On September 7, 2011 the Board will vote to adopt the newly written Series 4000 policies. They aren't very good.
Policy 4000 Public Information Program
"The district shall strive to maintain effective two-way communication channels with the public." Vague, unenforceable.
"The Superintendent shall establish and maintain a communication process..." Note that the communication process that is required by an enforceable part of the policy is not two-way, as declared as the goal by the un-enforceable part of the policy.
Superintendent Procedure 4000SP
This is the procedure that the superintendent established to fulfill the requirements of Policy 4000. It doesn't take even a single step in that direction. Instead, it lays down the rules of engagement with the media.
Let's be clear about this. The Board should adopt a policy that prohibits the staff from withholding public information, prohibits the staff from disseminating false information, and requires the staff to establish structures and processes that ensure two-way communication as an integral part of the decision-making process.
Policy 4010 Staff Communications Responsibilities Vague, unenforceable.
Policy 4020 Confidential Communications Unenforceable.
Here's an example of how the policy cannot be enforced: "If the staff member intends to disclose the confidence, the student should be informed prior to such action." Note that policy says that the student should be informed, not that the student must be informed. "Should" is a guideline, not a rule and cannot be enforced. Look out for the word "should" in a policy; it negates the policy because it renders it un-enforceable and therefore meaningless. So do expressions like "endeavor" and "to the best of his ability".
How about this part: "A staff member is expected to reveal information given by a student when there is a reasonable liklihood that a crime has or will be committed, (e.g. child abuse, sale of drugs, suicidal ideation)." "Expected"? "Expected"? How about REQUIRED. Expectations cannot be enforced; requirements can be.
Superintendent Procedure 4040SP, Public Access to District Records
Here's that "should" word again. "Any record request received by district staff other than the Public Records Officer should be immediately transmitted to the Public Records Officer." It should be, but it doesn't have to be.
Superintendent Procedure 4110SP, Family & Community Advisory and Oversight Committees
I know that this is really petty, but Section B6 of this procedure requires that a copy of a memorandum describing each committee's charge, membership, selection process and manner of notification to the community, and more be kept in the JSCEE reception area for public review. That's a long-standing requirement and it has simply never been done. Why keep it?
"meetings shold be open to the public and minutes should be kept" Should, not must. Un-enforcable.
"The authorizing entity will respond within three months of receiving th final committee report regarding each of the recommendations by the committee and include a brief rationale for any recommendations which it cannot or will not follow." Another long-standing requirement that has never been met.
Superintendent Procedure 4129SP, Family Engagement
"Each school in the district should develop a family engagement plan..." Should, not must. Un-enforceable.
"Plans should be tailored to the realities of school families..." Should, not must. Un-enforceable.
In the case of un-enforceable policies and procedures I can't help wondering why anyone would bother with them.