Saturday, November 6, 2010
Can Denis Morrill be gone fast enough?
Several charter expansion and amendment requests passed through the State Board's Law and Policy committee and the full board yesterday, and angry, outgoing member Denis Morrill voted against all of them. You could sense his resentment as he brought up red herring after diversionary topic in an effort to derail even simple and non-controversial amendments. He truly is an opponent of the very idea of charter schools.
Utah Virtual Academy (on whose board I sit) had an amendment to change their parent "advisory" group into a more traditional parent organization that could be involved in more school activities and management decisions. Morrill used the amendment as a soap box to blast all the charters that get their charter approved, and then come back over and over to get rid of any parental involvement. That's the opposite of what UTVA was doing (and not true in any case), but no matter. Then it was on to why a virtual school would cost money at all, anyway, since they don't pay for a school building. In the discussion about expanding the role of parents in the school, UTVA staff was answering questions about teacher compensation, development costs, and curriculum expenses. Board Member Carol Murphy had to bring everyone around more than once. "Well, back to the issue at hand..."
Morrill ignored the law when discussing American Preparatory Academy's expansion request. He used that as a soapbox to rail against conflicts of interest (even though the school followed all the laws and regulations about regulated relationships) and the cost of the school's management (even though it's not more than districts or other charters spend.) He wasn't interested in data, just in finding an excuse to vote against every charter school proposal before his committee.
He voted against Entheos's expansion because the school didn't have as many minority students as the school where his daughter used to teach.
Morrill began the committee meeting by reminding everyone that the committee didn't want to hear from any of the 20 or so charter representatives that were there to help the board understand their requests. When he made went on one of his rants and the school representatives asked if he could respond, Morrill said no, before other board members then insisted that the school's be given a chance to answer.
Morrill has become angry and desperate. His lawsuit isn't going anywhere, and he's angry that the process for elections deprived him of a seat that he acts is his by right. And the veneer has come off. The nominating committee that recommended candidates for the State Board left him out of the mix. Now they must be watching his behavior and thinking, "Thank you for proving our point."