Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Ward Family: "We will never be the same"

I was listening to another mother tell her story and my heart goes out to her and her family.  Thank you God, I am so relieved to hear her case was dismissed.  She was able to hire an attorney ... anyone who hires a real defense attorney will have this nightmare squashed from the start.

That is great for those families that can afford an attorney. However, families like mine that cannot afford a real defense attorney are in serious trouble at the mercy of unconcerned public defenders.

Her ordeal lasted several weeks and ours lasted 6 months.  Here is our story.

My family was trapped in this truancy nightmare for 6 months while I was trying to heal from 3 surgeries.  We were finally dismissed without diversion/monitoring after a second judge stepped in and much pressure was put on the people in the court system trying to make a case against me.
They never had one bit of proof that supported their charges of neglect and abuse.

My sons are deeply loved and very well cared for aside from us living in extreme poverty:  $500.00 a month for a family of four... that is extreme poverty.  Poverty does not automatically make a bad parent.  I am a very good, concerned and involved parent. My oldest son is on Honor Roll, a Varsity Football Player since his Freshman year, 3.5 GPA, Leader in Greatness Academy, plays guitar and tuba, and he excels at everything he does and he has been a leader amongst his peers since he was 5 years old. I have extraordinary children!

They threatened to take my 10-year-old son from me whose education never suffered even though he missed a lot of days of school since kindergarten. He has a chronic illness, asthma/allergies, and catches every "bug virus" that comes to the school.

The dates used in the petition against me.. lots was going on in our family during this time... the court chose to try and take my child from me based on events out of our control and ignoring all my communications with the schools:

I almost died last September of complications and I was literally on my death bed.  My sons missed some days of school because they did not know if I would be alive when they got home. My family lost 2 family members back to back in December 2011, my oldest was suffering with Mono during this time and my other son was sick with asthma and allergies. All this time I had constant and frequent communications with my sons' principals and teachers.  Education never suffered for my sons... never!

The stress, anxiety, and thousands of tears we shed, worrying for many months that I was going to lose my son.  Pete Pirsch was appointed Guardian Ad Litem over him and threatened us that he had the power to take my son away from me, but he had no evidence to do so. He would try to suddenly pop in on us at home on holidays, on Sundays without an appointment and that is not acceptable.  He was supposed to make appointments but when we made them he never showed up! Leaving us waiting for many hours... no phone call, no reschedule, just pure anxiety and stress on my family.

My son, crying and afraid, started asking to learn the city map so when they did remove him
from my home, this brave 10 year old was thinking of how he would escape and find his way back home.  That still breaks my heart... he also cried out that he
wished he was never born or could be born again without his illness to keep the cops away from our family... this is not a normal part of a healthy childhood.  The state put us through all of this drama, damaged my family and we are still trying to pick up the pieces.
 
The fear that is now deep inside is indescribable.  Every car door that slams, every unexpected knock on our door sparks anxiety.  This is not right! How do you restore trust and safety to a child dragged through a mess like this?

This is a very happy, confident, friendly, kind and considerate child who never thought anything negative about his disability or his chronic illness. All of his life was turned upside down and I could not do enough to reassure him that he was safe and no one was taking him away from me. How does this help education? It does not help anything.

My precious son now suffers from a stress/anxiety disorder he never ever had before the courts threatened us for half a year that he was going to be taken away from his family... He was only 10 years old, a Special Education child, and I am still very upset that this has changed our lives forever and made so many negative impacts on us.

I refused to take him into a court room filled with judges and attorneys, when I had no idea why all of these false accusations were ever made against me. I was not found to be abusing or neglecting my son, nor was I guilty of failing to educate him and feed him... but all of this was on legal documents served to my home by a Sheriff on my son's official day off from school.

My son actually graduated out of Special Education in May 2012 and he passed every subject.  His education never suffered and his attendance record never had even one day of truancy!  He is an over achiever!

We are now a Home School Family because the state tried to take my son again even after we were a certified home school.  Home School is the only option I have to safely raise my son with chronic illness because of this horrible truancy law.
 
The law is not cleared up...families are not safe.  This law was created to make money for those in the system, not to find truant students.  
 
Parents need to know to fight for their family... don't cave to diversion/monitoring because this is where CPS can get a foot in the door of your home and find a way to take your child away from you.

This entire truancy thing is about money. Butts in seats equals check in hand for OPS and these referrals have created lots of paid positions for people involved with the schools and the court system. It does not improve the attendance of that innocent child... it causes stress, anxiety and issues that parents would never dream of.

I had a lousy court appointed attorney who never defended us. I had to work around her. She blocked me from being present at hearings that I was legally allowed to attend. She went behind closed doors with Prosecutors and Judges without presenting my evidence and without me present. The law states if I were in jail at the time these hearing were held,  I would be brought from the jail cell to be present at these hearings. I am a FREE WOMAN and I was NOT ALLOWED
BY MY Court Appointed Attorney to be present to hear what was being said and determined about my family.  That has got to end!

I found Family Advocacy Movement and Nebraska Family Forum and we had to find private attorneys to coach me how to handle this trap set up by the G.O.A.L.S. Program and Tim Hamilton at OPS. These folks attacked me because I refused to participate in the GOALS Program and I refused to roll over and take monitoring and diversion for my second child.
 
My oldest son who had mono was forced into truancy diversion because my only options at that time in mass court were to tell it to the Judge or take diversion.  I didn't want either-- we were never truant!  Two officers came very close to me and we were forced to take the diversion. That was later cancelled in July 2012 along with my younger son's case being dismissed at the same time.

State Senator Ernie Chambers and Commissioner Mary Ann Borgeson and Principal Riggs from South High School came to our side and fought with us to get Don Kleine and Jordan Boler from the County Attorney's office to back off my family and get my oldest son out of truancy diversion because he was sick with Mono, which runs 6 months of illness through your body. All excused absences... again, not one truant day.

Principal Greg Eversol from Chandler View Elementary School  knew my family for over 8 years and he hid behind the skirt of Tim Hamilton from OPS Administration, even though Principal E. had a very very close relationship with both of my sons.  He did not even attempt to stand up for his student that he knew was not ever in danger, never abused and never neglected by me or anyone.
 
That loss for my son was the most painful impact my son suffered.  That principal was his main male role model outside of our family and friends and that relationship was shattered completely.
 
My 10-year-old son told me, "Mom, call Mr. Eversol.  He loves me and he'll help us."  I'll never forget the look on his face when he heard his principal on the speaker phone refusing to help him because OPS administration told him not to get involved.  It was probably the worst moment in the whole six months of awful moments.

Parents need to fight and demand a trial or a hearing so the truth can come out... but just like my case, when the courts don't have evidence, they will dismiss the case so the parents can never tell their truth in a trial.  After months of persecuting us for no reason.  Wasting lives and money and time for everyone... but those paychecks are real and they are the real problem.

The schools and court system cast a huge net to bring over 10,000 families who would never ever be in the court system into the court system based on lies and false allegations and false accusations of neglect and abuse.

Good families are in trouble if they don't know how to fight this. You have to fight this and don't ever let those GOALS People in your home! They are NOT Voluntary and as soon as you choose to not voluntarily participate, that is when the referral is made for you to be pursued by the court system.
Such a Scary Shame!

I am now a Family Advocate with FAM, working to help educate parents on their right to fight and protect their family in a way that will release them from this horrible trap of lies. We are still in pain, still suffering from all the negative impacts of surviving this nightmare and still trying to put our household back together... we will never be the same.

I am very grateful and deeply thankful to each and every person who stepped up to help our family! We have been blessed by Earth Angels and brave parents who have shared their heart breaking stories with us all. Thank you for fighting for your family and together I know we can help abolish this truancy law in Nebraska... to make families safe once again.

From My Heart,
 
Tonya Ward

Friday, May 18, 2012

Parents must be involved in the governance of their local school districts

The Nebraska Family Forum has the simple mission of protecting the local control of education and the precious constitutional rights of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children.

It was our goal to restore local control over school attendance and promote district policies that would prevent innocent families from becoming entangled in the burdensome monitoring and intrusions of pre-court truancy diversion programs, DHHS, and legal action.

We fought hard during this year’s legislative session to restore local control over school attendance, but there will be no significant changes in the coming school year if parents don't hold their school districts accountable for using common sense in their attendance policies and reflecting the strong family values of our local communities.

Parents must be involved in the governance of their local school districts! “Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty.” If parents are going to retain their precious constitutional rights, to direct the upbringing and education of their children, they absolutely must be involved; not just in their kid’s classroom but in the politics and policy making of their school districts.

Many school board members are up for re-election, a new superintendent is being put in place in OPS, and it’s time for parents reach out to the candidates and find out what philosophies about family life and school drive their decision making.

Gretna School District Policy has been a model for me, one that reflects the general values of our family centered state. It recognizes family life as a bedrock of child development and allows reasonable family travel to be excused. Gretna continues to recognize and trust the judgment of their school building principals as the ones most qualified to judge whether an absence is legitimate or not based on their first hand knowledge of the families and their students.

Nebraskans are people who believe in freedom, who know it is essential to trust parents to raise their families without the heavy handed scrutiny of government intervention. We want our community schools to be places where common sense can be exercised by building principals who work closely with parents and students.

--------------------------------------------------

Things excused under Gretna Policy:
(1) Illness (personal illness of student)
(2) Bereavement or emergency in the family
(3) Doctor or dental appointment which require student to be absent from school,
(4) Court appearances that are required by a court order,
(5) School sponsored activities which require students to be absent from school,
(6) Family trips in which student accompanies parent(s)/legal guardian(s),
(7) Religious observance,
(8) Other absences which have received prior approval from the Principal.28

Thursday, May 17, 2012

NCCPR Report: Truancy Sidebar


When keeping a sick child home from school is a crime
AUTHORITIES SAY THEY NEED A “HAMMER” TO DEAL WITH “EXCESSIVE” ABSENSES. 
BUT A SICK CHILD IS NOT A NAIL.

            In August of 2011, more than 20 families were forced to gather at the Douglas County Courthouse for an exercise in mass humiliation that sounds like something out of the 17th Century.
            One-by-one the families, parents and children, were called to the front of the room to be publicly cross-examined by a deputy county attorney.
            Their crime – and, in Nebraska, it’s literally a crime: During the previous school year, the children had been home sick from school for more than 20 days.
            One family was struggling with cancer, two had children with mono.  Another was trying to cope with the deaths of his mother, sister and uncle.
            The Omaha World-Herald described the process:

One-by-one over the course of two hours, the families were called to the front of the room. [Mary] Reynolds-East and her husband [whose son had suffered from mono and strep throat] were next to last.
Deputy Douglas County Attorney Jordan Boler told them they were called in because their son had missed more than 20 days for two years in a row. "That's a lot," she said.
Boler asked whether the couple had done something to prevent their son from getting sick again this year — a question that frustrated Reynolds-East. "There's not much we can do," she said later. "Give him vitamin C?"[1]

            If the family can’t somehow come up with a cure for strep throat and other diseases this year, they could face a lot worse than humiliation.
            In a bizarre move, apparently unheard-of in any other state and diametrically opposed to what national experts consider best practice, Nebraska has erased the distinction between an excused and unexcused absence from school. The very term “truancy” was replaced by “excessive absences.”
            Any student absent for more than 20 days, for any reason, automatically is referred to the county attorney, who then has the option to prosecute the child, or charge the parents with “educational neglect” and take the child from them.
            The percentage of Nebraska families likely to be affected ultimately will be significant.  In just one year, Nebraska schools referred 9,178 students to county attorneys as a result of the 20-day law.[2]  That’s about three percent of Nebraska’s students in just one year.[3] Over the course of the 12 years that a child typically is in school, just think of how many families will experience at least one year where some combination of illness and family emergency might push them over the 20-day limit.
            Authorities keep saying they won’t really take away children or do anything similarly drastic in cases where all or most of the absences are “excused.”
            But the World-Herald reports that KVC, the “lead agency” serving southeast Nebraska (in effect, the equivalent of DHHS in that part of the state) says the number of families under their supervision because of school issues has quadrupled since the new law took effect. The story doesn’t say how many, if any, are in foster care.  But it does note that KVC itself wasn’t expecting this:

            Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez, president of KVC's Nebraska operations, said she was surprised at the numbers. In other states where she has worked, truancy is an issue handled by schools, not the juvenile court system, she said. [4] 

            In some parts of the state, it doesn’t take 20 absences to bring DHHS into a family’s life.  In 11 school districts in Douglas and Sarpy counties, as few as six absences leads to a referral to an intervention “team” that includes DHHS.
            Even the threat is doing enormous harm to families.  A child abuse investigation – and when DHHS is involved, that’s what it is – is not a benign act.  Taking a child aside and asking questions about the most intimate aspects of her or his life, even in private, let alone as part of a public shaming, can do serious emotional damage.  And once DHHS is involved for one reason, it can go on the ultimate fishing expedition looking for other alleged “abuse” or “neglect.”
            During the mass humiliation session in last August “one elementary-age girl clung to her mother, who explained the girl was terrified about what might happen to her. Illnesses had put the child over the 20 day mark.”[5]
            Twelve-year-old Kylie Johnson also is under surveillance by a county attorney.  A combination of illnesses, family trips, and being a victim of bullying pushed her one day over the legal limit for absences.  The fact that she still gets As and Bs doesn’t matter.  “They put me under the impression I did something terribly wrong,” Johnson told a legislative hearing.[6]
            All that stress is bound to affect schoolwork.  Beth Meyer of Lincoln, whose daughter missed 22 days of school because of illness, told the hearing “You’re taking my child, who is legitimately sick, through the court system and taking her from an A and B student to an F student.”[7]
            Older students have another option.  A 16-year-old who had endured years of stress in her life managed to reduce her absences from 40 in one semester to only three the next.  But instead of praise, she was blasted in open court by a county attorney because she didn’t get her absences down to zero.  He recommended juvenile detention – jail.  Fortunately, the judge did not agree.
            But rather than face any more torment from the system, the 16-year-old did the one thing still within her power: With only two math classes left before graduation, she dropped out.[8]
            Proponents of the law argue that it’s working – attendance is up.  But the fact that more students are in school does not mean that more students are getting an education.
            One parent sent her child to school with a fever of over 100 degrees – because she was terrified of exceeding the limit on absences.[9]  That’s not unusual, according to Dr. Lisa Whitcomb, a pediatrician at Methodist Physicians Clinic in Omaha:

            I see parents sending their children to school ill because they’re afraid they have missed too many days of school.  This is concerning both for the child and their classmates that might be getting exposed to infectious diseases. …  I have seen good parents taken to court over what seem to be to be legitimate absences.  I have one patient in particular who has been taken to court twice.  Mom also has been threatened with CPS for the absences of her child, who has recurrent illnesses and does well in school despite her absences.

            All of this is contrary to best practice in child welfare and juvenile justice.  In 2009, one of the nation’s leading child welfare and juvenile justice think tanks, the Vera Institute of Justice found that roughly half the states don’t even have “educational neglect” statutes – they leave it to the schools.
The study was commissioned by the New York State agency that oversees county child protective services agencies (CPS is a county function in New York).  In it, the Institute recommended that if agencies like DHHS are not going to get out of educational neglect cases entirely, at least for older children, they should restrict the cases with which they get involved and reduce their role to offering genuinely voluntary help through a process called “differential response.”  The study also cited a series of better options for dealing with actual truancy.[10]
            But in Nebraska, Judge Elizabeth Crnkovich reportedly said the law is needed as a “hammer” to get families to cooperate with the “help” she and others want to offer.  If she said that, it reveals the same appalling lack of knowledge of child development she displayed when she tore seven children in a “safe haven” family from the loving aunt who took them in because the aunt had not yet had time to buy each a separate bed and, yes, had not yet had time to enroll them in school (see p. xx).
            A higher court judge understands this.  According to the World-Herald:

Nebraska Chief Justice Michael Heavican to warn that courts are the "most expensive and least flexible" way to deal with truancy.  He said courts should be reserved for the most difficult and unresponsive truants, while others should be handled through school interventions and court diversion.[11]

But even a diversion program causes tremendous needless stress when there is nothing to divert. 
A “hammer” is not necessary to deal with a sick child because a sick child is not a nail.  Neither is a child whose only crime is to have been a victim of bullies.
            That’s what happened to Victoria Herrera’s daughter.  Two years of torment for one of the very few Latino students in the Millard Public Schools[12] culminated toward the end of her third grade year when several classmates beat her with sticks on her way home from school. 
            When the school refused to protect her child (not our problem, said the school district, it happened on the way home) Ms. Herrera withdrew her child for the last 24 days with the intention of home schooling her.
            With a new principal at the school the next fall, Ms. Herrera decided to give the school another chance.  But her daughter was placed in the same class as one of the worst of the bullies – and Ms. Herrera was told she and her daughter were being referred to the county attorney for “truancy.”
            On the day of the first court hearing, her daughter was assaulted again, by another student, this time in the school.  But again, the school did nothing.  Well, not quite nothing: The principal kept the fourth grader in the office for three hours until she “admitted” the assault was an “accident.”
            DHHS was called in to investigate – no, not the people who bullied Herrera, but rather Herrera’s mother. To her face, they told Ms. Herrera that clearly this was not a case of neglect.  Between that and her own lawyer saying she should just plead guilty, she agreed to jump through all their hoops.  Then the DHHS workers said exactly the opposite to the court – which promptly gave DHHS legal custody of the girl, though she was allowed to remain in her own home, under the constant surveillance of DHHS.
            The ordeal ended only when the “guardian ad litem” named to represent the child’s best interests actually did just that.  She recommended that the case be dismissed. The child is being home-schooled.[13]
            State Sen. Tony Fulton has proposed a simple, sensible solution for all this: His legislation, LB1165, actually would reduce the number of absences before school districts are required to intervene – but he would restore the distinction between an excused and an unexcused absence, and leave it to the discretion of the school district whether to refer the matter to the county attorney.[14] 
If anything this law does not go far enough.  Nebraska should join the states that do not consider so-called “educational neglect” to be any of child protective services’ business.  School districts should be prohibited from involving DHHS in cases of either “excessive absences” or truancy.
________

And finally, one last item about that public humiliation session at the Douglas County courthouse last August: In order to attend the session, some of the children had to miss school.



[1] Martha Stoddard, “Parents chafe at truancy oversight,” Omaha World-Herald, Oct. 2, 2011, http://www.omaha.com/article/20111002/NEWS01/710029910
[2] Martha Stoddard, “Nebraska goes own way on truancy laws,” Omaha World-Herald, Oct. 2, 2011. http://www.omaha.com/article/20111002/NEWS01/710029894/197#nebraska-goes-own-way-on-truancy-laws
[3]Proximityone.com: Characteristics of K-12 Schools & Enrollment by State,  http://proximityone.com/k12_state.htm
[4] Stoddard, note xx (second story) supra.
[5] Stoddard, note xx, supra.
[6] Martha Stoddard, “Truancy law has many on edge,” Omaha World-Herald  Feb. 14, 2012.
[7] Christine Scalora, “Parents, students criticize truancy law,” Nebraska News Service, Feb. 14, 2012.

[8] Nebraska Family Forum, The Gdowski Family: The intended target,  Oct. 20, 2011:  http://www.nebraskafamilyforum.org/2011/10/gdowski-family-story-failed-truancy.html

[9] Nebraska Family Forum, The Myles Family: Truancy Diversion for Sick Kids? Jan. 3, 2012: http://www.nebraskafamilyforum.org/2012/01/myles-family-truancy-diversion-for-sick.html
[10] Jessica Gunderson, et.al, Rethinking Educational Neglect for Teenagers: New Strategies for New York State, (New York: Vera Institute of Justice, Nov. 2009): http://www.vera.org/files/Rethinking%20Educational%20Neglect.pdf
[11] Stoddard, note xx (second story) supra.
[12] Only three percent of school district residents under age 18 are Latino (National Center for Education Statistics, School District Demographics System, Race and Ethnicity 2000 Data (P.L.94-171) - Profile Data http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/sdds/ethnicityone.asp?county1=3173740&state1=31
[13] Nebraska Family Forum, The Herrera Family: Is the law working? Feb. 1, 2012. http://www.nebraskafamilyforum.org/2012/02/herrera-family-is-law-working.html

Thursday, April 12, 2012

LB 933 Signed by the Governor: April 06, 2012

The governor signed into law a hard fought compromise on Nebraska Truancy on April 6th, 2012. The change will hopefully improve the triage of truancy filings to the county attorney and prevent students with excused absences from the routine filing for truancy at 20 days.

The change will take time to prove its effectiveness. I believe its critical that school boards across the state call for a review of school district attendance policy before the start of school next year. With the changes to the truancy law this year, just one unexcused day (if combined with 19 excused absences) will still result in a mandatory filing at the county attorney's office. While most students in Nebraska never get close to 20 absences, kids with serious ongoing illness and other special needs could still be vulnerable under Nebraska's truancy law in districts with highly aggressive attendance policies.

In some districts a student who takes an extra couple days of family travel during the school year or misses school for competitive gymnastics or other highly competitive sports will accrue UNEXCUSED absences and could likely fall under the jurisdiction of law enforcement because no longer are these absence recognized as legitimate.

I encourage School Boards to implement attendance policies that honor family time and parental authority. The Gretna School District policy as a model worth emulating.

Gretna School District Policy:

All absences, except for illness and/or death in the family, require advance approval.

An absence for any of the following reasons will be excused, provided the required procedures have been followed:

(1) Illness (personal Illness of the student)
(2) Bereavement or emergency in the family
(3) Doctor or dental appointment which require student to be absent from school
(4) Court appearances that are required by a court order
(5) School sponsored activities which require students to be absent from school
(6) Family trips in which student accompanies parents/legal guardians
(7) Religious observance
(8) Other absences which have received prior approval from the Principal

LB 933 final passage:

Voting in the affirmative, 46


Adams, Cornett, Harms, Lautenbaugh, Schilz, Ashford, Council Harr, B. Louden Schumacher, Avery Dubas, Heidemann, McCoy, Smith, Bloomfield, Fischer, Howard, McGill, Sullivan, Brasch, Flood Janssen, Mello, Wallman, Campbell, Fulton, Karpisek, Nelson, Wightman, Carlson, Gloor, Lambert,           Nordquist, Christensen, Haar, K. Langemeier, Pahls, Coash, Hadley, Larson, Pirsch, Conrad, Hansen,             Lathrop, Price

Voting in the negative, 0

Excused and not voting, 3

Cook, Krist, Seiler

Millard Residents: It's Time to Act

Plan to attend the Millard School Board Meeting Monday!!

Monday, April 16th @ 6 pm
Don Stroh Administration Center
5606 SOUTH 147th STREET, Omaha, NE

It's time to ask our board to call for a review of school district attendance policy before the start of school next year. With the changes to the truancy law this year, just one unexcused day (if combined with 19 excused absences) will still result in a mandatory filing at the county attorney's office.
In Millard a child who takes an extra couple days of family travel during the school year or misses school for competitive gymnastics will accrue UNEXCUSED absences and could likely fall under the jurisdiction of law enforcement because Millard no longer recognizes family travel as a legitimate excused absence.
I will encourage the Millard School Board to implement attendance policy that honors family time and parental authority. I will suggest they use Gretna School District policy as a model.

Gretna School District Policy:

All absences, except for illness and/or death in the family, require advance approval.

An absence for any of the following reasons will be excused, provided the required procedures have been followed:

(1) Illness (personal Illness of the student)
(2) Bereavement or emergency in the family
(3) Doctor or dental appointment which require student to be absent from school
(4) Court appearances that are required by a court order
(5) School sponsored activities which require students to be absent from school
(6) Family trips in which student accompanies parents/legal guardians
(7) Religious observance
(8) Other absences which have received prior approval from the Principal

https://www.facebook.com/events/373934439297985/

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Future of the NFF

Volunteer to Serve on the NFF Board of Directors or as a member of a committee!

We need 9 people to be fully committed to serving on the board by the end of May if the NFF is to continue as an organization in our state!

Please look over the list below and consider what role you can play in the NFF going forward. I know that many of you have worked hard to reach the goals set forth by the NFF and that most of you would like to see the organization continue to play a significant role in protecting the integrity of families in our state through active participation in state politics.

Ultimately the direction the NFF takes and its continued presence in Nebraska politics is entirely reliant on the core supporters who are willing to volunteer to serve on a board of directors. The decision to continue with the NFF will be finalized by the end of May dependent on the numbers of volunteers who stand up to make this organization sustainable.

Many Hands Make Light Work!

With a committed board of directors to support the executive director and members willing to serve on committees, no one person will need to take on too much. Here is how we would like to organize and the positions and committees that will need to be filled.

- Executive director – Stephanie Morgan
*Provide clear leadership for the organization. Inspire and inform. Work with all board members regularly to shape the direction and focus of the organization. Meet often with the assistant director and secretary to evaluate the progress of current goals and assignments.

- Assistant Executive director
*Fill in for the Executive director when they are absent. Council with and support the executive director in leadership of the organization. Provide a unified message with the executive director and attend meetings in representation of the director.

- Secretary
*Keep records of core supporters, community partners, and contact lists for media and state officials. Work up meeting agendas and take notes at meetings. Produce phone trees and mailing lists. Send out organizational emails to core supporter and friends when directed. Publish a monthly email newsletter.

- We need people willing to assist in Secretary duties, such as taking on the newsletter.

- Treasurer
*Take on the task of incorporating the organization and getting a non-profit status for the group. Establish and organization bank account. Organizational accounting of funds and expenditures, tax filings, and yearly financial reports.

- Fundraising Committee: Will work under the Treasurer and help organize fundraising efforts and reach organizational goals for funding.

- Education Director
*Work with local school authorities and elected school boards. Help parents to organize local political action teams to influence local education policy. Watchdog for local education policy. Suggest policy changes needed in local school districts.

- Education Committee: We need members to serve with the education director. If you would like to serve as a representative to your school district please let us know.

- Legislative Director
*Work with state lawmakers and committees. Help group members to be involved in legislative matters and political action. Watchdog for legislation that impacts families. Suggest positions the organization should take on proposed legislation and make suggestions for original legislation.

- Legislative Committee: We need members to serve with the legislative director. If you would like to serve as a representative of your district please let us know.

- Public Relations Director
*Make contacts in local media. Write and distribute press releases. Make commercials and other public outreach materials (posters, mailings, newspaper ads, etc.). Book radio and TV spots.

- Social media facilitator: Use social media to shape the organizational message and activate support for important legislation and other efforts.

- Website developer: Website development and maintenance.

Important Announcement!

I announced to core supporters present at yesterday’s meeting that I will be moving out of state in the next year. My husband who works for the United States Defense Intelligence Agency has been looking to advance his career and this will mean that our family will relocate as soon as he finds the right position. We are not certain yet of the time frame but we are certain that it will happen before my son finishes his eighth grade year in 2013 (though it is likely to happen much sooner). In addition to organizing a board there is a pressing need for some willing person to serve as the assistant executive director with the intention of eventually taking my role as executive director. If you are interested and want to talk with me about it please call me: 402-301-9752

If you think of someone you think would be an excellent candidate to direct the NFF please let me know.

I can’t wait to hear from all of you!

Stephanie Morgan
Executive Director of the Nebraska Family Forum
402-301-9752