Breaking bad: School principal busted for selling meth

Life imitates art.

A Santa Clara County (California) elementary school principal has been arrested and charged with dealing meth. But that’s not all. When police searched the San Francisco apartment of Montague Elementary Principal Eric Dean Lewis. they also found quantities of a date rape drug and … creepiest of all, perhaps, a cache of spy cameras, including one hidden inside a teddy bear.

Lewis was the leader of a school that had no PTA or other parent organization and was well-regarded by parents and students. Police say their are no indications that his criminal activities involved children or students at the school, but the cameras are alarming, and they’ll be looking through his computer files for more evidence.

Read more.

Florida PTA struggles to recover from embezzlement

See previous post.

From the Tampa Bay Times:

PLANT CITY — The Springhead Elementary School PTA pays for everything from student achievement awards to graduation banquets for fifth-graders to field trips to family movie nights.

Most years, the group puts aside thousands of dollars to cover costs. Not this year.

The group is entering the school year with a $2,500 deficit after what Lakeland police describe was a five-month embezzlement scheme by the PTA’s former treasurer, Lisa Shirah, 34, to rake in thousands in PTA funds. Shirah, a Plant City resident, was arrested Sept. 7 and faces numerous counts of forgery, uttering a forged instrument, grand theft and scheming to defraud.

The 140-member Springhead PTA has since tightened its fiscal controls and insists it’s moving ahead with programs. But the group is mulling a future without seed money and concedes that some events might be scaled back.

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Does your PTA have a Healthy Lifestyles Committee?

Here’s some good news– and something more PTAs and PTOs could and should become involved in.

In Virginia, the efforts of one local Parent Teacher Association drew the attention of the USDA, which reports:

Matoaka Elementary School isn’t the biggest school, or the oldest. But it does have a Parent Teacher Association that takes student health very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that one committee is completely devoted to helping kids and families develop Healthy Lifestyles!

“There were a few PTA parents who started talking about how our school could be healthier,” said Tryna Fitzpatrick, “and we decided to survey families and find out what other parents were thinking.”

The results were surprising- 92% of those who completed the survey wanted a healthier school environment- and felt so strongly that they were willing to contribute in one way or another to make it happen! And the Healthy Lifestyle Committee was born. Chaired by Tryna and Michelle Alexander, the campaign began leading the way with small changes and positive examples. The Golden Apple Award, for example, is presented to teachers and parents who are “caught being healthy.”

“Last year one of our Kindergarten teachers decided to change up the menu for the Valentine’s Day Party- but she did it in such a positive way that no one felt deprived,” said Fitzpatrick. “It was a beautiful party full of healthy red, white, and pink foods- things the kids love, like strawberries and yogurt. The kids had a great time. No one had a chance to miss cupcakes!”

One thoughtful parent award-winner was looking for a way to thank hard working teachers. She developed an after-school exercise program conveniently located and timed so that staff could participate before leaving the school building. Yet another parent manages the school garden. In the fall and spring, kindergarten students plant vegetables, harvest them, and enjoy a salad party. School families care for the garden over the summer, one week at a time.

Small efforts have continued to grow.

“We’re really excited about our Local Food Initiative,” says Tryna. “It required the cooperation of the county, school board, principal, and parents- it’s a big production.”

A local farm, Kelrae, provides high-quality seasonal produce 2-3 times a month for use in school meals. So far, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and asparagus have all been popular offerings. Locally grown red potatoes are next up on the menu this year.

Once there was bad weather and the vegetable the cafeteria staff had planned to use wasn’t available. Kelrae was able to provide them with kale, instead. The cafeteria staff made crunchy kale chips, which the kids loved!

“Without everyone’s efforts none of this would be possible,” says Tryna. “But we know from our personal experience that working together can produce great things!”

Read more.


Cobb County goes all Chain-Gangy with polygraph tests

Why didn’t Miz Rutherford think of this for Malliford Elementary School? Oh yeah. She was into forced confessions. Polygraphs aren’t much good in those cases. (Learn more about Chain Gang Elementary.)

Over the summer, Cobb County instituted the policy of conducting polygraph tests for employees.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

An orchestra director, a special education teacher and a custodian are among the handful of Cobb County school employees who, in recent years, have been given controversial polygraph tests, a unique provision allowed under the district’s discipline policy.

Cobb’s school board amended its discipline policy this summer to say employees who refuse to take the exam could be fired. The district, the state’s second largest, is the only major school district in metro Atlanta that uses polygraph tests to try to determine whether a person is lying.

Although administrators insist they rarely use polygraph tests, teacher advocates say that could change at any time and that they object to the test being used at all.

Read more.

Maureen Downey also posts on it in the Get Schooled blog.