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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

In case you missed it: Charlestown's Chariho candidates

How do we score the Class of 2014?
By Robert Yarnall

The CCA Party's team of Ron Areglado and Donna Chambers - 
Do they pass the ethics and morality test?
Other than being a registered voter who is 18 years of age or older, there are no minimal qualifications required to run for school committee in the state of Rhode Island. Whether or not a particular candidate is “qualified” in the opinion of the electorate is a different issue.

We the People depend on the claims of Them the Candidates, based primarily on campaign literature, local media profiles and community involvement. We expect them to tell the truth but unfortunately, as you will see as you read on, they often don't.

WARNING: what you are about to read contains links and copies of actual documents, not just commentary. Readers who suffer from an allergy to facts are whereby forewarned.

In 2014, four candidates are running for three Charlestown vacancies on the perpetually beleaguered Chariho School Committee, including one newcomer, one elected incumbent, and a pair of CCA appointees seeking the legitimacy of elected status, if there is such a thing in Charlestown politics anymore.

As a courtesy to the new kid on the block, we begin with Mr. Stephen Young, who hopped aboard the popular Baby Boomer Retirement Bandwagon bound for Charlestown nine years ago, according to reports in our local mainstream media.

Mr. Young hails from the great state of Colorado, where he owned a successful graphic arts business. He offers the perspective of a budget-conscious small business owner to serve as an ad hoc voice for the chronically underrepresented taxpayer.

In a Chariho Times article (not on-line, so no link), Mr. Young notes that he “was asked to run by a lot of people.” Meanwhile, we here at Progressive Charlestown note that he shares his neighborhood with John Goodman, co-founder of the CCA.

The Westerly Sun reports that Mr. Young has expressed interest in challenging Superintendent Barry Ricci on a range of issues, a daunting task even for a pioneer from the Rocky Mountain State. He is concerned that “far too many school committee members just give him (Mr. Ricci) what he wants, which just leads to arrogance.” 

Which reminds us that, if elected, Mr. Young seems destined to find himself engaged in animated conversation moderated by Chariho Civility Commissioner Dr. Ronald Areglado for using the word “arrogance.” Areglado can use that word, but others can’t. So be it.

Craig Luzon
Perhaps Dr. Areglado has already had that conversation with him: Mr. Young reversed his position on Superintendent Ricci in the Sun's follow-up article that ran last Sunday.

Current school committee vice chair Craig Louzon, a building and grounds superintendent at the University of Rhode Island, represents a critical area of expertise on the school committee. District infrastructure, including water quality concerns in an area impacted by agricultural chemicals, is necessarily a priority for the safety and well-being of Chariho youth. Mr. Louzon’s continued presence on the committee seems to be an easy call for Charlestown voters.

CCA Party loyalists Donna Chambers and Ronald Areglado each received political appointments to the Chariho School Committee last year when seats became available due to resignations. They tout nearly a “century of experience” in education, inviting the following public service Progressive Charlestown Consumer Alert with respect to Truth in Labeling disclosures.

Chambers: Inflated credentials?

Mrs. Chambers rightly portrays herself as a dedicated advocate for adult education. She cites over four decades of experience in both volunteer and consultant capacities to school systems, state departments of education, and private adult education companies.

Her Westerly Sun profile said she has an “extensive background in education as a teacher” although her CCA Party profile only shows four years as a fifth grade in the South County school system.

Mrs. Chambers lists twenty-five years of service as a Program Specialist for the Fairfax (VA) County Public School Office of Adult High School Completion. Program Specialists, who seem to be a corps of well trained, highly engaged community service volunteers, play an important role in the Fairfax County education community. Sounds like something we should think about here.

Mrs. Chambers is a National External Diploma Program (NEDP) Assessor, qualified to administer an array of basic educational tests to help a student plan a program of studies leading to a National External Diploma, a legitimate and respected alternative to a traditional high school diploma.

From the RIRAL website (actually, this is a
screen shot extract - click here for the whole list)
Mrs. Chambers is one of five NEDP Assessors delivering this service under the auspices of Rhode Island Regional Adult Learning. Mrs. Chambers identifies herself as the NEDP State Coordinator on the CCA website, yet oddly, the RIRAL website staff directory lists a Sandy Smith as the NEDP State Coordinator and Mrs. Chambers as one of several NEDP Assessors.

On her handwritten initial application for a CCA-sponsored political appointment to the Chariho School Committee dated 2/19/13, Donna Chambers lists her occupation as “Education Administration,” which is different from what she really does, administering educational tests. 

The RIDE Office of Teacher Certification indicates that Donna Chambers holds no Administrative Certificate that is required for all Rhode Island school administrators.

Another big problem with Donna Chambers’ claims – none of the above is included in her mandatory disclosure statement filed with the RI Ethics Commission. She signed that statement before a notary under “pain of perjury” on April 14, 2014. 

Click here to read it (her husband Mike would insist that you should only judge things based on hard evidence so here it is).

Click here to read her official CCA Party campaign resume, where she also lists a number of current non-profit affiliations. Again, you won’t find them on her ethics disclosure report.

Donna Chambers
What she claims on the CCA Party website. These are verbatim
What she reported to the RI Ethics Commission under oath as her employment and non-profit affiliations

Contracted consultant for Adult Education with RI Department of Education, Boston Public Schools, and Maine Department of Education (current position)
No mention of the RI Department of Education.

She reports she performed “Education
Consultancy” for Maine Department of Education 12-2013 and Boston Public Schools June-Dec.2013 but also claims she had no reimbursed out of state travel

State Coordinator for RI National External Diploma Program (12 years)
Not included in her ethics disclosure report

So which version of Donna Chambers’ life is true – the one on the CCA Party website or the one on her Ethics disclosure form? They both can’t be true unless the CCA Party has some linguistic magic up its sleaze.

Charlestown Democrats are very familiar with the CCA “Independent Party” practice of fine-tuning the English language to create the illusion of credibility. The best example to date is the recent CCA website relabeling of prolific “guest columnist” and Zoning Board Political Appointee Michael Chambers as “Author Michael Chambers.”

This aberration of literary nuance is equivalent to certifying Mr. Chambers as an electrician after he changes a light bulb, with the assistance of his Education Administration wife, of course.)

Areglado: "Incomplete" on Ethics test or flunked for cheating?

Mrs. Chambers’ CCA Party running mate is former one-year-only Charlestown Elementary School Principal (1998-99) Ronald Areglado, a career education administrator who seems to have spent a career building his resume, available on the CCA website, and yet whose name is mysteriously absent from RIDE’s Educator Verification Portal.

Dr. Areglado’s most trumpeted public persona in the mainstream media is his claim to be president of an organization called The Center for Ethical and Moral Leadership. It leads the Westerly Sun’s background article on his candidacy.

You would expect that given the high value he places on ethics and morality that he would put extra care into the preparation of his mandatory filing with the state Ethic Commission.

However, in his financial disclosure report to the Ethics Commission (click here), he does not even mention the Center for Ethical and Moral Leadership. Multiple internet search engines list no organization for the specific query the "Center for Ethical and Moral Leadership,” either as a source of income or a place where he volunteers his time.”

The Center for Ethical and Moral Leadership is not on the Secretary of State’s corporate database either.

There are multiple search engine returns for “The Center for Ethical Leadership” and/or “The Center for Moral Leadership.” But when the two phrases are combined to read as “The Center for Ethical and Moral Leadership” there are no results. Zippo.

The closest result that is returned combining the dual parameters of Ethics and Leadership is, and I’m not making this up, The Center for Cowboy Ethics and Leadership, which turns out to be almost too complimentary to even our esteemed Dr. Areglado.

Neither of these two organizations listed by Dr. Areglado on his resume at various times appear on his Ethics Commission financial disclosure (again, click here to see for yourself) as clearly required. Dr. Areglado swore this statement before a notary on April 4, 2014, “under penalty of perjury.”

Let’s compare his claims on the CCA Party website with what he reported to the Ethics Commission.

Ron Areglado
What he claims on the CCA Party website. These are verbatim
What he reported to the RI Ethics Commission under oath as his employment and non-profit affiliations

Current President, The Center for Ethical and Moral Leadership, train and coach clients in leadership development, interpersonal communication and organizational development and effectiveness.  Clients include for-profit and non-profit entities.

No mention of the Center for Ethical and Moral Leadership or any variant. (Also not in the Secretary of State database)
Adjunct Professor since 2004 at Rhode Island College and Fitchburg State College (Fitchburg, MA), teaching and supervising future elementary and middle school principals (a current position)

Not included in his ethics disclosure report
Consultant both for-profit and non-profit groups on a variety of organizational issues such as leadership development, communication, team building, supervision and evaluation of personnel, and time management (a current position)

He lists only one consultancy: the Blackwater Community School in Coolidge, Arizona
Member, Sachem Passage Association Board of Directors
Not included in his ethics disclosure report

Committee Member, Emerging Coalition for Community Schools
Not included in his ethics disclosure report

Committee Member, Institute for Educational Leadership
Not included in his ethics disclosure report

But, WAIT! There’s more!

One corporate connection for Ron Areglado appears in the RI Secretary of State’s website, but is not listed on Areglado’s CCA resume or anywhere else.

That’s a Charlestown corporation incorporated in March 2000 called the Community 2000 Education Foundation to provide scholarships for post-secondary education. According to the 2014 Annual Report, Areglado is one of the Directors. Apparently, this is a new appointment, as he is not listed on the group’s 2013 report The group is apparently run out of the $1.9 million Sunset Drive estate which is home to the group President Christopher Phillips.

Areglado's current LinkedIn profile. The Center for Educational
Excellence does not exist in Rhode Island. It is not on Areglado's
Ethics report. It is not on his CCA Party biography.
Finally, the Center for Ethical and Moral Leadership took a sabbatical on the Google Search expedition and was replaced with a LinkedIn profile for Ron Areglado, the president of the Center for Educational Excellence, which appears to exist only as an Arizona charter school.

It doesn't exist in Rhode Island.

It is doubtful that this LinkedIn association is valid. What is much more likely is that the descriptors “Arizona” and “charter school” are associated with a legitimate body of very impressive advocacy and consulting work attributable to Dr. Areglado, who is associated with Blackwell Community School, an innovative and highly successful charter school featuring an inclusive program for Native American students. Could Charlestown Elementary School be very far behind?

The two CCA Party appointees, Donna Chambers and Ron Areglado, present us with at least two versions of their credentials – what they claim on the CCA Party website and what they swore to when they filed their Ethics disclosure reports. 

Which seems more likely: that they perjured themselves on their ethics disclosures, or that their CCA “resumes” are puff pieces?

There it is. Four candidates. Three hot seats. Let the music begin.