Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Seattle School Board Moves to Install Nyland Permanently

Talk about on the downlow.  Talk about shady.

Embedded in the School Board agenda for next Wednesday, Dec.3 - for Intro and Action via Sharon Peaslee and Ron English - is this:


This action will authorize the Board President to negotiate a contract with Dr. Larry Nyland for the office of Superintendent. Selection of the chief executive officer of the District is a policy decision by the School Board. Per RCW 28A.330.100, the Board shall have the power to employ a superintendent of schools of the district.


I move that the School Board authorize the Board President:
1) To offer the position of Superintendent to Dr. Larry Nyland;
2) To negotiate an employment contract with Dr. Larry Nyland for the position of Superintendent through June 30, 2017; and
3) To present the completed contract to the School Board for approval at the January 7, 2015 Board meeting.
Immediate action is in the best interest of the District. 

What's the alternative?


Do not offer the Superintendent contract to Dr. Nyland. A search for a permanent superintendent will take several months, and utilize valuable district resources and funds. 

Wait a minute.  If Nyland is so experienced, then the district IS in good hands until we go thru the process of vetting a new superintendent.  It doesn't have to cost a lot of money if it stays regional.  

If anyone raises the ghost of Enfield -"look how we lost her" - that's also nonsense.  She left because she wanted to (and for personal reasons as well).  How's Highline doing under the superintendent we lost?  Not swimmingly.  

To explain, the past two days the Board has met, in Executive Session, over this matter.  We were NOT told this was the matter before them; we had to guess.  

They were to have an OPEN Committee of the Whole yesterday after the conclusion of day two of their Executive Session; that did NOT happen.

The reasoning?  Well, in the Action Item, it's just his resume.  NOT a single thing he has done for SPS.  He claimed, in his State of the District speech, that he was putting forth a 100-day Communications plan.  So where's the beef on that?  Nowhere.  

The one clear thing he did do?  Did not follow Board policy from the get-go and signed a huge Gates Foundation grant NOT related to the core mission of SPS.  As Charlie said:

The Board voted to accept a grant at Mr. Nyland's first Board meeting.  The BAR for that motion clearly stated this policy requirement.

Moreover, Mr. Nyland had been superintendent for two months when he signed the Gates grant contract,  which was plenty of time for him to read the Board policies,  particularly those that describe the scope and limits of his authority

Sorry folks but I call - and publicly - bullshit. I have NO idea what is going on but to do this with ZERO public notice or discussion under NO emergency situation is nonsense.  

The Board MUST hear that this is ridiculous and they must vote no.  

Please take the time this weekend to make your voice heard:
sharon.peaslee@seattleschools.org
harium.martin-morris@seattleschools.org
sue.peters@seattleschools.org
marty.mclaren@seattleschools.org
betty.patu@seattleschools.org
sherry.carr@seattleschools.org
stephan.blanford@seattleschools.org

37 comments:

Robert Cruickshank said...

This is completely unacceptable. Seattle schools deserves a complete superintendent search. I am appalled that anyone on the board would consider sticking with Nyland after just two months - and especially after he misled the board about the Gates grant.

Mia said...

Nyland signed onto the Gates Grant without board approval. The Gates Narrative/Agreement indicates a relationship to the city.

The public deserves to know whether or not Nyland has signed any papers related to the city and Seattle Public School's prek program before he is hired.

If there is any wrong doing or lack of transparency...Nyland should not be hired.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mia, I am trying to find that out.

William Wilcock said...

Given that full searches have repeatedly yielded Superintendents with tenures ranging from fair to disastrous I am not sure why anyone would want repeat that process unless they are somehow vested in the perpetual ineptness of SPS.

I know any mention of the Gates Foundation sends many ideologues up the wall but Dr. Nyland actually has a record that suggests that he might be quite good at the job.

Melissa Westbrook said...

WW, there are other ways to do a search than what has been done in the past. I know of two local viable candidates.

I have no idea how the Gates Foundation matches up with Dr. Nyland's record but do tell the rest of us what you know.

And fyi, this is underhanded whether you support Dr. Nyland or not.

Robert Cruickshank said...

William, it's also the case that taking an interim superintendent and making them permanent has also produced disaster. Joseph Olschefske was made permanent superintendent in 1999 after the death of John Stanford. Olschefske went on to preside over a major financial scandal and was run out of town after everyone had lost confidence in his abilities.

Do a search. It can't hurt. If the search reveals Nyland really is the best person for the job, great. This is too important to just rubber stamp him after two uneven months - and especially after a very serious financial failure on his part.

Anonymous said...

Another oddity.

IF the rumors are true and SpED Director Z Wiliiams (?) was discharged for contracting violations, then the Board and SPS counsel has handed her and her lawyers a significant cudgel/sword - the understanding and adherence to contracting policies is not an "across the board" policy. No pun intended.

In other words, it's okay if the Interim Supt. does it, but not others - a significant piece of evidence her lawyers can establish inexpensively in depositions or sworn requests for admissions in a month. If SEA, PASS and the other unions have grievances and litigation pending on behalf of their members for policy violations, this will indeed be interesting. Potentially very shortsighted and expensive.

What's the emergency here? What was the Interim Supt's evaluation results (to be done in 45 days according to his contract)?

His contract specifically says he can APPLY for the permanent position.

Public engagement? None.

How does this build trust to the public to pass levies and bonds - funds this district desperately needs.

Transparency, trust, campaign promises?????

We'll see.

Leslie

Anonymous said...

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, not April Fool's Day.

DistrictWatcher

Rufus X said...

Good to see Peaslee & associates (whoever/whatever interests they are) showing themselves: This screams classic Friday news dump, plus a few extra days since it was the Wed. prior to a holiday weekend.

If Melissa calls bull$hit and uses that word, something’s beyond rotten in Denmark. Gird your loins, folks- $hit is about to get real.

Thank you, Melissa, for once again sounding the alarm.

Greenwoody said...

Between this and her awful comments attacking the victim in the Garfield rape case, it's clear that Peaslee doesn't want to get re-elected. I wonder what kind of deal she struck behind the scenes with the Gates Foundation and the Alliance for Education on this one.

Anonymous said...

How rich. Isn't this the board Charlie and Melissa promoted as being so much better than the previous one with Sundquist and Maier? The one that with Carr and Martin-Morris got called rubberstampers and the Gang of Four?

Now this supposedly 'good' board is pulling a move the Gang of Four didn't dare. At least they did a search.

Might as well have kept the Gang of Four and Enfield and saved us all 2 years of drama if this is the end result. So much for this blog's board recommendations. So disheartened.

I've learned through this blog to count board votes and if Peaslee is introducing the measure this is a done deal.

Longtime watcher

Lynn said...

Also attached to the agenda, the 2015-16 Growth Boundaries for Student Assignment Update which contains this gem: "Highly Capable Services students within the Washington pathway continue to grow, limiting the space at Washington Middle School for non-Highly Capable Services students coming from feeder schools. Again, staff are reviewing Highly Capable Services student enrollment data, as the location for Highly Capable Services could potentially be moved from being housed solely at Washington to a combination of Washington/Meany/Madison or otherwise."
The last item on the agenda: Executive Session: To consider the selection of a site or the acquisition of real
estate – This closed session will begin at the conclusion of the regular Board meeting and last approximately forty-five minutes. The legislative session will not reconvene after the executive session, and no action will be taken as a result of the executive session.
Bidding on the federal building opens on December 5th.

Gads said...

There has been a stunning lack of transparency around the entire preschool initiative with the city.

We know Nyland signed an agreement with Gates prior to board approval.

I's say: If Nyland signed an agreement with the city and didn't get board approval, he has to go.

Charlie Mas said...

Why would this item be for introduction and action at the same meeting? What's the urgency?

There is no urgency. The reason for introduction and action at one meeting is to diminish public comment.

Let's remember that the reason for introduction of motions at one meeting and action on the motion at a subsequent meeting is to allow for public review, input, and comment. Therefore, in the absence of any real urgency, the only reason to take away that time gap is to suppress public review, input, and comment.

cmj said...

There are times when I look at Seattle Public Schools leadership and think "folks, this is not a competition where you try to do your job as badly as possible." Because sometimes it seems like they're trying to do that.

SPS's superintendents since Stanford have run the gamut from decent to incompetent to rule-breaking. Only a few years ago SPS fired its own superintendent over mismanaging funds. Nyland has already...managed to violate major district policy. The Board knew about that. Are they trying to run the district into the ground?

Melissa Westbrook said...

My sources told me there was a big push for this. Whether it was certain Board members or outside influence, I don't know.

It is hard to discern who EXACTLY would be for this but I suspect the two middle people are Peaslee and McLaren. And I am very disappointed.

If this had at least been an Intro item, maybe. But that it is Intro/Action (which again, is for emergencies and given no press release on the need for this urgency, then no), I feel it is a grave disservice.

I have let other media types know as I'm sure none of them look at the agenda. Let's see the Times spin this one.

Longtime, you're right - I often get fooled by what people say during election time and what they do. That said, I never expected or said any four people would always vote in lockstep.

Enfield? Not doing so great in Highline.

Lynn, in my haste last night, I left out that item. Yes, it appears the district will be bidding on the Federal Reserve building. Again, no dollars so I expect to see some BEX IV project slowed down because of it. I don't know where else they could get the funds unless - gasp! - some downtown entity suddenly felt generous.

"Are they trying to run the district into the ground?"

Some of them are. It helps the Mayor's case.

Anonymous said...

I can tell people right now how the Seattle Times will spin this in an editorial. They will call it a welcome blow against "Seattle process."

Liars and hypocrites that they are, they will ignore, as if it had never existed, their constant (and admirable) beating of the drum for openness and transparency in government.

I hate the "Seattle process" as much as the next citizen, but I hate railroad jobs far worse. This is a railroad job, plain and simple, and our message needs to be only this: No railroad jobs.

Demonstrators should pack the Board meeting Wednesday night armed with toy train whistles. Toys R Us stocks them.

-- Ivan Weiss

Anonymous said...

I guess we shouldn't be surprised. Mr. Nyland is clearly playing well to the right "crowd" - those who seek to make SPS part of Mayor Murray's fiefdom. Frankly, the BMGF snafu kinda fits in - it's ammunition for making SPS look soooo bad that it must change. And that change must be Mayoral control and/or appointment of the Board.

I hope that there are some wiser minds on the Board who will not let this, as Ivan accurately calls it, "railroad job" move forward.

I have seriously lost all respect for Director Peaslee - talk about co-opted!

reader47

D said...

Two posts ago, another complaint about the mayor's office and its designs on SPS. But this is better?

Questionable motives, secret agendas, and ongoing general incompetence continue at the district level. Whether it's changing the Board or school governance as a whole, big changes need to be made. It's not hard to see why all options should be on the table.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a naked power grab. The power brokers have a super in place who does their bidding, so why risk a candidate search that might put an unknown in that role?

Adam

Watching said...

"I hate the "Seattle process" as much as the next citizen, but I hate railroad jobs far worse."

Absolutely shameful.

Watching said...

" This is too important to just rubber stamp him after two uneven months - and especially after a very serious financial failure on his part."

I agree. There must be an investigation around this issue. It does NOT make sense that an experienced superintendent would sign a grant for $750K without board approval. We need to know whether or not Nyland had legal counsel on this issue, too. Who was in the room with Nyland and what advice did he receive?

The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior and this issue must be explored before hiring Nyland.

Anonymous said...

Nyland is NOT a 'value-add' proposition.

Let's just move on.

How much difference does he/a super really make anyways? At best, they are irrelevant... like Banda was. Banda's contribution to our kids for the all the cash we forked over to him? Nothing, unless you count the damage done to SpEd programs through neglect, and, the capacity crisis that worsened on his watch. "And the band played on" comes to mind.

Nyland is bad news. He'll treat the Board/Us as an 'after thought'; witness preschool (umh, mandate?), witness signing a grant without approval to do so (oops, his mae culpa, "who knew", umh, you should, dude; you've been at this for 20 years), witness the play for the $53 million downtown property without any analysis. Scary.

I would rather have Phil Brockman back. He knows and cares about kids. Yeah, "kids", the widgets in the system. He already gets Seattle and what the worst problems are and who the players are (the good, the bad, and the ugly -- he would clean house, and, put the $ back into the schools, not the fiefdom of the JSCEE).

This is so wrong. Hiring Nyland after 3 major mistakes in 2 months? Peaslee wants him because she is confident she can control him.

SCARED and SCARRED

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute--have they not been searching all along? I thought the search process was supposed to have been underway a long time ago?

HalfFull

Kate Martin said...

Lately I've been wondering if the public should elect the SPS Superintendent. It seems we'd have a greater voice that way on the direction the school district goes. As it is, 7 board members making the selection is not working out very well and meanwhile the status quo of our district's problems just go on and on. Has anyone analyzed something like that?

Sam said...


Interesting article in the Seattle Times.

Article indicates that Nyland wants to "change course" with special ed. What does this mean?


http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2025118070_nylandpermanentxml.html

Sam said...

From the Seattle Times:

"Board President Sharon Peaslee declined to comment Thursday on whether the proposal to hire Nyland has the support of a majority of the board, saying, “I would never venture to predict how my colleagues are going to vote.”

She would not discuss how the idea of hiring Nyland as the permanent superintendent came about, because, she said, those conversations took place in executive session."

Odd.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Half Full, the Board HAS been doing work towards the process. They came up with criteria and I believe search firms were being vetted.

In fact, the committee meeting I was sitting in, the discussion was very detailed so I don't think it was for show.

I think something has changed and marching orders have been given.

Anonymous said...

Speaking for myself as somebody who is active in the special ed advocacy communities, I have to question what is going on here. There are already zero checks and balances in the corrective action plan in so far as having the voices and perspectives of families and community partners heard anywhere as to whether real change is being brought about. On top of this, Mr. Nyland has essentially dismantled his own special ed advisory and advocacy committee (SEAAC). That committee is dead for all intents and purposes. He isn't reaching out. The firewall is unique among recent central administrations.

AnneS

Melissa Westbrook said...

If you think you have it bad as parents now, just wait. Look up other cities like Chicago and NYC and see what their parent groups say about the "talk to the hand" attitude they get when school boards don't listen to parents and community.

Anonymous said...

"Talk to the hand" describes Director Peaslee perfectly.

It is almost December, and she hasn't held a single community meeting for the 2014-15 school year. It doesn't surprise me that she would attempt to pull off something like this, an intro/action item, with no community input.

Parents are pleading for more transparency in SPS. If Dr. Nyland had simply directed his staff to resume the posting of monthly enrollment data, then I would think we were headed in the right direction with him at the helm. Instead, we have continued secrecy when it comes to enrollment numbers, contracts being signed in advance of Board votes, apparent favoritism when it comes to school staffing/funding, and underhanded moves like this one coming from Director Peaslee.

The Board should do a search, even if just a regional one. If Dr. Nyland emerges as the best candidate, then great! The only downfside would be Director Peaslee's inevitable "I told you so" smugness, and a lecture during Board Comments, where she chastises the greater SPS community for wasting the Board's time and SPS resources on a search.

- reality check

Snakes said...

Annie S,

I suspect this will be Nyland's guiding document; a report from OSPI to the governor:

http://www.governor.wa.gov/oeo/reports/SpecialEdTaskForce%20Report_Nov2014.pdf

Peaslee's leadership is horrendous- at best. Did she make a deal to push bell times in exchange for a ram through hiring of the superintendent?

Anonymous said...

The Marysville school district was a disaster with Nyland.

http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20140810/NEWS01/140819955

--Michael

Anonymous said...

I have a lot of interesting STUFF about Peaslee for my public disclosure request. Maybe it's time to unleash the hounds?

I wish we could get her recalled, it's does seem like she has been getting preferential placements for her own add in refusing to meet with her own constituents is grounds for a recall.

I would recommend other members distant themselves from her "Peters" are you reading this.

--Michael

Anonymous said...

The takeover was foretold by poster "follow themoney" many months ago and this blog poo pooed it. It now seems like follow the money had information no one else had.

So can this takeover be stopped or was follow themoney correct by writing it's a done deal?

CT

Melissa Westbrook said...

CT, Follow the Money offered zero information so it was unclear the basis for that claim.

Done deal? No, it's not a done deal. But if you don't want it to happen, you can't sit on your hands.

Jim Mellen said...

I'm all for the so-called "Seattle Process". I think the so-called "Seattle Process" is great!

Why would anyone complain about a city that at least attempts to hear from as broad a spectrum of people as possible when it comes to public policy decisions.

What are you missing? Speed? Hyperactivity? Closed door proceedings? "Efficiency"? Or do you just like to criticize whatever appears to be the dominant way of doing things, no matter where you currently live?

Or are you one of those people who just assumes that if it's "the government", then it MUST "be wrong!"

I think that's called reactionary.

So what's your recommended alternative, people to the supposedly ubiquitous and highly dislikable "Seattle Process?" Fascism?

I come from a part of the country where the so-called "Seattle Process" never enters the minds of the criminally corrupt, cynical and "connected" crooks crush communities completely.

You don't know what you've got, people, until you lose it.

What IS most troubling about this is the lack of public notice and input. And if you want to see less of this behavior in high places, in the future, demand more of that so-called "Seattle Process".

I only wish the "Seattle Process" was spoken of with pride and solid support instead of dismissed with such sardonic words and gestures.

My ONLY problem with what some folks have called the "Seattle Process" is that I wish it were as widespread and prevalent as some people claim.

If I have any complaints, it's that I wish we could see a lot more of it...here in Seattle.