Monday, January 11, 2016, 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School
161 Lower Westfield Road
Holyoke, MA 01040
(413) 536-3201

Attendees: Bob Brick Absent: Keith Purcell
Ljuba Marsh Priscilla Baez
Demaris Vega Morgan Healey
Thomas Weiner Brenda Cepada
Hazel Rosario Tom Gardner
Brenda Rodriguez Dan Zuckergood
Bernice Kwade Alex Cedano
Frankie Santos Genesis Santos
Christina Cruz Rhonda Soto
Heyda Martinez (L) Ruben Sepulveda
Jaq Tuttle
Non-Board Attendees:
Melissa Mirhej
Joseph Wise
Wes Jackson
Luis Miller

Scribe: Irene Thornton

Meeting was called to order at 6:05pm

Meeting Agenda:
1. Public Comment – 10 Minutes
2. Review and acceptance of minutes from the December Board Meeting – 5 Minutes
3. Discussion: Our Current Sports Program, Wesley Jackson and Joseph Wise – 10 Minutes
4. Principal’s Report – 10 Minutes
5. Finance Committee Report: Financials to date – 15 Minutes
6. Parents’ Report – 10 Minutes
7. Students’ Report – 10 Minutes
8. Staff Report – 10 Minutes
9. Old Business: Grievance Policy Update – 5 Minutes
10. President’s Report – 10 Minutes
11. Executive Director’s Report: Paideia: A report by Christina Cruz
12. New Business:

Public Comment – 10 Minutes

I. Communication Issues continue to be of concern by many members of the community; board members commented on emails/notices not being received. A.I. (Action Item)

II. Announcement – Melissa Mirhej, Director of Special Education
Basic Rights In Special Education: A Workshop for Parents and Professions
For Spanish Speakers: January 12, 2016, 6:00pm – 8:00pm
For English Speakers: January 13, 2016, 5:00pm – 7:00pm

A presentation will be given by the Federation for Children With Special Needs (FCSN)

There was also a Save-the-Date announcement for the FCSN Annual Conference: Saturday, March 5, 2016, 8:00am – 5:00pm at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, MA

(It was suggested at this point that we move to the Discussion: Our Current Sports Program presentation and then go back to the December meeting minutes. It was agreed upon)

Discussion: Our Current Sports Program with Wesley Jackson, PFSJCS Athletic Director and Joseph Wise, PFSJCS Director of M. I. S. and Coach – 10 Minutes

Overall there is a great deal of excitement and the year has been a really good one. Both basketball teams are amazing!

PF belongs to the following leagues:
River Valley Athletic League (RVAL) includes Western Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire

Massachusetts Charter School Athletic Organization (MCSAO) based out of Boston

Schedules will be posted on the school’s website and sent to the Board (A.I.)

Spring Sports – We are adding: Boys Volleyball, Baseball, Girls’ Softball and Track. Over 100 students have signed-up.

2016-2017: Proposed additions are J.V. Basketball and Flag Football.

Special Note: Our Girls volleyball team in their first year were 9-6, a Top 6 seed and Bethany Serrano was voted outstanding player.
The MCSAO (Charter School League) is based in the Boston area but next season Wes will be the Western Mass liaison and games will be played in both Western and Central Mass. This league will be bigger than the MIAA (Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association) in five (5) years.

The decision was made for us to join these leagues puts us two (2) years ahead of the game.

Two (2) year probationary period with MIAA. Under this probation period, the games do not count toward student careers.

There are more benefits in the leagues we have joined versus the MIAA.

¬ Is there a budget for sports?
¬ What is the distribution of funds for the teams?
¬ The games are very far away, what about the impact of the travel on student’s grades?

MIAA doesn’t fully support their teams. We would be identified as a Division 4 team in the MIAA with game starts at 7:00pm and 7:30pm. (Division is determined by the size/enrollment of the school, nothing else.

Reviewing the recruitment of 11th graders next year.

Stats available on

Policy & Procedure Update:

All coaches carry Medical Packets, Medical Information and Photos to every game.

Additional Issue: Drop-off and Pick-Up
Students will only be permitted to go with their parent or guardian
Student will only be dropped off at designated places (via parent consent)
Students 18 years and older are considered adults.

Review and Acceptance of Minutes from the December Board Meeting
– 5 Minutes

Motion to Accept Minutes – Bob Brick
Second – Ljuba Marsh
Minutes were reviewed by quorum.
Demaris Vega called the vote, unanimous.
(Due to time constraints, it was decided that the Principal’s report be presented at this point)

Principal’s Report (Ljuba Marsh) – 10 Minutes

Partnership with Holyoke Community College (HCC)

Fall semester was the first semester for the program. There was a high acceptance rate and a return rate of 80%.

12th Grade students are in college are monitored and supported on campus by a Full-time PFSJCS staff member, Jaq Tuttle.

The program gets better as we grow. We are building strong relationships with the Professors/Instructors (most) other professors have not been. We are identifying those who want to work with and support our students.

We have discovered our Math program is very different and requires a great deal of independence and self-motivation.

Four (4) courses = Twelve (12) Credits

Non-seniors can also attend HCC. These are Honors students and can take one (1) course per semester as Juniors and Sophomores.

Proposed Program: Students in college, taking 3-5 courses (depending upon student)

Results: Fifty (50) students on campus. Forty-seven (47) did well/passed with A’s and B’s. Three (3) did not do well.

What We Learned:
Change the schedule
Mandatory tutoring
Meeting with parents ahead of time to see what is involved with this program
Some kids are doing well/better at college

Question: How are the chosen? What is the process? (A.I.)
Answer: They are handpicked to make them successful.

Feedback: This hasn’t been a great experience for many students and what their perception of college is. Are we setting them up for failure?

Feedback: Feelings are important. Goals are great. Would like to hear their feedback on their experience.

Request/Suggestion: Survey the students (A.I.)

Student who were in attendance were asked to share their experience:

Question: What can the school do better prepare them for college?

Question: Are trade programs/schools an option?
Answer: We are a college preparatory school. It would be hard for us to do this.

Discussion Ideas/Statements:

⎫ Help students determine areas to discover, their talents and their passions.
⎫ For students who weren’t prepared, this may confirm for them negative feelings about themselves.
⎫ Most kids got better after their first meltdown.
⎫ 47 out of 50 is great rate of success.

Invitation: Students in the program are invited to the Board of Trustees meeting to share their experiences. (A.I.)

Additional Comments/Concerns:
¬ This experience will mark them and the dropout rate will go up.
¬ Charter Schools explore ways to learn.
¬ This program should be in place, these students are not meant to be experiments.
¬ Suggest another source for the students is STCC.

Evidence that this program works – Statistics
Evidence that there are detailed and not “made-up”
More support is needed
What is the safety net in place for students?

MCAS Report – To be delivered next board meeting (A.I.)

Finance Committee Report – Keith Purcell (Chair) absent. Delivered by Bob Brick.
No formal report available

We are currently in a state of upheaval due to the medical departure of our business manager. We have brought in consultants to support us and have contracted a new payroll company. Next meeting is January 14, 2016.

Status Updates: Enrollment is down
Chapter 70 Funding is down.

Question: Why the new payroll company?
Answer: The previous one (Harper’s Payroll Service) ran into legal troubles with owners going to jail.

Clean start in payroll January 1, 2016

Funding for Traveling/Trips Detail (A.I.)

Parent’s Report – 10 Minutes

Parents meeting are slowly growing. There are usually 11 – 12 people who attend.
Need more avenues to communicate when meetings are. (Facebook and One-Call)
Need more advanced notice of meetings/events.

Request: Let Bob know a week in advance to help support getting the word out about meetings. (A.I.)

Announcement: Next meeting is Wednesday, February 3rd at 6:00

Poor Communication
College Updates
Transcripts (What does it look like?)
I.E.P.’s /504s: How are they done?
Parent Portal is not up-to-date.
There are warnings, no more incompletes.

Request: Graduation Details

Graduation is Saturday, June 11, 2016 and will be held at The Academy of Music in Northampton. There will be ten (10) tickets per family/student. There will be transportation to/from graduation.

We met with students to discuss graduation, prom, senior trips, etc.; school calendar for seniors specifically will be created outside Bob and Ljuba’s office to keep them informed. Bob will share additional information and updates as they become available. (A.I.)

Parent Portal Update (A.I.)
Grades Update (A.I.)

Students’ Report – 10 Minutes

Frankie Santos: There will be more students elected to Student Council. Interest has dropped. Need two (2) more on-campus seniors on the council. Trip has been set to meet Aaron Vega at the State House.

Christina Cruz:
There will be a survey.
Looking for more involvement.
Movie Night will be once a month.
For Valentine’s Day there will be Teddy-grams and Flowers sold for fund-raising.
Pi Day 3.14 there is a fundraiser.
Looking for more input from students overall.

What is the protocol regarding student fundraising? What is the policy?

Bernice Kwade:
What is the status on the Student/Family Manuals? (A.I.)
When will the website be updated? (A.I.)
More trust is needed on field trips concerning room assignments and general practices.

The class has proposed graduation Policy. (Bob presented their policy):
Seniors can graduate with their class if they have completed their requirements. Students who need to compete summer academy (school) can also participate. If a student has one or more semester to complete after the graduation date, then they are not eligible to graduate June of that year.

Board of Trustees will vote on graduation policy in February. (A.I.)


Question: What if students walk without completing their requirements do not come back to finish?
Answer: They will not be given a diploma.

Diplomas are not given, they are earned.

Follow-up on graduation (A.I.)

Staff Report – 10 Minutes
No staff members present

Jaq and Rhonda are expected to attend the next meeting. Brenda will remove herself from the board.

Old Business: Grievance Policy Update – 5 Minutes

This will be tabled until next month’s meeting.

Items Needing Updates:
Portal – No
School Zone – No

Ingrid Askew – No. Her contact information is needed for Demaris (A.I.) Letter sent requesting her status.

Question: What is the protocol for regarding the non-participation of a board member?
Answer: Phone Call (1st) Letter (2nd)

There was a lively discussion about board membership and a potential new board member.

President’s Report – 10 Minutes
No Report.

Executive Director’s Report – 10 Minutes
Christina Cruz presented information about Paideia:

¬ Students were given a survey on what they wanted to do.
¬ They were encouraged to try something new.
¬ There were seventeen (17) options for the 3 ½ day period.
¬ 85% of students got either their first and second choices.

Question: What does Paideia mean?
Answer: From all sources (Greek in origin)

New Business – 10 Minutes
CPR Review – February 2nd and 3rd
Expert interview – 2/4 Where Findings and Corrective Action plans will be discussed. They will be back in one (1) year. They are reviewing:
Civil Rights

DESE Three (3) Day Charter Review – March 2nd and 3rd
Board participation required.
Details announced at the next board meeting (A.I.)

Policy Question: Who can pick-up a child?
Answer: Court orders determine who has that right.

Questions: (Heyda Martinez)
Specific roles of people.
College Application Process
College Advisory Process
College Statistics Needed.

Invitation: Andrea Chakour to the next Board Meeting. Progress report on what she is doing.

Elm College Fellowship

Board Accountability:
# Of Students Graduating
# Of students who applied
# Of students accepted
# Of student who withdrew.
Teacher Update

Adjourned: 8:04
Submitted by Irene Thornton

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