On Patch.com, Maria Conzemius gives her impressions of ICCSD JP Claussen, who supports keeping Hoover Elementary open:
J.P. Claussen, one of three school board candidates competing in a special election for an Iowa City Community School District board seat vacated by Tom Yates, who resigned in May 2016, is open as in what you see is what you get. He reminds me of Iowa City Community School District board member Phil Hemingway. J.P. and Phil have very different credentials, but they’re both open about what they believe in and what they don’t believe in. I always find honest, open candidates refreshing.
J.P. has a master’s degree in special education. He is an expert at intervening with behavior-disordered kids, so much so that after 10 years of teaching behavior-disordered kids at West High, he is now employed at the Circle School at the child and adolescent in-patient psychiatry units at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
J.P. doesn’t believe in over-testing students. He likes Ted Robinson’s TED Talks and Linda Darling Hammond at Stanford University.
"Both do only one standardized test," J.P. said.
Supt. Murley’s failure to meet the Iowa Department of Education’s standards for special education concerns J.P. He thinks that such a serious deficiency should be a part of Supt. Murley’s evaluation, which is on-going.
The Iowa Department of Education documented a “culture of retaliation” in the Iowa City Community School District that Supt. Murley blamed on building-level staff, not on himself. But who fired Stephanie Van Housen, the liaison for homeless students and a whistleblower for special education students who weren’t being treated properly? It was Supt. Murley, not “building-level staff.”
Tom Yates added, “It’s in the superintendent's directions that retaliation is not okay.
“’I don’t want to say something that would get me in trouble at my school’ is heard a lot at [Iowa City Community School District] schools,” Tom continued.
J.P. feels that the administration continues to maintain secrecy and obstructionism to an extent that is not just counter-productive but destructive to the school district.
It was amazing how many people asked me not to publish photos of them at the house party for Claussen supporters. They didn’t want their attendance to offend friends and possibly, though they didn’t say so, employers. Yet they were enthusiastic participants!
Is this the culture of fear we want in our town?
J.P. said he’s been "besieged by people who are frightened by fear-mongering on the Paul Roesler side." Roesler supporters, according to J.P., have said things like, “If you elect J.P., you won’t get your air conditioning (AC),” or whatever it is that people want and are afraid of not getting.
Yet J.P. supports the school bond. He supports making buildings more comfortable for its occupants.
Further, J.P. said about Murley, “I don’t want him on his cell phone at important meetings. I don’t want him going across the country to fancy consultant meetings instead of doing his job in the district.”
If Supt. Murley were doing his job, the Iowa Department of Education wouldn't end their report on the school district's special education program with this final sentence:
"As a result of the pervasive and substantive nature of the findings, the district will be required to complete numerous individual and system corrective actions with ongoing direction from an external implementation advisor."
Earlier in the IDEA report, the Department of Education stated, "Letters from the district to both Grant Wood [Area Education Agency] AEA and the Iowa Department of Education suggest that the district does not understand that the AEA has general supervision responsibility in the area of special education."
How could Supt. Murley not know that, ignore Grant Wood's findings, and therefore kick the investigation upstairs to the state level?
Claussen is unimpressed with Murley's performance. He is also against closing Hoover Elementary School to add land to City High, land that would most likely be used for an additional parking lot or athletic field.
The Save Hoover Committee recommends that Hoover supporters vote for J.P. Claussen. [Ed. note: Claussen stated that Finland uses only one standardized test, not Robinson and Hammond.]