The current board is quite fond of meditating on the question of what is governance and what is management, but they have carefully avoided bringing that contemplative power to bear on this question. I say that enforcing policy is a governance task.
I could make a whole long argument and get tangled in the abstractions that distract the board, but it comes down to something much more simple. Let's say that the board were to come together and vote to direct the superintendent to take a specific action, such as review a policy and suggest revisions, make a report, or make a document public. Then, if the superintendent didn't take that action, wouldn't you expect the Board to follow up? Wouldn't you expect the Board to say "Hey, Dr. Enfield, we asked you to make that document public and you haven't done it yet. Please take care of that." or would you expect the Board to remain silent about it and perform no follow-up to prompt the superintendent to fulfill the direction? Nevermind what you might predict the current board would do - what should the board do? We should expect the board to follow up in a situation like that. The alternative would be to expect Dr. Enfield to scold herself for failing to take the action and, all by herself, either remember to take the action that she had forgotten or reverse her thinking and agree to take the action that she had heretofore refused to take.
It's pretty clear that the Board should follow up.
Well, that's all that the Board Policies are. They are a set of things that the Board got together and voted to direct the superintendent to do. And if the superintendent neglects to do one of them (intentionally or otherwise), then the Board should remind her that she has to do it. It is the Board's duty to follow up.
Let me note that the primary reason that the current Board has been such a colossal failure - and they have been - is that they have shown themselves to be unwilling - not unable but unwilling - to follow up. They wouldn't follow up on promises by the staff. Consequently, the staff wouldn't follow through on those promises. The examples are legion. I don't have any specific examples; I'll get back to you with those.Even if you were to claim that policy enforcement is a management responsibility, then you would have to put the task on each supervisor in the district to assure that each direct report complies with the policies. Well, the Board is the superintendent's supervisor and she is their direct report so they have the management responsibility to assure her compliance with policies.
At the School Board Candidates Debate last week Director Martin-Morris whined about the absence of any kind of oversight system in place when he joined the board four years ago. That's a lie. There was a system. The system was written into the policies and it was board-driven. Director Martin-Morris and his colleagues joined the Board, failed to read the policies (Policy B61.00 in particular), and then sat around and waited for the staff to do everything. Instead of taking responsibility for oversight - as they should have - they sat around and waited for the staff to orchestrate the oversight. The staff didn't do it - for the perfectly good reason that it isn't their job - and the Board didn't do it, so it didn't get done.
This Board still refuses to accept responsibility for enforcing policy or for oversight. They are trying to push it off onto the superintendent and the staff. That's a HUGE mistake.
Otherwise you have a situation in which every person working for the district has someone assuring his or her compliance with policy except the superintendent. Since the superintendent is the one person in the district who is most regulated by policy - whole chapters of policy apply exclusively to her - it would be bizarre to leave her without enforcement. So even if policy enforcement were a management responsibility - and in a culture of compliance it is everyone's responsibility - then the board would have the duty to assure the superintendent's compliance as her manager. The alternative would be to leave her to self-police. When has that ever worked?
Although the Board will deny their duty to enforce policy - mostly by remaining silent on the question and simply neglecting the work - they acknowledged their duty to enforce policy in a number of official documents. They acknowledged it in the response to the State Audit. They also acknowledged it in their new Series 1000 policies. Unfortunately they also used the Series 1000 policies to try to delegate the work to the superintendent. Here's the funny thing: enforcing policy is the very heart of governance work, but they don't mention it in their Governance policy.
You can ask Board members the question directly but I don't think you'll get a direct answer. Go ahead and ask them: "Is it the Board's duty to enforce board policy?"
You can also ask them this one: "If the board votes to direct the superintendent to take an action, and the superintendent doesn't take that action, does the board have a duty to follow up and remind the superintendent of the Board's direction?"
That may look like an innocuous question, but for this Board it's a loaded one. They might also talk around that question without answering it. This question is less innocent than it appears because the Board actually did vote to direct the superintendent to take an action, she neglected it, and they failed to follow up. On January 29, 2009 the board directed the superintendent to review and suggest revisions to policy D12.00. She never did it, and they never followed up.
Just the same, if a Board member forgets and answers the question that the Board should, in fact, follow up when they ask the superintendent or the staff to do something, then you can follow up with "And how is that different from a policy which, by a vote of the Board directs the superintendent or staff to take an action?"
If the Board director claims that enforcing policy is the superintendent's duty, then ask them if they expect the superintendent to also enforce the policies that regulate the superintendent's actions. If so, will they be issuing her hand puppets to facilitate her self-policing?