Ever since the dismissal of the previous superintendent, the District leadership has spoken repeatedly about five things: Governance, Oversight, Community Engagement, Transparency, and Earning the Public's Trust. But just as three and a half years of constant talk about accountability was used to try to mask the total absence of any actual accountability, this talk is not reflected in any of the District leadership's action either. What is the district leadership's record on these values? The real record is in the meeting minutes. The minutes of recent meetings give clear testament to the leadership's real commitment to these ideals.
Governance, at the most fundamental level, is about writing and enforcing policy. But how is it reflected in the minutes? We see new policies that are unenforceable and were written to replace the previous policies that weren't enforced. The new policies on homework and promotion abandon any attempt to actually govern. Instead, they admit that they are just descriptive of what people are doing. It's like "We can't stop shoplifting, so we're going to make it legal." That isn't governance; that is the opposite of governance. That's the district leadership's record on governance.
The minutes also make clear the total lack of commitment to oversight. The minutes of the Strategic Plan Review show no follow up on the promised changes in the School Reports. These changes were promised in December but have not appeared. The Board has not shown any interest in following up. There's no oversight over program placement. There's no oversight over capacity management. There's no oversight at all reflected in these minutes. That's the district leadership's record on oversight.
The minutes also make the leadership's commitment to community engagement clear. They are committed to none of it. Not a single motion brought before the Board in the last three months had any community engagement at all and the community engagement section was removed from the new Board Action Report template. The worst offenders here are the interim superintendent, who didn't require her staff to do any community engagement – not even when formulating the homework policy or the promotion/non-promotion policy – prior to advancing these actions and the four chairs of the Board Committees who recommended each of these motions to the full Board despite the absence of community engagement. Every motion brought the Board without community engagement should be rejected out of hand. They should be rejected at the committee level, but they should certainly be rejected at the Board level. Instead there is no community engagement whatsoever on any motion adopted by this Board since the appointment of the interim superintendent. That's the district leadership's record on community engagement.
Transparency is no better. The meeting minutes show the budgets for each school but do not show how those numbers were derived. There's no budgetary transparency at all. Rainier Beach High School, with 425 students has a staff of 90 – 5 administrators, 5 administrative support people and 80 more staff. That's an adult for every five students. NOVA, with 330 students, has a staff of 23. What are the rules for how schools are allocated their budgets? We can't tell. Why is STEM funded as a traditional school instead of a non-traditional school? It is an option school and an ALE; just how is STEM traditional? And where is the rationale for the program placement decisions? Nowhere. This is the district leadership's record on transparency.
Worst of all, however, is the district leadership's complete lack of effort on building trust. Not only haven't they done what they said they were going to do, but now they are trying to fire the one person who is the primary reason that anyone bought into the planned APP IB program at Ingraham. Is that how they build trust? They continue to fail to fulfill commitments. Is that how they build trust? They refuse to tell the truth. Is that how they build trust? If there is a need to build trust with the public it is because this Board has broken faith with the public consistently over the past three and a half years. There is no trust because they – the Board – and particularly the four elected in 2007 – have proven themselves to be unworthy of trust. That is the district leadership's record on trust. There is nothing in the minutes to suggest that they have changed paths at all.