Retired supe
arrested in
By Peyton Wolcott
May 22, 2009 /2 am
From the
Boca Beacon
comes this account:
Link: 2009 Texas Ethics Commission  
Texas supe DanaMarable
When we take a closer look at MASA, even though typically in
most states school district taxpayers fund not only supes'
membership dues and conferences, such organization actually
appear to chiefly exist to champion not public schools and
schoolchildren and taxpayers and staff but instead superinten-
dents and other top administrators.  As one example, look what
comes first on
MASA's guide to negotiating supes' employ-
ment contracts, prepared by their director of legal services:
If there's one thing I've learned this past decade, there are some
school administrators out there who welcome questions.  Take
transparency pioneer Duncan Klussmann of Spring Branch ISD, for
example, who says that if folks in his district have questions about
SBISD spending, he invites them to his office to respond to their
concerns.  Almost always  superintendents and senior staffers who
have nothing to hide have similar open door policies.  Sadly, not all
administrators have risen to that level.  
Former Pittston Area School
District Superintendent Ross
Scarantino agreed Wednes-
day to plead guilty to accepting
a $5,000 bribe and to cooper-
ate with a federal investigation
into local school districts.
Mr. Scarantino would likely
face 18 to 24 months in prison
under federal senten-
cing guidelines, according to
his plea agreement. But the
sentence could be reduced
depending on his cooperation
and acceptance of
responsibility in the case.
Federal prosecutors maintain
the right to seek the maximum
penalty of 10 years in prison
and a $250,000 fine under the
He is free on bail pending a
plea hearing, which has yet to
be scheduled.
Court documents filed
Wednesday in U.S. District
Court in Scranton allege Mr.
Scarantino accepted $5,000 in
cash in February 2008 from an
unnamed person in
connection with school district
Efforts to reach Mr. Scarantino
were unsuccessful
Wednesday. His attorneys,
Frank W. Nocito and Philip
Gelso, declined to comment.
Mr. Scarantino is one of three
public school officials charged
in an ongoing federal probe
into alleged bribery connected
to contracting and hiring.
The individuals who paid the
alleged bribes have not been
identified by federal
prosecutors, who have
secured court orders sealing
some documents to protect
witnesses' identities.
U.S. Attorney Martin C. Carlson
said it was "impossible to
speculate" when or if the
names of those individuals
will be made public.
"We aren't making those
names public at this time.
This remains an ongoing
investigation," he said.
Mr. Scarantino, who worked for
Pittston Area for 42 years, took
a leave of absence from his
$115,000-per-year job April
16, the day the charges
against him were announced.
He continues to collect his pay
by using up accumulated
vacation time.
Mr. Scarantino, 63, submitted
a letter of resignation to the
district May 5, announcing his
retirement effective Aug. 3.
He is the second Luzerne
County school official to agree
to plead guilty to federal
bribery charges this week.
Former Wilkes-Barre Area
School Board President
James Height, 53, will plead
guilty to accepting $2,000 from
a district contractor, federal
prosecutors announced
Monday. Mr. Height, who
resigned from the school
board last week, is free on bail.
Another member of the
Wilkes-Barre Area School
Board, Brian F. Dunn, also
faces charges of accepting
bribes in connection with
contract and employment
decisions. Mr. Dunn, 45, is
also free on bail.
Heather has written a how-to
guide for Brits, "
Your Right to
Know."  Her newspaper stints in
the U.S. included the Spokane
Spokesman-Review and the
Spartanburg Herald-
Mr Martin stood for the old ways.
The former sheet metal worker
may have risen from the housing
projects of Glasgow to become
the highest commoner in the land,
but he presided over an institution
that had grown dangerously
remote from the people it served.
The Speaker defended the
lifestyles, privileges and
allowances of the UK’s 646 MPs,
fighting an ultimately futile court
battle to stop details emerging of
how they spent taxpayers’ money
on allowances intended to cover
the cost of living in London and
their constituencies.
As Gordon Brown observed, this
most humble of Speakers
presided over a system “more
reminiscent of the gentlemen’s
clubs of the 19th century”.
When the story over expenses
broke the same MPs who once
urged the Speaker to protect
them, turned against him,
desperate for somebody to blame.
The MPs, whose
predecessors once
determined the fate of an
empire, were shown to be
filling in chits for chocolate
bars and sanitary products.

Those on country estates billed
taxpayers for everything from
fighting moles to clearing a moat.
The story hit home because it
illustrated a wider truth. The
standing of parliament has
diminished as power in the UK
has shifted to the executive, or
away from Westminster
altogether to Brussels or to
devolved administrations in
Scotland and Wales. On top of
that, the ideological passion that
once drew people into politics has
been diluted. In its absence, the
public has started to ask: what
are they really in it for?

1.  The software and hardware constantly need to be updated, costing
thousands of taxpayer dollars.  Laptops become obsolete after three
or four years of use.

2. The equity issue would be a possible lawsuit waiting to happen.
How could  Texas make sure that the laptops and technology
equipment in Highland Park ISD are equitable to the laptops in
Edgewood ISD?

3.  How can 49% of the student population who is considered
"disadvantaged" pay for broken or missing laptops?  (Withholding a
report card for missing or destroying a textbook is one thing, but
replacing a $700 - $800 laptop would be another.)

4.  What does the school/teacher do when a parent reports that a
student's laptop is missing?

5.  What about students carrying laptops back and forth to school?  
Isn't this an open invitation for robbers to hit on students?

6.  Laptops and backpacks are heavy. Students would have to bring
them home nightly if all of their textbooks were digitized. Students
also would have to recharge laptop batteries at home. How durable
are lightweight laptops that must endure hard student use?  This is
not the same type of careful use that an adult would give to a laptop.

7.  How about the child who accidentally damages his laptop by
dropping it out of his unzipped backpack?  I wonder how durable
these laptops would be if they were accidentally dropped down a
flight of stairs?    

8.  Parents object to laptops because they feel they limit oversight of
their children's activities.

9.  A publisher somewhere with the click of a mouse could
theoretically change the outcome of the Civil War!  Who could and
would keep track of changes in all textbooks?  Who and what kind of
a publisher is behind the mouse?

10.  School computer labs are constantly having to rewrite codes to
block more and more porn sites, yet students find ways to slip around
the system. In fact, many students enjoy the challenge of finding
backdoors to school computer systems.

11.  If everyone had laptops, the chances of online bullying and
mischief would be greatly multiplied.

12.  Laptops on every desk put a barrier between the student and the
teacher.  Laptops become the "authority" rather than the teacher.  

13.  Students' attention is needlessly distracted.  

14.  Teachers cannot monitor every student and every screen.

15.  Cheating is increased.

16.  Individual student progress is hindered because they become
dependent on online sources instead of capturing information in their

17.  Providing a class set of hardcover textbooks per classroom
means that only a few selected students per class could take their
textbooks home to study and do homework. If storms should knock
out the Internet or other problems should occur, students would not
come to school having finished their homework.

18.  What would a teacher do if a student said his laptop froze or
malfunctioned last night?  How would a teacher be able to hold
students accountable for finishing their homework when such
excuses would obviously be used by irresponsible students?

19.  Student laptops would of necessity cause students to read
sophisticated text much less because they are simply not going to
read classic pieces of literature nor other pieces of lengthy text on a
computer screen.  
Clearly this strange stew of pricey laptops and taxpayer dollars needs to
be taken off the Lege's stovetop and allowed to cool off for a while.
See what politics are all
The Texas Lege:
After serving four terms as a
Utah legislator, Keele Johnson
(above) was removed from the
2000 ballot for failure to file a
campaign financial disclosure
statement.  So he was appointed
to assist the San Juan School
District with a college prep
program for Navajo children and
now an
audit has found as much
as $800,000 may be missing.
SITUATION:  Steve Atkins, a member of the regional anti-gang task force
who "took over and transformed" the "lackluster" Chelsea High School football
team as their coach, was
charged  with mishandling booster money; took a job
Medford's head coach, denied the Chelsea allegations.
Wire transfers have
been included in St.
Cloud ISD 742's check
register under two
superintendents; first,
Bruce Watkins, and now
Steve Jordahl.  Kevin
Januszewski has served
as the district's executive
director of business
services through both

The wire transfers are
easy to find; not only are
they are clearly labeled
"WIRE" but also from the
months I've reviewed are
either at the beginning or
the ending of the register.

Another hats off:  the
district's April checks are
already online.

Here's the link:
Why homegrown is
better than using
outside search firms
By Peyton Wolcott
Sat., Apr. 18, 2009 /7:30 am
-- for pressing
Antioch USD supe
Deborah Sims &
att'y Marleen Sacks
for public records
re AUSD elementary
teacher arrest
(child porn).
Following the money in
vendor-driven schools
15 vendors & other special
money interest groups at
school meetings--know 'em?
The nation's 1st  & only daily conservative public education commentary   -   Solutions, not Fear
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one person, one question, one school at a time.
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Copyright 1999-2009 Peyton Wolcott

"Walk softly
and carry a big stick."
-- Teddy Roosevelt

"Trust but verify."
-- Ronald Reagan
Just because you can
doesn't mean you should.
H o w   w e   t a k e   b a c k   o u r   c h i l d r e n ' s    e d u c a t i o n:    o n e   p e r s o n ,  o n e   q u e s t i o n ,   o n e   s c h o o l   a t   a   t i m e.
Wiki  Q & A
AZ  CA  KS  MD  MO  OH  
OK  TX: Ed Commissioner
SLAPP  Edgewood 1 2 3 4 5
Cleburne Katy Llano
n e w   c o m m e n t a r i e s
ERDI supe
Alton Frailey (Katy ISD / Texas)
versus public  freedoms
First They Came

First they came for the communists, and I did not
speak out -- because I was not a communist;

Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak
out -- because I was not a socialist;

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not
speak out -- because I was not a trade unionist;

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out
--because I was not a Jew;

Then they came for me --
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

-- Pastor Martin Niemoeller
"Gloria from Luling" on
sidewalk outside
Walsh Anderson party at
Austin's Iron Cactus
with unnamed man who
was shy about  
revealing his name
(TASA Mid Winter, 2007 )
'ERDI supes in the news'
has moved
Soghra Najafpour (L) was
sentenced to death at age 13 for
the first time in
Iran; she's now
31 --
more here.  Did principal
Robin E. Lowe (L)  mention
Soghra during her 'Islam 101'  
day May 22 at Friendswood  JH?  
Will she mention Soghra at her
new gig running Houston ISD's
Pershing MS?  Wouldn't that be a
step towards "raising [her
students'] awareness of the
culture" -- of the true culture -- in
Iran?  That perhaps Robin's
invited speakers from CAIR might
have forgotten to mention?  
UPDATE:  As of today no
response yet from Robin to
telephone and email queries.
IRAN: Execution
Danger Alert
School News Quick Links
Jan.-Sept. 2008  here
Oct.-Nov. 2008  here
The American Superintendent
(Leonard Merrell) as Allan
Ramsay's King George III
(Mixed-media collage by Peyton
Wolcott, Copyright 2008)
May 1 - 14, 2009 commentaries
1.  End discretionary
Set an example for your staff; let
them know you mean business
about running a tighter ship:
No trips, no conferences, no
meals, no credit cards.  If you
want to learn more about
something, use Google.  Do a
webinar.  Read a newsletter.   
No golf games with vendors,
ever.  No chauffeurs, no rental
cars.  Stay home, do your work
and keep your nose clean.

2.  Reduce administrative
Go through your administrative
staff roster and cut every other
job, starting with getting rid of all
PR and marketing.  No advisors,
no consultants. Learn how to
really read a budget.  Put your
check register and all wire
transfers online.

3.  Ethics.
No nepotism.  Let your wife and
kids earn a living in a field other
than education.  No board
members' spouses working in
the district.  Conduct all
discussions with vendors and
potential vendors in the open;
invite your public to watch and
ask questions.  Throw away
your contract and work year by
year.  Move your chair off the
dais at board meetings.  You're
not a team member with your
elected trustees.  You're not
equal to them.  They're your

4.  No construction.  
If you're the rare district truly
experiencing sufficient growth to
justify building new schools,
splinter off that population and let
them start their own new school
district or charter school.  They
might be able to take over an
abandoned church or office
building for much less than the
Taj Mahal you had in mind.

5.  Back-to-basics curriculum.
Math table (1st grade: add, 2nd
grade: subtract, 3rd grade
multiply, 4th grade divide) daily
drill.  You made sure your own
kids learned the basics at home
or with tutors; why shouldn't all
children have that same
opportunity?  Ditto for phonics.  
Classical literature.  History, not
social studies.  No more block
scheduling.  Daily P.E. for all.
Emphasize individual effort and

6.  Attitude.  
You're a public servant, not a
Third World dictator. Practice
humility and gratitude.  
Remember when your
employees laugh at your jokes or
tell you you're cool or vendors
marvel at your every utterance
that they're all sucking up to you.
 Remember why you got into
education to begin with.  Sell
your house in the gated
community and buy one in the
middle of a real subdivision like
your average parents and
taxpayers can afford.  Let
yourself be driven not by the
latest platitude you picked up at
the latest education conference
but by the same wonderful noble
desire to educate kids that got
you into this field.
b e s t   
p r a c t i c e s
s c h o o l  n e w s
q u i c k   l i n k s
More "Best Practices"
2000-2001   $   121,951,145
2001-2002   $   137,745,786
2002-2003   $   169,103,740
2003-2004   $   188,618,903
2004-2005   $   188,838,330
2005-2006   $   215,068,567
 $   217,970,686
TOTAL        $1,239,297,157
2000-2001   $   204,116,731
2001-2002   $   180,097,229
2002-2003   $   254,465,426
2003-2004   $   199,905,502
2004-2005   $   199,940,243
2005-2006   $   198,907,113
2006-2007   $
TOTAL         $1,543,271,521
Texas and U.S. taxpayers have sent
almost $3 billion
to Dallas ISD since 2000
When I first saw the headline yesterday morning that
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich had just been
arrested along with his chief of staff, John F. Harris,
on charges of among other things trying to sell Barack
Obama's U.S. Senate seat, my first reaction was
probably not that different from yours, "Oh.  

You know, as in the 3 R's:  prior governor George
Ryan, former Congressman Dan  Rostenkowski,  and
long-time Obama supporter Tony Rezko.  As in, to
quote Matt Drudge, "Crook County."  As in, "Chicago,
Arne Duncan (L) and Rod "Even My Hair's For Sale"  
Blagojevich (R)     
(GRAPHIC IMAGE--Peyton Wolcott)
What's Arne Duncan's track record on financial
Given that getting rid of corruption in public education
must be job one for the next US DOE secretary, and
given that Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan
has deep ties to Chi-Land (he's from there), and given
also that he's a front runner for the post, a good
question to ask is, "How transparent has Arne been
during his tenure as supe of Chicago schools?"  
Meaning, how much has he opened up specific-dollar
CPS actual financials to the public in the cheapest,
easiest and fastest way possible, by putting checks
online?  No pie charts, no percentages, no
aggregates, but real checks-to?

When I went looking on Chicago Schools' website and
couldn't find their checks, I called the CPS PR
department and asked whether Arne had made any
plans to put their check register online.  After
explaining to the fellow with whom I spoke what a
check register was, he said he'd look into it and get
back to me.  Shouldn't be that hard; even though
Florida's Miami-Dade County Public Schools has
fewer students, if we can believe Chicago Public
Schools accounting over Miami's M-DCPS spent a lot
more money last year, $6.7 billion for all expenditures,
all funds as opposed to the $4.6 bilion CPS will admit
to.  I sent the PR guy a helpful
link to Miami's check
register so Arne could see for himself.   

Oh, wait!  Miami-Dade's check register is online
because Marta Perez, an elected trustee, pushed for it
last year -- but all seven Chicago Public Schools
trustees are appointed by Mayor Daley.  D'ya think
they'd risk losing their appointments by pushing for
financial transparency with a Chicago mayor who
controls all of Chicago public ed?  

No response yet from CPS
Perhaps that was the famous "I'll get back to you when
Hell freezes over" time frame.  Or, maybe what the
CPS PR guy really meant was, "It's a long way to
Tipperary which is where we hid the check register
Corruption Capital" and the "Chicago Machine."   As in,
apparently anything goes in Chi-Land and surrounds
that's not nailed down.  

Graft, graft everywhere and not a drop to drink
Chicago's suburbs have not been immune from graft
and corruption.  It was just over three years ago -- a
year after Gov. Blagojevich appointed Thomas Ryan,
then-supe of Community Consolidated School District
168 in Sauk Village (a half-hour south of Chicago) to a
task force of school administrators to help shape
Blagojevich's new Department of Education -- that
investigators raided Ryan's home and hauled off a
Left: Thomas Ryan (center) in his garage.  Right: Investigator carrying
laundry basket filled with cash.
 (PHOTOS--Southtown Star)
laundry basket filled with cash, ten years of financial
records, computers and a collapsible metal billy club.  
Ryan was eventually indicted, tried and sent to a
minimal-security prison where, presumably without
the asp, he served only a few years of his eight-year
Role played by investigative journalists
A shout out to the Daily Southtown:  The Illinois State
Attorney only began looking into Sauk Village
schools' finances after The Daily Southtown
published stories by reporters Linda Lutton and Kati
Phillip regarding questionable payments made to
Thomas Ryan, his family and school district vendors.
And earlier this year it was reported that "former
Hoover-Schrum Elementary District 157 administrator
Rosemary Hendricks was paid as superintendent for
the Calumet City school system and another suburban
Cook County school district."  Two months ago, the
suburban Cook County district, Bellwood SD 88,
accepted Hendricks' resignation and appointed an
interim supe.  
(SOURCES--Joan Carreon/ Northwestern Indiana
Times; David Pollard/Proviso Herald; and
Proviso Insider Blogspot)
While a former Chicago Public School
manager remained jailed on felony
theft charges Tuesday, the high school
that entrusted her with its finances is
struggling to recover from a loss of
nearly half a million dollars.  Marilyn
Jenkins-Evans, 47, was ordered held
on $200,000 bail by Criminal Court
Judge Thomas Hennelly, a day after
Closer to home, Tracy Dell'Angela and Jeff Coen of  
the Chicago Tribune reported on something that
occurred on Arne Duncan's watch as CEO at Chicago
Public Schools:
2006 mug shot
she was arrested on allegations that she stole
$457,000 from Simeon Career Academy High School,
where she once worked as business manager.  
Investigators alleged that she wrote herself 319
checks, forged the former principal's signature and
deposited them in her personal accounts over more
than five years at the school.  "How is this school going
to recoup that money?" asked the interim principal of
the South Side school, Leonard Kenebrew. "That's
$90,000 a year for five years. That could have been
novels. Or microscopes. Or training for the teachers.
Or field trips for the students. It's so depressing."
and when we get it cleaned up I'll get back to you."  In
any event, at press time there was still no response
from Chi-Land Schools about Arne's intention (or not)
to put their check register online.

Here's hoping Mayor Daley will let Arne put CPS
checks online whether or not Arne makes US DOE
secretary; specific-dollar transparency in the form of
online check registers is a terrific way for honest
Illinois administrators and politicians to separate
themselves from  the Blagojevich / 3R's crowd.
Public school checks now online in 31 states!  Total,USA:  463 districts!  311 in Texas!
U.S. school district
check registers online
A-L (Alabama to Kentucky)
M-Z (Michigan to Wyoming)
Texas school district
check registers online
A-L (Agua Dulce to Luling)
M-Z   (Mabank to Zapata)
Terms & Conditions
Sorry to have to include this;  some
groups--God bless them--have
copied my research and
published it as their own.
Robin Hood & 22 'equity'
Edgewood districts cost
Texans billions in failed
academics & extravagance.
How to persuade your
The friendly
ake the Golden
Rule with you when
your schools to post their
check registers.  
nials  (issues & concerns).
Are there enough degrees of
separation between Arne and
Blagojevich for Arne to be
the next US DOE secretary?
By Peyton Wolcott
Wednesday,  December 10, 2008 / 12:02 a.m. -
Updated Wednesday,
December 10, 2008 / 9:59 a.m.
Dec.2008-Jan.2009   here
Feb. - Mar. 2009   here
April - May 2009   here
Raise Your Hand Texas
816 Congress Ave Suite 990  
Austin, TX 78701

Ratliff, William R.   
P.O. Box 1218  Mt. Pleasant,
TX 75456
$25,000 - $49.999.99

Raise Your Hand
327 Congress Suite 450  
Austin, TX 78701

Erben, Randall H.   
807 Brazos Suite 402 Austin,
TX 78701
50,000 - $99,999.99

Wakefield, Kakhi H.  
807 Brazos Street Suite 402
Austin, TX 78701
Less Than $10,000.00

Yarbrough, Brian G.   
807 Brazos Suite 402  Austin,
TX 78701
Less Than $10,000.00
Ratliff II, Shannon H. (00050870)
(512)494-3656 -  Bracewell & Giuliani LLP
111 Congress Avenue Suite 2300 Austin, TX

Long-time school law attorneys:  
Bracewell & Giuliani  LLP
111 Congress Avenue Suite 2300  Austin, TX
Less Than $10,000.00

Active school tech vendors:
Cisco Systems Inc.
12515 Research Blvd. Building 2  Austin, TX
$50,000 - $99,999.99

City of Carrollton
1945 E. Jackson Road  Carrollton, TX 75006
$50,000 - $99,999.99

Invenergy Wind Development LLC
1400 S. Congress Avenue Suite B-330  Austin,
TX 78704
$50,000 - $99,999.99

Not in good standing as of Jan. 28, 2009
with Texas Comptroller:
The Corporation for Texas
1305 San Antonio Street  Austin, TX 78701
$50,000 - $99,999.99

Heaven forbid that the Ratliff's wouldn't
get some of the taxpayer bank bailout
Wachovia Corporation
150 Fayetteville Street Mall Suite 600  Raleigh,
NC 27601
$50,000 - $99,999.99
Raise Your Hand for Public
Schools/Raise Your Hand Texas
816 Congress Suite 990  Austin, TX 78701

Anderson, David D.   (00053708)  823 Congress Suite 900 Austin, TX 78701
$25,000 - $49.999.99

Jones, Neal T. Jr.   (00013745)  823 Congress Suite 900 Austin, TX 78701
Less Than $10,000.00

Raise Your Hand for Public Schools
PO Box 302183  Austin, TX 78730

All "less than $10,000":  
Eschberger, Brenda   (00029854)
919 Congress Avenue Suite 950  Austin, TX 78701

Girard, Charles H.   (00058717)
504 West 14th Street  Austin, TX 78701

Johnson, Michael J.   (00055885)
919 Congress Avenue Suite 950  Austin, TX 78701

Kelley, Russell T.   (00013737)
919 Congress Avenue Suite 950  Austin, TX 78701

Kemptner, Sara   (00057952)
919 Congress Avenue Suite 950  Austin, TX 78701

McGarah, Carol   (00051437)
919 Congress Avenue Suite 950  Austin, TX 78701

McGarry, Mignon   (00012905)
504 West 14th Street  Austin, TX 78701

Sabo, Jason T.   (00052402)
1122 Colorado Street Suite 102  Austin, TX 78701

Waldon, Barbara   (00057030)
919 Congress Avenue Suite 950  Austin, TX 78701
Ratliff, William R.  (00020737)
(903)572-1846         P.O. Box 1218  Mt.
Pleasant, TX 75456

Such a sweet deal!  Found "Raise Your
Hand Texas" then make more than the
average Texan's salary from this alone:
Raise Your Hand Texas
816 Congress Ave Suite 990  Austin, TX 78701
$25,000 - $49.999.99
[Raise Your Hand
Bull, Blaine H.
(512)744-0044        327
Congress Ave. Suite 450
Austin, TX 78701

4109 Carmel Mountain  
McKinney, TX 75070
$25,000 - $49.999.99

Texas Border Coalition
901 Business Park Dr. Suite
200  Mission, TX 78572
$10,000 - $24,999.99

Texas Employers for
1209 Nueces Street  Austin, TX
$10,000 - $24,999.99
Yolanda Larkin of Brownsboro ISD (left, standing)  facilitated this table's
group consensus statement regarding their Harvard experience at the
"Raise Your Hand" January 28, 2009 conference at the Austin Hilton.
A teacher among
teachers: Rafe
of The Hobart
Rafe Esquith (L) with
Recently when I
attended a Charles
Butt-hosted "Raise Your
Hand" event in Austin
several principals voiced
concerns about the
issues and problems
many students bring to
school with them; they
asked about additional
funding available for
dealing with such
Why do educators
automatically seek more
dollars for dealing with
challenged students
when the richness they
seek lies within their
own hearts?
Rafe Esquith, a
5th-grade teacher in Los
Angeles USD,
is daily
confronted with all of these same
issues then some.  
Hobart Elementary's Room 56,
home to Rafe's "
Shakespeareans," is situated in
one of the poorest parts of LA.;
all of his students qualify for free
breakfast and lunches, and few
speak English as a first
language. Many are from poor
or troubled families.  The school
is on frequent lockdown
because of drug traffickers.
The Hobart Shakes-
peareans believe "There
Are No Shortcuts."
These 5th grade children
begin to arrive in class at
6:30 a.m. and by 7:00
a.m. are solving complex
math problems a full
hour before traditional
school begins. They stay
until 5:00 p.m. or even
later, and voluntarily
come to school during
their vacation periods.
They read high school
level literature and devour
United States History,
learning how to be good

Most important of all,
these children are recog-
nized around the world
for their outstanding
character. In addition to
scoring extra-ordinarily
high on standardized
tests, these students
feed the homeless, raise
money for the Red Cross,
and give performances to
support AIDS research.
These students receive
over $1 million each year
in scholarships to attend
first-rate schools.
Oustanding prep schools
know these students are
a sure thing.
The Hobart Shakespearans
performing in Texas
(Summer 2008)
Because Rafe succeeds
where others fail
rather than producing
high school dropouts as
do many of his peers at
urban schools, his
students attend an
impressive array of
colleges -- let's listen to
I'm hoping that this
August rather than hiring
outside convocation
speakers at $5,000 a
pop our administrators
will save $4,970 and
instead show their staff
Mel Stuart's video about
Rafe and his kids.  It will
inspire and encourage
even the most tired and
jaded of our wonderful
Specific immediate steps
educators and trustees
can take to lower costs:
Leonard Merrell Center
Katy ISD, Texas
(PHOTO--Peyton Wolcott)
Tom Harmon
the Rapids"
We are entering
serious and dangerous
times in America in
which we can, must and
will prevail.   As with
other similar periods
throughout history it will
help to be agile of mind
and fleet of foot.

This account of
University of Michigan
football great Tom
Harmon first describes
his use of his old UM
"Shoot the Rapids"
strategy on the gridiron
which he handily
adapted first while in the
air as a World War II
fighter pilot then as a
downed and seriously  
injured soldier escaping
to safety from behind
enemy lines.
Tom's ingenuity and
heart are good to keep in
mind whether you're
helping school board
candidates, or
persuading your district
to post its check register
online, or anything else
in our schools or your life.
(Posted 03.10.09)
Tom Harmon
(Photo courtesy U-M
Bentley Historical Library)
One of the challenges
faced by OneBraveNewWorld
Baccalaureate ("OBNWB")
has been the charge by many
parents that they were teach-
ing students "fuzzy" or "Rain-
forest" math, with too few
pertinent examples from real
life problems everyday people
face in their ordinary lives.
Sneak peek: sample math
problems from 'Real World
Math' by
By Peyton Wolcott
Thu., Mar. 26, 2009/6:31 pm
Real life people, real-life
problems for real-life students
to help solve: President Barack
Obama (L); White House Chief
of Staff Rahm Emanuel (R).
President Obama's
brother Malik in Kenya has
come down with cholera.
PHOTO CREDITS: Problem 44,
Boniface Mwangi/Bloomberg
Orange County
Weekly: Capistrano
USD supe
Woody Carter at
edu-conference spa
America, so glad you're finding this website useful!   #1 on both Google & Yahoo of 256,000,000 results !  Keywords: online check registers public school district
Spring is in the air and superintendent resignation season has officially begun.  

Nowhere else in the land does hope spring more eternal than in the collective bosom of school boards across America whose
superintendents have just quit.  Trustees think to themselves privately or together with all the positive affirmation of the old
Soviet five-year plan, "This next one, we'll get a winner this time!"  -- and promptly call a superintendent search firm, thereby
dashing any real possibility that they will get anything different let alone better than what they've just gotten rid of.
Developing . . .Thank
you for your patience. . .
Congratulations to
Craig Lazzeretti --
By Peyton Wolcott
Mon., Apr. 27, 2009/1:00 am
Antioch supe & 2005 Broad
Inst. grad Deborah Sims (L),
attorney Marleen Sacks (R)
The timeline below
reflects the
Contra Costa
Times' coverage of events
since the February 10
arrest of Carmen Dragon
Elementary music
teacher, James Carlile.
Apr 25, 2009:  Antioch
school district hides
information on child porn case
Mar 16:  Law firm to look into
district's handling of child
porn case.  Live coverage:
Antioch school board
approves independent inquiry
into child porn case
Mar 13:  Live coverage
Monday: Antioch school
board meeting on child porn
Mar 12:  Antioch school
board considers inquiry into
child porn case
Mar 11:  Dr. Deborah Sims:
AUSD answers questions
regarding porn case
Feb 25:  Antioch school
trustees ask for timeline on
pornography incident
Antioch police unsure
whether child pornography
was viewed during school
Feb 23:  Antioch police,
school officials hold second
parent meeting about
teacher's child porn arrest.  
Antioch district, police to talk
with parents tonight about
music teacher's arrest.  
Editorial: Antioch community
deserves complete
explanation of teacher's
Feb 20:  Document: Carmen
Dragon Elementary letter to
parents.  Contradictions arise
in accounts of Antioch child
pornography investigation
Feb 19:  Press release:
Antioch teacher arrested on
child porn charges.  Music
teacher arrested in Antioch
child porn investigation
James Carlile (APD mug shot)
More here regarding
James Carlile's arrest
from The Times:
ANTIOCH — An elementary
school music teacher has been
arrested after an investigation
found he downloaded "significant
amounts" of child pornography
onto his work computer, police
James Carlile, 52, a teacher at
Carmen Dragon Elementary
School, was arrested Feb. 10, a
week after the pictures depicting
naked children were first brought
to the attention of Antioch police,
said Investigations Lt. Leonard
Inappropriate materials were
discovered Jan. 15 by school
computer technicians servicing
Carlile's work terminal, said
Deidra Powell-Williams,
spokeswoman for the Antioch
Unified School District. Police
and Powell-Williams said Carlile
had told technicians he was
having trouble accessing
specific Web sites. Carlile has
been on paid administrative
leave from the school since the
discovery, Powell-Williams said.
A forensic computer specialist
determined that Carlile was the
only person who had access to
the terminal when the illegal
photos were downloaded,
according to police. Orman said
there is no indication so far that
any of the photos depicted
students at the school.
Carlile was arrested at a boat in
Antioch where he resides during
the school week, Orman said.
On Feb. 11, Antioch police and
sheriff's deputies from Calaveras
County searched his Valley
Springs home — where he
keeps a permanent residence —
and seized at least one
computer, which is currently
being examined.
Carlile posted $10,000 bail.
The rest of the math
problem preview is here.
Craig Lazzeretti
For those of you who think concentrating more
power and money (President Obama's $368+
million to Chicago Public Schools) at the top
and that nationalizing our public schools are
good ideas . . . .
By Peyton Wolcott
Sunday, May 3, 2009 / 3:34 p.m.
Last week Andres Durbak, for almost a decade the top cop
at Chicago Public Schools, resigned quietly, paving the way
for the
appointment of First Lady Michelle Obama's cousin,
Michael Shields.   Anyone else wonder how Andres came to
resign so suddenly?  Did Mr. Obama's
$368 million-plus stimulus check to CPS have any
influence?  Was there a conversation, did it go something
like the one above?  
"Michelle & Andres have a talk" by Peyton Wolcott
Michael Shields
Hats off,
St. Cloud ISD (MN)
Wire transfers included
in online check registers
May 7, 2009
(L) Bruce Watkins,
Steve Jordahl
St. Cloud's Apollo HS (above);
Lincoln ES (below)
May 10, 2009
Fred Zipp
As the newspaper
business declines,
editors are having to
make increasingly tough
decisions about what
they can and cannot
cover.  Hats off to Austin
editor Fred Zipp, whose
reporter Laua Heinauer
is following up on the
kind of story best
covered by big-city
dailies, including an
AAS' follow-up
this morning.
New Austin ISD supe
Meria Carstarphe
At issue is $16,000 in
consulting payments to
Austin ISD's new
superintendent Meria
Carstarphen, who is still
full-time employee of
St. Paul Public Schools
until June 30.

Further, as today's
editorial pointed out, part
of Austin ISD's  
"moonlight madness" is
that the behind-closed-
doors AISD board
discussion about the
consulting fees -- which
AAS estimates may
reach $50,000 by June 1
-- involves money which
the district is very short
of these days.  As
today's AAS editorial
points out,   "To balance
the 2008-09 budget, the
district has had to use
its reserves, and raise
taxes on local property
taxpayers."  Further AISD
still has not produced
their side contract about
the consulting.  

Good job.
Fred/Frederick Deussing:  
"Baby porn" educator out
of prison early
By Peyton Wolcott
Wed., May 13, 2009/1:08 am
Frederick Charles Deussing
Friends, I just learned today
Fred Deussing is already
out of prison, released in January
on discretionary parole after
serving only two years; his
original release date was October
2009.   According to the Alaska
Department of Public Safety Sex
Offender/Child Kidnapper
Registration central registry, he is
living in an Anchorage hotel.         
Here's more about what landed
him in prison.
o  KY:  Mr. & Mrs. PTO to stand
trial for
stealing $19,000
Q: Why don't administrators like it when we ask.questions?
A: Often they're hiding something
By Peyton Wolcott
Sunday, May 17, 2009 / 9:59 a.m. -
Updated Monday, May 18, 2009 / 12:25 a.m.
Vincent Aufiero
TO:  Vincent Aufiero, Somerville BOE
Q:  'Gee, Vince, whatcha doin' chargin'
that custom-made $1100 residential
apron-front sink to Somerville public
school taxpayers?
SITUATION: After a 9-month investigation, Vincent Aufiero was charged in November 2007
"with four counts of official misconduct today for allegedly remodeling his kitchen at taxpayers'
expense and hiring his own company to do work for his school district. . . . .Aufiero bought Home
Depot kitchen cabinets under a purchase order he submitted for bleacher repairs to the Somerville
Board of Education, and also got approval for a custom-made apron front sink worth more than
$1,100, said Somerset County Prosecutor Wayne J. Forrest.  
Investigators filed additional misconduct charges after learning Aufiero was a principal in
Mechanical Plumbing Services, a Wall Township firm that bid on plumbing projects within the school
system."  Aufiero hired his own non-disclosed business to do work for Somerville schools.

OUTCOME:  After pleading guilty in February, sentencing has been delayed to allow Vincent to
first repay the district the $45,995.63 to which he has admitted.
Steve Atkins
TO: Steve Atkins, Chelsea PS (MA)
Q:  Heya, Steve-O!  Pricey private life, eh? What
about that '
fine dining and Foxwoods' -- you wouldn't
mind opening up the high school football booster club
books to us, would ya?
duty and let go from MHS last year, used his position
as a head coach and president of the Chelsea High
School football team to embezzle almost $10,000
from a bank account meant to support the team’s
expenses—funds that had been raised in large part
by the young players’ families.  'Over the course of
2005, they entrusted thousands of dollars to the

Beagan said. 'Unfortunately, they didn’t
ask for a receipt.'  Instead, Beagan said, Atkins
would put the proceeds from raffles, concession
stands, and other fundraising activities 'in his
pocket' and, when pressed, even told the
fundraising parents that 'You’re not raising enough
TRIAL: Atkins was accused of withdrawing thousands from Chelsea High School football team’s
bank account "in the dead of night near a strip club, a racetrack, a casino and a downtown Boston
sports bar, a Suffolk County prosecutor said during opening statements of the 43-year-old’s trial.
'This case is about arrogance,' said assistant DA Edward Beagan, chief of the trial team.... 'It's about
deceit.  And it's about the compulsive behavior of the defendant, James Atkins.'  Beagan told a
Suffolk Superior Court jury.  And it’s that Atkins, a Chelsea Police sergeant currently suspended from
"You're not raising enough money," Coach Steve
Atkins told Chelsea parents,

OUTCOME:  After being tried and convicted, Steve is now no longer
Chelsea High School football coach although he is still a city police sergeant.  
He was "sentenced to 90 days in home confinement and ordered to repay
$12,900 he stole from the team’s booster club.  A judge on Friday ordered
James Atkins to begin serving his sentence on July 1 and to pay $500 in
restitution each month until his dues are settled."  He no longer has his job at
the police department, either.
first went
to the school
with their

FOLLOW UP ASSIGNMENT:  Internal controls as regards
cash-handling in Chealsea and Medford schools.  Without proper controls, no
telling how much Steve really took.
TO: Mark Friedman, BWP (IL)
Peggy Kaufmann
Q:  'When you recommended that
Mt. Prospect ESD 57 hire Peggy
Kaufmann as their superintendent,
why on Earth didn't you do a
criminal background check?  Gee,
didn'tcha even ask her about
SITUATION:  Even though 2009 Illinois "Superintendent of the Year" Mark Friedman of BWP &
Associates charged Mt. Prospect ESD $2,000 for a superintendent search which resulted in his
bringing Peggy Kaufmann to their
schools, he did so without doing a criminal background check.  
Turns out Kaufmann, assistant supe at
Shaumberg SD 54, pleaded guilty to a DUI in 2002 and again
last month was also charged with driving under the influence.
Was Mark
too busy with his day job as full-time superintendent of Libertyville Elementary
District--including "community involvement" with LED's "
Partners for Excellence in Education" and
also sitting on the
IASCD board ?
Mark Friedman
OUTCOME:  Peggy has submitted a letter of resignation and Mark Fredman's looking for another
candidate for Mt. Prospect at no additional charge; presumably this time he'll include a criminal back-
ground check -- and now Mt. Prospect board president Joseph Leane, a 6-year board veteran, will
know to ask for one. (Don't they teach due diligence at IASB trainings?  Oops.  School board associ-
tions promote team building, not anything as unpleasant or mean-sounding as accountability.)  
According to Mark, Peggy's "career has been destroyed."

Bruce Brown, Mt. Prospect's retiring supe, joins BWP & Associates' "consultant teams" next month.
o FL: School cop charged (theft).
What were they
thinking in Utah?
By Peyton Wolcott
Sun., May 17, 2009/1:00 a.m.
Reservoir belonging to
San Juan School District (1997)
What did the money go for?  
"Travel costs, canoes and a
canoe trailer, other outdoor gear
and a river guide license, an
Apple laptop that was never
used, as well as several
cameras and camera equipment."
Looking for older commentaries?

here and here.

Thank you for reading, and thank you
for your interest in our schools
and our schoolchildren.
Texas Hill Country - Mesquite and Wildflowers
Wonder how these four might have reacted to
the following  timely questions.
Educator sentenced on child
porn charges
Juneau Empire - Oct. 21, 2007
ANCHORAGE - A longtime
educator in Alaska was
sentenced to three years in
prison on child pornography
charges after thousands of
images and videos were
discovered on his computers.
Frederick Deussing, 64, pleaded
no contest and was sentenced
Friday. He will be on probation
for five years when he is
released and will have to register
as a sex offender.
Deussing had worked in village
schools in several parts of rural
Alaska and most recently was
an assistant principal at Heritage
Christian School in Anchorage.
He was employed by the Kenai
Peninsula School District from
1995 until 2000.
Investigators found no indication
that Deussing had molested
children, assistant district
attorney Trina Sears said Friday.
The images appeared to have
been downloaded from the
Internet, police said at the time of
Deussing's arrest.
The investigation began after a
computer technician found child
porn on a laptop Deussing had
taken in for repair last November.
Up close and very personal.
Interesting take on LA
teachers strike
offered by
By Peyton Wolcott
Tue., May 19, 2009/2:03 am
What's the dividing line
between fair treatment of school
employees and rabid Soviet-style
revolutionary tactics?  Where is it?

Somebody needs to find it, and
soon.  Listen to
Worker's rhetoric:  "AFTER AN
anti-union judge issued a
temporary restraining order
banning our planned one-day
strike set for May 15, thou-
sands of members of United
Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) and
hundreds of LA students pushed
back with a series of actions on
that day.  Morning picket lines
before school, student walkouts
and sit-ins, a civil disobedience
action by teachers, and an
afternoon union rally....The pickets,
civil disobedience and rally were
important in keeping teachers

In case anybody doesn't get it,
above right is an ad featured on
Socialist Worker's website:
Is a laptop in every
Texas JH/HS student's
pot a recipe for
economic and
educational disaster?
By Peyton Wolcott
May 20, 2009  / 2:03 a.m.
o  Laptops broke, costing large sums to repair.

o  Student self-directed learning did not show positive gains.

o  Laptop students during all but the fourth year attended school
less regularly.

o  Cohorts 2 and 3 did not improve their reading achievement.
Stonewalling on FOIAs,
lawmakers' self-
indulgent discretionary
expenses bring down
1st UK Speaker to
resign in 300 years
By Peyton Wolcott
Wed., May 20, 2009/12:24 am
(L) Heather Brooke, Michael Martin
When U.S. born and
trained journalist Heather
brought the public
records skills she honed here to
Great Britain, who could have
imagined she could have brought
accountability to the
spending of tax dollars for
politicians' personal
expenses at the House of
Commons -- with such
accountability resulting in the
sudden resignation yesterday of
its speaker.   But the unimaginable
has occurred after the MPs the
speaker tried to protect from
public exposure turned on him in
order to try to save their own
careers.   From George Parker at
 Financial Times:
Just because Steve Jobs and
Michael Dell and Bill Gates want
to sell laptops should Texas
taxpayers have to foot the bill for
their corporate expansionism?  

Maybe if there was solid
evidence supporting such massive
spending . . . but there is none.
Steve Jobs of Apple
(IMAGE by Peyton Wolcott)
As veteran educator Donna Garner testified before the Texas Senate
Education Committee yesterday, the $20 million
Texas Technology
Immersion Pilot (TTIP)* which has been touted by lawmakers as the
ultimate authorization for the laptop purchase had no solid findings to
support wholesale use of taxpayer-funded laptops.  As Donna pointed
*   The U. S. Department of Education chose Texas in which to conduct the $20 million TIPP pilot
program to see whether immersing students in laptop computers would significantly improve student
learning; the TIPP study took place during school years 2004 - 2008
"The TTIP study says repeatedly that students made no
statistically significant academic progress in TAKS reading,
social studies, and science; TAKS writing even went down.  
TAKS math showed small improvements among Cohorts 2 and 3
none in Cohort 1.  

Even though students were heavily immersed with expensive
laptops ($1,100 - $1,600 per student) and teachers were trained
extensively in immersion strategies for over four years,
little if
any positive student academic achievement was attained.  
Are the legislators promoting a laptop-in-every-K-12-pot
acknowledging the many problems encountered in the TTIP study?

Has the Texas Lege pointed out the following case against laptops
to their constituents:  
Donna concluded her remarks by reminding the Senate
Education Committee of the conclusion reached by the TTIP
researchers:   "Given the financial and logistical challenges
of implementing and sustaining the Technology Immersion
model, statewide implementation may not be possible."  
Here are some problems outlined by Donna:
o  Control group students did better in writing than did the laptop
immersed students.

o  Cohorts 2 and 3 improved their math scores a bit, but Cohort 1 did
not sustain the positive effect into the high-school years.

o  Cohort 2 did not improve their 2008 science or social studies
Donna Garner
Q q u i c k e s t   l i n k s
o PA: Joe Valenti's blog proves
demand exists for tell-it-like-it-is
local political news.
Supe's $115,000
annual base salary
wasn't enough?
Scarantino pleads guilty
for taking $5,000 bribe
from contractor
By Peyton Wolcott
Fri., May 22, 2009/7:39 am
A Michigan man was arrested at
one of the Gasparilla Inn and Club
cottages on Sunday, May 3 after
he allegedly struck a sheriff’s
deputy and was drunk in public.

According to Lee County Sheriff’
s Office reports, Kenneth C.
Watson Jr., 66, of Livonia, Mich.,
was intoxicated and being
escorted to his cottage by a local
firefighter when he began to

Police said that when deputies
arrived at the location, the
suspect was told he could either
go to the cottage or be arrested.
He told the deputy he would
rather go to jail.

Police said he then punched one
of the sheriff’s deputies in the

He got his wish.

Watson was charged with
battery on a law enforcement
officer and disorderly
intoxication/public disturbance.

He was taken to the Lee County
Jail and released on bond.
Pittston Area School District
Ross Scarantino was
charged last month with
accepting bribes. unlawful
"kickbacks dating back to a
contract which was awarded
in 2008.  According to the
criminal complaint, the FBI
claims Scarantino “in his
capacity as Superintendent for
the Pittston Area School
District, did knowingly,
intentionally and unlawfully
corruptly accept and agree to
accept, thousands of dollars
in cash from another person,
for the benefit of the
defendant, intended to be
rewarded in connection with
the awarding of contracts by
the Pittston Area School
 (SOURCE--Joe Valenti/
Ross Scarantino at board meeting
Ross Scarantino
(PHOTO--Scranton Times)
Kenneth C.
Watson, Jr.
FL mug shot
Dave Janoski at the
Scranton Times writes:
More about the charges from
Joe Valenti at
Monday, May 25, 2009
(L) Missouri's 1996-97  "Superintendent  of the Year" Scott
Taveau outside courtroom where  he pleaded "not guilty."  
Center, his wife Eva, a former Liberty employee; at right, his
  (PHOTO--Kansas City Star)





...Cause No.
)      o8AC-CC00624
....Division No. 4
Civil court rules former Liberty supe Taveau
must pay back $245,245.43--plus district
taxpayers must cough up $78,175.61
By Peyton Wolcott
Saturday, May 23, 2009 /
Updated 9:59 a.m.
How does it happen that
Missouri's go-to guy on everything
public ed -- after all, former Liberty
schools supe Scott Taveau was not
president of the Missouri Asso-
ciation of School
("MASA") but also their
How can we improve
school board trainings?

So that elected and appointed
trustees can independently
and credibly review the finan-
cial reports they're handed for
their approval each month at
board meetings?  

Although the seven-member
Liberty Public School
District Board of Education in
Missouri has responsibility for
the "proper management of
tax dollars" look at the
Liberty PSD taxpayers are in --
on the board's watch.
Practical ramifications
What will have to come out of Liberty
schools' budget to cover the $78K?  
Does Scott Taveau have a stash of cash
somewhere?  Like, $245,245.43 worth?
Or will he be forced to sell one of his two
homes?  There's the primary residence
in Liberty and the second home in the
golf  community in Florida.
Bottom line
This ruling in Missouri appears to
be another instance of district
taxpayers having to foot the bill for
their too-willing school board
members' rubber-stamp approval
of district financials.  
Missouri House of
Representatives regarding
school finance.  He was
also executive director of
the Cooperating School
Districts of Greater Kansas
City (CSDGKC).  And when
he retired from Liberty
Schools, the Missouri
House of Representatives
HR 4038 in his honor.
You have worked hard to form a relationship with the board
and now you must
shift mindsets and consider what is
best for you and your  family’s needs. A few thoughts to
consider as you enter these negotiations.
The case against Scott Taveau --
and Liberty Public School
District taxpayers
So, based on this wording, when it comes to supes' own
personal dollars, looks like the idea that supes and their board
members are a big happy
'team' gets tossed out the window.
The cure?  
More school board in-district
trainings on learning to read Excel
spreadsheets and other district
documents relating to their admini-
strators' spending of tax dollars.  
Fewer high-time-in-the-old-town-
tonight team building exercises at
what appear to be mostly golf
tournaments and
trade shows at
resorts and luxury hotels.
Golf tourney's on tap for Missouri School Board Ass'n
annual convention October 2009 at Tan-Tar-A resort
dent of the Year' -- could get it so wrong about the terms of the
taxpayer-funded pension he was entitled to collect?
Scott Taveau mug shots;
post-arrest in Florida (L) and
post-extradtiion in Missouri
According to this NBC video, Taveau was trying to "work the
system."  More here regarding the case against Scott.

Scott Taveau's education chops
Just how much of a go-to guy on public education issues was
he?  In addition to the two top honors named above, there was
also Scott's doctorate, an Ed.D., plus his testimony before the
1. Advocate
for yourself

.  You
the interests of
your family.
No one else will
be looking out
your best
. . . .   
Scott Taveau's
Liberty, Missouri residence
Taveau & Liberty PSD made national
news in 2005 when a Liberty school bus
driver veered suddenly, killing two in
the other vehicles and
injuring the 23
schoolchildren on board her bus. (CBS)
To C-SPAN: We're out of money.
2nd "Mr. & Mrs. PTO" in
one week; as economy
tanks, look for more--until
our administrators finally
tighten internal controls
By Peyton Wolcott
Sun., May 24, 2009/2:03 pm
Robert and Kimberly
were arraigned this
past week on charges they
embezzled at least $13,000
from the
Fiegel Elementary
School PTO.

Here's the 2004 PTO's
"heartfelt thank you" to Mr. and
Mrs. Smith for helping with the
Halloween Party.