Rejection Of Meeting Indoors Called Misunderstanding
September 14, 2005
By RACHEL GOTTLIEB, Courant Staff Writer
There were all the makings of a feisty meeting: a table and chairs
and a group of agitated North End activists. The only thing a
little off was the setting: the front yard of Milner Elementary
School at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Members of the newly formed Milner Elementary School Community Board were
upset that school officials had banned the group from meeting in the parents'
lounge, and vowed to meet outside the school each Tuesday morning until
they were allowed inside.
As it turned out, the schoolyard meetings were quickly consigned
to history as officials relented and invited the activists to work from
inside the building.
The group, headed by former mayor Thirman Milner and Hattie Harris, chairwoman
of the Vine and Albany Task Force, wants to rally parents to work directly
with students by mediating disputes, tutoring and mentoring.
Milner school, now in its fifth year
under the federal label "Needs
Improvement" under the No Child Left Behind Act, has been plagued
for years by low test scores, poor student behavior and parental
When the schoolyard meeting opened Tuesday, Andrew Woods, who heads the
anti-violence community group Stump the Violence, said that the school's
new acting principal, Sheryle Jackson, had initially invited him and others
to establish a program at her school.
Superintendent of Schools Robert Henry
said Woods approached Jackson and asked to develop a program at the school. "We
spent an entire summer planning the school improvement plan for Milner.
We have an intervention plan for that school. "
The program was to be similar to one Woods operates inside Fox Middle
School, where Jackson worked as an assistant principal before her appointment
to Milner. Members of the group said that last week, at Jackson's invitation,
they met with her to discuss starting their program in the school.
But then they said that Jackson abruptly withdrew the invitation, saying
she had failed to follow the district's protocol for starting a new program.
The community activists weren't quite sure what that meant. But they had
no intention of backing off their plan to help the school.
Terry D'Italia, district spokesman, said the group's exclusion from the
school was the result of a misunderstanding. He later met with Milner,
Jackson and Harris and worked out an arrangement for the new group to meet
in the parents' lounge each Tuesday at 8:30 a.m.
The group will take its direction from
Jackson, Milner said. "We're
not looking to take over the school."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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