Students 'Held Back' at Peck Place Raises Questions About Education

More than 10 percent of first graders at Peck Place will not go on to second grade next year


Six first grade students at Peck Place School are not going on to second grade next year and members of the Orange Board of Education want to know why.

During a discussion about class sizes and predictions for the upcoming school year, Superintendent of Schools Lynn McMullin said that of the 58 children in first grade at Peck Place, six are going to be retained, or held back.

Eight kindergarten students will also be held back at Mary L. Tracy School. Four were expected to attend at Race Brook School and four at Peck Place.

"As a board, we are concerned with staffing and the budget, but also at issue is this significant number of retentions. Why? That's a lot of kids," said board chairperson Jeanne Consiglio.

Protocol requires teachers to let the school principal know by February 15 if there is a concern with a student's retention. By April 15, parents are told.

Board member Bill Kraut said, "Someone's not doing their job. I don't care about the budget, I care about the kids. I want to find out now what happened."

Fellow board member Bobby Ricciardi said the statistics were 'absolutely unacceptable.'

"I agree that the numbers are high," McMullin said. "We need to reexamine the reporting policy and take a good look at the situation."

The lack of students moving on meant smaller class sizes at both Peck Place and Race Brook and the possible layoff of two teachers. At last night's meeting, McMullin described a plan to keep at least one of the teachers on staff, but perhaps not in the position she or he currently occupies.

"It's a plan for the good of the district and can result in the savings of one of the positions," she explained. "I'd like to return the district to staff three math/science curriculum coordinators. The addition would need to be hired from the existing Orange staff." McMullin plans to advertise for the position soon.

Meanwhile, the board of education expects an answer to the question, 'How could so many students at one grade level be retained?' at the June board meeting.



Sansone May 15, 2012 at 08:53 PM
I held my second child because he was born three months early and had a fall birthday. He's doing beautifully now. I wish I held my first born who struggles to keep up. Parents ultimately have to do what is best for their child and being in the Orange School system for this many years with a struggling child I know they don't take "holding a child back" lightly in any of our schools. I'm sure the teachers at MLT held those kids because it was necessary. I agree with so many others, it's a large number, but you can't pass judgements (red shirting and such) until you know all of the facts of each child's situation. On the topic of the state's policy of age, why do we want our children to rush off to school at such an early age? If a parent thinks they will benefit from an extra year, they are probably right!
Judy Johnson May 16, 2012 at 01:26 AM
(Meanwhile, the board of education expects an answer to the question, 'How could so many students at one grade level be retained?' at the June board meeting.) I sure would like to know that answer myself.. When a children is having a hard time in school are the parents told about it and to come into the school and talk to the Teacher? I'm 66 and years ago my Mother was called to the School to talk it over with the Teacher... But I have to say back then we had teachers not like today that are just looking for a pay check every Friday!!!!. How I can see it know but it's true. Come on 6 first graders and also 8 from Mary L Tracy Kindergarten not even looking at the other school. I have one Granddaughter didn't start Kindergarten until she was 6 cause her birthday was in Feb. and the other is in Oct. and she start at 5 years old and both are doing Great. If you feel like your child can't start when he or she is 5 yrs old don't send them hold them back in preschool for that one year. A very good friends daughter did just that and he is doing great. the board of education expects an answer to the question, 'How could so many students at one grade level be retained?' at the June board meeting.) I would love to hear the answer from the Teachers!!!
Orange parent May 16, 2012 at 11:56 AM
I agree with Terri. I know every child is different, but red shirting is getting out of hand. Why don't we just raise the Kindergarten age to 6? The problem is, then some parents would then hold their kids until seven. I don't know what the answer is, but it's something the BOE, teachers and parents will have to work out together somehow.
PPS Orange mom May 17, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Not for anything but if parents would listen to their child's teacher and principal at MLT when it is recommended they be retained we may not have this problem..We all know that parents have the last say in whether or not kids are retained...but when they are pushed along to first grade because it is FULL day and not 3/4day then eventually the struggles in school will catch up to them..hence...first grade retention
mmcc May 17, 2012 at 02:46 PM
as a parent of five. my first three started when they were four. they did fine, but looking back i wish i held them back.i think it would have made a world of difference. my last one, who is now in second grade, may birthday, and two months early i did hold back. his teacher in kindergarten said he would be fine but as first grade got underway, i knew this was a two year grade. i kept him with his teacher who knew how he was and he was used to her. BEST decision ever!! it was him not his teacher ,it's just the way it is. better to stay back than struggle in the next grade and both of you being unhappy.
Orange Mom May 17, 2012 at 11:22 PM
As an Orange mom of three I was shocked to read that Peck is having such a high retainment in first grade. Perhaps one reason this is happening is due to the subpar Principal at Peck. I know I'm not the only one celebrating DeCantes retirement. His wishy washy personality and lack of knowledge of what is happening in his classrooms has affected my family and I know we are not the only ones. One can hope the next Principal at Peck will be an actual leader and not just a figure head. I don't blame the childs ages, parents, or teachers I am looking at the lack of a cheif in a school of Indians.
Greg May 19, 2012 at 05:21 AM
Susan I don't know where it went, but a few days ago Terri reposted your comment with a note saying that it was yours but it contained a teachers' name. She didn't want to stifle you so she put it up without the teacher name. Somehow things got messed up so it looked like your comment was hers. All of us who have known her for the past 15 years know that she dosnt write in your style and that there was no way it was her comment. She was trying to do right by you.
Greg May 19, 2012 at 05:24 AM
I am saddened by the way a few people in this thread have acted.
Greg May 21, 2012 at 05:27 AM
Terri reposted your entire comment without the mention of the teacher at Peck, but someone deleted the part with a disclaimer stating that the comment was yours. What was left made it look like she posted the comment as her own. The company erased Terri's profile so now there is no evidence of the truth. This is what snowballed into her firing, trying to give you a voice but taking out the teacher's name.
Orange Mom May 22, 2012 at 11:57 AM
Maybe the town needs more money and resources spent on education not less. These 8 children are still in the school system, why would teachers lose their jobs... If these kids were not at grade level did they receive the help they needed? There is so much more information on why each child was held back we just don't know.
Sharon May 22, 2012 at 02:20 PM
I completely agree!! My daughters went through Peck, luckily under the prior principal, and the school was exceedingly well run and was even designated as a "Blue Ribbon" school under his leadership. I have other relatives in Peck now, and leadership is sorely missing! During assemblies, school concerts, etc. the kids are not respectful and attentive, they are disorderly, and DeCant seems to lack the ability or desire to control them. Parent involvement borders on apathy; perhaps their input and assistance isn't as appreciated and relied upon as it once was? In any event, I'm hoping they get the right person to replace DeCant, and Peck can be restored to the "Blue Ribbon"-worthy environment it once was!
Concerned Resident May 23, 2012 at 02:38 PM
I am a teacher in a different district and mother of children in the Orange Schools. I agree with the people who wrote that age wasn't mentioned in the article. People assume it is age, but many children are born in the fall and do just fine in school. Those children being retained might have birthdays in January for all we know. They could be the oldest in the grade. What is being done to remediate those children when they start to fall behind? I think Orange needs to take a look at how they are using assessments and what remediation is given to students when they aren't meeting grade level expectations. Research shows that retention doesn't usually work. I am sure there are readers out there that will say it worked for their child. That is great if it did! Unfortunately, there are more students that we don't often hear about that it didn't work for. There are so many factors which cause a child to fall behind. Our teachers in Orange need more training on research based targeted interventions to catch them before they fall. The research also states that if a child is not on grade level by 3rd grade they have a higher chance of never catching up. No parent wants their child to struggle or fall behind. We can't just blame the teachers. Why would we cut teachers and make class sizes larger? Keep class sizes small and catch struggling kids early, stop behavior problems and enrich those students who are above. We need to meet the needs of all students!
Amity Resident May 23, 2012 at 06:04 PM
What do the parents of these SPECIFIC children think....
jaohnson12@aol.com May 24, 2012 at 02:00 AM
You said: (Many parents of children who are teachers understand the stress of sending them too young and defer them. Maybe they have it right) Maybe as a parent your wrong if you don't think your Child or Children are ready for Kindergarden then you just hold them back in preschool you do have the right to do, Maybe it's not the Teacher is the Parent!!(Or don't you know that)
Denise Gambino Halstead May 24, 2012 at 01:00 PM
I felt my daughter was quite ready and did not want to hold her back. It was my physician who said, "do you want your child going to college at 17?" Made me think that with all the presure around, let them be kids abit longer. It is the child that should be considered in situations. Not sure why you are criticizing me! I am just stating my beliefs and have seen many parents push their child too early and it hurts in the long run. The parents who are teachers and have children with late birthday, defer just like I did. I do not regret my decision and see the "immature children" that are in the same grade. I hope these kids can keep up!
Over 40 years of this May 24, 2012 at 11:08 PM
Orange Mom, First if you are going to point fingers spell the Principals name correctly, and have the courage to state your opinion to Mr. deCant's face and not hide behind a written response. Second the teachers in first grade at peck were here long before Mr. deCant was a Principal at Peck Place. It is a Mother like you who wraps their kid in cotton and blames everyone else for their own problems. See below
Over 40 years of this May 24, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Let me list a few possible reasons for retention. Since your grammar and spelling suck let me spell it out for you: Parents send their kids to MLT hoping they will make it through the school year and mature with a late birthday, or perhaps they are looking for day care and go in with the idea that they will retain their kids anyway. Then there are the parents who send their kids to first grade because they need a full day of school so they can work(it's understood that many families need two incomes however they need to foot the bill for appropriate daycare for their children). Many families with older siblings are raising the younger kids and parents are too tired at the end of the day to go over the children's school work or read to them nightly. Then there are the Project Choice kids who come with a host of issues for possible retention, add in the language barrier for all the other ethnic groups moving into town. Look at all the parents that refuse to see their child for what they are for their own insecurities and appearances who don't accept what the teachers are telling them about their kids. Some kids have things going on at home that cause them to be distracted and unable to pay attention at school. Learning disabilities are beginning to be detected, or ADD/ADHD. I can only say to you before you rattle off and blame everyone else get the facts. Maybe you should have been retained according to your response you have the emotional IQ of a toddler.
Barbara T. May 25, 2012 at 01:23 AM
To Over 40 years of this Your remarks to Orange Mom is a disgrace. I wonder why Patch did not remove your comment. You really don't know it all either.
Judy Johnson May 25, 2012 at 02:04 AM
Over 40 years of this You have a brain as a pea. You must be a Teacher!! You only work as a teacher for a pay check not to help the kids. Years ago you could call a teacher a real teacher teching kids not just for the money and all the sick day that you get... So get off your high horse ladies.. (Mom from Orange is right) This day and age teachers or not teacher!!!
orange mom May 25, 2012 at 02:07 AM
My family moved to Orange when my child was in the middle of kindergarten. She did not have a smooth transition (kids were vere mean and excluded her from their groups, and the curiculum was oposite. She was young and small for her grade. I called a PPT to discuss retention because I saw that she clearly needed a fresh start and some extra time. I was told by MLT that while she was an excellent candidate for retention, they felt that she should move forward - being a girl she would grow alot over the summer. After 2 weeks of first grade her teacher informed me that she was a "baby" still and should go back to MLT. That was not going to happen! She spent a miserable year trying to get by in a class where she was not accepted! This had a huge impact on her self-esteem! I did everything that I could for my child and was not looking for free day care and I was not "red shirting". I continue to be shocked by the way that people in this town are so willing to judge other kids and their parents. My child was read to from the day that she was born. Her acedemic skills were within range-it was just not coming together and it did not help that because she was a kid that didn't fit the mold, she was treated like an outsider. Where was the anti-bullying prevention then?
orange mom May 25, 2012 at 02:13 AM
Sorry to the other Orange mom. We use the same name. I've had it for a while and will try to change it.
Barbara T. May 25, 2012 at 02:29 AM
How sad that is. That poor child. Thank goodness our parents raised us that know one was better then anyone else. As we went on with our life and had children it was a good lesson to teach our own. We had the best parents anyone could ask for and I am sure you are a great parent as well. I hope your daughter is doing fine.
orange mom May 25, 2012 at 02:41 AM
Thank you Barbara. I have used this as a way of teaching my kids to treat others with kindness and respect. God knows, they know what it looks and feels like to be ignored and insulted because of my one childs experiences. They all felt her pain. They know what it is to not be accepted. They don't ever wish that on any other person.
Orange Mom 2 May 25, 2012 at 02:53 AM
I am NOT hiding behind this thread. I did tell Decant to his face. Also I have a lot of friends in this town and after talking to several people I know I'm not alone in my opinion that a lot of problems at Peck stem from his lack of involvement within the classroom. My child has an IEP and my family was harshley mistreated.
orange mom May 25, 2012 at 03:00 AM
@ Orange Mom 2-many families of kids in Orange whose children have IEP's are mistreated. If the child does not fit the mold, no matter how smart they may be, all bets are off. It's really sad, but very true.
Barbara T. May 25, 2012 at 03:13 AM
That is so true. And I commend you for raising your children the way you are. As most parents should. Every child should be treated with the upmost respect. We send our children to school to learn not to be tormented by other's. The teacher should of seen what was going on in her class and put an end to it right away. Why wasn't she taken notice of this?.
Over 40 years of this May 25, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Okay, so what does your situation and child's IEP have to do with the children being retained and/or Mr. deCant? This has become a sounding board for unhappy parents and some have gone off topic. Each situation for retention is different and unique. A greater percentage of students have excelled beyond teachers expectations at Peck and the other schools in town. Teachers are doing their jobs! By the way I am not a teacher but a stay at home Mom to 3 that have gone through Peck one of whom has an IEP.
orange mom May 25, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Orange schools tend to not teach well to all students. If students are outside of the narrow expectations (social, emotional, acedemic) they are apt to be treated differently by other students and teachers. It's very hard on a child and their family, That can prompt some parents to want to give their child an extra year to mature. If Orange is concerned by this reality, they need to do a much better job of teaching all students. They need to embrace all children and encourage them to try their best...that it will all fall into place. It's really quite simple - especially with such small class sizes. Until then, we'll have a high retention rate.
orange mom May 25, 2012 at 03:40 PM
I must add that my children are currently high performing students - it's about so much more than that.


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