Letter to the Editor: Former SPPS Indian Education Supervisors speaks out
Thursday, August 07 2014
Written by Kathy Denman-Wilke,
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To the editor

I am writing concerned about the article on June 19 entitled, “American Indian parents demand changes in St. Paul School programs. It seems to me that the article was written with information from one source and that information was not checked for accuracy. As the former supervisor of the Indian Education program I have listed the inaccuracies that I am aware of and the documentary source to check them out.
Angie Thorn hill’s comment on “the JOM board is a governing body, where parents decide how Indian Education funding can be spend.” The JOM committee only is a governing body of the JOM funding and JOM program, which in 2012/2013 was approximately $24,000 of the full Indian Education budget.

Documentation: Margaret Vanderhoff, accountant at SPPS for budget figures. The contact person for JOM funding and guidelines is Billie Annette.
Angel Thornhill comment on “ Grants have not been in compliance for some time.” All grants have been in compliance which SPPS yearly Federal audits can support (St. Paul Public Schools can speak to this). SPPS has never received a non-compliance letter from any funders in my 13 years as a supervisor. In fact in our SFTF, Chemical Prevention (DHS) grant we were asked to speak at their conferences since they viewed the program as one of their exemplary programs. In addition, in 2013 the JOM program received an award for being the exemplary JOM program across the state, in which Angie, the JOM parent committee member and I accepted.

Another inaccuracy, “WhiteShield found was that some positions weren’t in line with any of the grants. They were piecemealed together.” As grants ran out of funding to support a staff, new grants were sought to offset the staff program. So, some staff were paid out of two or more funding streams. All staff during my tenure only did the work according to each grant and signed off as such with SPPS time and efforts as proof that they were spending their time on the grants into which they were assigned. We also each year shared a full budget and staff FTE with the parent committee and with the community in the yearly public hearing.

Documentation: Budget shared are filed within the IE files and Gail Lamson, business clerk

Time and Effort of Indian Education is filed with the SPPS office.

As far as evaluation of the program, each year a public hearing was held and documented. In my tenure two strategic plans took place in which parent committee, staff, parent and students all were in focus groups in developing it (we have all the document of this in the files/ they were funded by Otto Bremmer). We also did a yearly parent and student survey every three years

Documentation: Indian Education Files (Gail Lamson, Business Clerk), Kim Vanderwall was the individual consultant in charge of the plans. All public hearing are on file within the Indian Education office (also within the JOM office above). Parent and student surveys are on file within the Indian Education office.
“Thornhill was impressed … WhiteShield wanted to partner with different people in the community.” Indian Education has always partnered with all AI agencies within the community. If you go back to all our newsletter (which they have in their files and I have copies) we would list all of our partners within each newsletter. In fact we collaborated so widely at times it was hard to know what services we provided and what other agencies were in charge of, which speaks to the “heart” of true collaboration.

Documentation: Indian Education past newsletter.

Nicole Other Medicine states, “two social worker and one counselor position had been eliminated.” My understanding is that an EA, a Parent Intervention Specialist and a Lead Teacher (licensed as an AI culture and language teacher with the state) were let go due to reorganization. The Indian Education Counselor took advantage of reassignment herself and the Chemical Prevention Worker retired.
I am appalled that an article with so many inaccuracies was written by your paper and that time is not taken to check out what individuals are staying. These inaccuracies could possibly hurt the future Indian Education Program for competitive funding.

Kathy Denman Wilke

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