The Westside Gazette

Freedom  ain’t free and neither is Safety in BCPS

A Message From The Publisher

By Bobby R. Henry, Sr. 

Reorganizing a company as large as BCPS can have its challenges, but Super Cartwright just makes it look so grossly unfair. I was disappointed, but not at all surprised to learn that a correction had to be made to the Spanish version of the Referendum. Ballots have been printed and early voting has begun, yet someone at Broward Schools (of course, not Cartwright as she has a history of pointing the finger of blame to someone else) failed to ensure the language was correct on the ballot; therefore, a correction has been created. But, how will voters be informed?

Keyla Concepcion, Manager for Media and Community Relations for Broward Schools, sent the following in a communication via email to employees on Friday.

“Broward County Public Schools has approved the new clarifying language. The Supervisor of Elections Office will post it at polling locations, early voting sites and future Vote-by-Mail ballots. The Supervisor of Elections Office has also placed the information on its website. The District will share the notification through all its distribution channels to ensure the public is informed about the revision.”

With thousands of erroneous ballots already sent to the public, the question needs to be asked as to whether this referendum should be invalidated? Both my hands are up for invalidation. All the more reason to vote NO on this Next Generation Renewal Referendum.

School started for children on Tuesday, August 16th and the issues safety on all fronts is on the minds of parents and of course, teachers.

Super Cartwright hired a new Chief, Jamie Alberti, to lead the Safety Department. Unfortunately for the first  week for employees and students, I am learning of some very unsettling conversations that are floating around social media about the new Safety Chief.

Comments on social media threads accuse Alberti of avoiding campuses like Draculaura avoids sunlight  by not setting foot onto any of the district’s 200+ schools campuses for the purpose of a safety evaluation since taking the job three months ago. During a recent Facilities Task Force meeting, Alberti was challenged with a BIG question, “how will employees and students be safe on the first day of school?”

Like F. Lee Bailey on cross examination, the members of the task force pounded away at Alberti’s knowledge and understanding of some of the safety vulnerabilities regarding the way some schools are constructed. Alberti seemed surprised to learn that there are schools that have classes with floor to ceiling windows. He was also surprised to learn that employees use the same key for outside doors as well as classroom doors/offices and that duplicate master keys can be easily made at Walmart. Alberti became flustered when he was questioned about how security protocols are executed differently at various school sites, such as what happens when a person arrives at a school gate and is approached by a security employee. Some take and record licenses, some record the car’s make, model and tag number, some ask for the purpose of the visit and some wave the visitor on in without saying much of anything. Some gates are opened for each car and closed after they drive in and others are wide open at all times. Some security employees are sitting on carts, while others are in their personal cars.

When discussing lockdown with the new language, Alberti affirmed to the task force, “If we are locked down, we aren’t moving!” This is great, but some schools have been locked down for many hours during the old “code yellow” and they have moved around for lunch and bathroom use as long as the school is closed with no access to outdoors. So, can they continue doing that? Should they have ever been doing it? But, the real concern is that Alberti seemed unaware of it.

Identifying and marking safer spaces was huge in the MSD Safety Commission report, and Former superintendent, Robert Runcie was beatdown for not identifying and labeling them fast enough. Fast forward a couple years later and Alberti has no answer for safe spaces that are marked when there is clearly no safe space because of the way the overall space is constructed. Camera installation was another big to-do in the report, and Alberti would not or could not give the task force any definitive information about whether all cameras have been installed in schools and if there is data on any cameras that are not working properly. Alberti, reportedly, could not say with certainty that the Area Security Managers(ASM) have visited their assigned schools to walk the campus and speak to school security personnel, though the ASMs work over the summer. So, what exactly is it that they were doing all summer? “What they were not doing is meeting with Alberti. It is rumored that Alberti has met with ASMs only once since becoming Chief. Wait. What?”

All in all, one of the members of the Facilities Task Force rated Alberti with a grade of D(don’t know “if” he knows anything). After a pretty embarrassing showing with the Task Force, Alberti promised that there will be a training for the various security and safety employees.

Will be?, does that mean it hasn’t happened?

The game is starting on August 16 and the Chief of Safety is saying there will be training (practice) but has no real answers of what the training (practice) will be and how this training (practice) will specifically get the team (Safety employees) ready for the game (start of school) and a win (safe schools). Alberti failed to connect how this training would address the multiple valid questions brought to him by the Task Force.

With the sentencing trial for the MSD shooter taking place as I type, all stakeholders are on high alert and parents and school employees are understandably concerned. The stakeholders who are “in the know” are asking why on earth did Super Cartwright send “Dr.” Leo Nesmith back to be a school principal when it is clear that he needs to be helping with Safety. are asking why on earth did Super Cartwright send Leo Nesmith back to be a school principal when it is clear that he needs to be helping with Safety.

Three very talented directors: Fred Stolper, Tracy Neal, and Michael Medina left the Safety Department within the last six months. “This has resulted in a department destitute of the institutional knowledge necessary to ensure safety.”

Speaking of those who are no longer in their former position, the ESE Parent Advisory Group is also longing for their previous ESE Executive Director, Saemone Luis. Luis was removed by Cartwright during her reorganization and rerouted to a director position in the South Area Region Superintendent’s office. Unlike Black district administrators, Luis was saved from being demoted to a principal position. This, however, is no consolation for vocal ESE parents who are expressing frustration over the district’s new leadership in the ESE department. There is an Executive Director and two directors in the department. Luis was replaced by an outsider as Executive Director and only one of the former directors from the department remained. I was not surprised to learn that Cartwright promoted an assistant principal to ESE Director. It’s no wonder the department is struggling. This assistant principal turned ESE director must be connected in some way to Nicole Mancini. Mancini probably didn’t want to be seen as the only one with an “undeserved” appointment. “What could Dana Thomson have done to earn going from an AP of Tamarac Elementary to district Director of ESE program?” With an outsider as the Executive Director of ESE and an assistant principal skipping the natural path and joining the ranks as Director, it’s no wonder ESE parents and the ESE Advisory are not happy.

If Super Cartwright is not attending to Safety and ESE (her supposed expertise from her previous job), what on earth is she doing? What has her so busy that she cannot seem to focus on the job of leading the district. Is it that she doesn’t have the capacity to lead or she refuses to lead courageously for some selfish motive? While I think it may be a combination of both, the former is probably most true.

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