Why would the District suddenly be all concerned about public trust? The District, at least for the ten years that I have been active at the District level, has never shown any interest in public trust. In fact, the District has shown a gleeful contempt for the public trust. Their trust message to the public was the line from Animal House: "You
Why, after successfully demonstrating for the past ten years that the District had no regard for the public trust, that the District didn't need the public trust, and that the District didn't particularly want the public trust, is the District suddenly interested in winning the public's trust?
Then it occurred to me. The scandal in the RSBDP wasn't a betrayal of the public trust (it was, but that doesn't matter), it was a betrayal of the District leadership's trust. The District leadership has never actually done any supervision or oversight. They would simply ask their program managers "Everything okay with you?" and the managers, mostly because they were afraid to give any other answer, would respond "Sure, you bet!" And the District leadership would ask "You're not doing anything naughty, are you?" and the staff would respond "Who us? Heck, no!" Now, all of a sudden, that trust, between the district leadership and the staff, has been violated. This trust, the foundation upon which they had built their entire management system, has crumbled and their tiny world is collapsing.
Do you know what this means? Do you? It means that either they restore that trust, or >gasp< they will have to actually oversee, supervise, and manage their staff! The horror! If they had to do that, then they would have to actually get up off their fat, lazy asses and do their jobs! Unthinkable! No no no no no. We cannot have that. Absolutely not. We must restore trust.
They were perfectly content for the staff to misinform the public, lie to the public, break faith with the public, and leave the public in the dark. But when they released that snake into the field it never occured to them that the snake might bite them. They don't want to remove the snake. They just want to train it to distinguish between the public and the insiders.
The problem here - and it's a big one - is that the Board doesn't realize that the staff regard them as nothing more than loud members of the public. The Board think that they are insiders, but they aren't. The staff lump them in with all of the other members of the public, and misinform them, lie to them, break faith with them and leave them in dark right along with every other schmo who doesn't draw a paycheck from Seattle Public Schools.
So let's be perfectly clear.
The District isn't interested in establishing (you can't restore what was never present) the public's trust in the District. That has no value for them. They don't share authority - they have it all - so they don't need the public to come along when they make decisions. If they were to add the retention of the public trust to their list of duties it would only burden and constrain them. They have a freer field of action when they don't have to be honest with the public. They can commit money or resources to a community but still feel free to take it back anytime they want if they need to commit that money or resource somewhere else.
No, the District leadership is only interested in restoring the trust between the leadership and the staff. That's the bond that was broken. And they only want to restore that trust so they don't have to do the real work of supervision. They are just too lazy to earn their six-figure paychecks. Instead of actually supervising their employees, they want to go back to just getting the standard answers to the standard questions.
This will soon all blow over - if only because the district leadership can't maintain the effort of actual supervision for long. If things check out for the next six months or so then, they will figure, they are probably alright.
I guess it turns out that not even the owners of the sausage factory want to see how it is made. They will quickly scan the store for roaches and, if they don't find any, they will reckon there aren't any in the factory either.
In case I seem sanguine about all of this, I am not. I am disgusted with this conclusion. I am disgusted with the District leadership, and the Board in particular. Every member of the Board. Even those who, I suppose, innocently value public trust are the objects of my disgust because they haven't seen this for what it is and haven't spoken out against it.
When asked by the Seattle Times if the District would take this or that specific step to restore public trust, such as publish a line item budget, Director Sundquist either weaseled or just said no. Public trust isn't the object.