Saturday, September 29, 2001

Parents give mixed reviews

Some love Harmony; another mother recounts discord

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Some Harmony Community School parents on Friday praised the 3-year-old charter school for working wonders for their children, while another said dealing with the school's administration was a nightmare.

        Golf Manor resident Nicole Barlow, who pulled her son out of Harmony this fall to attend Cincinnati Public Schools' Withrow High School, said she grew uncertain about the fate of the school — and her son's education — when a location for Harmony was unknown in late August.

        In July, the school left its location at Swifton Commons, a shopping center in Bond Hill, leaving about $40,000 in unpaid rent and late fees, according to an attorney for the property.

        Mrs. Barlow said she couldn't get any answers from the school's administration.

        She said she was berated later for her lack of volunteerism at the school when she went to withdraw her son, Julian, 16, who had attended Harmony for two years.

        Several times, she said, she attempted to volunteer — as required for Harmony parents — but her participation in a fashion show and a weekend outing was moot because no one showed up, she said.

        Ms. Barlow said when she went to talk with director David Nordyke about how to withdraw her son, he was rude.

        Mr. Nordyke said he had not heard "hide nor hair” of Ms. Barlow in two years and her volunteerism was lacking.

        “Her interpretation of my rudeness was my directness,” he said.

        He also said taking Julian out of Harmony was in her best interest, not her son's.

        Other parents paint a different picture of Mr. Nordyke and the school.

        Susan Kane, whose 16-year-old son, Timothy, attends Harmony, said her 30-mile drive from Loveland is well worth it.

        Often a discipline problem at Loveland, Timothy has received just one disciplinary action in two years at Harmony, she said.

        “It's a blessing to come to school and not be greeted by, "Your child just did this,'” she said. “They always have something positive to say.”

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