Lucas on Campus Board Response to District Communication

Dear Superintendent Murley and Board Members of the Iowa City Community School District,

The Board of Lucas on Campus (LOC Board) is extremely disappointed with the letter that it received last evening terminating the interagency agreement between Lucas on Campus (LOC) and the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD), but more so in the way the entire situation was handled by the ICCSD. It is our fear that a very big decision is being made on inaccurate and one-sided claims.

The letter that went out to the Lucas community last evening referenced “extenuating circumstances” that gave rise to the termination. The LOC Board is unclear as to the nature of those circumstances, because the ICCSD did not meet with it or the director of LOC to discuss or address them. We have reached out on numerous occasions and were met with no response and cancelled meetings.

A meeting was scheduled in January, which was cancelled by members of the district with less than 24 hours notice. They wished to have Jeremy Tabor to attend, who was unavailable that day.  Another meeting was requested, but the only district representative who responded was Amy Minteer. The next communication from the district was the termination of the agreement.

As a result, the decision to terminate the agreement resulted in us being blind-sided. It was apparently made behind closed doors with unfounded accusations and incomplete/inaccurate information. The lack of respect shown by the ICCSD to LOC is unacceptable. To that end, we would like to address some incorrect and inaccurate information Superintendent Murley has provided to Lucas parents through the email correspondence sent to the entire Lucas Elementary community today, March 14, 2019:

  • “There have been issues with the Lucas BASP dating back to 2014.  This is long before Dr. Jenkins joined Lucas as Principal. The issues were brought forward through District level administrative staff and District level support staff who all, in turn, worked diligently with the Lucas  BASP on site director and the BASP board to resolve.”
    • There were issues were resolved in a meeting with Kingsley Botchway, Joe Pavelich (LOC Board), Elise Denniston (LOC Director), Joan Vanden Berg, and possibly also Amy Minteer regarding a student who was experiencing difficulties at LOC. In the end, the issue was resolved to the satisfaction of LOC and the family.
    • To our knowledge, there are no other issues.
  • “Unfortunately, these issues persisted and rose to a level that required involvement by the Director of Equity, Director of Diversity, Director of Learning Supports, and Coordinator for Youth and Family, among others.”
    • The Director of Equity and Director of Diversity have never discussed any issues with any LOC Board members in the past 3 years.
    • The Director of Learning Supports and Coordinator for Youth and Family attended one meeting in December and despite requesting a follow-up meeting, cancelled and did not respond to future meeting requests with the LOC Board.
  • “They took appropriate steps to resolve these issues and, upon the failure to secure adequate response, recommended to me that we consider termination of the agreement.”
    • Joan Vanden Berg, Amy Minteer and Laura Daily attended a meeting with the LOC Board in December to resolve an issue with a family enrolled in LOC. We met to resolve this issue and we shared our policy with them. The meeting ended with everyone agreeing we needed to meet again, which unfortunately did not happen. The Board has been expecting a meeting to resolve the issues related to this family.
  • “I then worked with District legal counsel to determine if the alleged issues were severe, pervasive, and detrimental to the students at families at Lucas ES.  We both concluded that this was indeed the case and, therefore, we both supported the initial recommendation to terminate the agreement.”
    • These are very serious allegations that are unsupported by facts and border on being defamatory. If the alleged issues are so severe, pervasive and detrimental to the students, why are we allowed to continue operating LOC through August?
    • We also find it interesting that your legal counsel determined alleged issues without communicating with anyone from LOC, including the LOC Director, LOC Board and parents/children.
  • “Dr. Jenkins was included in the work with the BASP to try to resolve these issues and she was interviewed as part of the evidence gathering process.  It was not her decision to terminate the contract.”
    • Principal Jenkins has been unresponsive to the LOC director’s multiple requests for meetings to resolve these issues. The LOC Board has sent emails to Principal Jenkins asking for a resolution which she has not provided.

In conclusion, LOC has been a successful non-profit organization in Lucas Elementary for 32 years, working with several partners such as 4-H, UI College of Nursing, Iowa Youth Writing Project, Iowa Children’s Museum and more. We want to be clear to parents why the ICCSD would want to terminate our agreement with no warning, and no policy violations. Unfortunately, we cannot even advise them on that, because we do not understand what has happened, or why. We have asked Joan Vanden Berg for documentation of any accusations against the LOC Director and/or the LOC Board, and we have not been provided with any. In order to better understand what happened and why, the LOC Board respectfully requests all documentation regarding this decision. Further, we respectfully request that you reconsider this decision. We have been an asset to the Lucas community for decades, and there is no reason to prevent that from continuing.