There is a very interesting post on the East Valley Tribune forums by “Leila” regarding Deputy County Manager, Lisa Keegan, and her effort as a board member to shut down another school in Scottsdale. The private school, New Way Learning Center, provides education to children with learning disabilities and is supposedly one of a kind in the southewest.
The post also refers to Cindy McCain and her family foundation’s donation of playground equipment to the school (was that all?).
I am re-posting the comments here on Sonoran Alliance:
Hijacking of School for Learning Disabled by Lisa Keegan, School Board’s Chairman and McCain’s Educational Advisor
At a small private school in Scottsdale, Arizona, a controversial situation is unfolding that curiously involves two people very close to presidential hopeful John McCain: his wife and his education advisor, Lisa Keegan.
New Way Learning Academy is a small non-profit private school dedicated to serving children with learning disabilities and the only school of its kind in the southwest. Ten years ago, Cindy McCain was obviously impressed when she met Dawn Gutierrez, New Way’s Director of Education, and toured New Way. The Hensley Foundation, which is funded and controlled by Cindy McCain’s family, generously donated all the playground equipment that the children of New Way are currently using. Cindy told Dawn, “Whatever you want for the playground, you can have.”
Ironically, just this month Lisa Keegan and her Executive Board have hijacked the school from shocked and outraged parents, students, and teachers by firing Dawn Gutierrez. The firing occurred without the knowledge of the full board and at a time when everyone had left for spring break so that no one would be present. As parents and teachers have united in calling for the reinstatement of Mrs. Gutierrez, attention has turned to the how and why of this situation.
In the search for answers, it appears that this was actually part of a long-term plan, which began in 2005 with the changing of the school’s non-profit by-laws to place total control in the hands of the Executive Board. At that, time Lisa Keegan was a member of the board. In 2006, Lisa Keegan became Chair of the Board, creating an Executive Board consisting solely of people with whom she is associated in some way outside of the school.
While examining this situation, Keegan’s long history of controversy has not gone unnoticed. When she was Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction she instituted the controversial AIMS (Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards) test. As a consultant to Maricopa County, she was involved in the closing of the Thomas J. Pappas School for the homeless, and while serving as the head of the Education Leadership Counsel, there were allegations of mismanagement of federal funds.
The apparent take-over of the school comes immediately on the heels of its mortgage being paid off with large donations solicited from parents by Richard King, the former Secretary of the Board. New Way parents have attempted to enter mediation but the Board is unwilling to discuss the parent’s and teacher’s demands, instead installing Richard King as the new leader of the school. Obviously, this is unacceptable to the parents and teachers. Neither the students nor the highly-trained special education teachers will return to the school next year under such an administration, which will leave this well respected school in ruins.
Although it appears to many at New Way that a carefully crafted plan to take over their school has been executed the question remains: Why? Why would anyone allow such a unique and well respected school to be destroyed by their actions? Why does Keegan refuse to step down from a volunteer position when petitioned to do so by almost 100% of the teachers and 90% of those paying tuition? Why? The only answer given: “No Comment.”