School District resources were used to plead to Charter teachers that they would be 'creating a division' if they didn't join the union. My wife was specifically targeted by this strategy.  My position (consistent with state law) was that charter teachers had a choice to unionize or not at their discretion.

I sent an email to the my staff reminding them to respect boundaries and not to use Corbett's resources to conduct union business.  In response, one of my non-charter teachers came through the door of my office, seemingly quite agitated, and opened the conversation with how offended HE was by my communication. I told him that his outrage wasn't my concern.  At all.   He was clearly upset and was extremely disrespectful, and I directed him to leave my office.  (Imagine this happening in the superintendent's office of your home school district!)  He refused and insisted that 'we are going to talk about this'.  I said that we weren't and told him that if he wanted to stay in my office then I was going to leave.  He literally blocked the way and I had to ask him to keep his hands to himself so that I could make it through the door.

As I moved down the hall, he skipped sideways alongside me, continuing to argue the appropriateness of his outrage. He followed  me out the door of the building.  In order to escape, I finally told him that I was getting in my car and that if he got in I would charge him with trespassing!

Did I mention that I was his superintendent at the time?  Still, I didn't take any disciplinary action over this extremely disturbing episode.  Later, Dr. Trani (who was my principal at the time) let me know that the teacher and his wife (who also disparaged Corbett Charter School to the Board the other night) were in his office in tears, fearing that they were now on my 'list'.  (If I had had any sort of 'list', it would have been of people recommended for dismissal for insubordination!)  The fact is that I took no action whatsoever, then or later, regarding the episode.

What does this ancient tale have to do with the Board Meeting of the 11th?  First, the secret meeting that was only open to select teachers and select school board members took place at the home of the same teachers. On the day of the Board meeting, the very same teacher (who was the only high school teacher to speak against us) carried a last-minute union letter around the high school staff during the student contact day to collect signatures.  The middle school teachers who spoke against the charter school work under the direction of his spouse.  The roster of hatred was rounded out by the union leadership team.  It's a pretty neat package, augmented only by one veteran teacher who was here before my arrival in Corbett and whose motivation escapes me entirely.

I don't love telling tales out of school.  But having been so openly slandered in a public meeting, I felt the need to offer some assurance to folks who might not know 'the rest of the story'.

Anyway, I thought that in order to reach your own conclusions about the carefully orchestrated testimony the other night you might appreciate more information.

This isn't hard ball, it's just very thoughtful slow pitch. There are dozens of stories that nobody will ever hear from me.  I am working to do the least possible harm while not fully collaborating with my assailants.  But if people believe that they can lie with impunity, they will have little reason to change their behavior.

Congratulations if you made it through this entire sad story.  There won't be another communication of this sort from me unless there is another round of slander that wants addressing.

Have a great weekend. 

We are working to provide your children the best possible educational experience this Spring, next Fall, and into the future.
--
Regards,

Bob Dunton, Director
Corbett Charter School
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« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2014, 01:43:52 PM »

From: Bob Dunton <bdunton@corbettcharter.k12.or.us>
Date: February 14, 2014 at 7:58:15 AM PST
To: Bob Dunton <bdunton@corbettcharter.k12.or.us>
Subject: Hostile Work Environment?

The Corbett Education Association put some energy into characterizing me as someone who contributes to a 'hostile work environment'.  Nice.  Somehow, after 15 years on campus, this becomes an urgent concern on the occasion of the Board deciding whether to create a new lease agreement with Corbett Charter School.

Talk about the Bully calling the victim a Bully!

Shortly after the Charter School started, I heard the voice of the current leader of the Springdale program echoing through the halls of Corbett middle school.  She was talking to a room full of charter teachers and district teachers.  She was talking about me.  To be fair, she was yelling about me.  To be accurate, she was accusing me to the group of all sorts of nasty things. It seems that she had overheard me saying that I had concerns about the 'tone' of the middle school at the time.  And I did.  I had concerns and I voiced them.  Anyone who knows me knows that I have always been the most severe critic of my work.  Her critique wasn't of my work but of my utter lack of value as a human being.

To have words of such utter spite echoing in the halls of the building in which I had then worked for 10 years, and from the mouth of someone whose career I had shaped and nurtured (for example, I successfully nominated her for the Oregon Small School Teacher of the Year and drove her to Pendleton to receive the award) was utterly devastating to me.  There must have been a dozen people in the room (I'll never forget the panic on the faces of those who looked up and realized that I had walked in on the middle of the diatribe) and I have to admit to having been more humiliated at that moment than at any time in my life.  The word 'crushed' comes to mind. Or you can choose  another.  Devastated.  Betrayed.  Then, angry.  Outraged.  Then numb. Then outraged.

I left the building and retreated to my current office.  A few minutes later she came in to make up, as though we had had some sort of conflict.  That wasn't a conflict.  It was a straight-up, unprovoked assault.  I told her that I wasn't up for talking about forgiveness until I gave it time to hurt less.

Her friends lined up to tell that it was just her way of letting off steam and didn't mean anything. The only message that I could take from that was that she did this sort of thing quite freely and perhaps frequently.

The result was that my time in the  middle school building was reduced to almost nothing.  It was months before I could so much as walk down the hall without feeling self-conscious.  I felt utterly unwelcome.  And because it houses the superintendent's office, I have to go there daily.

So exactly what is a 'hostile work environment' and how does one create it?  Beyond that, how does one who so successfully created it get to turn that around on the victim?  I'm not a good enough Freudian to fully account for that sort of behavior.

It would be a lie to say I'm 'over it'.  I that were the case I suppose I wouldn't remember it so vividly or think of it so often.  We made a couple of attempts at reconciliation.  They didn't take. And I can live  with that.  But to then be characterized as the bad guy in a public meeting for the sole purpose of killing the charter school...that's a whole new kind of hostility.  Hating me and every single child who goes to my school?  And every single teacher who dares to work for me? That's just nuts. 

And today I'm looking forward to her comments being quoted in the Outlook.

A hostile work environment?  Ya, I know what that means.  It's the primary reason that I have never set foot in the revived Springdale Building.

I'm not over it.  But I am tougher than I used to be.  Thanks for that,

--
Regards,

Bob Dunton, Director
Corbett Charter School
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« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2014, 02:31:25 PM »

I was hired by Corbett School District.  I worked in the middle school for one year, and when the future of my position was in jeopardy due to funding and a lack of incoming district students, I was offered a job in the Charter School.  I worked for Bob Dunton for two years, and when it was possible to return to the District, I did so.  It was not difficult being a Charter employee; I was given pay increases and access to materials my coworkers in the District were not.  But when it came down to it, I preferred to take the pay cut, and return to a classroom with more students and less supplies, than to continue to benefit from an unfair system.  I’m not a martyr, and I’ve been silent for years, but I read this email from Dunton and I’ve had enough.  My thoughts are embedded below, in brackets.

Hi,

Please don't imagine that I wasn't hurt by the hate parade to which the Corbett Board and the audience were treated the other night. I thought I might give you one more back story that would help you put into context some of the comments that were made.  Nothing in this story was said or done with an understanding of confidentiality.

When I was still superintendent and was creating Corbett Charter School, the CEA was very intent on persuading the Charter teachers to join the Corbett union.  [Bob Dunton is good with words, although he often goes on a bit too long for my taste.  But some of his words need attention here.  He implies that he was creating the Charter School alone.  This is misleading. The school was devised and the charter written by many people, both administrators and teachers, working for Corbett School District. Part of the unique nature of the Charter would be that it would look, function, and behave the same as the District. Dunton, and the others designing the Charter, agreed that its employees could of course be unionized, possibly folding into the same union representing the District teachers.] It is fine that they had that aspiration, but there was an incident in which Corbett School District resources were used to plead to Charter teachers that they would be 'creating a division' if they didn't join the union. My wife was specifically targeted by this strategy. [Again, Dunton’s words are misleading. His wife was sent an email, as was every district/charter employee (the distinction was still a bit nebulous then) giving her the contact information for the area’s Oregon Education Association rep. She was not ‘specifically targeted’.  Indeed, why would she be?  Dunton’s anti-union tendencies had by then become widely known.  It almost makes you wonder at the timing of this email from Dunton.  This event happened five years ago, but he just happens to bring it to light on the eve of the contentious Portland Public School strike?  Surely just coincidence, right?] My position (consistent with state law) was that charter teachers had a choice to unionize or not at their discretion.

I sent an email to the my staff reminding them to respect boundaries and not to use Corbett's resources to conduct union business.  In response, one of my non-charter teachers came through the door of my office, seemingly quite agitated, and opened the conversation with how offended HE was by my communication. I told him that his outrage wasn't my concern. At all.  [Wait, if he was Dunton’s employee, shouldn’t his ‘outrage’ be Dunton’s concern?  Surely they could have talked about the issue and Dunton could have calmed this ‘agitated’ lunatic down…?] He was clearly upset and was extremely disrespectful, and I directed him to leave my office.  (Imagine this happening in the superintendent's office of your home school district!)  He refused and insisted that 'we are going to talk about this'.  I said that we weren't and told him that if he wanted to stay in my office then I was going to leave.  He literally blocked the way and I had to ask him to keep his hands to himself so that I could make it through the door.

As I moved down the hall, he skipped sideways alongside me, continuing to argue the appropriateness of his outrage. He followed  me out the door of the building.  In order to escape, I finally told him that I was getting in my car and that if he got in I would charge him with trespassing! [Wait—Dunton had to ‘escape’ from one of his employees?  So he left the school where he was the superintendent and got into his car?  This is the man who has sworn and yelled at his employees, in front of students, on more than one occasion.  Why is he casting himself as a frail, scared victim here?  Something seems fishy.  Plus, it sounds like the employee wanted to talk about a work-related issue.  Now I’m really confused.]

Did I mention that I was his superintendent at the time?  Still, I didn't take any disciplinary action over this extremely disturbing episode. [If there were anything to take disciplinary action for, surely Dunton would have taken it.  After all, he was the superintendent.  This is more spin from Dunton, portraying himself as a benign, benevolent leader.] Later, Dr. Trani (who was my principal at the time) let me know that the teacher and his wife (who also disparaged Corbett Charter School to the Board the other night) [Again, Dunton is good with words. I was at the Board meeting. Check the transcript when it comes out.  Neither this teacher nor his wife ‘disparaged’ Corbett Charter School.  They focused their attention solely on the director and leadership of the school.] were in his office in tears, fearing that they were now on my 'list'.  (If I had had any sort of 'list', it would have been of people recommended for dismissal for insubordination!)  [Ironically, this teacher would have been protected for trying to discuss a work-related issue with his superior.  Corbett Charter School has never unionized, however.  Dunton wouldn’t even need a ‘list’ anymore.] The fact is that I took no action whatsoever, then or later, regarding the episode. […until the eve of the strike by PPS teachers, when public sentiment might be rising against unions and anything union-related.]

What does this ancient tale have to do with the Board Meeting of the 11th?  First, the secret meeting that was only open to select teachers and select school board members took place at the home of the same teachers. [Dunton, good with words again.  This was not a ‘secret’ meeting.  This was a legal gathering.  It was open to any District staff that wanted to come, and to three or fewer board members, as four or more cannot meet at the same time, or it constitutes a quorum.  But wait—why was it held at the home of the same teachers???  They live close to the school, and she’s a good cook.  Not exactly Watergate, Mr. Dunton.] On the day of the Board meeting, the very same teacher (who was the only high school teacher to speak against us) carried a last-minute union letter around the high school staff during the student contact day to collect signatures.  The middle school teachers who spoke against the charter school work under the direction of his spouse. [This is false. The six District teachers in the middle school work under the direction of Phil Pearson and Randy Trani.] The roster of hatred [Really?] was rounded out by the union leadership team.  It's a pretty neat package, augmented only by one veteran teacher who was here before my arrival in Corbett and whose motivation escapes me entirely. [Again, note Dunton’s carefully placed adjective: ‘veteran’.  His implication is that all the other teachers who stood up and spoke out against the Charter leadership are relatively new.  Far from it.  On the other hand, most of the handful of Charter teachers who spoke up in support of Dunton have been working for him for less than four years.  Maybe Dunton himself should have been at Tuesday’s board meeting, instead of sending his employees to speak on his behalf.  Then the motivation of this ‘one veteran’ teacher might not entirely escape him.]

I don't love telling tales out of school. [Clearly.  But it seems like every other day we’re treated to Dunton’s narcissistic, self-congratulatory, longwinded accounts of how he has been wronged by so-and-so.] But having been so openly slandered in a public meeting, I felt the need to offer some assurance to folks who might not know 'the rest of the story'.

Anyway, I thought that in order to reach your own conclusions about the carefully orchestrated testimony the other night you might appreciate more information.

This isn't hard ball, it's just very thoughtful slow pitch. There are dozens of stories that nobody will ever hear from me.  I am working to do the least possible harm while not fully collaborating with my assailants.  But if people believe that they can lie with impunity, they will have little reason to change their behavior.

Congratulations if you made it through this entire sad story. There won't be another communication of this sort from me unless there is another round of slander that wants addressing.

Have a great weekend.  [Thanks!]

We are working to provide your children the best possible educational experience this Spring, next Fall, and into the future.
--
Regards,

Bob Dunton, Director
Corbett Charter School

Final thoughts: Bob Dunton is very calculating.  He always has been.  Question why this narrative, and why now?  What does he stand to gain from this?  I know these two teachers well, and neither of them has ever been the sort of gung-ho, dyed in the wool union crusader that Dunton paints.  They don’t spend their time composing tirades of questionable veracity concerning events that happened five years ago.  And normally, I don’t spend my time responding.  But I’m tired of watching my friends and coworkers harassed and vilified on the Internet.  I’m tired of watching Charter teachers (also my friends and coworkers) struggle with how to balance what they believe in with what they are told to do.  Bob Dunton hides behind his keyboard, and there are still too many people who believe everything he writes.  If he had the best interests of students, families, teachers and community at heart, he would be talking about how the continuation of the current model of Corbett Charter School, with him at the helm, furthers those interests.  Instead he sends out emails like this.  Maybe it’s time to stop listening, and start moving forward.  Guess who else is ‘working to provide [all] children the best possible educational experience this Spring, next Fall, and into the future?  All of us.
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« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2014, 03:48:00 PM »



I was hired by Corbett School District..... I’ve been silent for years, but I read this email from Dunton and I’ve had enough...

Thank you for sharing "CSD Teacher"

People have a lot of questions and this helps. It sounds like it has been stressful. I have also heard ( from both charter and district teachers ) that most teachers have really kept their professionalism and most students and parents had no idea much of this was even happening. That is good to hear. So thank you.

May I ask you why teachers have remained quiet until now if this was such a problem to work with? Could you help explain the reason that no one filed a formal complaint or grievance against the Charter Director for how awful it has been? Usually these would be the types of documents you would hear mentioned at a board decision like this (or in a lawsuit) to help prove the point you are making about someone who has been so awful.

Do you know why Bob Dunton would say that the Superintendent and Board Chair made a deal with him for one more year (outside of discussions with all board members) and then this commitment was broken? The board's decision seems based on the staff's feelings (or their desires) and this seems to have had more weight than those of the parents/students currently in the Charter that want Dunton's school over the district school.

Thanks again for sharing and giving 'another side' of what has been going on.

You are appreciated for speaking up.
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« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2014, 08:36:52 AM »

Subject: A Letter

I am a student here at Corbett Charter High School. For all my life i’ve been a supposedly “bright” student, I’ve been bored in school, and I’ve been bored with many of the teachers in the six separate schools i’ve been to. I’ve always been disappointed with public school because of the way it is run. I’ve never gotten A’s in my life, because I was bored. I could have, but I was never ever motivated to work or strive towards my future.

That is until I attended Corbett Charter school. Here, in my years of high school, i’ve felt a sense of accomplishment, a sense of motivation that keeps me going. It’s a feeling i’ve never felt in the halls of Reynolds, of Gresham, Barlow, Benson, or in any  other high school i’ve visited. The environment here in Corbett is an environment of balance, where a combination of small town character and the academic skills of the staff of both the Charter and the District results in a place where children can thrive. I felt an essence of rigorous study i’ve never felt in my life or anywhere else, and the pride I felt as I took my first straight A’s home was a feeling I would have never achieved anywhere else.

In my years at Corbett there is one man who strikes me as the keystone of Corbett Schooling, and undoubtedly you know who I’m talking about. I am talking about Mr. Bob Dunton, who teaches six periods a day, and is very active in his role at the school. This man is the man who can go through textbooks on AP Psychology three times before an AP test in class alone, and can guarantee success, the sense of pride of being a student, and possibly a bright future that no one else could provide. I’ve known the man who teaches in class, I know who he is and how  he acts. The man is undoubtedly rough. In my freshman year, I came home one day and told my mom all about him, his teaching ability, his character, and overall, this aura of fear of sorts that surrounded him. This aura, this sort of passive dominance over his class that is entirely made up of respect, marks him as one of the most effective teachers I’ve ever seen. This rough old-school sort of personality is what makes teaching possible in an age where Facebook and drugs and misbehavior is rampant in the public classroom. The aura is an aura of a man with the utmost confidence in himself, the aura of a self-actualized man that will keep kids like myself focus and others out of troubles. 

No one is a perfect human being and the rough-cut outer shell he has most likely caused some sort of discord among the the people he works with. But this rough outer layer hides the sparkling gem of a teacher who is passionate about his work, that he shows in lecture, in class, in school. The students of the High School, both district and charter, love him. He is both a role model and a teacher of the passion for children that is necessary in a school. You step into the school and see the students smiling, laughing. And in class, they’re learning.

What comes first in a school? The money? The recognition? The awards and achievements? What comes first in a school is the children, and the future each one of them holds in their hands. This fact is a fact that I feel has been clouded over, hidden, and set aside in these recent events. These events stem from a number of sources, from Dunton, from the community, from the Board, and from the people who are the most responsible for the future of the next generation, the teachers. None of these sources are any greater than the others. What could have possibly accounted for this change in conviction? This distraction from the true goal of a school? It is a problem, one that has pulled the school from it’s roots and set one another, friends and family, teacher and student, against each other in a conflict that will not end well.

If the true goal of some of you, the radicals and the devoted, the zealous and the proud, is to save the children, it is time for you to cast aside these silly, childish musings and realize that the true victim of this problem is the environment I so fondly referred to before. That environment of Small town character and Academic proficiency that makes Corbett District, and Corbett Charter unique, what it is today. Why throw away all that, the success of the children, the satisfaction of learning, the learning in general, by splitting apart these two  halves in an attempt to make one whole? The Corbett I know now is a whole, and both halves are equal. I see it that in an attempt to “Unify” that we are in reality, “dividing”. We are the instruments of our own wrong doing. And for the problem to move out of the conference room and into the classroom, where I myself and countless others witnessed a lone teacher roaming about and gathering signatures in the middle of classes and all throughout school hours, mind you, urgently rallying his allies in an offensive against the other half, it is disruptive and unhealthy for the students. A school is a place of positive influence, and therefore it is important to introduce healthy bonds and friendships with one another.

What harm could there possibly be from leaving the Charter for one last year? A dark sky looms over the horizon, and undoubtedly much turmoil will ensue as a result of this, whether for the good or bad of Corbett. Many students will be, and have been, affected by this, myself included, for years to come. And as I sit here, my baby brother on my lap as I type this, wondering of his future in this generation, I think about the school that could bring him a bright future, and the ugly, real world that I am about to enter  into.

Thank you for reading this letter.
-An Anonymous Student
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« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2014, 09:48:09 PM »



Bob Dunton sent an email "outing" the Superintendent's affair with another married staff member.
You can read that email in its entirety here: http://corbettoregon.com/forum/index.php?topic=810.0



Begin forwarded message:

From: Bob Dunton <bdunton@corbettcharter.k12.or.us>
Date: February 15, 2014 at 5:03:24 PM PST
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: Why We Fight

From a parent whose identity I have protected by editing a tiny bit:

"I want to send an email offering my full support to the charter teachers and I hope you will pass this on to them so they know they are not alone. Here is a little background of how this school and these teachers have changed the lives of my children.

My kids are not great students and teachers often don't care about their success in a regular school setting because they don't fit the mold. I have been told by numerous teachers in the past, starting when they were young, they were so far behind in reading and math that they were never going to be able to catch up to their peers. I also had a middle school teacher in BLANK tell me that my oldest would never graduate high school. These are things no teacher should ever tell a parent or child.

Corbett charter teachers have been great and have put in the extra time to help them succeed. Even if it involves there own personal time. These teachers know the names of the children they teach even at the high school level which is pretty impressive. My kids love this school and their teachers. Thank you for what you have all done as educators.

I stand and support you 100%."

This is it.  This is what we do.  This is why we are right to protect our school.

--
Regards,

Bob Dunton, Director
Corbett Charter School




From: Bob Dunton <bdunton@corbettcharter.k12.or.us>
Date: February 15, 2014 at 8:30:59 PM PST
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: Elegance is expending as little time and energy as possible to achieve a purpose.

We got Great News from 18 families just today.  We heard from the about the same number yesterday.  In all, unqualified support from about 40 families.  Make that 80 and the conversation about trying to eliminate Corbett Charter School will quickly be over. 

YOU own the revenue stream of Corbett School District.  If you squeeze your hand, it stops.

This isn't about hurting anyone...but we must be willing to administer enough hurt to alert people to the issues at stake. Nothing beyond that.  This strategy is the means by which you can alert the District ahead-of-time that they can still prevent a disaster by listening to your collective voice.  And if it seems harsh, it is only because multiple efforts at good faith negotiations were sabotaged.

Notices from parents in which they indicate their unwillingness to attend Corbett School District if Corbett Charter School isn't allowed to operate is the most elegant solution to our current problem. It distracts the least from our work. It frees our teachers to teach.

I had no idea that your response would be so quick or so positive. I've even received notes from people whose kids currently attend Corbett School!!!  If you follow through, you will secure Oregon's best schooling for your children next year.

Don't forget to sign up for open enrollment when the time comes.  Occupy the revenue stream.

--
Regards,

Bob Dunton, Director
Corbett Charter School
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« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2014, 10:28:27 AM »

From: Bob Dunton <bdunton@corbettcharter.k12.or.us>
Date: February 16, 2014 at 9:20:54 AM PST
To: Bob Dunton <bdunton@corbettcharter.k12.or.us>
Subject: "No More Stories" Pledge

Dear Friends,

I am done with telling stories out of school.  I know that these narratives were as hard to read as they were to write.  I focused them entirely on trying to identify the sources and demonstrate the unreliability of the disturbing testimony that was delivered to Corbett School District at their last board meeting.  Done.

Amazingly, 80 students and their families have 'taken the pledge' to eschew Corbett School District unless Corbett Charter School is allowed a final year of operation on campus.  I know what courage it took for some of you to commit in this way.  Your privacy will be protected.

HIGH SCHOOL ENROLLMENT IS THE KEY

We are nearing the number of High School parent commitments that we need to change the whole conversation.  Corbett High School doesn't work without our current 9th, 10th and 11th graders.  Period.  If you commit, in private to me, to only returning to Corbett if Corbett Charter is allowed one more year, then we are done with all of the wrangling.  They believe that the younger students can be replaced (though I believe that they are wrong!). 

They know that they can't do high school without your money.  Their recruiting efforts will be even more difficult if the current charter high school teachers all leave.  At that point, I can't imagine who would want to be here...

We have 80 students on board after three days.  Good start.  They are disproportionately high school students.  Great start!

Think about adding your John Hancock to our Declaration of Independence!

Cheers.

--
Regards,

Bob Dunton, Director
Corbett Charter School
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« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2014, 11:30:23 AM »


From: Bob Dunton <bdunton@corbettcharter.k12.or.us>
Date: February 17, 2014 at 10:07:48 AM PST
To: Bob Dunton <bdunton@corbettcharter.k12.or.us>
Subject: Tidbit Regarding Open Enrollment

Hi, All,

The 'openings' being advertised by Corbett School District next year are entirely fictional.  They don't exist. They are based in a fantasy. I call it 'Corbett Catan'.

The Corbett School District Board 'created' them, at the urging of their union and administration, by the legal equivalent of clicking their heels three time and voting! Because our rental arrangement is part of the Charter Agreement that Corbett just renewed (unanimously!) they have no legal authority to 'evict' Corbett Charter School.  And unless they win a legal challenge, their theoretical slots remain wishful thinking.

The audience at the Board meeting was assured by a consultant that their action is 'defensible' (?!) based on the fact that other charter schools have separate lease agreements.  His theory seems to be that Corbett Charter School must be just like other schools!  No District students who takes math classes from Mr. Swanson or English from Mr. Robertson would go along with that 'theory', and neither will a judge.

When Corbett School District went out for its most recent in a series of failed levy attempts, their consultant told them that they had more than adequate support to win.  They lost.  Badly.  The question on everybody's mind is: what did they learn from that lesson?

On the flip side, Corbett Charter School does exist.  We are the highest performing school in Corbett.  Maybe that's the real problem?

More to follow.

--
Regards,

Bob Dunton, Director
Corbett Charter School
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« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2014, 08:53:54 AM »

From:  A member of a fourth generation Corbett family
 
The recent letters of Mr. Dunton have saddened me greatly.  It is painful to see our community, our school board, our district, and our teachers treated so disrespectfully with Mr. Dunton’s eloquent yet toxic prose. I realized it would be best to respond to Mr. Dunton by using his own words from two letters he wrote to the Corbett Charter School parents back in 2009 and 2010 (found posted on this community forum under the heading, “Letters from Mr. Dunton & Discussion on the Charter School”).
 
The following is the 2010 letter from Mr. Dunton with my responses in bold.

 
Sent: Sun, April 25, 2010 12:21:03 PM
Subject: End-of-Year Concerns
 
Dear Friends,
 
Corbett Charter School is on the verge of concluding an extremely successful first year.  Considering that just 15 months ago we didn't exist, this is a remarkable achievement.  It has been a whirlwind within the broader context of a very stormy education/economic environment in East County, Cascade Locks, and Sandy.
 
We have had a tremendous response to our school, and among the 500 applicants were parents who enrolled in Corbett Charter School for a wide variety of reasons.
 
Some had already been attending in Corbett, and the Charter School was a 'safe harbor' for them to continue to do so.  The ‘safe harbor’ of the Charter School was critically important to the financial well-being of the Corbett School District at the time.  I thank Mr. Dunton and all of the others who, by helping to create the Charter School, buffered CSD from back-to-back years of school funding cuts by the State. Making a school for you took a tremendous amount of effort and literally hundreds of volunteer hours.  If it pleases you, then we are pleased.  If, on the other hand, it causes you to wave papers about and scream in public meetings, we encourage you to continue to look for the best placement for your family.  People resort to screaming when they feel they have been disrespected and/or not heard.   While asking them to leave is one solution (albeit an extremely poor one), it is much better to listen, empathize, and work with folks. This is especially true when you are a public official, such as an employee of a public school—charter or otherwise.  (And, it applies regardless of whether the person is a concerned parent at a board meeting or a concerned employee in your office.)
 
About half of the Charter parents are new to Corbett this year, and the politics of the above group are not immediately apparent to you.  Even so, you also came for a variety of reasons.  Some came out of fear of your local schools.  Some came from good schools whose offerings didn't extend into the upper grades.  Some had an eye on Oregon's best college prep program.  Some applied to the Charter, were accepted, and only then began to wonder what it was and how it worked...as I said, a wide variety.
 
A wide variety of reasons and circumstances, but only one school.  A charter school.  One with promises to keep.  We do Imaginative Education.  We do broad multiage classrooms with no subject-area specialists except in music, art and Spanish until grade 10.  We do Advanced Placement for all.  We put teachers in charge of their classrooms.  This combination makes us utterly unique.  Literally. Unique.  Like no other.  Unprecedented.   The educational program of the Corbett Charter School is in fact very similar to that of the Corbett School District.  Today, Charter School parents can easily enroll their children directly into the CSD and provide their children with a nearly identical education.  (This is thanks to a more recent change in the charter school law.)
 
We are focused on student achievement.  We are single-minded in that regard.  We are not focused on pleasing or flattering people unless they are pleased or flattered by achievement.  There are schools that major in flattery and in pleasing people.  We are not them.  Our mission is not the fulfillment of the needs of any group other than our students.  I am truly sorry for those who came seeking something else, but I suggest that their searching is not over.
 
This creates an interesting curve of parental satisfaction: the older the students, the more satisfied the parents.  (This is the opposite of most schools, where everyone loves their above-average elementary schools but nobody trusts their middle and high schools!)  Why is this curve so peculiar?  As parents become less concerned with their own activities in the school (middle and high school parents tend to take on a very different role than is often sought by parents of 7-year-olds) and more focused on student achievement, they love the results that Corbett provides.  The letters that we get from parents of students who have graduated are very different than the mutterings one hears in the hall from parents who are upset that they didn't get to dictate their student's elementary math curriculum!  (Very few parents want to dictate their child's calculus curriculum.  Yet they are pretty sure that they know what their 3rd graders ought to be doing!)
 
I have been told that my attitude sounds like it's 'My way or the highway.'  That's not my attitude at all, though those who see themselves as victims of life might see it that way.  My attitude, the very core of my philosophy regarding school choice, is: 'Read the landscape.  Identify your options. Make a good choice and take responsibility for it.'  Mr. Dunton- Although you see yourself as a victim in the face of the CSD board’s decision to not lease the CCS classroom space, you may find that your philosophy of school choice would serve you well in your current situation.
 

Here is a thought:  Corbett Charter School is not your neighborhood school.  One profound difference lies in the governance model.  In a traditional public school, patrons can, based on where they reside, harangue the local elected board, assert their right to local control in public meetings, threaten recall board members or to lobby against the next construction levy.  The Board is directly responsible to the voters.  When given respect, these same haranguing and threatening patrons can also be fierce supporters of their neighborhood school.   Public involvement in public education is a good thing.
 

Charter Schools are different.  They are not so different.  Charter schools are public schools, and to reiterate, public involvement in public education is a good thing. Corbett Charter School Board members are appointed, not elected.  The majority are veteran teachers with years of classroom experience, including hearing concerns from parents. Three of the Board members have advanced degrees in education as well as administrative licenses.  One is a veteran curriculum coordinator, another a veteran board member, another a parent leader with extensive experience inside the schools and children in two different buildings.  Two have children who have graduated from Corbett and three have children in the schools today.
 
The Corbett Charter Association appoints the Charter School Board.  The association board administers the non-profit organization and its members created Corbett Charter School.  They designed the Corbett Charter School.  With expert assistance from the Charter School Board members, they secured the start-up grant, applied for the charter, negotiated the charter agreement, staffed the school, all in record time.
 
It's important to note the Corbett Charter Association is a corporation.   It conducts business.  It is not a democracy.  It's not even a representative democracy.  It does its business in whatever way seems best according to its own lights.  It is clear that you feel that the Corbett Charter Association is beholden to no one—not the public at large, not the parents, not the Corbett community, nor the Corbett School District.  This belief is at the heart of your troubles.   Why?  Because it is deeply offensive when the actions taken by a public entity blatantly disregard the public itself.  Those who wish to do business with the Association do so on a strictly voluntary basis.  And they may choose to do business elsewhere if there is a better alternative.
 
One of the Charter Association's clients is Corbett School District.  Again, this is a voluntary, contractual relationship.  The District can choose to do business with the Charter School.  It can choose not to.  But those are its choices.  Corbett School District has voluntarily chosen to begin doing business with the Charter School at a distance.  They continue to support the Charter School, but they no longer see it as good or necessary to house them within the school buildings.  CSD has chosen to not renew the lease with the Charter Association because the District has a better alternative.  The District has made a choice—one that you, Mr. Dunton, made perfectly clear in 2010. It doesn't supervise, control or manage Corbett Charter School.  It doesn't determine either policy or practice except as determined in the Charter Agreement.  Those who wish to take their concerns regarding the Charter School to the Corbett School Board probably don't have the legal standing to address the board (unless they live in district) but most importantly are misconstruing their circumstance.  You are now urging Charter School parents to address the Corbett School Board.  What has changed for you?  It appears that you are only okay with CCS parents addressing the Board when it is in support of your desires. They are misreading (or have no experience with) the law regarding charter schools.  The Corbett School Board is not empowered to direct the actions of the charter school in response to the concerns of charter school parents.
 
Charter law is fairly straightforward.  It empowers parents with choice.  This should be reason for celebration, yet parents seem not to celebrate.  They have the choice to come or go as they please.  But there are those who, as I said before, are reluctant to take adult responsibility for making a choice.  They try instead to make others responsible to organize the world around their preferences.  That's simply not how this works.  Once again, I urge you to heed your own advice.  Take adult responsibility for your choices instead of trying to make others organize the world around your preferences.   
 
Corbett Charter School is committed to providing an extraordinary education to the children of those parents who choose to enroll here.  With adequate resources, we might one day expand our mission to the satisfaction of the existential needs of the parents as well, but for now we are of necessity limited to our educational mission on behalf of children.  It does not cost a dime to respectfully listen and collaborate with parents.  Building a strong relationship with ALL parents and community members is critical to the success of any school. We welcome the participation of those parents who are like-minded with regard to their educational aspirations for their children.  The Charter School will take responsibility, in every case, for the ways in which we educate.  And we will empower our teachers to implement our educational philosophy and practices.  We will provide this service even to children whose parents don't have the inclination or luxury of committing hours each day to education and depend on us to do it instead.
 
To summarize:  If you are a parent, you hold all of the power.  But it is the power of choice, the freedom to act on behalf of your family.  And it should be cherished.  It is not the power (because the governance system of charters doesn't facilitate it) to recreate the school in keeping with your personal vision.  You are, in fact, the ones who have the right to say 'My way or the highway'.  We hope that you will stay and work with us.  We believe that Corbett Charter School is your best option in the region, public or private, for securing a truly remarkable education for your family.
 
I hope this finds you well.
 
Regards,
 
Bob Dunton, Director, Corbett Charter School,
Secretary, Corbett Charter School Association
 
Mr. Dunton- In your recent efforts to organize CCS parents, you have had many bad things to say about Corbett School District and its employees.   I’d like to remind you of what you told Charter School parents about Corbett School District in your letter dated 5/24/09:
Corbett High School is about to be named (I have it from a source inside
Newsweek Magazine) among the top 10 public high schools in the United
States...and we still have our critics.
Corbett Middle School is Oregon's only nationally-recognized School to
Watch...and there are those who continue to complain.
Corbett Elementary School is the most thoroughly multiage and thematically
rich elementary school that I have ever seen, and student achievement there
continues to lay the foundation for remarkable success in later education.
But those who wish they were in charge can't stop trying to find something
bad to say. 
Corbett School District has continued to do very well since that time.  What has changed is that you are now the one who is trying to find something bad to say.  In your efforts to persuade Charter School parents to unite in support of the Charter School, you have chosen to portray the District in a bad light.  I hope that the parents are able to see that the programs of the two schools are very similar and that each has great teachers.   And, I suspect they know that, although school leadership is of the utmost importance, a leader is not a school.   Mr. Trani is not Corbett School District and Mr. Dunton is not Corbett Charter School.   Both CSD and CCS families enjoy very high quality schools in part because of leaders like you and Mr. Trani.  You both have selected and directed superior staffs.  You both have that creative spark that allows you to think outside the box.  Like all of us, you both have faults.  However, your personal failings have not doomed our schools any more than our community’s collective failings.  We have succeeded because of the efforts of everyone—community members, parents, teachers, and so many others—to support our schools.
 
There is one last item I would like to address and that is your efforts to rally parents against the Corbett School District by demonizing unions (such as referring to one outstanding Corbett teacher as a “unionista”).   Are you aware of the hypocrisy of your actions?   Think about it, Mr. Dunton.  You are trying to organize parents so that they may act as a group to collectively negotiate, or bargain, with the District regarding the Charter School.  You are, in effect, acting in the role of a union leader while simultaneously denigrating one.
 
In conclusion, I hope you are able to take adult responsibility and accept that the Corbett School Board selected one of the two choices you yourself  presented back in 2010.  I also hope that you are able to use your own advice to reflect on your actions and make a good choice.
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« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2014, 10:57:51 AM »

With respect and in response to Rose's comments above:


"….by helping to create the Charter School, buffered CSD from back-to-back years of school funding cuts by the State. "

State funding decreases hit schools everywhere. Most had to make adjustments and cuts. Not Corbett. You are right. However, this was the beginning of the public seeing the tangled web we had/have woven as a school district.

The Corbett School District was deficit spending for YEARS before the Charter was created. CSD started building "up" our district programs/staff with the itax money years prior to the Charter. When Dunton was asked what his plans were when that funding ran out, because it was clearly non-sustainable, he stated he would pass a levy. Unfortunately, part of how we built our district up, meant we lost a lot of our local students (and local support for Dunton/CSD) and we couldn't pass a levy.

Randy and Bob were quoted at the time in the Oregonian to say they had been talking about the Charter for 5 years when it came online. That is ironic, because if you go back and look at the ODE reported numbers from CSD, during the 5 years leading to the Charter, we were bringing in a lot of kids from out of district. From the time Bob came to Corbett in 1998 and Randy took over, we lost a lot of our own Corbett kids. From that data it appears we lost about 180 Corbett local (live here resident) students... while we replaced them with 170 or so leading into the Charter. Here is that information: http://corbettpost.com/news/what-is-the-real-population-growth-of-corbett-students/

There clearly were and are a lot of families in Corbett that have had issues with Dunton and CSD over the years. Staff knows it. It isn't a secret. These families have pulled their support and many have removed their kids from Corbett or would if they could. They will not vote for a bond or a levy especially as our own local student population legally now can be dwarfed by 1,000 more than those that live here.

The Charter was the answer to retain and increase funding without needing the support of our community. While I don't believe the way they set up the Charter was right, I personally never took issue with some kids (especially those that wanted to be here) attending... and because of HB3681 we can legally have those kids now without a Charter. http://corbettpost.com/news/house-bill-3681/

Corbett Charter was created "behind the curtain". Without our board or community even understanding what this would look like, they voted it through. They trusted Bob Dunton and Randy Trani. In fact, our school board didn't have an actual written Charter contract or agreement to approve until months after they voted.

* When other districts laid their cards on the table about whether they planned to open Charter Schools, Corbett kept our cards hidden. This is what led to the other districts being upset with Dunton. As the superintendent at the time, Dunton did not allow those other district Superintendents to plan if kids would be returning to their districts accurately. If he had, the public (and Corbett) might have had a chance to get involved, ask questions before it was pushed through. We might have had time to learn that this legally should have gone through the County (we never did) and allow the public a hearing so they could add public comment for the record and find out more. (We didn't have a hearing). http://corbettpost.com/csd/csd-applies-for-population-increase/ ... )

The CSD admin/staff and their closest friends/supporters knew this was coming and in fact, many of the same ones now upset about Bob trying to take his 'toys and go home' were on the board or taught in the Charter for Bob. This includes Randy Trani, who served as president of the Charter School. Other charter board members included; Charlie O'Neil (Current board chair) Phil Pearson ( Current principal soon to be the STEM HS Principal and at that time was a teacher ) Lori Luna ( Current Principal at CAPS/Springdale and at the time was also a teacher ) More background here: http://corbettpost.com/csd/charter-school/

After one year into the Charter, CSD came up with a missing $725,000 crisis (not from state funding cuts but actual mismanagement - called a "computer glitch" by Randy Trani at the time ) Bob Dunton had been both superintendent and director of the Charter for that year leading into the crisis. Trani was appointed to the position by the board (with O'Neil saying it was to continue the work of Dunton) This crisis was directly tied to the expansion/extension of the Charter school (after only one year) and was NEVER explained (well) to the community. Read about that here: http://corbettpost.com/news/levy-info/ There was no hearing about extending/expanding the Charter school then ….. There was no line item audit on the missing funds…..

We expanded the Charter to "save us" financially again. It had really nothing to do with State Funding. This, by the way, was just a few months before, HB3681 was voted on in Salem. Had we not extended/renewed the Charter - it would have expired in 2012. The year HB3681 would have allowed us to move the kids over into the district before much of the "division" started to fester. In April of last year Randy explained the missing money this way: http://corbettpost.com/news/levy-info/

Then CSD took out loans to fix up an old building where no kids attended.... (SPRINGDALE) to bring in even more students. Many residents thought this was being done with grants. That was not so. This was near 2 million in loans that we are paying back by bringing in over 200 more kids. http://corbettpost.com/news/springdale-million-dollar-loan/ ... and why did we take out loans for an old building, where no kids attended, when our middle school was so dangerous? We didn't hear a thing about the dangerous middle school until after CAPS was pushed through. These types of questions were sent in a letter to Randy Trani in response to his assertions that the middle school was dangerous and his push for a bond to again, add more space to our campus. http://corbettpost.com/csd/public-letter-to-randy-trani/ ( No response was ever received from either Trani or the Board, which is typical )

The STEM HS will be yet another "school" within a school like the Charter. This was on the agenda to be voted through at the regular February 2014 board meeting. It was tabled for 3 weeks to the next meeting. One reason for doing this is to keep our "small school funding". We are now a 4A school due to how many kids we now have, but we are really good at figuring out ways to still receive "small school" funding. For example, we have been reporting our 9th graders in CSD at the middle school since 2003/2004. (They don't attend the middle school). This funding is about half a million dollars a year. More here: http://corbettpost.com/csd/small-school-funding/

The STEM application was filled out on January 1, 2014. This was before the board approved the Charter and then denied their lease. Some will remember the additional rooms/science labs that were wanted in the bond attempt last year? Part of the STEM programming that was being planned and built for. There are current grant writing efforts under way for YURTS too. These would be for different sites around Corbett for outdoor learning facilities as part of STEM. It does not appear the district/admin (those in the know) ever intended to renew the Charter rental. So the question is, why not give them a year's time? Why the rush? Why the push? I think there are two reasons. The largest being money (if the Charter has another place to go - maybe some would go ) and then of course there are the teachers who were promised Dunton would be gone.




You wrote: " The educational program of the Corbett Charter School is in fact very similar to that of the Corbett School District.  Today, Charter School parents can easily enroll their children directly into the CSD and provide their children with a nearly identical education.  (This is thanks to a more recent change in the charter school law.) "

I believe the high school classes and programs may be much the same ( they share classes/teachers after all ) but there are differences in the form of "perks" in the Charter that the district can not offer ( Teachers have more time to work on curriculum, more resources and 9th graders get iPads etc. ) Our kids don't get these things. Consider that  all 18 charter teachers have now committed to the Charter. That will impact our HS kids in Corbett more than the Charter kids if they are removed. The Charter kids (many) are likely to go with the teachers… if so, we will have to HIRE new teachers and have less kids as funding to pay for those teachers. At the grade and MS levels the schools differ quite a bit now. Originally they were more similar. There are curriculum and even classroom structure/management differences that have worked much better for some kids over others in the grade school particularly. http://corbettpost.com/csd/imaginative-learning/imaginative-learning/

Dunton and Trani originally both promoted and went to 3 year blends in grade school classrooms. They removed standalone K. Now only the district does the three year blends. (The Charter went back to 2 year blended rooms.) There are also large differences from room to room and teacher to teacher in district which is frustrating for parents. Especially as these differences are not explained well.

It's important to realize those teacher relationships with small children and classroom styles may be very different from the district and that what Charter parents want... and being invited to "come on over" may not be at all what they wanted. It may also be upsetting for their children. If a family came out to Corbett for Dunton's Charter and his teachers are who they are happy with ( and were happy with how their kids were doing ) I doubt they are all going to be excited to be "brought into the fold".... especially by a community that must seem pretty hostile to them with the recent board decision to remove their space.



As to Bob's assertion that Charter Schools are different…. you wrote: "They are not so different.  Charter schools are public schools, and to reiterate, public involvement in public education is a good thing."

I agree with most of what you say on this. It is unfortunate how little our school board did to ask questions about the Charter originally. The fact is, once a district accepts a Charter, it is very difficult to get rid of it unless it is failing academically/financially etc. The Charter outperforms our own district academically.

The Charter board can operate any way the Director says it operates. (This was the fear some of us had when hearing Randy at one point talk about turning our whole district into a Charter …and the benefits in doing so.) To some of us, we knew we did NOT WANT what Bob is selling, and this was/is a possibility still looming.

I completely agree the public should be involved with the public school board .... I wish it had been BEFORE we pushed through this Charter, or expanded it, or opened CAPS, or decided to remove the rental space to the Charter, or had a chance to find out about the STEM before it was put to a vote (tabled till March).

On the other hand, Dunton is right in saying he doesn't have to set up his Charter in the same way as a public school. That is just the fact. Here is the description on another school district's web site as to what a Charter is to explain more about this:

Charter schools are widely diverse in philosophy, mission, and style of instruction. Every charter school reflects the vision of its founders: the arts, technology, basic skills or exploratory learning, for example.

Charter schools are intensely independent. They are sponsored by districts but operate free from many of the regulations that are inherent in district schools. The charter is a performance contract with a school district. Each contract spells out the mission and goals of the school and its areas of accountability to the district. Instead of being accountable for compliance with rules and regulations, they are accountable for academic results and for upholding the terms of their charter. A charter may run for at little as one year or as long as five years before it must be extended or renewed.

Public charter schools are funded by Oregon tax dollars, although at a lower level than district schools. They do not charge tuition. They do not discriminate in either admissions or programs. They participate in statewide testing at appropriate grade levels. They are accountable annually to their sponsoring school boards for student growth and for fiscal responsibility.

The most important commonality among public charter schools is that parents make the decision to apply for their children. Parents know what their children need, and charter schools provide options to meet those needs.




In my opinion...

We could have made a smoother transition than this for the Charter and these 400 plus families. We could have added almost 1/2 million to our budget (over what we already receive from the Charter ) for nothing but giving a year's lease. We could have avoided lawsuits and upset families, not to mention more bad press. We could have, but we made a "play" for the numbers. The board did what district teachers were "promised" from their superintendent and friend and apparently some board members.

I believe that some people in Corbett think that getting rid of the Charter means we will go back to a small school. It does not. Randy wants them all. The Charter teachers will stay on the Charter side ( all 18 have signed a letter and submitted it to the school board ) and I have heard more and more families will commit to the Charter (and Bob) over accepting to be a pawn in the district's grab for dollars.

It sounds like most Charter families may not like the way Bob is behaving but they like the way we are doing business even less. I don't think (besides poor taste and nasty rhetoric) Bob is lying in his emails. I think he will dig in and fight for what he built here in Corbett. If the court sides with Bob, he could be here even longer than another year.



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« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2014, 02:23:57 PM »

From: Bob Dunton <bdunton@corbettcharter.k12.or.us>
Date: February 24, 2014 at 11:32:16 AM PST
To: Bob Dunton <bdunton@corbettcharter.k12.or.us>
Subject: Due Process

Just to clarify the lack of due process:  There were no meaningful negotiations regarding the creation of lease agreement, ever.  And to quote PP and M, "He who tells a bigger tale, would have to tell a lie."

I was invited to hear a proposal the day before the board meeting in which the lease agreement was on the agenda.  (We had scheduled an earlier meeting that was canceled due to ice).

I received no fewer than three emails saying that the topic was the lease agreement and that they would have a proposal to present.  I was to either accept the proposal or offer a counter at the board meeting.  (This is not a negotiating scenario!)

When I came to the meeting they didn't present a lease proposal.  Ever.  It was as non-existent as the 'lease agreement' that was 'non-renewed'.

Instead of a lease proposal, the District proposed that they would employ all charter teachers (no choice offered to the teachers), that they would have full administrative authority to operate the Charter School as they saw fit (in spite of having no knowledge of our programs) and that they would take all but 'a couple hundred thousand dollars" of our funding. (Nothing was in writing, but there were witnesses).  The ' couple hundred thousand' would be for me to have an office from which I would be allowed to 'consult' with the charter teachers.  The bonus?  We could still use the name 'Corbett Charter School'.

Instead of a lease proposal, I got what could be characterized as a 'pay-off' offer.  I said no.  I said a lot more than that.

At the end, I offered them $70,000 per classroom per year for one year. THAT's what  a proposal sounds like.

The next morning the union was scrambling, during school hours, to shift attention from the unexpected financial windfall  to their dread of me...offered up by several people that I have barely seen or spoken to this entire school year and some others with whom I have exchanged nothing but friendly greetings for as long as I can remember.  The fear of me, an ex-superintendent with no authority over them who spends six hours a day with kids and walks into the elementary building only to have lunch with my teachers, is as much a fabrication as is the imaginary 'lease agreement'.  It's easy to feel empathy for people whose lips quiver when they speak in public.  I get that.  It's not, however, an indication of truthfulness.  The fact is that these people have had a protocol, written by the District, for lodging any complaints that they might have had against anyone employed by the Charter School.  Not one of them used it. Ever. Not once.  Instead, these people were recruited in a public violation of that protocol in order to provide the Board a cover for voting against a rental agreement that was, financially and ethically, the right thing to do.

I haven't as yet responded legally to what I believe was a District-orchestrated slander campaign against me.  But because I know that many of you felt a stir of sympathy for the Corbett teachers who testified, I wanted to be clear that their testimony was in violation of District-established protocols and that it was carefully orchestrated to derail our rental negotiations.  I don't know whether or not any of them are afraid of me.  I don't know whether any of them are afraid of the dark.  I did note an absolute lack of any charge of any misbehavior on my part that would warrant reasonable fear.

Corbett Charter parents were, in my opinion, deprived of due process throughout this charade.

I'll be out for most of the day tomorrow to meet with an experienced litigator.  I'll get back to you. 

My sub is wonderful!

There.  That's off my chest.

--
Regards,

Bob Dunton, Director
Corbett Charter School
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