Tuesday, June 17, 2014

End of the Year Changes May Be Foretelling for Others

As for the title of this thread, I am hearing some rumblings of a rather large change that may come to the district very soon.  I am trying to learn more and when I know for certain I will let you know.  I hesitate to say anything specific.  There are two reasons for me saying anything at all.
 One, because I believe parents deserve a heads up early (if only to brace yourself). 

Two, because I rarely get any credit or acknowledgement from the regular media, I'd like to be able to say I was the first one to raise the red flag.

We have all seen the shifting sands of principal movement.  I asked the district some questions about this issue and here are the questions and replies.

1) Why were parents at SS given a survey too late to turn it in?  Parents say they got notice of the survey (and there is a notice but not a link to the survey still at the SS website) just days before the announcement on Friday.
 
We held a parent engagement meeting on Tuesday, June 10. A follow-up survey in several languages went out on Wednesday, June 11 through Friday morning, June 13. We reviewed feedback from the parent meeting and survey results and made the appointment by Friday evening. We had to balance the desire for parent/family input with the constraints of time.
 
(My reply: does anyone think this "parent engagement" was anything but a show?)

2) Is the "principal leadership coach" position that Ms. Scarlett is taking a new one for SPS?  If not, who held that position previously?  What is the salary for this position (and what was Ms. Scarlett's previous salary)?
 
This position is an addition to our current principal leadership coach, Michael Starosky. The position used to be called a “Human Resources Consulting Principal.” A second position was added through our bargain with the Principal’s Association of Seattle (PASS) to help with leading new principals and professional development. Ms. Scarlett’s current salary is $113,607 and in her new role her salary will be $121,636. 
 
(Hey, ANOTHER additional position at headquarters.  See those dollars getting further and further away from schools?  And why, if we have Executive Directors who were former principals, do we need two additional coaches?)

3) I note that the Wedgwood community is also looking for a new principal but they are doing it thru their BLT team with an active community engagement.  What is the Superintendent's procedure for choosing new principals and why do some communities seem to have more engagement than others?
The Superintendent has the right to make a principal or assistant principal appointment at any time, for any reason. The Superintendent may elect to elicit input from stakeholders including staff, parents, and community constituents but can make an appointment whenever he or she deems necessary.
 
(This is the standard, canned answer and really, not good enough. Board, I'm looking at you.)

4) If the entire leadership team from Graham Hill is changing and yet dramatic staff changes have occurred at Graham Hill based on Ms. Morrison's leadership, how will this all work with a new principal?  From the Rainier Valley Post:


The changes leave no one in charge to orient the new staff scheduled to start at Graham Hill in the fall, including a librarian, a family support specialist, a special education position, several instructional assistants and seven teachers — nearly half of the 16-member teaching staff — most of them first-year educators who were recruited by Morrison and are expecting to work for her when they start in the fall.
"We are confident that a high-quality principal will be found for Graham Hill and will continue Dr. Morrison’s fantastic work. We are going to bring in a principal right away who can begin building relationships with families and staff. Given the timeline, Southeast Region Executive Director Kelly Aramaki will meet with staff, families and Dr. Morrison to get their input and then most likely bring in an interim principal who can work closely with Dr. Morrison to ensure a smooth transition. The interim principal will be someone who has the experience and skills needed and the vision and leadership style that aligns well with Dr. Morrison’s vision and leadership style and the work that needs to happen at Graham Hill moving forward. We have already posted the Graham Hill Elementary Assistant Principal position as well, and are looking for someone who is familiar with the community. This position will be filled by the end of June.  The new principal and assistant (in consultation with Dr. Morrison) will then work in the summer to build relationships with staff and families, set up opportunities for current staff to bring new staff on board, and continue the work set in motion by Dr. Morrison over the past two years."
 
(Bring in a new principal "right away" when staff and parents are gone?  Nope, this person will start working on those relationships in the fall.  I do find it interesting that there is this perception that the work that Dr. Morrison has done is exactly what the new principal will want to do.)

5) Why was the assistant principal, Chad Kodama, allowed to leave his job at GH as assistant principal before the end of the school year?


According to Morrison’s email, Kodama “decided to look for new opportunities to stretch his ‘school leadership legs’ in some neighboring school districts.”
The District cannot comment on confidential personnel matters.
 
(That's a fair enough answer and I think I should have directed that question to Mr. Kodama.   Not so helpful to leave when there is so much turmoil but apparently, "stretching" his legs was more important.)

6) In the previous MOU/agreement with the New School Foundation and the district, the New School Foundation was accorded input/vote on any principal at South Shore.  Is that clause in effect with LEV?  If so, who from LEV participated in the discussions over this change?

Kelly Aramaki had a conference call with Amy Liu, Chris Korsmo and Diane Buckley from LEV last week (Wed., June 11) to get their input on desired characteristics for the next principal of South Shore.
 
(Ah, I thought so. To note, Korsmo is CEO at LEV, Diane Buckley is the CFO, Amy Liu is a policy director.  So three people got to give input.  I clearly didn't phrase my question correctly but if I had I would have asked if they were in the principal interviews and did they have a vote.  

Again, South Shore is a good school doing good work.  But they are afforded things that no other school is and that is somewhat troubling.  They get more money because of the MOU with LEV, they have a brand-new building (and they were not first in line to get a new building and there are meeting records to suggest that they used the partnership leverage to push up the list), and they get money from the F&E levy even as other school with high F/RL don't.  And, it seems LEV was able to give more input than most parent and staff.) 
 
Also, Charlie points this out (in an e-mail to the Board):

Here is the problem in a nutshell:

The Superintendent has the right to make a principal or assistant principal appointment at any time, for any reason. The Superintendent may elect to elicit input from stakeholders including staff, parents, and community constituents but can make an appointment whenever he or she deems necessary.”

The inequity of this catch-as-catch-can process - actually the absence of any process - leaps out to everyone who sees it. This disparate treatment of school communities is intolerable and must end.

All the Board needs to do is write a policy that directs the superintendent to write a procedure for principal appointments. The Board should not dictate the procedure, only require that there be one. It’s very similar to the Board’s policy requirement that the superintendent write a program placement procedure. The policy didn’t dictate the procedure, only that the superintendent have one. See how badly that has turned out? Here we are, all these years later, after it has been named as a Board Priority for three consecutive years, and we still have no program placement procedure, no idea how they are determined, no “Equitable Access Framework” (whatever that is), and no timetable for getting one. In the absence of order we have chaos.

Also, the principal appointment at SouthShore was in violation of the Alternative Education Policy C54.00 which requires:

“School community participates in the selection of instructional, support and administrative staff.”

46 comments:

What? ( said...

Graham upset, but do they have the influence of LEV?

http://rainiervalleypost.com/graham-hill-parents-protest-abrupt-change-in-school-leadership-say-district-is-failing-students/

Anonymous said...

Um...how do you brace yourself when you give absolutely no details?

Copying this from the above unsigned question. I guess I am wondering the same thing. Are you saying "it" is about principals?

SavvyVoter

Anonymous said...

What sort of timeframe are we looking at Melissa?

June surprise?

Fall?

Further along than that?

Is this going to have district-wide implications or affect specific departments/schools/programs?

Curious

StringCheese said...

Is there a way for the Board to require principal positions to be filled by a hiring committee consisting of teachers, parents, and other admin? I understand that interim appointment power is needed but surely the prime stakeholders (the school community itself) should be part of a comprehensive process for hiring their leader.

Something like: "for any school community with an interim principal appointment, after a period of eight months, a site based hiring committee will convene to hire a principal. The current interim principal is automatically passed through to the interview stage."

All appointments that are done on an emergency basis or without use of a site based hiring committee are to be considered interim. Period.

Is there a reason something like this can't be done?

Melissa Westbrook said...

StringCheese, I think the issue of BLTs/principal choice is coming to a head. I think what you are proposing is fair and sensible.

It makes no sense that there is no way to know if your school community will be included (including staff who probably don't like surprises either)in principal selection.

I feel like SCPTSA should think about providing some real push on this issue.

There is no reason the Board can't have a policy.

Eric B said...

There's only 10 people on the speaker's list for tomorrow night's meeting. It would be a great time to get on the list.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, this is odd.

I was checking the speaker's list and then rechecked the agenda.

There was to be yet another Executive Session on the Superintendent's evaluation to be held next week. It is now a Work Session.

A Work Session on the Superintendent's Evaluation? Why would the Board or the Superintendent want an open Work Session on his evaluation? Hmmm.

mirmac1 said...

I thought that was what you meant by "big changes..."

Charlie Mas said...

In the absence of order we have chaos.

We have chaos in principal appointments because there is no order. According to policy 1640, Responsibilities and Authority of the Superintendent:

"The Superintendent shall:...
"Recommend candidates for election as principals or teachers and other
certificated positions
"

It remains the Board's authority to approve those candidates. They do so when they approve the personnel report in the consent agenda. More to the point, they need a policy that requires the superintendent to document his process - whatever it is.

We have chaos in the program placement process because there are no rules. The Board needs to enforce the policy they have and they need to amend it to require the superintendent to document his process - whatever it is.

We have chaos in advanced learning because there are no rules. The Board needs to write an advanced learning policy.

We have chaos in advisory committees and task forces. There is a policy, but the superintendent wrote himself a procedure that exempted most of the committees from the policy. Either the policy or the procedure needs to be re-written so that they are governed again.

mirmac1 said...

If I were superintendent (yeah, in Bizarro world) I would not give up that statutory right. At the same time, in the interests of good will I wouldn't rub it in anyone's face.

Regarding my previous comment, I do not think it would be good for SPS to have us back hunting for a new superintendent. As much as I do not agree with everything Banda does or who he delegates to, he is a lot less damaging than most in recent memory....

Anonymous said...

@mirmac1

That's 'the devil you know' reasoning.

I would let him go and move on. First loss is your least loss. Ask a banker about that one.

The last super search, of the 3, Enoch didn't retire, he landed at a university. I would recruit him. Tell him that this will be his capstone achievement, to right this unwieldy ship (think SpEd, T&L, capacity...etc). He would have been far better. A seasoned, experienced manager who has seen it all, done it, and, has nothing to prove, no ladder he's climbing on the way to bigger better things. He could have fixed a lot of things, and implemented systems to support student learning, keeping the focus not on sound bites, or, how things looked, but, on how things actually were. When you have nothing to prove, and, you are not looking for your next job, you can actually get a lot done. Because your not trying to be a rising star, the one to watch. Your simply trying to be effective and get the job done.

Sigh. He took one look at us and ran away. All Banada seems to do is hire more people to do parts of his job; his true focus seems to be on devining the political winds so that he doesn't do anything that will truly cause others to come after him. He works just hard enough not to get fired. He truly seems in over his head.

Waste Not

Anonymous said...

This post makes no sense. There is some sort of rumor to be aware of but there is nothing to be said except you know the rumor before the local press? You're right. That's not how the press operates. Not really how this blog operates either, most of the time.

-skeptical-

Melissa Westbrook said...

Considering 95% of the post is about principal placement, I think it makes sense.

Anonymous said...

OK, understandable that you want recognition for being the first one to "raise the red flag." This post doesn't really qualify though. You'd have to actually report something.

Come on. Be fair if you want "recognition".

Disappointed!

mirmac1 said...

I did everything I could to get Enoch here (including exposing Husk warts and all). Certainly Banda is better than Husk. We can agree to disagree.

As for Disappointed, let us know when you find something worthy of reporting... I won't hold my breath.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Reposting for anonymous at 10:48 pm (you need a 1-2 name moniker at least to post here)

"Note: The decision to place Laurie Morrison at South Shore was made well BEFORE (as in many days before) the parent survey had even closed. "


-Ann D

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
#NewSheriffinTown said...

Newspaper reports that there won't be leadership to orientate teachers, family support worker, librarian etc. "Graham Hill parents say the abrupt changes will be devastating to the school community, which includes some of the city’s poorest and most at-risk students. More than 60% of Graham Hill students receive free and reduced lunch, 33% are English Language Learners and 82% are students of color. Many have recently moved to the U.S. from from impoverished and war-torn countries like Ethiopia and Somalia."

We all know the importance of stability and leadership in schools. It will be interesting to watch this story unfold. It will be interesting to see whether there were any shenanigans to accommodate the almighty folks at LEV.

I don't think this board will tolerate shenanigans.

Reposter said...

Reposting for anonymous:

"What is happening in the SE? At Van Asselt they have 10 or more teachers leaving. Most of the staff members leaving have spent 8+ years and have built strong relationships with the students and families. There are at least six nationally board certified and both career ladder positions leaving. Other members of the staff are looking for jobs elsewhere too. First year teachers through the Seattle teacher residency program have filled seven of the positions. The families of the school are upset and have tried to contact the ombudsmen and Ed Director as well. Like the staff, families are not feeling supported. Just like Graham Hill they have not gotten any response. The administration has sent home a letter to the families that mislead them. It implies that the staff changes were being made in order to meet the schools academic goals. This has upset families, current staff, and exiting staff."

Anonymous said...

Looks like some other school is going to lose their principal with no notice as well.

From PTA co-chairs to those Graham Hill families on the yahoo group:

Hi, all.

Jeanne and I met with Laurie and Kelly Aramaki today. Kelly heard our concerns and communicated a lot to us that would have been helpful to know much earlier in this process.

The bottom line is that there are a lot of complicated issues at South Shore, and for many reasons, it seems Laurie is the best fit. Kelly has a strong desire not to pit south end schools against each other, and he feels there is a path forward that will benefit, not harm, Graham Hill. Both Kelly and Laurie shared with us about a possible interim from the community. Frankly, this person DOES sound like a good fit, and the value of an interim is that they can start immediately, and we can have the option to see them in action for a year before they are permanently accepted.

Based on this discussion, Jeanne and I are accepting Laurie's appointment to South Shore. I am lobbying for the suggested replacement Laurie and Kelly think would best fit with where we are and where we are going. Personally, I want someone who will come in and keep us in the same direction, not someone who plans to reinvent the wheel.

HOWEVER, you may not share that sentiment. Wednesday night, Kelly will be at Graham Hill to hear what is important to YOU for next steps. (You can also let him know what you didn't like about the previous steps too, though I do think he has heard clearly from Jeanne and I about the problems with how things have been handled thus far.) We need to communicate what is important to us for the next leader at Graham Hill. If what you want matches the potential interim, we are hoping that this person can be moved in quickly so that they and Laurie can overlap as much as possible. (I'm not using names in this forum because their school hasn't been informed, and having been in that position, I can respect the need they have for appropriate communication before hearing a rumor from us).

If you have questions or concerns, feel free to email me. Better yet, come tomorrow and hear from Kelly himself about the steps forward.

I really love our school community. We will persevere and be a strong force for our children in 2014-2015.

----
I still don't get how SS is more complicated than Graham Hill.
-
not happy

mirmac1 said...

One school's "benefit" is the other school's stab in the back? Sounding more and more arbitrary and capricious. This situation mirrors the one Highland Park is finding itself in, with their principal going to K-5 STEM (more complicated?) and their incoming on extended leave.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Not Happy, that is good work on the part of your PTA leadership. It is also good that the district will get an interim person so that the community isn't just assigned someone.

Of course, that does not change how upsetting and/or confusing it is about how principals get assigned.

Why is SS more complicated than GH? Again, they are part of partnership with LEV and the district. It's part of a long-term relationship formerly with New School Foundation. As such, they have money and power beyond any other school in the district.

The district will not acknowledge this (nor will South Shore).

I think South Shore is a good school but a good example of how add'l dollars alone won't move the needle to where the district would like it to be.

Muir Mom said...

John Muir has a new principal - Brenda Ball Cuthbertson, former assistant principal at Olympic View Elementary. Anyone know anything about her? (current principal Awnie Thompson is retiring)

Anonymous said...

Given the now public evaluation of Mr. Banda, one can only assume that the Board is getting an extra LOUD earful from parents et al on all this shifting of principals. And they want answers.

Has that ever worked in this joint? Other than firing or public shaming, what recourse is there?

reader47

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader 47, I said this elsewhere but it's worth repeating.

PTAs, both school-based and the SCPTSA, should rise up in unison over this issue. I think that would get the Board's attention.

Anonymous said...

yes, sorry should have been clearer - I meant does the Board have any recourse in this situation beyond firing/shaming ;o)

reader47

Disgusted said...

Why is South Shore more complicated than Graham Hill?

Anonymous said...

Salmon bay bleeding staff.

North beach dropping math waiver and getting a new principle.

Braodview Thompson getting a new principle,

Cathrine Blane getting a new principle.

See it's just not happening in the south end.

--Michael

Mr. Gluck said...

Muir Mom:

I had the pleasure of working with Ms. BBC at West Seattle Elementary a few years back. She is incredibly well-organized and highly positive/constructive in her leadership (leading by example, not through bullying as many other principals do). Your community is lucky to have her!

Charlie Mas said...

So if the unnamed interim candidate for the principal job at Graham Hill is so wonderful and so consistent with the work that the previous principal was doing, then why not assign that person to SouthShore and allow the principal at Graham Hill to remain there and provide consistent leadership?

Why isn't the proposed interim for Graham Hill good enough for SouthShore?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I would guess because it's not who LEV wants.

Anonymous said...

If I remember right, the current principal placement policy was put in place under MGJ's reign. The replaced policy called for parental input in the selection.

Does anyone know how to get a copy of the old policy? Please share it.

The board certainly can write into policy a requirement that the parent community have a say in selection of replacelemtn principal.

I understand Northbeack is getting Catherine Blaine K-8 principal. CB is the worst performing of Schmitz Parks (low poverty, low ELL, low SpEd) demographic peer group.

The new principal is a fan of Reader's/Writer's workshop, so prob ably will not be supportive of continuing North Beach's phonic's based Linguistic Remedies program.

Just sayin'

Anonymous said...

problem with parents having a say is that the high poverty schools will likely get the worst principals, unless the policy, if rewritten to give parents say, protects against this result.

I would like to see principal report cards on the district website. They could be plotting out school performance time series for each principal. We might see for some principals that during each of their assignments, school performance declines. these principals should be let go.

xx

#MoneytalksBSwalks said...

"
So if the unnamed interim candidate for the principal job at Graham Hill is so wonderful and so consistent with the work that the previous principal was doing, then why not assign that person to SouthShore and allow the principal at Graham Hill to remain there and provide consistent leadership?"

Good point. Isn't it better to have atleast one steady administrator at Graham Hill?

Muir Mom said...

Thank you Mr. Gluck for your encouraging words about Brenda Ball Cuthbertson. We had selected a different principal, but that person ended up going to another school.

Anonymous said...

This was the excerpt from the 2007-08 Principal Appointment Process which is no longer available from the link to the district's site.

For transfer and reassignment of current principals:
Transfers and reassignments may occur at the request of a current principal and/or at the discretion of the Superintendent. The Superintendent will consider the leadership needs of schools in his decision. After the Superintendent announces principals recommended for transfer, the Principal and Instructional Director will meet and dialogue with the staff and community.


From: "Leadership Positions Open at Seattle Schools"

Ann D

Anonymous said...

Just saying'

I believe you are referencing the existing policy related to alternative schools which talks about administrator assignment by choice and shared decision making.

http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Policies/Board/c/C54.00.pdf?sessionid=08be528af97107132ff415604d4dbfb8

Not that this is followed regularly, but it is one that is referenced when a principal is placed at an alternative school (ie option school) not by choice and with no shared decision making.

-SWWS

Linh-Co said...

North Beach has not had Linguistics Remedy for about 6 years. Years ago, every teacher at the school were trained in Linguistics Remedy. Less than 1/2 of the original staff are still at North Beach. Linguistics Remedy was brought in by Principal Nikki Hayes. She also introduced Saxon to the community. In her reign, North Beach scored in the 90% or higher in every grade level for math and reading.

After Nikki Hayes, North Beach had 4 principals in five years. It has been down hill ever since.

Anonymous said...

I have always suspected that moving the principals around every 3-5 years allows the district to maintain control over them and prevents principals from becoming advocates for their schools and staff.

At North Beach one principal was so egregious to the parents that the parents made it quite uncomfortable for her (and rightly so). She transferred to another school where she seems to fit quite well. Thus, I think it is true that it is better to match the right principal with the right school rather than play a cynical game of political musical chairs where the only consistency is the relationship between the principal and the central administration. In that situation, can anyone guess where the principal's loyalties will lie?

Hiring should involve staff and parental input. And once a good match is made, policy should be in place to limit transfers rather than encourage them. It takes more time but interim principals can be utilized until a candidate is hired. In fact, at North Beach - the best principal I saw there during the high turnover time was the interim principal! All others were a poor match to the school and moved on quickly.

-NoAdvocates4theSchool

robyn said...

Melissa,

When are you going to be able to brace us for these changes? The curiosity is killing me!

Can you at least answer Curious's questions (post #3)?

Anonymous said...

While the curiosity isn't killing me, I figure there's got to be a way to at least narrow down the "big changes". Are we talking district-wide, north end, south end, West Seattle, or what? Are we talking personnel, buildings, students, athletics, testing, or what? And what about the timing?

Surely there's a way to give parents a general heads up that's a little less of a widely cast net. How can parents be ready if they have no clue at all what's coming?

That's why traditional media tends to wait until there is something of substance to "tease" the audience with: "At 5 tonight, an in-depth look at XYZ" or "Three-part series on ABC starting next Monday". Otherwise it's likely to get lost in the shuffle or becomes a whole lot of rumor and speculation.

Curious Too

First Grader Parent said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I have heard similar complaints about the CB Principal. From what I have heard, CB will be happy to see her go.

I understand that Goodloe-Johnson would often put bad principals in strong schools so that the school community would complain and try to oust the principal. This saved admin the effort of having to build a case to fire them. It sounds like maybe things are going the other way - pushing bad principals to more vulnerable schools so there will be few complaints.

Wall fly

Anonymous said...

ohhh so you are saying Banda is leaving. Ohhh I get it now!

-good riddance!

Anonymous said...

Just curios if Dr. Morrison is leaving graham hill that would have been perfect for a young assistant principal to take over. That's very unusual that a first year assistant principal leaves before the end of the school year without another job in place hmmm...I'm just saying