I want to share this with you. Most folks won’t care about the actual issue at stake – it’s about middle school APP – but I want you all to check out the ambition it reflects.
The program placement committee recommended and the Superintendent approved splitting middle school APP between Washington and Hamilton starting in 2008-2009. Never mind if this is a good idea or a bad idea; there just happens to be a District Policy, D12.00, that prohibits creating any more APP sites.
I raised this issue – I’ll spare you the little drama over getting a response – and learned that District staff says that two subsequent policies superseded D12.00. These two were F21.00 and B61.00.
F21.00 is about which decisions are made at the District level and which are site-based decisions. It is three pages long and has only this to say about program placement:
“The Superintendent makes the final decision on all program placements.” The District staff interpreted this to mean that the Superintendent’s decisions on program placement cannot be constrained by Board policy.
First of all, this interpretation is dead wrong. Policy F21.00 begins with the words:
“Within the laws of the United States and the State of Washington and the policies of the Board, and District guidelines, the following areas (listed alphabetically) are reserved to the School Board and/or Superintendent or their designee:”
So while the Policy does say that the Superintendent makes the final decision on all program placements, those decisions - according to the Policy - must be within the policies of the Board. Thepolicy does not grant the Superintendent carte blanche to decide any matter within his authority capriciously or without constraint.
The Superintendent makes the final decision on a number of things, such as student discipline. Are his decisions in these matters unconstrained by District Policy? Is he free to punish students in whatever manner he chooses regardless of Policy? I think not.
It is good that Policy F21.00 restricts the decisions of the Superintendent to the boundaries of District policies - which it most certainly does. I cannot emphasize enough how extremely dangerous it is for the staff to suggest otherwise. Such a perspective would surrender the Board's authority to set policy on any area of the Superintendent's responsibility. In addition to D12.00, nearly all other Policies would be meaningless as well. It would create a Superintendent as the one and only "decider" without any constraints on his authority at all.
I know we're looking for a governance model, but I can't imagine this is the one we want. I don't think that Superintenent Decider with unchecked absolute authority is the District governance model that the CACIEE had in mind. Isn't it weird that the Superintendent and the District staff are trying to claim this authority?