According to the parent of a daughter attending summer school in the Grand Blanc Community Schools, students were let out of class early last Thursday so that teachers could participate in the campaign to recall Rep. Paul Scott, R-Grand Blanc.
Petition language was approved last Thursday (July 22) for the attempt to recall Scott, Chairman of the Michigan House Education Committee. The recall campaign is trying to collect more than 9,000 names by Aug. 5 in the hope of getting the recall election placed on the November ballot. Gathering that many valid signatures in such a short time frame is a tall order.
The petition language includes both the so-called pension tax and alleged K-12 cuts as reasons for the recall. A logical place for the recall campaign to start looking for signatures is within Grand Blanc's school community. However, the recall campaign and regular school business aren't supposed to mix.
“Last Thursday at 1:55 my daughter texted (text messaged) me from her summer school class and asked me if I heard about what Representative Scott was trying to do,” said Ken Jones, the parent of a 17-year-old Grand Blanc summer school student. “I asked her what she was talking about and she said that Scott was trying to make it so that all the teachers would get fired. I asked her if her teacher had told her that. She said 'yes,' and then she said that she was going to get out early, at 2:15 (instead of 3 P.M.) so they (the teachers and students) could go and sign petitions.”
“I didn't like that,” Jones continued. “This isn't a Republican or a Democratic issue. I just think it's like religion – teachers should leave this stuff in the parking lot before they come to class. Now I have my daughter asking me what she should do about it and I just say, 'Remember who is going to give you the grade.' That's why this sort of thing is so unfair. She's having enough trouble struggling with geometry without all of this other stuff.”
David Dohrman, owner of the Dohrman Insurance Agency in Grand Blanc, verified Jones' account.
“I was supposed to pick up (Jones' daughter) for him after she got out of class, but then I got the message to pick her up early at 2:15,” Dohrman said. “That was fine with me because I was in a hurry anyway to get to the Jimmy Buffet concert. When I picked her up she was all excited and said 'Have you heard what Paul Scott is trying to do to the teachers?” She told me what she'd been told in class. Later, after I had a chance to think about it, it kind of made me mad. I mean, they're so brazen, blatant about it all.”
Dohrman was specifically asked if he was sure that the students had been let out early that Thursday because of the recall.
“Absolutely,” Dohrman said. “And I'm pretty sure at least one other class was let out early, too. Then, according to (Jones daughter) a few days later an assistant principal came into the class, basically saying that someone had called the school asking about it (letting students out early) and he seemed to be trying to find out which student had told the story.”
Capitol Confidential might have been on the other end of the “call” to which the assistant principal was referring. Attempts to contact Grand Blanc Superintendent Mike Newton about the allegations began Tuesday (July 26). Apparently Newton is retiring next month and isn't currently at the school.
Reportedly, Superintendent-Designee Norman M. Abdella was also absent from the Grand Blanc school scene today while attending a conference. As a result, only office secretaries were on hand to field news media calls.
The following questions were read off to one of the secretaries, who said she'd try to get responses to them.
1) Have summer school teachers left their classes for periods of time to participate in the recall effort?
2) Have any students been let out of class, or missed any instruction time, because of the recall effort?
3) Are teachers participating in the recall while they're supposed to be on the job earning their taxpayer- supported salaries?
Meanwhile, an open letter, dated July 26, has been issued by the school district in response to complaints about teachers trying to gather signatures in front of the high school.
TO THE CITIZENS OF GRAND BLANC,
Central Office personnel at Grand Blanc Community Schools have recently received several phone calls and emails from citizens objecting to the apparent use of school property (Grand Blanc High School) for individuals collecting signatures to recall State Representative Scott and Governor Snyder.
The Grand Blanc School district has no opinion about the recall nor have we sanctioned any school groups to participate in the process. Those collecting signatures are on the easement property in front of the high school (between the sidewalk and Saginaw Street). This location is considered to be public property and is not owned by the school district.
According to our district attorney, the school district has no legal right (outside of school being in session) to remove the petitioners as long as they are not causing a disruption and remain on the easement property.
Again, the Grand Blanc Board of Education has taken no stance on this recall issue. As individual citizens in a democratic society, those who seek a recall have an apparent legal right to use the easement in front of a public high school for those purposes.
The letter was signed by Abdella.
The observations of Jones and Dohrman might beg the question: Have the recall campaign activities been a “disruption?”
There have been several postings on the recall campaign website that might lead someone to believe the recall effort was taking place on school property, including the following postings:
Recall Petition Signing Events: Tuesday, July 26, 2011: Goodrich High School 10 AM - 8 PM; Argentine Township in front of Argentine Lighthouse Restaurant 1-8 PM; Linden at corner of Bridge and Broad Streets 5-8PM; Grand Blanc High School Noon - ? Please come and sign or volunteer to help!!
Facebook Thursday posting: My wife and I signed today, by the looks of the number of cars in and out of the school parking lot they are having quite a turnout. Great job!!!
More Recall Paul Scott Signing Opportunities: Monday, July 25, 2011, Grand Blanc High School: Noon
However, Doug Norton, spokesman for the campaign to recall Scott, denied all allegations that the recall had in any way involved the school district.
“We're not doing this on school property,” Norton said. “We were told we could be on the easement, and that's where we're doing it.”
Regarding the allegation that classes were let out early due to the recall, Norton said he had no knowledge of the circumstances.
“Look, this is a volunteer effort,” Norton said. “I can't say what this or that individual volunteer might have done, but the recall campaign is not involved with anything like that. We wouldn't condone it. It sounds to me like it's just a lie put out there by the Paul Scott campaign.”
Readers note: specific names of teachers and administrators were mentioned by Jones and Dohrman. Capitol Confidential chose not to publish those names at this time.