Another day, another story about PALI Charter (you can catch up on our PALI Charter stories here, here and here). This letter comes from a parent who writes:
"Victim or Villain?
As a parent whose children went and go to Palisades Charter High School, I have been trying to understand what caused the turmoil that the school has been going through during the last several months. I have visited almost all the board meetings since the beginning of the school year. Even though I do not belong in the loud group of parents who attend board meetings to show how bad their manners are, I sometimes have to control myself in order not to shout out: why you all can't see what is happening right in front of you?
My information is limited, since I don't have any other sources except the official presentations, village newspaper, and summaries that the school posts online. Yet I have a feeling that we are all being duped by a very talented con artist that bluffs and cries to manipulate sympathetic parents and others at the school to project an impression of a victim who deserves compassion and support.
The Executive Director of the school, Amy Dresser-Held, who, as I understand was promoted by her father-in-law and his friend when they both were board members against the decision of the school personnel, must be a very strong survivor if, despite her lack of experience, has been running the school for four turbulent years. To tell the truth, I am surprised she has lasted that long...
Last year, I was present at the meeting where she demanded that one of the teachers be removed from her Evaluation Committee, because he was critical of her hiring and performance. Isn't the purpose of an evaluation committee to evaluate and not rubber stamp? I heard somebody mention that the Committee had made a decision to gather school-community opinions. However, I have never heard about the results of the Committee's work. My daughter brought a newspaper from the school in which I read an article about the Executive Director's decision to resign because she has other plans for her future. I must confess I thought that Ms. Dresser-Held might have resigned because the school-community opinions might have been unfavorable.
At the March board meeting, Dresser-Held acted as a victim of the board conspiracy even though she was the one who resigned without Pali Board action. I don't understand how the Pali Board could be to blame, if the board had never concluded that Dresser-Held is inadequate or could not continue to work in the school. If she is a victim, then there must be villains who made her presence in the school unbearable, but as the leader of the school, she is not in a position of being harassed or intimidated, unless she considers the legal hegemony of the Pali Board to be harassment and intimidation to what appears to have been her unfettered power over the last 4 years.
In my opinion, the board made a serious mistake by allowing the Executive Director to remain in her office after her resignation. She continues to antagonize the board, insults the board chair, accuses her of a conspiracy, makes incendiary statements, and injects trouble in the school life. I personally refused to sign the petition that her supporters are organizing to beat the board's acceptance of Dresser-Held's resignation. It all seems quite funny - the woman resigned on her own will, but a group of parents mobilized by the same woman demands her restoration by the board!
If Ms. Dresser-Held submitted her resignation before the board could consider the results of the survey of her performance, and nobody knew what was in the survey, she must have had some other motive - I just cannot come up with a reasonable explanation other than she expected that her resignation would spark a massive wave of protest among the school employees and she would regain her absolute control of the board, but she miscalculated her steps. Not a single teacher, as I could see at the meetings, regrets that she is leaving. Her legacy is measured not only in successful projects but in many blunders and a huge problem with the pool construction which is now financed through loans that the school had to obtain after the school was initially told that building the pool would never jeopardize the academic function of Pali. The loans are very serious financial burdens, and in addition to a dramatic reduction in the school budget and new huge expenses on student transportation, there now might be a financial crisis due to Ms. Dresser-Held's mismanagement.
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