To set up a meeting, call your the local office of your top education official and say that you are a member of the community who would like to schedule a meeting for a group of local residents. The top education official may be a member of the school board, community college board, superintendent, or a sub-committee of the city council. For some areas that only have 1 or 2 schools, the Principal would also be a good person to reach out to.
They will ask you how many people you expect will attend the meeting --if it’s under 10, say the number in your group. If you anticipate that over 10 members of your group will attend, ask how many people they can accommodate in their conference room and go from there.
If the administrative scheduler asks, the topic you want to discuss at this meeting is “Adoption of the Blue Grizzlies Freedom School policies and rules to support and protect all students in our community.”
It may be the case that you can’t meet with the top education official. In these instances, ask to meet with the highest level staffer available to meet. Ask for the soonest possible appointment and then invite members of your group. Realize that not everyone from your group will be able to attend, whether it be for scheduling reasons or the size of the meeting space -- the most important thing is for some of you to attend this meeting and that sooner is better than later. A meeting at lunch time if available would be preferable, but you may just have to accept whatever time is offered.
Here’s what attending this meeting will entail: the day of the meeting, gather 20 minutes (or more) before your meeting time at a location near the office where the meeting will take place (this could be the building’s lobby). This ensures that you can show up all together and on time. Appoint a chief spokesperson who will be responsible for making a forceful ask during your meeting.
At the meeting, everyone should offer a brief personal introduction (name, neighborhood, and profession, if they wish). Then, the spokesperson will present the Freedom Schools nine model policies and rules for local education and ask where the education official stands on each one. You should also have an assigned note taker who will be responsible for recording the course of the conversation.
The goal of the meeting is to get the education official to tell you for each of the nine rules/policies if it is currently in place in your jurisdiction. Get a yes or no answer on each and every one of the policies. If the answer is yes, you’ll want to follow up and confirm that this policy is in writing. If the answer is no, ask whether the superintendent, school board member, community college board member, city council member, etc. would support it (again, yes or no).
Be polite and cordial, but persistent. Your local official may be evasive. Ask as many times as you have to in order to get a clear yes or no, and don’t hesitate to call out evasiveness if you see it.
Don’t get into arguments about the substance of the rules – it’s not your responsibility to explain or defend the nitty gritty details of these policies. Your education officials can always contact us at BlueGrizzlies.com if they want to talk to a policy or legal expert. It’s your job to make it clear that these policies are what the community wants, and that you will work to ensure they’re adopted.
Thank the official or officials who met with you and let them know that you will be reporting their replies back to the Blue Grizzlies.
After the meeting, make sure someone in your group is responsible for filling out the report back form about the results of your meeting.
You can access that form here.