Minneapolis school board suspends contract negotiations with new superintendent

Sergio Paez
Courtesy of Minneapolis Public Schools
Sergio Paez

Not so fast on the new Minneapolis superintendent. Riham Feshir at MPR says, “The Minneapolis School Board suspended contract negotiations with its new superintendent amid abuse allegations at a district he ran in Massachusetts. Board officials had offered the job to Sergio Paez last week, one day before a Boston disability advocacy group released a report about student abuse in Paez’s former district in Holyoke, Mass. School board member Siad Ali introduced the resolution to put contract negotiations on hold at a special board meeting Tuesday. The board plans to vote on next steps at its Jan. 12 meeting.”

From Hillary Clinton’s U of M speech yesterday, Patrick Condon of the Strib says: “Clinton was critical of Republican presidential candidates, particularly billionaire businessman Donald Trump, for recent remarks and proposals that she said have demonized Muslims and brought unneeded heat to an already unstable global situation. … ‘I have this old-fashioned idea that we elect a president in part, in large part, to keep us safe — from terrorists, from gun violence, from whatever threatens our families and communities,’ Clinton said.”

The AP says: “She also reiterated her support for new restrictions on guns, saying it was ‘time to restore the ban on assault weapons,’ a law first passed by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, which expired during the Bush administration. She also emphasized a need for vigilance, stressing that the country needs to be prepared for more terror plots. Hours before her speech, officials in Los Angeles closed all schools after an emailed threat a large-scale attack with guns and bombs — a threat some law enforcement officials deemed a hoax.”

For the Pioneer Press, Rachel Stassen-Berger writes, “Clinton, who has run for president before and lost Minnesota to Barack Obama by a 2-to-1 margin in 2008, took a tack most presidential candidates avoid when visiting the hinterlands. Instead of a general rally speech or a closed-door fundraiser, Clinton gave a policy speech with particular purchase in Minnesota. … The crowd was not as wild as some candidates get, in part because it included only about 300 people and many of them were supportive public officials, not rabid fans. She got only a small handful of cheering standing ovations.”

Charges have been filed against four for “terrifying night” of crime. Mukhtar Ibrahim at MPR writes, “Calling it one of the most violent rampages he’s seen as a prosecutor, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman Tuesday detailed allegations tying four people to two Twin Cities killings, a robbery and the terrorizing of a family all in one night. The crime spree, running only about three hours on the night of Oct. 18, led to a woman killed in St. Paul, a man robbed outside his apartment building and a family of six, including children, terrorized during a home invasion, Freeman said Tuesday at press conference. … The four face charges in Hennepin and Ramsey counties. They were already in jail in connection with the killing that night of Sarah Wierstad, 24, who apparently interrupted the group after they randomly selected her St. Paul home to burglarize.”

I don’t think Target wants to go down this road again. On the ArsTechnica site, Dan Goodin writes, “The next time a friend or family member asks you to install a gift-registry app, remember this: the app is almost certainly soaking up lots of your personal details. In the case of one such app from retailing giant Target, it’s more than happy to make those details public. According to researchers from security firm Avast, the database storing the names, e-mail addresses, home addresses, phone numbers, and wish lists of Target customers is available to anyone who figures out the app’s publicly available programming interface … .”

Improvement here and everywhere says Laura Yuen of MPR on the “graduation gap.” “Minnesota is closing the high school graduation rate gap between white students and students of color — but so is the rest of the nation. Despite positive gains in the state, the nationwide improvements shown in federal education figures released Tuesday are making it tough to dislodge Minnesota’s unwanted distinction of lagging the rest of the country when it comes to graduating students of color. State education commissioner Brenda Cassellius said Minnesota needs to cover ground more quickly if it wants to catch up.”

Snow is coming in close today. Here’s MPR’s Paul Huttner on the Christmas Day outlook. “Here’s more on the odds for winter white on Christmas morning from the Minnesota Climate Working Group. “Will we have a white Christmas? It’s an age-old question that occurs to almost everyone this time of year. The chances of having a white Christmas vary even here in Minnesota. Having a white Christmas is loosely defined as having 1 inch of snow on the ground on Christmas Day. The snow depth at most sites is measured once a day, usually in the morning. The best chances of having a white Christmas is almost guaranteed in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and a good part of the Arrowhead. The chances decrease to the south and west and the best chance for a ‘brown’ Christmas is in far southwest Minnesota where chances are a little better than 60%.”

PiPress columnist Ruben Rosario files a column on e-mail from St. Paul teachers on the subject of violence in their schools. “I withheld specific incidents at the school where this person works to help safeguard the identity. 

First, districts need to offer more different/alternative learning environments at the K-8 setting. We are told over and over… ‘There are no spots open to move violent or disruptive students out of the mainstream … schools.’ Instead they are running around the hallways, yelling and screaming during class learning time, and generally wreaking havoc on their school, classrooms and classmates. Years ago, each classroom had 1-2 of these disruptive students. Back then, in-house resources and classroom management strategies managed to keep a lid on the behavior so most of the students in the classrooms could learn. Today each classroom has 5-6, if not more, of these violent, disruptive students. Daily, the talk in the lunchroom and teachers’ lounge is about how the ‘tipping point’ has arrived. We can no longer control our classes. With all the talk of test scores and raising the rigor … we just can’t do it with disruptive behaviors controlling our classrooms.

The Governor’s water quality push gets this from Dave Orrick in the PiPress: “Continuing his focus on water quality throughout Minnesota’s farmlands, Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday said the state is seeking federal approval for a nearly $800 million plan to permanently protect 100,000 acres across southern and western Minnesota. … The goal of 100,000 acres — nearly three times the area of St. Paul — would signify a major expansion of Minnesota’s existing inventory of permanent conservation easements, estimated around 500,000 acres. But [John Jaschke, executive director of the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources] noted it’s a fraction of the 20-million-acre swath of the agriculture-heavy landscape in the targeted portion of the state.”

The Feds raided chiropractors. Says Dan Browning in the Strib, “Federal agents searched more than a half-dozen Twin Cities chiropractic offices Tuesday but declined to say why, noting that the search warrants remain under seal. Agents with the FBI were searching between six and 10 office locations, according to FBI spokesman Kyle Loven. He said the offices were involved in ‘coordinated operations’ but he declined to say more until the search warrants are unsealed. The Minnesota Department of Commerce fraud bureau is working with the FBI on the case.”

A St. Paul icon has passed away. Jamie DeLage of the PiPress reports, “Boca Chica restaurant, a hub for St. Paul’s Mexican-American community for more than 50 years, was the vision and the dream of Guillermo Frias. But it never would have come true without his wife, Gloria, their children said Monday. … Gloria Frias died Saturday at the age of 84, passing 12 years after her husband and leaving the restaurant fully in the hands of the next generation for the first time since it opened in March 1964.”

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 12/16/2015 - 09:07 am.

    Let Us not Rush to Judgment Regarding Sergio Paez

    The area in which the alleged abuse of students happened in the Holyoak, Massachusetts,…

    was Special Education.

    Most of us have not worked with special education students,…

    or, when we think of such students, think of good-natured, happy, loving Down’s syndrome youngsters.

    There are, however, many OTHER kinds of special education students,…

    some of whom present very special challenges,…

    and often require disciplinary practices that go far beyond those required for average students.

    Many years ago I worked in a group home setting with an adolescent male,…

    who was on the autism spectrum,…

    and, at this just-turned teenager stage of life was bigger and stronger than me.

    He seemed to be of reasonable intelligence (based on his reaction to TV programs and movies he enjoyed),…

    but was non-verbal except for a very few words.

    He was also very easily frustrated and had a history of physically assaulting staff when he was unhappy.

    Since I seemed to be able to work with him more effectively, I was usually the staff member who did so.

    I became quite adept at picking up on this signals and helping him to be comfortable and happy.

    This required constant vigilance and careful attention.

    On the one occasion I missed something important to him,…

    he physically attacked me, backed me out of the house, grabbed the front of and tore off the T-shirt I was wearing (luckily it was summer),…

    at which point other staff arrived to help distract him and settle him down.

    Working with this young man required the full time attention of one staff person,…

    and when crises arose, several.

    MANY special ed classrooms have students such as this in attendance,…

    NONE have sufficient staff to provide the one-on-one attention such students need.

    Lacking sufficient staff, the discipline methods that teachers in such circumstances must use in order to protect themselves and other students,…

    far too often look like abuse to outsiders,…

    and to newly arrived teachers who are there for too short a time,…

    to recognize that teachers in such classrooms do not have the luxury of caring for an individual student in the way those same teachers would if sufficient staff were available.

    From what I have read, this was the case in Mt. Holyoke: a short-time staff member was highly incensed by the methods being used in a special ed classroom and filed complaints against the teacher.

    Mr. Paez investigated these complaints and found the actions of the teacher to be reasonable considering staffing levels and the nature of the particular students in that classroom.

    Clearly the short-term teacher who filed the complaints was not convinced,…

    and perhaps that short-term teacher has a point,…

    but it’s also very likely that that teacher, if they worked longer-term in such a classroom would either discover they were not capable of doing the work,…

    and become one of the many young special ed teachers who “burn out” very early,…

    or come to see how very strong discipline methods are sometimes needed and important if a particular student is to continue to stay in the public school system,…

    and other students and staff are to continue to be safe at school.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 12/16/2015 - 10:17 am.

    Gun violence

    Clinton couldn’t even call the terrorist attack in San Bernadino a terrorist attack, referring to it instead as “gun violence” presumably so she could seque into her call for a ban on gun sales.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 12/16/2015 - 11:33 am.

      Both

      No reason why it can’t be both. A terrorist attack carried out by way of gun violence.

    • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 12/16/2015 - 12:47 pm.

      Nobody is Calling for Bans on Gun Sales

      Except for military assault rifles which no sane, rational person needs to have in his or her possession,…

      unless, of course, he or she is planning a mass shooting..

      But really, the equation is quite simple:

      the more guns at large in the general population,

      the more death occurs,…

      mostly as the result of accidents,…

      mistaken identity,…

      homicidal anger in abusive homes,…

      and last, but certainly MOST – the suicide of family members, many of whom would likely NOT have died if their attempt had not involved use of a firearm.

      But of course those people who LOVE guns and death (which are absolutely and irrevocably linked) so much,…

      keep the NRA and its corporate supporters absolutely rolling in dough.

      • Submitted by Russ Hilbert on 12/16/2015 - 04:22 pm.

        assault rifles

        I’m headed out right now to buy a few military assault rifles. It’s my right. You don’t get to tell me what I need or don’t need to have. You can’t characterize all gun owners by the actions of a few just like you can’t with muslims.

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