Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Program Placement annual report due

That's right. I'm not going to let this go.

The annual program placement report is due in January, which means that the superintendent has to deliver it either today or tomorrow or its late.

The report is required by Board Policy 2200, Equitable Access to Programs & Services. The policy reads:
The relevant factors considered and the basis for each change shall be documented in writing and kept on file. On a quarterly basis the Superintendent or designee shall provide an update to the School Board on decisions made during the previous quarter and a preview of upcoming decisions, if known. These quarterly updates should be provided to the School Board in April, July and October.


The fourth quarterly update shall be an annual report that provides detail about all the decisions that were made in the prior year and how those decisions relate to the eight decision making criteria outlined in this policy. The annual report should be provided to the School Board in January.
The annual report on program placement is due tomorrow. Let's hope that this report is not deficient like the quarterly report submitted in October. The report delivered in October did not include any preview of upcoming decisions, despite the fact that a number of upcoming decisions had been publicly announced, such as the relocation of NOVA to the Horace Mann building, the relocation of The World School to the TT Minor building, or the intentions for north-end elementary APP to remain at Lincoln until it moves into the newly constructed elementary school on the Wilson-Pacific campus. The October report was also deficient as it did not include any preview of the upcoming decisions regarding Jane Addams, K-5 STEM at Boren, Schmitz Park, or north-end middle-school APP.

In addition to the preview of upcoming decisions, I am also eagerly anticipating the detailed rationale for the decisions made in the past year. The rationale for these decisions were not disclosed at the time. The previous superintendent refused to provide the transparency required by Board policy and the Board failed to demand it.

The Board must step up and enforce policy. We cannot expect to foster a culture of compliance if there is no response to non-compliance. We cannot expect policies to be followed if they are not enforced. At a time when the Superintendent has publicly announced his intention to discipline teachers for refusing to follow direct instructions, it would be inappropriate for him to be guilty of the same insubordination. Maybe a ten-day suspension without pay would teach him to toe the line.
The report is due tomorrow, but the program placement framework - the process by which program placement decisions are supposed to be made. This framework was supposed to be complete in September so the BEX IV planning could work around it. Now the deadline for the framework has been pushed out to April. Without a permanent assistant superintendent for Teaching and Learning - and no indication that we will have one before the end of the school year - the timeline for the framework is likely to be extended again.

The absence of any coherent program placement plan or process hobbles the District's ability to move forward with decisions about capacity management, facilities planning, and student assignment. The acknowledged absence of any coherent process should be shameful to the Board and the district staff. I know that I'm ashamed of them.

12 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

What's interesting is the number of times Board members reference program placement and yet don't really hold anyone's feet to the fire.

It's always waiting for the next levy to pass or NSAP or whatever the crisis du jour is.

The Monkey Man said...

Are the school board policies a guide for the superintendent? The Superintendent then can use them to hold staff accountable.

The policies "..can be used by the Superintendent to hold staff accountable."

Since they are merely a guide from the Board to the Superintendent, he doesn't need to follow them. However, if he chooses to follow them he CAN use them to hold staff accountable.

Of course, if you have a Superintendent that ignores school board policies they won't be here long.

The Monkey Man said...

Gads, writing wasn't so great.

What I meant to say was that the School Board polices are a guide for the Superintendent.

It wasn't a question.

Now that I think about it, the policies are a guide for the Superintendent who CAN use them as a tool of accountability, if he should chose to do so.

ConcernedSPSParent said...

Will the superintendent threaten a loss of salary to staff not following policies?. I guess not.

Charlie Mas said...

It seems to me that if the superintendent can suspend teachers for ten days without pay for refusing to follow directions, then the superintendent should be ready to have the same done to him.

Tired Monkey Man said...

If the Superintendent failed or refused to do something that he was legally or contractually obligated to do, then perhaps he could be suspended without pay.

However, the policies that the board sets down do not create any legal or contractual obligation on the part of the Superintendent.

The Superintendent can use them as a tool to hold staff accountable.

The Board would not hold the Superintendent accountable for a failing to comply with a policy. (If a Superintendent routinely ignored the policies of the school board he would probably not have a contract renewed).

If you read the preamble to the policies, you will see that the policies are aspirational (and achievable).

I don't know why you think that the policies create some kind of binding legal or contractual obligation that the Superintendent must comply with. They don't.

But, then again, nothing ever stops Mr. Mas from practicing law.

Charlie Mas said...

From the Policy Preamble:
"The School Board’s role is to set policy, while the role of the Superintendent is to implement those policies and use them in the day-to-day management of the district."

The superintendent's job is to implement policy.

Also, the superintendent is, himself, staff and therefore can be held accountable for complying with policy.

From Policy 1620, Board-Superintendent Relationship:
"The Board is charged with setting district policy and the Superintendent is charged with carrying out and enforcing that policy."

also:

"Individual Board members will not hold the Superintendent accountable for meeting expectations that do not have the endorsement of the Board."

Which means that individual Board members CAN hold the superintendent accountable for meeting expectations that DO have the endorsement of the Board, such as policies.

From Policy 1220, Board Officers & Duties of Board Members:

"The Board or staff shall not be bound in any way by any action taken or statement made by any individual Board member except when such statement or action is pursuant to specific instructions and official action taken by the Board."

So individual Board members are authorized to enforce policies because they are pursuant to an official action by the Board.

From Policy 1640, Responsibilities & Authority of the Superintendent:

"The Superintendent shall:
...
2. Carry out and ensure compliance with all policies of the Board of Directors through administrative procedures.
3. Consistent with Board policies, take appropriate administrative action.
"

I'm not a lawyer, but I am literate.

Charlie Mas said...

If, as The Monkey Man suggests, the policies are unenforceable, then why bother with them?

Melissa Westbrook said...

"(If a Superintendent routinely ignored the policies of the school board he would probably not have a contract renewed)."

Very funny. Can you explain MGJ then?

Monkey Man said...

If the board is not happy with the way a superintendent is enforcing the policies, they can choose not to renew the superintendent's contract.

But it is discretionary with the board.

They are policies, not edicts that must be complied with.

They are aspirational.

Monkey Man said...

Oh, Melissa,

The board must have been reasonably happy with MJD when they renewed her contract.

Of course, some board members lost their seats partly because of this support.

That is how it is suppose to work.

Charlie Mas said...

Last night Phil Brockman told me that the annual program placement report went to the board and so did Superintendent procedures for policy 2200.

He said that the procedures define what is a school, a program, a service, and what is not. That's necessary because the Board Policy, written by staff and not by the Board, includes a proviso to the superintendent's authority. It denies him authority to create, relocate or close any program that does not impact budgets, staffing, or the use of space in schools. This would, of course, include Spectrum, ALOs, Montessori, and language immersion. The creation or closure of those programs, according to the policy, are site-based decisions and not district-level decisions.

The Procedures should clarify that question.