CCI Parents Challenge DPS

By Body of Christ News

On May 4, 2009 we the concerned parents of Challenges, Choices and Images/Amandla charter school sent a letter to DPS regarding the closing of the school and issues surrounding that closing that were very troublesome and left over 400 students without a school. We sent a copy of the letter to Colorado Governor Bill Ritter and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. To date we have yet to receive any response or acknowledgement of our letter from any of the parties mentioned above.

We have attached the letter again and would welcome an opportunity to discuss the many concerns and frustrations outlined in the letter. To date many of the children who attended CCI/Amandla do not have a school for next year even though DPS assured our families that they would work closely with us to ensure that our children were safely enrolled in a school for next school year.

We have heard nothing further from DPS and as concerned parents we need assistance from the school district and our elected representatives to make sure that our children are in school and learning. DPS has left us to our own devices to find schools for our children. We expect DPS to remain loyal to it word do what is right by our children so they can make a smooth school transition for the next school year. We are requesting a meeting with you as soon as possible to address our concerns. You may contact the parents listed below to set up a meeting.

Rachelle Yarbrough
Bridget Broomfield

As parents of Challenges, Choices and Images Literacy and Technology Center, a DPS charter school, we have some serious concerns about the take-over of the school, the slander hurled at the founder Dr. Carolyn Jones, and the utter disregard DPS has had for the well being of the CCI students, the parents and taxpayers of Denver, the founder and former principal of CCI, Dr. Jones, and the staff many of whom had been with the school since its inception as a charter school in 200

Some parents were with CCI Inc. when it started as a civic organization in l991. We parents choose CCI because it has a very positive reputation in the African American community, it has a proven track record in delivering a strong academic program for kindergarten through 12th grade students, and staff is chosen who enjoy working with struggling students, and who are dedicated to giving students a second chance.

CCI Inc. who sponsors the Challenges, Choices and Images Charter School has been a beacon of hope in the African American community for almost 20 years. The founder Dr. Carolyn Jones is a veteran education with up until the smear campaign had a stellar reputation as a caring, and dedicated teacher and administrator who wanted the very best educational opportunities possible for students who had struggled in school. Dr. Jones was always available to our children and worked tirelessly to provide a multitude of educational opportunities and programs that would enable children of color to not only graduate from high school, but go on to college.

In the years that we have been parents at CCI there has been almost no involvement from the DPS staff or board members. We can only recall Superintendent Bennett coming to the school on two occasions, one as a promotional activity in which he was promoting a program sponsored by an African American businessman and the other when he attended a parent meeting for 10 minutes. No one from DPS attended the school’s open house in October 2007 when we moved into the new Samsonite site, and no one from DPS came to the school to lend support as we received the 2004 Governors Award for significant Academic Improvement or the Gain Makers’ Award from the State of Colorado.

We are not sure that DPS knows that CCI Inc. an African American founded and run business is one of a few African American businesses in the state of Colorado and for that matter in the 5 state regions that employed over 125 people. CCI enrolled more African American students in one school than any other than George Washington high school school in the state of Colorado. It is interesting that of DPSs 4,000 teachers only 200 of them are African American, while CCI alone employs over 52 African American teachers.
It has been reported that parents of low income or minority students have little participation in their child’s school. Yet CCI, whose student population is 95% African American and approximately 3% Hispanic has over 85% parent participation. Prior to CCI becoming Amandla, every monthly parent meeting had between 200 to 300 parents in attendance; now that the school has been changed to Amandla, at the last parent meeting held on Tuesday, April 14, 2009 there were only 5 parents in attendance.

While Dr. Jones was present at all monthly parent meetings, Dr. Joseph if he attends, which is not often stays only a short while. Also, at every parent meeting there was a guest speaker or opportunities for parents to participate in some kind of meaningful discussion or activity. Attending parent meetings was an enjoyable experience, it was not something that parents dreaded or felt obligated to attend, we attended because we wanted the camaraderie of other parents, the wisdom shared the Dr. Jones, and the information received from the guest speakers, and opportunities to share experiences and ideas with other parents. At Amandla parent meetings, it is just one more thing to do and most parents are opting not to attend.

CCI has always been a school that cared about each child. Each child felt important and all staff knew every child. Dr. Jones was always in the halls, touching kids, sending them to class, making sure they were in uniform and listening to their concerns. She was available early in the morning, usually being one of the first to arrive at school and was the last person to leave in the evening after school. Parents did not have to schedule meetings with Dr. Jones; her office was always open, not just to parents, but the students, staff and community. Now, with Dr. Joseph it is rare that he spends a full day at the school, and if he does the students do not see him. The children tell their parents that Dr. Joseph arrives at 10:00 am. and leaves before 3:00 p.m. One volunteer who has spent eight weeks teaching a reading program at the school has never met Dr. Joseph, even though she has repeatedly asked to meet with him.

Some of the teaching staff hired by Dr. Joseph for Amandla is substandard. Teachers have been assigned to teach classes or grades in which they are not qualified for instance when a high school science teacher quit a teacher assistant was assigned to teach the classes. The Teacher assistant had no science background and no degree. One teacher assigned to teach middle school math told the students in his class to just work on any kind of math. He had no planned lessons for his classes. Other students report watching pirated movies instead on subjects unrelated to what is supposed to be taught.
The kindergarten classes have been a disaster and the parents have repeatedly asked Dr. Joseph to increase the quality of instruction. Instead of Dr. Joseph addressing the issue, he has relied upon the Assistant Principal to attend meetings with the parents and to provide guidance to the teachers.

Students never know when one of their teachers will be replaced. One day a teacher is teaching a class and the next day the teacher is gone. The parents and students are never given advanced notice and the students do not know how their grades will be impacted, or if there will be consistency in what they are being taught. This is extremely difficult for seniors who are trying to meet graduation requirements. Both high school math teachers were terminated right before CSAP and ACT testing. High school students still do not have a qualified math instructor. Those students who were taking calculus and trigonometry do not have a qualified instructor.

Each year that we have been a part of CCI there has been a very low faculty turnover, and we have never experienced teachers being let go right at CSAP time or having teachers assigned to classes who did not have the proper credentials. Teachers who were inadequate were given support and opportunities to improve. There was on-going staff training and teachers were focused on meeting learning objectives set out by Dr. Jones who evaluated teacher progress. Dr. Joseph requires teachers to present lesson plans to him but he does not do observations of teachers and they receive little to no feedback on how they are doing in their classroom instruction.

Because the school has almost no resemblance to the structure set out by Dr. Jones students do not follow dress code standards, pay little attention to adults who are suppose to be in charge of discipline, and roam the halls cussing and being disrespectful. We are not saying that everything was perfect at CCI before Dr. Joseph, but concerns of parents and problems students had at the school were promptly addressed and solutions were sought to remedy them. Had CCI been given a chance to complete its first year with 650+ students, this present school year would have gone much smoother and our children would not have lost a year of academics.

The manner in which Dr. Joseph arbitrarily dismissed personnel was in total disregard for the lives and educational success of our children. According to Dr. Joseph, DPS told him that he had to downsize and also told him which staff should be let go. Every staff member that as terminated due to “down-sizing” had been at the school for many years and were well respected, hard working and essential to the continued success of the school. Many of these staff members were immediately replaced with less knowledgeable people which impacted the quality of instruction and the manner in which the building was managed.

We the parents, community members, students and staff were not notified prior to the school having its name changes.  One day the children were dropped off at CCI Charter School and the next day, the name on the building had been changed to Amandla. At a parent meeting, parents asked Dr. Joseph why there had been no input from parents, students or staff into the name change, and he said that the name was not permanent.  We enrolled our children at CCI not Amandla.

We are extremely upset with the administration of Amandla, the education our children and how DPS could allow this. We enrolled our children with the founder Dr. Carolyn Jones affectionately known as J.E, because of her principles, values, and passion for educating children of color.  Since she has been threatened and dismissed there have been serious declines in academics, and in the behavior and attendance of the students.

The staff no longer receives on-going direction in effective teaching strategies, the administration pays little attention to how well the children are fulfilling their academic goals, and the entire philosophy of the school has changed from the prosperity African principal to not valuing our students.  We left other DPS schools because the needs of our children were not being met. We were targeted from the opening of our school at the Samsonite site and were not given an opportunity to established CCI as an 800 student school.

Concerned Parents

2 Responses to “CCI Parents Challenge DPS”

  1. Parent Says:

    This article was obviously written by Dr Jones, as a parent I see what my child lost while attending that school. Dr. Jones is a fake, it is my understanding the only reason she was not charged with theft was because of who she knows ie…..Wellington Webb and others that got her all of that money in the first place. Dr Jones harmed our kids and our community. It took over one year to repair what her and her school did to my child. When my child returned to a appropriate classroom he scored well below his grade level. It is my feeling the good Dr got what she deserves.

  2. Teena Williams Says:

    I did not attended CCI, I am a graduate of Aurora Central High School where Dr. Jones was my inspiration to complete high school. Later attending college and receiving my BS and currently working on my MA. Without the daily encouragement of Dr. Jones I can say I would likely be in the higher percentile of the single African American women raising children on government assistance. Instead I am an educated African American woman, with no children and continuing my education with our Father’s assistance. You’ve always encouraged me, so now it’s my turn, “Thank You Dr. Jones” you encouraged, strengthened, and provided materials (mentally) necessary for maintaining a positive life within a negative environment. “He takes us through trials & tribulations, not to punish us, but to build our character” Words that keep the fight in me today.

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