Superintendent Barresi and her campaign are now going after her Republican opponent Joy Hofmeister for being “hostile to families of children with special needs.” Really!?!
Not to get too scriptural, but I’m reminded of this verse: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Except, replace “plank” with “Giant Sequoia!” Really!?!
C’mon Janet, you REALLY thought people would fall for your ridiculous hatchet job against Mrs. Hofmeister? Your smear campaign accuses Hofmeister of “conspiring with education bureaucrats to deprive children with special needs of learning opportunities.”
What do you base this wild accusation on? A few scattered, unrelated email responses that were taken completely out of context. Really!?!
Let me remind you first of the definition of the word bureaucrat. According to dictionary.com, a bureaucrat is (1) an official of a bureaucracy and (2) an official who works by fixed routine without exercising intelligent judgment (see: Janet Costello Barresi). I added that last part but it sure seems to fit. Really!?!
You REALLY want to label Drs. Kirby Lehman and Cathy Burden as education bureaucrats? These leaders were education practitioners. Before their respective retirements, they were professional educators who were highly competent specialists and regularly performed duties requiring skill or practice. Much like a dentist might be called a “dental practitioner” rather than a “tooth bureaucrat.” Really!?!
On your website your campaign manager states, “The emails leave no doubt that Joy Hofmeister supported lawsuit harassment of families whose children have special needs.” This despite the fact that Hofmeister voted to expand the schools approved to qualify more school choices for Oklahoma students while she was a member of the state Board of Education. You know this and you still approved the ad. Really!?!
Were you aware that Joy is also a parent of a child who was on an IEP (Individualized Education Program) throughout their public school career? Did you also know Joy has actually come out in support of the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship opportunity and has actively referred parents to the program in her professional work with Kumon? I realize you don’t like it when facts get in the way, but really!!
Of course, you also know that the opposition to House Bill 3393 has nothing to do with special needs students. It is the belief of many in Oklahoma that the law violates the Oklahoma constitution’s prohibition of using public funds to aid, directly or indirectly, any sectarian institution, and of making a gift of public funds. The constitution also mandates that the state Legislature establish and maintain a system of free public schools. You ought to read it sometime. The constitution, I mean. Really!
We recognize the camel’s nose under the tent and see this law as the first step down the slippery slope of vouchers for all. If this law is allowed to stand, then why not vouchers for gifted and talented students, students with medical issues, students who have been bullied, students with freckles, etc.? You REALLY think public educators are against students with special needs? That is insulting and outrageous. Really!?!
Your campaign really went off the rails when you claimed that “dozens of Hofmeister’s campaign contributors work for the districts that sued parents or the law firm that represented the schools, while Lehman has personally hosted fundraisers for Hofmeister.” Really!?!
Let me get this right. Because I made a campaign donation to Joy, and I work with Jenks Public Schools, than Joy must hate special needs kids and their parents. You must have learned logic from watching Monty Python movies:
– There are ways of telling whether she is a witch.
– Are there? What are they? Tell us. – Do they hurt?
– Tell me, what do you do with witches?
– Burn them!
– And what do you burn, apart from witches?
– More witches! – Wood!
– So why do witches burn?
– ‘Cause they’re made of wood? – Good!
– How do we tell if she is made of wood? – Build a bridge out of her.
– But can you not also make bridges out of stone?
– Oh, yeah.
– Does wood sink in water?
– No, it floats. – Throw her into the pond!
– What also floats in water?
– Bread. – Apples.
– Very small rocks. – Cider! Great gravy.
– Cherries. Mud. – Churches.
– Lead. – A duck!
– So, logically–
– If she weighs the same as a duck…
– she’s made of wood.
– And therefore?
– A witch!
The kicker is when you start touting your affection for parental rights and the needs of special needs students: “Janet Barresi is a forceful advocate for parental rights.” Really!?!
Let’s talk FERPA. In case you didn’t know, FERPA stands for the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Among other provisions, the law states that schools (or state departments of education) must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student’s education record. I would have thought you would have figured this one out by now.
It was a FERPA violation when your department published the educational records of 25 high school students who had filed an ACE Appeal to the State Board of Education in 2012. So was the release of student names to an outside organization to invite recipients of the LNH scholarship to a OKC Thunder game.
I enjoyed how your spokesman, Phil Bacharach, tried to deflect the criticism to former general counsel Lisa Endres and events coordinator Ashley Hahn by claiming they sent the invitations after hours, mistakenly in campaign envelopes rather than Education Department envelopes. First, you really assigned your general counsel to stuff envelopes? Second, do you typically keep campaign envelopes at work? Finally, we totally believe that you would not try to exploit this opportunity for political gain. Really!?!
We all know how much you care about special needs students and parent rights. First, you take away all test modifications so that students with physical and mental disabilities are forced to take the same state testing as their regular education peers. Kids love to be reminded that they are below grade level and academic failures. Really!!
This resulted in thousands of eight and nine-year old children with special needs failing the third grade reading test and facing possible retention. You thought this was a great idea and fought tooth and nail against passage of House Bill 2625. When the legislature overrode the Governor’s veto, you called the action “pathetic and outrageous.” Really!
Why? Because the law allows a district committee consisting of the principal, teacher, reading specialist, and parent(s) to make retention decisions based on the individual needs of children. How could we trust these people? How about parental rights in this case? Do parents only have rights to make educational decisions about their child if it’s okay with you? REALLY!?!
Remember TJ Eldridge? I posted his story last month.
He is the precious boy adopted from China when he was three years old, born with a partial arm, and abused for much of his early life. His adoptive mom, Amy, plead for him to be able to move on to fourth grade. YOU would have retained him. The district committee, authorized by passage of HB2625, rightfully allowed him to move on.
You claim that Joy Hofmeister is hostile to special needs students and their families. This is absurd. Silly. Ridiculous. Shameful.
You should be careful about throwing stones, “Ms. Queen of Glass Palaces.” REALLY!?!