Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Noisy Fisherman

I might as well clarify that the reason I entered my daughter in the AFPMA lottery was the only way I could figure out to force RIDE and... well, whomever speaks for AFPMA, which I now know is AF staff, to sit down with me and explain what their specific legal argument regarding mayoral academy enrollment actually is. Basically, that worked.

Now that I know that RIDE wrote up their legal opinion for RIMA last fall, of course, I could have just asked for that, but I didn't know that existed, and up until the meeting, nobody volunteered it (which would have saved them time). I could have tried to throw a broad FOIA request at RIDE, but that would have probably cost the RI taxpayer MORE money, and I still might have screwed it up.

At this point, the ball is in Blackstone Valley Prep's court. If I was a reporter I'd call them up and ask if they've changed their lottery this year in response to RIDE's advisory opinion (without telling anyone as far as I can tell) or if they have plans to do so. As it is, I'm just going to wait and see.

I know most people with whom I've discussed this overall issue regard it as a possibly interesting, but rather arcane issue, not really fitting into the overall anti-reform storyline. Those things are true, but what is also in question here is the cross-district enrollment policies of currently four and soon to be six schools which have a direct effect on the budgets of eight school departments, obviously directly and indirectly affecting thousands of families and in the long run, determining which towns and cities are going to be closing schools. So it is kind of a big deal.

If BVP goes off the reservation, fighting RIDE and undermining AFPMA, pass the popcorn.

RIDE's opinion is here.


Sean said...

That was a stunning legal opinion from the acting commissioner. I think I'm still a bit unclear, though: Was BVP not in compliance? Does AF (hilarious that you applied btw) plan to adhere to the regulations?

Tom Hoffman said...

They didn't specifically ask if BVP was in compliance with RIDE's interpretation of the law, but it pretty clearly isn't. It is hard to say what's really going on behind this.

One important point is that even if BVP is going against this opinion, I don't think RIDE has any obligation to do anything about it, so some political response will be necessary, but given that a lot of money is at stake and RIDE has already written the legal argument, that shouldn't be too hard.

On the other hand, maybe BVP has just decided they'll go along with RIDE's decision, but I kind of doubt it.

If they do decide to fight it, it should take them only a couple days to get affidavits from everyone associated with writing the bill explaining that their intent was to allow BVP's system, which would help fight RIDE's rather narrow textual argument based simply on "a lottery."

Also, if nobody pays any attention to the issue, it is easy to imagine the new state board approving charters representing two different interpretations of the law. Since everyone should be understanding how much money is at stake, I think people will manage to focus their attention this time around.

Tom Hoffman said...

After all that I still haven't answered your question clearly.

RIDE is saying that BVP conducts multiple lotteries insofar as they have separate drawings for each community, whereas the law only refers to "a lottery." Singular, not plural.

Tom Hoffman said...

Also, re-checking, they do specifically say "BVP uses this model," and RIDE unambiguously says "That model is illegal."