Members of the Cranston School Committee have so far not responded to allegations of wrongdoing brought by a parent alleging he was improperly denied the ability to see his child on school property.
Joshua Mello issued a formal “Letter Of Intent” to the the school committee and Cranston school department on April 12, advising that he would file a bond claim against their insurance certificate if they did not begin an investigation into alleged improper actions within three business days.
Mello alleges that staff at the George Peters Elementary School improperly removed him from an emergency care card, leading him to be denied the ability to pick up his child from the school on Sept. 6, 2019. The incident in turn led to a confrontation with Cranston police which resulted in Mello allegedly being assaulted before being arrested. Mello claims that there was no legal authority to remove his name from the care card.
The 2019 incident contributed to a subsequent incident on Oct. 21, 2021 at Western Hills Middle School, when Mello alleges he was again inappropriately kept from seeing his child on school grounds. Mello did provide The Ocean State Current with a copy of a court judgement, which clearly stated that he was authorized to care for his child, however he did not have the document on hand at the time of the 2021 incident.
Mello is demanding the school committee investigate the incidents that led to his improper removal from the care card and admit to wrongdoing. He is also demanding the committee work with parents and staff to prevent similar incidents from occurring again and to create a parents’ bill of rights.
Michael Crudale, chief human resource officer for Cranston’s schools, said the matter had been referred to the district’s insurance carrier and the district would not comment further, except to deny any wrongdoing.
Cranston’s policy on visitor access to school buildings, last amended in 2013, requires a parent or guardian entering a school in order to pick up or drop off a child to communicate with the main office prior to arriving at the school.
The policy warns that any visitor who fails to do so may be denied entry into the building.
Upon arrival, visitors are required to go directly to the main office in order to sign in. Failure to so say, per the policy, “may result in removal from the building.”
The district’s policy on complaints against school personnel, last amended in 2016, states “constructive criticism” of schools is welcome when motivated by a “sincere desire” to improve the quality of education and make schools more effective.
The policy also stipulates that when a complaint “is made directly to the school committee as a whole or to a school committee member as an individual, it shall be referred to the school administration for study and possible solutions.”
Further, when it “appears necessary” either the person who made the complaint, the school administration, or the employee involved may request the school committee meet for executive session “for the purpose of further study” and decision. The policy also states“[h]earsay and rumor shall be discounted as well as emotional feelings.”
As of the posting of this story, Mello had not yet filed the insurance certificate claim. Nor has the Cranston school committee clearly indicated whether or not it will investigate how a legal guardian of one if its students may have been improperly or even illegally removed from an authorized list to care for his own child.
Of the following two issues related to Rhode Island’s public schools, which one is a greater concern?