RANDOLPH — When Elly Fung came to Randolph from Hong Kong five years ago, she spoke little English and enrolled in the bilingual program at Randolph Junior-Senior High School.
Teachers there helped her adjust academically and socially to the move and culture change.
Fung, who graduated in 1995, is a student at Brandeis University.
She and seven other students who graduated from the school’s bilingual program asked the school committee last night to stop ruining the reputation of the bilingual graduates and teachers.
Fung said when she and other graduates recently returned home for summer vacation, they learned of conflicts between the school administration and the Chinese parent advisory council.
Last month, nearly 75 teachers went to a school committee meeting wearing black armbands and pins reading “End destructive leadership” to complain about Maryellen Cole, director of the transitional bilingual education program.
Since Cole was hired, the Randolph Education Association has pursued 20 grievances against her.
Many Chinese parents have complained that the school department ignored their concerns when it revised a plan for transitional bilingual education. The three-year plan was sent to the state Department of Education without the signature of the Chinese council president.
“What saddened us even more was what we read in the newspapers. In particular, we were shocked and offended by Superintendent Arthur Melia’s statement characterizing the program from which we graduated to be in ‘disarray,’ ” said Fung, who read from a letter.
“To say that the program ‘has incompetent, inferior people on staff who were performing poorly in classrooms’ is simply absurd. . . . The bilingual program that educated us was one of the best programs in the Boston area,” she said.
The letter was signed by 22 graduates of the bilingual program.
School committee Chairwoman Barbara Mellon said Fung took Melia’s comments out of context.
Three years ago, state officials cited 53 problems during an audit of the program. In part, the audit said bilingual classes were too crowded and students who are mainstreamed into regular classrooms were not getting enough help.
“You people were very fortunate, but some people need a better program,” Mellon said. “It was the state that came down on us and audited the program.”
Mellon said school officials have been talking with members of the Chinese parent council and making progress. The school department plans to hold a meeting with them and a state education official within the next few weeks.
School committee member Robert Gass suggested the students meet with Melia to discuss what they liked and what could be improved in the bilingual program.
The students’ letter asked the school department to deal with the controversy between them, parents and bilingual teachers so the “sanity of the schools can be restored.”
“We came here tonight because we want them to have a better attitude toward the bilingual program and its teachers,” Fung said after the meeting. “The teachers are capable and caring, and I don’t think the school department realizes that.”