A majority of parents who use the daycare offered at Forest Lakes Elementary School want to keep the YWCA as the service provider for their school, mainly because their facility provides different types of child therapy such as tummy time therapy, while other parents want the school to consider alternatives. Who will decide whether to keep or replace the current daycare provider? A seven-member committee that will deliberate and vote in secret.
Forest Lakes Principal Christine Langrehr conducted a survey in April, asking all parents if the YWCA should be retained as the school’s daycare provider, or if others should be considered. Among the parents who answered the survey and had an opinion, 47 wanted the school to stick with the YWCA and 39 wanted to explore other options. The respondents included parents at the school who both did and did not have children in daycare.
Based on those results, Langrehr formed a committee that gave equal weight to the following groups of parents: parents who use the YWCA daycare at the school; parents who use offsite daycare with another provider; and parents who don’t currently use daycare at all. Two parents from each group, along with the principal, comprise the seven-member committee that will decide what changes, if any, will be made, according to Teri Kranefeld, manager of communications for Harford County Public Schools.
Following presentations made at a PTA meeting by the YWCA and competing providers, the committee was set to vote today (Wednesday) in a meeting that was not open to parents other than committee members and, despite a request from The Dagger, was not open to the press.
Parents in the YWCA program cried foul, saying they were excluded from a decision that will affect their children’s daycare and their family finances. Among those parents is Gina LaRocque, who has one child in the YWCA daycare now and a 10th grader who was in the program years ago. “Even if there is a change, at least we would feel we had a say…at least make it fair.” LaRocque said that she is satisfied with the YWCA and that the alternatives presented were more expensive. Parents also claimed that, until recently, Langrehr did not communicate well with parents outside of PTA meetings and that feedback from the YWCA parents was not properly noted.
Responding to questions about the process addressed to Harford County Public Schools and Langrehr, Kranefeld said in an e-mail:
“All parents are not invited to attend Committee meetings, however they have been offered the opportunity to view presentations by the vendors and to provide feedback on those presentations. Additionally, they have been encouraged to contact any of the committee members to provide input.”
When asked about the potential cost differential between the YWCA and a new provider, Kranefeld wrote:
“The new vendor has not been selected yet, therefore I do not know the cost difference at this time. However, the committee is attempting to find the provider that offers the greatest variety of opportunities for all of the children at an affordable rate.”
Worried about a change in their daycare provider, 72% of the 58 families in the Forest Lakes daycare program signed a petition in November asking the school committee to retain the YWCA.
Mary Chestnut, CEO of the YWCA of Greater Baltimore, said that the daycare program at Forest Lakes has a waiting list and that parents appear to be happy. She said there had been a few complaints that were addressed, including some from the principal. “I want to work constructively with the administration,” she said. The YWCA also provides daycare at Joppatowne and Hickory elementary schools and has provided daycare at Forest Lakes since the school opened in 1997. Chestnut said that the waiting list at Forest Lakes has eight to 10 families and that priority from year to year is given to families already in the program. Speaking of the school’s decision to explore alternatives, Chestnut said that it made sense to consider changes, “I just want to know that the process is fair and open.”
In a school newsletter e-mailed to parents today, Langrehr provided the following update, indicating that she is hopeful that the results of the committee vote will be shared at a PTA meeting on January 9.
“Daycare Selection Update
A parent letter was sent home on December 22, 2011, indicating the progress the Committee has made regarding the selection of the daycare program for the 2012-2013 school year. As explained, the process recommended by the Harford County Public Schools for this purpose is being followed. I am hopeful that a decision will be made this week and anticipate that the decision, and its rationale, can be shared at the January 9th PTA meeting. An AlertNow call will be sent at the end of this week to either confirm this date or to communicate a newly selected date for sharing the decision.
I wish to thank all the parents who have shared their comments and concerns with the members of the committee and with me. The committee has put much time and effort into this process and is truly being responsive to all input as a decision is made to offer a program which meets the needs of the entire school community.”
Below are the results of the survey of Forest Lakes ES parents in April 2010:
Below are the results of a survey of Forest Lakes parents whose children are in the YWCA daycare program:
Secret meeting? How is that fair if the desicion affects our kids?? If the principal conducted a survey last April, why is she waiting until now to do something about it? Were the names of the commitee members given so parents could speak to them?? Seems like the school needs to replace the principal, not the daycare program.
Parent of the YWCA says
Not only are the secret meetings suspicious, but, when we had the meeting to give our input, at least 2 members of the panel did not take down the information in the context it was given. i know for sure because I asked what was written. There was another family at the table to confirm this. I immediate went to the the principal, she did NOTHING!!!! These people on the panel stated their dislike for the YWCA last year. why would they put them on the panel???? I for one have been pleading to the principal for months that the panel was not fair…. Looking at the results, the people that don’t use daycare obviously don’t care because out of 54 results 23 wanted to keep the program, 23 didn’t care. She put people on the panel in this group and only 2 people that USE THE SERVICE AND KNOW THEIR CAPABILITIES! You do the math, w/ Ms Langrehrs survey last year out of a total of 113 responses 74 responded to keep the program or didn’t care. And out of the survey done with the Y recently, an overwhelming amount are happy with the program. If they choose anyone but the YWCA, something is seriously wrong here! Langrehr keeps refering to last year’s survey which the numbers are still in favor of keeping the YWCA Whether they were in the program or not!
Judy Schreck says
Yes, the names of the panel were given and immediately I had objections because 2 of the panel made it clear last year at the PTA meeting that they did not like the YWCA. I heard the rumor last year that someone either on the School board or the PTA knew someone at Celebree which I latter found out was called HOTSPOT. I spoke with Langrehr last year and told her about the rumor that I heard and she said it was untrue… Now… Surprise… Surprise… Hotspot is the one that is in high consideration! And there is question about the panel and the meetings have been in secret! One member chosen for the panel stated at a PTA meeting that she hasn’t been able to get her child in for 4 years and made her dislike for the program well known.. In the survey results, understand that people using other daycare services could be upset because there is a waiting list and I’m sure they would prefer to pay the YWCA rates over other daycare rates. So, If they do not vote for the YWCA something’s up!
David A. Porter says
My son was removed from Celebree because of disciplinary issues. I tried to make every effort to move him within the Celebree center from a room with older children to a room with children closer to his age. At the time he sought approval from older kids to misbehave, and the care giver was not in control of the classroom, and actually looked like she was simply chaperoning chaos. Also, the office had video monitors for each classroom except the one my son was in – with the older children. There really was no effort to get this room under control and when I pointed this out to a Celebree employee they said it’s tough to have children watching children. That’s not what I paid them for. My son later went to the YMCA at Prospect Mills. I was very pleased with the feedback and monitoring provided by the caregivers there. I will never take another child to Celebree.
Gina LaRocque says
Every time that I have heard the principal speak about this it has left me with the feeling that she already had her mind made up to make a change no matter what. If they vote to stop using the YWCA then I will know my suspicions were correct. Especially since there have been so many people writing and calling her as well as her superiors about this. I have not heard even one person stand up and fight to get rid of the YWCA (other than Mrs. Langrehr). The only thing I have heard is parents fighting to keep the YWCA. Let’s hope the committee made the right decision.
I also wonder why the big production about waiting to make an announcement. If a decision was made last night why not just tell us what the decision was????
Lynn Kief says
The reason that you haven’t heard people stand up and fight to get rid of the YWCA is because this isn’t a fight…remember? The place to give your opinion and provide your feedback was at the PTA meeting in November when we heard from the different providers. That’s where I expressed my opinion. My children are new to FLES, we came from a school where we had the YMCA program-a much better, more diverse, program. I feel strongly about the YMCA program and I expressed that in November. Perhaps you haven’t heard from us because we’re not putting petitions out and sending letters out to persuade you because that’s not how this is supposed to work. Do you think it’s fair that the YWCA got to put out a petition? The other providers didn’t get to put out a letter or sign up sheet, so why should the YWCA have that opportunity? I’m not trying to fight with anyone. Everyone needs to do what they feel is best for their child, all of this anger and accusations are ridiculous!
The Harford County Board of Education executives are not even returning calls to parents!
Gina LaRocque says
They also do not respond to emails. It is as if they do not care and do not want to get involved.
Your lexicon seems to suggest that you are unfamiliar with the system which is responsible for the care of your child(ren) more waking hours a day than you may have them in your care. I don’t believe that there is such a thing as a “School Board Executive” I guess the closest thing to that would be the Board President. There are Board Members that represent your particular school and there are county level HCPS employees that are responsible for some of your concerns. If your e-mails were not returned in a prompt professional manner I would suggest first checking your approach and audience. Since your kids are in elementary school consider involvement and educating yourself as paying dues on the next issue that you will encounter as well as time spent for this one. Good luck.
Judy Schreck says
oh Sorry, I did not write down the titles of all those on the school board that were contacted. Maybe I should have given their names instead of using a generic title. Would that be better?
Cindy R says
Why reprimand, correct and belittle a parent who is voicing concern over a change to her childs day care?
Any belittlement is in the reader’s interpretation of the written word. I choose to see the post as refinement and encouragement. Is there anything inaccurate in my first post? I assume that these parents are busy and could do without 2 paragraphs of sugar coating to get the same message. I already see some pretty broad-stroke accusations later in the comments. It’s my opinion that this detracts from the core message and should be the thread that you are questioning but I’m happy to take the time to respond to your criticism and not take offense. The “Good luck” was/is sincere.
Wow, someone making some sense…
I see someone has appropriated the handle I’ve been using on this site for quite a while. I have no input on the question at issue; just an observation that someone has appropriated my handle.
otto schmedlap says
You should have chosen a more unique handle
Do you really think this is the Principal or higher up the food chain??? Maybe someone is getting paid! Why wouldn’t they return calls???
I am surprised the amount of time spent on this issue from the principal, I wonder if she spends this much time on her students and staff issues.
There are already pre-determined agendas in all schools. They do these surveys to make us think they care what we have to say, then do what they want anyway. It’s all principals in all schools, or should I say the school board/superintendent??
ALEX R says
And why are other options are being explored? The survey said that the majority, 19 of 30, of the responders using YWCA (63%) are satisfied and do not want other options explored. Of the people responding who currently use options other than the YWCA, the majority (17 of 29 or 66%) are unhappy with the other options. Why would the principal appoint a secret committee to explore options when 66% of the people using those other options are unsatisfied and the majority of the people using the YWCA are satisfied? Why has it taken 9 months from the survey date to get to this point? I know that the school moves slowly but 9 months (and an intervening summer when no school was in session to distract) to get to this point added to the secret committee has a really bad smell to it. This is America, folks, we aren’t supposed to be doing secret government committees deciding stuff like education and child care. Cui bono?
Ithink therefore says
Your math and conclusions are fuzzy at best. The majority of the parents from the two surveys 11+17=28 requested that the principal “explore options” that beats the number of parents (24) who voted not to explore options. Therefore, the principal was being responsive to the parents request. Now let’s approach your vocabulary…explore options does not mean to change anything. It should be noted that many, many parents felt intimidated, bullied, and threatened more by the vocal and strident voices of the YMCA parents than by anyone at the school. Options were explored, vitriolic rocks and stones were thrown at the principal with surprising velocity, and the Y will remain. The principal gets no “payola” for anything associated with the Y or any other program that would come in. Perhaps she deserves an apology from those who falsely accused her of nefarious intent when all she was trying to do was improve the school based upon a rash of complaints about the Y.
It is shocking to hear that HCPS might have thier own agenda and are being less than open and upfront with the public…also amazed that the powers that be are not communicating with people… (the sarcasm ends now)
Welcome to how HCPS operates. They do this with the input for committees like the calendar committee, Secondary Ed Reform (block schedule), hey and maybe even with thier teacher negotiations…
The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings.
John F. Kennedy
Cindy R says
Why make a change to the program if the parents and the children are happy? Seems to me that “Payola” may be involved? Follow the money! Are any of the decision makers benefitting financially?
It seems like you Forest Lakes people are aren’t happy unless you have something to complain about.
Judy Schreck says
This is not a war with anyone. This is not a war with teachers. Everyone makes mistakes and this issue was just not handled in the best manner by the Principal. This is simply looking at the surveys which have been posted and seeing what the majority of parents want. This is ensuring that parents are able to see documents that should be available to the public. Ensuring parents are notified of important events by the best possible means. Ensuring that school committee’s are being utilized properly such as the PTA. Ensuring committee’s do not overstep their bounds. Ensuring there is transparency since it is a Public school…Ensuring a meeting like this, if credibility is in question, should not be done behind closed doors. At least letting parents know what day/time the meeting would be held instead of being secretive about it. Ensuring that if parents have any kind of problem and they contact anyone that is in the Superintendents leadership team, gets a return call or email to let them know their concerns are being addressed. Ensuring the leadership team acknowledges the issue.
It is a school not a daycare center says
Are you people serious. Let’s bash the principal and the school because we are unhappy with how the daycare situation is being handled. If you don’t like it, go somewhere else. Your children are entitled to a Free and Appropriate Public Education, not the cheapest and most convenient daycare. Is there anything else you would like the SCHOOL to do. They are now providing daycare and 2/3 meals a day. Perhaps they should provide clothing and shelter as well. Have you ever thought that maybe they want to offer a service that is available to more families compared to the limited number the Y is serving. The people responding that they love the Y love it because it is cheap and convenient and once they are in they are in. I bet you wouldn’t feel the same way if you were on the outside looking in or the price was 4x as expensive. Again, it isn’t the school’s job to provide daycare and I am sure the principal has far better things to attend to … like EDUCATING your children so hopefully they don’t grow up to be entitled brats like so many of their parents.
Judy Schreck says
The Y DOES NOT dictate the amount of students they can accept. Thats what parents on the outside don’t understand. This is something that should be explained by the School to the parents that get upset because there is no room for them. The School dictates the amount of students in the Y and its based on the AMOUNT OF SPACE the school ALLOWS THEM TO USE. No matter which company is there, it will still only accept the same number of students the Y has now. I’m sure they pay rent. They have been paying rent there for over 10 years. And it is rare that a company would rent space for 10 years and have a landlord just say, ok, you are done even though you’ve done nothing wrong. I want someone else in here to do the same thing you did. The people working at the Y have also volunteered their personal time to the school during various functions.
ALEX R says
It’s A School Not a Daycare,
1. Great idea. Let’s get the principal and the school totally out of the caycare question. Disband the secret committee and tell the principal to butt out.
2. Let the parents decide the daycare question. All of the parents that wish to participate not just a secret committee. Just remember, it is the majority of the parents who had enough interest to respond to the survey who said they are satisfied with the status quo and don’t want change.
3. If you want to take your child to some other daycare then, by all means, do it. Just don’t dictate your preferences to all.
4. Sense of entitlement? Well, perhaps we should all pay more attention to the quality of the education our children are getting (or not getting) in the local school. After all, as you point out, a free and appropriate education is an entitlement. But we could have a really good discussion on what is ‘appropriate’. I can tell you that a lot of children in HCPS today are not getting ‘appropriate’.
5. The principal does have far better things to do and she should butt out of daycare and go do them.
6. As far as your telling people to “go somewhere else” I assume you mean for daycare.If you mean go somewhere else for school my response is “no, thank you”. First, the government won’t let me unless I want to spend my tax money to educate your ‘entitled’ kids plus spend more on a private school. Second, I choose to stay where I am and fix the many issues that are right before me. That also is my right.
2) of 113 respondents 39 said to explore other options, 47 said do not and 27 had no opinion. There was no majority for any option!!!!! There was a plurality.
3) No one is dictating any option to anyone….If a new vendor is selected and someone is unhappy with it they are free to get daycare somewhere else!!!
4) Appropriate is a legal term that refers to an appropriate LRE. It does not mean what you decide it means!
6) Have at it.
I simply say this. If you never explore other vendors you may miss out on something better. Those who complain about the Math materials used imagine if we stuck with the one vendor and never looked for something better. You should always explore and re-explore options even if you end up staying with the status quo.
ALEX R says
Totally agree on exploring other vendors. But you don’t form a secret committee to do it behind closed doors. You use a process that is fully explained in advance to all stakeholders and you do it totally in public. The process they are following, the lack of responsiveness and the secrecy are all asking for trouble and they are getting what they asked for.
I believe the real issues here are: (1) secret committee; (2)lack of access to information; (3)lack of responsiveness; (4) an attitude of arrogance. Whether the HCPS players are actually arrogant or not makes no difference, they are perceived that way and perception is reality. If they don’t know how to do this in a public education environment then thay are unqualified to hold their jobs.
The best thing I can say for the principal is that she made a huge PR blunder and continues to do so – that’s the best thing I can say. She needs to fix it pronto. If she won’t fix it then the worst things that are being said about her by others are likely true.
Does not seem so secret if everyone knows about it! I can understand a comittee meeting in private if they are going to be constantly interupted from doing their duty by people with a set agenda. Based on the comments on this board I would think that is the case. Do people know who is on it? Based om comments on this board I think people do and you need to give your feedback to them.
I do not attend this school. However, from the outside looking in, if the school was not interested in allowing parents to attend, I would think they should not have a problem with the press that would be a neutral party. I find that to be a little disturbing. If parents are interested in seeing documentation, why not show them if there is nothing to hide. After all, it is a Public School.
Too funny and too true!!!
Ithink therefore says
Absolutely. Well said. The whining over this is incredible. After school care AT the school is not a right. It’s a privilege granted by the principal of the school who has every right to decide to explore other options if she continuously hears complaints about the program and if the program is not behaving like decent guests. The people complaining just want everything to stay the same and they don’t want to even research the viability of other options. Some of these people would be at home with pitchforks and torches. Mob mentality…
Totally AGREE!!! It is a school, not a daycare.
Entitlement? Of course! I/my children are entitled to an education. Just because that education is free, I should sit back and not voice concerns or point out when there is an abuse of power or lack of communication?? Maybe thats what you do. Maybe you think we should sit back and shut up and let the principal do whatever they want. Sorry, not this parent! I have the right to be involved in ANY decision that will affect my children, I have the right to be privy to information that will affect my children! I have the right to be as involved or not involved in anything having to do with my children, their well being or safety. I, the parent have this right. You should not judge any parent for speaking their mind or voicing concerns they have! We are our childrens advocates. I will always advocate for what I think is best for my children. And the grow up like brats comment?…..Well, I hope our children learn to stand up for what they believe in and speak out when they feel something is wrong. So if that means they will grow up like brats??? Fine with me. How dare anyone criticize another parents concerns for their kids! Shame on you. I wish the FLES parents the best of luck and regardless of a daycare issue or any issue, always speak your minds! Dont let ignorance stand in your way. I applaud your persistance and passion.
Get rid of it says
I appreciate that you are involved in your child’s school and completely agree that you should be at meetings to voice your decision. However there is a proper way to do it and bashing a school on the dagger is not the answer.
What you don’t understand is that this decision didn’t have to be “open to the public.” The principal of the school has the right to change or get rid of a program. Mrs. Langrehr didn’t have to open this up to the public. She could have, and in my opinion should have, made the decision on her own. As a parent who HAS made alternate arrangements, I think the big question is whether this is the best program for our children. I wouldn’t put my children in the Y!
GIVE IT UP! says
People need to get their information correct before sandblasting it all over. There was no “Secret Committee”. All the information regarding the daycare issue was made public via the Lion’s Den or newsletters. Everyone was made aware of how the committee was formed and why procedures were being taken. The principal is responsible for everyone in his/her building including daycare, so he/she can’t butt out of issues pertaining to them. As a parent, I am appalled at what is being said from this community and for those jumping on board and making a decision about someone’s character without even knowing them.
Uh Huh says
I bet you are one that is part of the panel working with the person running this show.
Give it up says
To Uh Huh – sorry to say you would lose that bet. I’m a parent who completed the survey and went to the meetings that I was able to attend. My husband and I have had to make other daycare arrangements because we are very dissatisfied with the current program. We were glad to see something being done about it. I just hope that whatever the outcome is, these parents have the common decency and respect for the decision that was made and move on. Unfortunately I don’t think that will be case. Maybe the parents that don’t want the change have something more invested that we don’t know about. Maybe that’s the “secret”.
As a parent of a child who attends FLES, I feel this is getting ridiculous. This whole situation has become a farse. From what I see its got to be your way and that’s all. Grow up and act like adults. Thank God the kids don’t have to see how immature and blown out of portion all of this has become. I understand that you are looking out for your child’s best interest but it’s gone too far. It’s about time we act like civilized adults. Or is that asking too much? I for one like FLES and will support any decision the school makes.
Welcome to anything that has to do with kids in harford county. Be it the school system, athletics, drama, or whatever. Look at the Bel Air rec football situation. I have never understood why some feel they are so entitled.
Ithink therefore says
Many of the more ridiculous comments smack of “Well, if I don’t get my way and the Y is replaced with a better program, by vote, then there is a big conspiracy and people are getting money from Celebree and I can’t wait to spread more rumors!”
Get rid of it says
I completely agree with “Give it up.” From what I understand, the principal doesn’t even have to involve the parents in a decision to have before and after school care. I appreciate that she tried to involve the parents. As far as the survey, you are not seeing the entire thing and maybe those few comments that weren’t made or have been made warent a red flag from the school. I can’t believe how much some parents have let this explode. Yes, you are making this in to a war and if it were up to me I would definitely get rid of the Y because of your negative comments and bashing. Who would want this in their school? Personally, I don’t want your negativity around my children. I say get rid of the Y and all before and after school programs to avoid this negative bashing all together! The lady that runs the Y is financially vested in this so of course she is going to make a stink. I don’t care how long they have been there. There is obvious concerns! Maybe we should let Gerry Sendusky to back to Penn State. You don’t know all the reasons why the Y is being questioned. It doesn’t have to be political. It could be the best interest of the children.
The Surveys Seem to speak for themselves.
Get rid of it says
No, Kathy, the survey doesn’t speak for itself. What should have been done was to post an additional survey of those parents who are not satisfied and went elsewhere for daycare. I made alternate arrangements for daycare because I didn’t like how the Y was being run.
I find it amazing how people hide behind fake names. Why not put yours out there. Secrecy.. Isn’t that what this is all about. It seems some parents are willing to put there names out there because they are trying to help parents accross the county. They don’t seem to care if we know who they are. To those parents, I COMMEND THEM! They seem to have nothing to hide and I believe that they are trying to do what’s best for their children. BRAVO… for speaking out and doing whats best for your child. Those that don’t have the courage and hide behind these fake names.. SHAME ON YOU!!… your not worth the time of day! I’m so glad we don’t have to deal with this at my school. The parents actually do have a vote and the school listens… All I have to say is “THANK YOU” to those Principals that do have the respect to allow the parents to vote on decisions!!! I truly believe If I asked my principal to show me a survey, they would!
So Kathy what is your last name? Want to put that out there for everyone to see?
You don’t even have a vested interest in this – you don’t go to our school. This has nothing to do with “names.”
As a parent at FLES, I would like to know why parents in the current Y program are charged different rates for the same allotted time?
Judy Schreck says
Just wanted to thank the Principal and the panel for voting to keep the YWCA for our children. Ms. Langrehr did a great job addressing everyone in her message this evening to come together as a community and heal. The group of parents that came together to advocate for our children did not intend for this involve teachers, the YWCA staff, etc. In my opinion, they should not have been brought into this at all. For the staff of the YWCA and the teachers of Forest Lakes Elementary, I hope you know that many of us do appreciate the work you do and the support you give to our children.
As a parent who has a child that goes to the YWCA at FLES, I am pleased with the decision to have the YWCA as the schools daycare provider. But as a person who was deeply rooted in this issue, I was tremendously disappointed in many of the personal and viscious comments directed at the Staff of FLES and the Staff of the YWCA. It was unnecessary and unfortunate. I feel, I can safely say, that the parents who were fighting in support of the YWCA did not generate those comments or posts.
As Judy mentioned in the above post and I mentioned at the PTA mtg last night, the teachers, of FLES do a tremendous job educating our children, have and deserve the utmost respect. With that, I want to thank those involved in your efforts, hard work and passion to stand up and right a potential wrong. As a community we can learn from this and move forward as community. Thank you.
Ithink therefore says
I think many of the parents on this comment section, and those who cast doubts on her credibility owe Mrs. Langrehr a huge apology. She was accused of secret meetings (What do you people think a committee does? Meet in the town square so everyone can yell at them?), accused of “payola” from Celebree, accused of not communicating when she sent newletters, announcements, and held open meetings above and beyond the call of duty. I for one, am happy my children have a principal who cares enough to address the complaints and concerns of the parents who approached her, all on a issue that is secondary to her main concern. Yet she cared enough to explore the options, to come to a decision with input from a variety of viewpoints and she took the slings and arrows of a bunch of whiners with grace and dignity. We appreciate you, Ms. Langrehr!