Parents protest CCISD’s repeated delays reopening school

Clear Creek ISD is very good at making very bad decisions. We’ve covered many of them on this website. That’s why it is not surprising that CCISD has repeatedly delayed the start of in-person learning for the upcoming school year, due to issues related to COVID-19.

What was surprising is that at least some CCISD parents – most of whom have watched silently for years as the school district reduces the quality of their children’s education – have finally had enough.

After Superintendent Dr. Greg Smith announced (in a live stream on August 6) that brick-and-mortar classes would be delayed for yet another week to September 14, , a group of parents staged a protest last week outside 2425 E. Main St. during a Board of Trustees workshop.

Understandably, these parents were angry. Back on July 18 during the community input meeting for the Safely Reopen CCISD Committee, Dr. Smith originally promised starting the school year with a full return to brick-and-mortar learning.

Then, rather than listen to the recommendation of its own committee, the CCISD Board of Trustees voted 6-1 to delay the start of school to August 24. So even though more than half of families chose brick and mortar learning for their kids, now they were forced into two weeks of mandatory virtual learning, until September 8.

Don’t forget CCISD has a long history of disregarding parents and committees; all one has to do is look at the situation with Special Education students and the School Start Time Committee. Lip service is the name of the game.

We’ll let you guess who the lone dissenting vote was, the one Board of Trustees member who wanted to hold Dr. Smith to his initial promise.

According to this parent protest group, called Red Apple Clear Creek ISD Parents for In-Person Learning, they cited flawed data that Dr. Smith used to make his decision for another delay. Interestingly, Smith made this decision without a Board of Trustees vote. Why not get the board on the record instead of taking the heat all on his own? We’re not sure.

Anyhow, Dr. Smith said he relied on data from the Galveston County Health District that stated “about 1 in 10 Galveston County residents are infected with COVID-19 and transmitting the virus.” However, the parents claim that the positive testing rate is 9%, meaning that 1.5% of Galveston County residents are infected. That would be about 3 in 200, not 1 in 10.

So CCISD sits back and watches all the work of the Safely Reopen CCISD Committee, which incorporated the input of all stakeholders, including parents, and has now twice over decided to ignore that effort and do whatever it wants. You can understand why this frustrated the parents involved, and understandably so.

And there are no guarantees that Dr. Smith won’t, once again, decide for another in-person learning delay if GCHD sends out more questionable COVID statistics.

Will any number be good enough?

Throughout previous reopening discussions, Dr. Smith’s message was that schools would reopen once positive test rates dipped below 10%. During the August 6 livestream, now that Galveston County had a 7-day positive rate of 9.3%, apparently 10% isn’t good enough. Now, it needs to be at 5%.

Oh and by the way, Dr. Smith seemed to skip over the notation from GCHD that there is no optimal threshold for reopening.

We have already covered the studies showing that children, particularly young children, are unlikely to transmit COVID-19 to adults. We’ve covered who is the most impacted by these delays, closures, and mandated virtual learning: special education students with IEPs who are in general education classes, economically disadvantaged students, and parents who work outside of the home and can’t consistently supervise online learning.

And… no Board vote?

Apparently there is no accountability for Dr. Smith’s decision. The majority of the Board of Trustees is likely relieved that they don’t have to vote to delay brick and mortar learning and thus not be held accountable.

Parents, including a member of the Safely Reopen CCISD Committee, pled in the public comments of the August 10 Board workshop on behalf of working parents who now need to take more time off. On behalf of parents of special education students. But it fell on deaf ears.

In fact, Dr. DuPont chose the time after the public comment to deliver a long lecture to viewers on the “role of the Board,” and stated that the Board supports Dr. Smith’s decision. Apparently, Dr. DuPont supports ceding full authority to Dr. Smith and washing her hands of the mental health and learning loss that the children in the district are facing.

She stated that the Board is listening and asking questions. But apparently not when it comes to needs and concerns of parents. If you have some spare time, watch the recording of the meeting and observe the reactions of the other board members. They range from nodding like bobbleheads to smirking like a kid who stole a cookie without getting caught. These people are elected officials, but act like they have no accountability.

Dr. Smith is acting in cowardice, and the board of trustees is giving him the authority to change plans as he sees fit, even when the information that decision was based on is not accurate, or at least not the full picture.

But this is Dr. Smith’s legacy, one of cowardice, one of bringing down a district once rated as an “A”- school district by the TEA to a B. As one parent put it, they’re teaching children that they can’t trust the adults who are looking out for their best interest.

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