A range of initiatives and activities for 2014-2015, covering the curriculum and extra-curricular, received the nod from the Governor Mifflin School District Board members at the Aug. 18 board meeting even as one parent drew attention to a particularly vexatious administrative loophole.
Among the special presentations was an exposition on “Mustang Nation” by the High School SGA. The year-old initiative aimed at integrating and inspiring students and faculty to greater achievement, its core principle is to build community spirit, tradition throughout government schools, inspiring academic achievement and morale among students and faculty.
Focus areas of “Mustang Nation,” represented by its own distinctive flag and logo, include among a plethora of activities, the welcome back assembly to introduce new students and faculty, appreciation of achievements by both teachers and students and maintaining aesthetic appeal of school promises and utilitarian areas.
The second presentation was on the 2014-15 District Vision led by Superintendent Dr. Daniel Bulinski and covering a plethora of roles and functions, including student performance and well-being, full implementation of PA Core Standards, build and reform integrated five-year-plans, Act 82-teacher effectiveness, student learning objectives and new components of PA School Performance Profile. Further, the five-year plan was delineated across library, technology, curriculum, physical education and athletics.
Earlier in the meeting, Alan Hulsizer, a father of two boys at Governor Mifflin School District, one in middle school and the other a senior, spoke about the difficulty faced by divorced parents who each have 50 percent co-custody and hence, are entitled to receiving all the information and mailings issued by the school.
“As a divorced father in Pennsylvania it is very difficult to get what’s called 50 percent co-custody. Well, I fought for that and I finally got it about five years ago,” Hulsizer said. “That means my children live at my ex’s house half the time and my house half the time. And that no decisions can be made without a process. Sounds like good deal, sounds like a proper deal for the children. Now here’s where the problem comes in: your system at Governor Mifflin can’t handle that.”
Expressing disappointment with the current system that he says made him go from one building to another for information, Hulsizer said: “So it makes me feel like a second class citizen, a dead-beat dad or something to that effect. And it’s embarrassing. I am never sent information, I have to beg for report cards, I didn’t even get a transportation schedule… I got nothing!”
Deliberating on the problem, the board acknowledged the technical function that generated only one code per parent. So if both parents want to access the records, they would have to share the code. “You have to get a system that allows two codes,” pointed out board member Jill Koestel.
“There are a couple of things here to talk about,” explained Assistant Superintendent Mr. Eric L. Wolf. “The system we have basically allows for a code to be given to the parent. In most cases, one parent has the primary physical custody and the other parent has the legal custody. What we look at is who has physical custody. That parent is the one we rely on for primary information like address, doctors, emergency numbers, and so on. The new system we have generates one code per student and we provide that code to one parent. The parent who has primary physical custody gains the access code, enters the required information and things are then generated from there.”
Hulsizer and a few others, Wolf pointed out, “are in a unique situation wherein they have joint primary physical custody where the child may live Monday through Wednesday with one parent and Thursday through Sunday with the other parent; or one week with one parent and one week with the other one.”
The easiest way around that situation would be for parents to agree to share the code and gain equal access. “Part of the problem with that is the moment the code goes to another person, you are again relying on integrity, as now they have the power to enter and change information,” Wolf said.
“But when you have shared legal and physical custody, you have to give a code to both parents,” reasoned board member Dr. Michele Hill O’Brien. “You cannot determine that just because one of them first entered the information that person is the one who gets the code. You should give both of them the code and then if they start messing with the system or with each other then they can go get a court order to make it stop.”
In conclusion, Wolf assured Hulsizer: “It is a unique situation and it is something that we need to work on. I can understand Mr. Hulsizer’s concern and frustration regarding this. It is something that requires us to study our program and work with our attorneys and staff to see what we can do about this. I will work with the mailing department and the principal and get back to you within the week. I will also issue a notice to the school to make sure that this doesn’t happen again. Our apologies for the frustration this has caused you.”
Present at the meeting were board members Jennifer Murray, Donald Kennedy, Dr. Edward Michalik, Dr. Michele Hill O’Brien, Ronald Dunkelberger, Jr., Elizabeth Adams, Jill Koestel, Esq., Lisa Peterson and board President James Ulrich. Also present were Superintendent of Schools Dr. Daniel G. Bulinski and Assistant Superintendent Mr. Eric L. Wolf, together with several faculty and staff members from respective departments.