Saturday, November 29, 2014

United Vote or Split Vote on Seattle Schools' Nyland for Super?

To have a split vote would look terrible (no matter how large or small).  For the purposes of whoever is driving this process, the Board should be united on who they pick; otherwise, it signals no faith in the choice and/or the process.  

It would also serve to isolate whoever votes no.  In essence, they may become a present-day Mary Bass (the former director who frequently was the lone vote against many issues.  She ended up being the canary in the coal mine for former Superintendent Olchefske's $30M+ unraveling.)

However, the courage to say NO is more valuable to them than any good will.  It means they stand with the parents and community who knew that the search process had begun and expected them to finish it in good faith.  Or, AT LEAST have the grace to tell people in a timely, rational fashion what they were going to do. 

Here's how I see the vote.
Blanford (goes w/o saying)
Marty (she's already said it)
Sharon (she wrote it)

Sherry - Although after her performance on the Gates Foundation grant it's likely to be a yes, Sherry has a lot of law and order in her and I don't know how much she will like coming to the table this way.

Harium - He's also a probably except that I am told that at his October meeting this subject came up and he said that some on the Board wanted no search but he thought it was a better idea to have one.  Has he changed his mind?  There's something to ask him.


*These two poor women are going to be under HUGE pressure to vote yes and will get hounded by the powers that be to do this. 

I'm not sure I would blame them if they did but they would have my undying admiration and support if they say, "No, I won't be bullied."  Because that's what this is.

A reader suggested to me that  Nyland told the Board he will walk if not given the job outright.  This is fairly plausible especially if some of the powers that be put a bug in his ear.

After this is all done, I'll tell you what I REALLY think about Nyland's thought process but I prefer to keep my own counsel at this point.

Send those e-mails to the maybe and no people.


Mark said...

This must be a unanimous decision and this is a leadership issue.

Failure to receive a unanimous vote is a leadership issue.

Anonymous said...

Let him walk. Really no loss to SPS, parents and kids.
-Not sad

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thing is, saying no to this vote (or withdrawing it altogether) should NOT make Nyland run.

It's not a vote AGAINST him. It's a vote for input and process as both Peaslee and McLaren said they would have when they were campaigning.

Just like Enfield, he should throw his hat in the ring and be judged against any others who apply.

It is NOT just about qualifications but about fit. I am dismayed because I know two local people who I think might be great but we'll never know because the Board made a secret, unilateral decision.

Important Vote said...

"It's not a vote AGAINST him. It's a vote for input and process as both Peaslee and McLaren said they would have when they were campaigning."

Excellent point. Failure to receive a unanimous vote will not work well going forward.

Greenwoody said...

The board should not be bullied into ceding its power like this. Hiring a superintendent is one of their most important tasks. They should do so carefully and thoughtfully, rather than acting out of fear and threats. This entire process that's unfolding is indefensible and does not reflect well on the district, the board, or the interim superintendent.

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

The Alliance of Education weighs in on short notice:

"But some aren’t taking a position on whether the public should have more chance to share its views, including the Alliance for Education, a nonprofit fundraising and advocacy group.

Sara Morris, the alliance’s president, said her organization has no position on whether the board should seek more public input."

Holy Skit said...

From the above article:

"This time, the School Board is offering no organized opportunity for the public to weigh in beyond the chance to email board members or sign up for one of the limited number of two-minute public comment slots at Wednesday’s meeting. "

What are they hiding?

Anonymous said...

Can someone remind me if the board decided to do a search when Enfield's term was up? I remember her decision to not seek the job, but I don't remember board action.

I believe that with principals and supers it should be a matter of course to do a search after an interim appointment.

Former SPSParent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, the district did the search and they hired Banda.

I agree; with any interim, there should be a search.

Charlie Mas said...

There's no reason the vote could not be scheduled for two weeks out, December 17. The Board is meeting that day anyway. They can include a special session for the vote. They have done special sessions for votes before. In fact they did one recently.

Whether the Board should choose Dr. Nyland or not is a question that we can discuss, but whether the Board should do it without an opportunity for public review, input, and comment is not a question worthy of discussion.

Anonymous said...

I attended Director Martin-Morris' October community meeting, and at that time he seemed to be very much in support of a full search for the permanent superintendent position. During his meeting, we discussed things like national -vs- regional searches, etc... From his report, it seemed like things were on track for a search to be conducted this fall/winter, and that the Board had been busy defining the search criteria, etc...

I'm flabbergasted by all this.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand President Peaslee's repeated assertions that they "must act now" or dire consequences will ensue. Doesn't it feel like something is going on behind the scenes we aren't privy too?

After all, Mr. Nyland is quoted in the Times story as saying he'd stay "two, three maybe four years..." so it's not like this whole hoopla won't be happening again sooner rather than later.

What is the danged hurry? This whole scenario Charlie points out -2 weeks would be that detrimental???

(and yes, I've already written the Board)


Melissa Westbrook said...

I think the hurry is two-fold.

One, Nyland may have said he'll leave if there's a search (a la Enfield).

Two, the powers that be want it to be so.

Transparency please said...

I hope this is not a fear based action and cooler heads prevail.

There is no reason to vote on this issue this Wednesday.

Anonymous said...

So maybe Gates and/or the City's ed dept are threatening to hire Nyland away if SPS doesn't install him immediately? And the board thinks if they play nice and please the powers that be they'll be rewarded in the end--either via more grants now, or lucrative jobs with a Gates org or the city when they're done with SPS? Money talks.

And WTF with McLaren complaining about time constraints and needing to specify a search firm by 12/3 at the absolute latest? Did they not know Nyland was interim? Did they no promise a full search when they appointed him? Sounds like screwed up and didn't act quickly enough on the search that was supposedly underway...

Half Full

cmj said...

Half Full said McLaren complaining about time constraints and needing to specify a search firm by 12/3 at the absolute latest?....Sounds like screwed up and didn't act quickly enough on the search that was supposedly underway...

I think that's possible. The search was supposed to start in September. SPS has had more than enough things to keep them busy this fall.

Nyland also might have told SPS that he would resign if not immediately given the offer, but that would make more sense if he were a decade younger and looking to move to a more prestigious role to build his career. Nyland's nearly retired. If he did drive that bargain, what would he do if SPS turned him down? Calmly retire? Go to another district? Go back to doing leadership training, which he was doing after he retired from Marysville in 2013?

Melissa Westbrook said...

AGAIN, they have been working on this. I was at a Board committee meeting of the whole (and I think only Patu wasn't there) and they were going thru attributes, how to rank them for a search firm, etc.

It's not like they were not working on it. They stopped.

Why is the real question.

After the vote, I'll explain what I believe some of Nyland's thinking is.

Maybe he'll shed some light on this tomorrow night. If he avoids any questions, it's not good.

Eric B said...

As long as we're all speculating baselessly, here's another possible way that it may have unfolded behind closed doors:

Board is working through the long list of attributes they want in a new Super. Somebody speaks up and says, "Doesn't that describe Nyland to a T?" Discussion of just hiring him ensues.

For the record, I don't have any inside information. This is just another possible scenario that I think satisfies Occam's Razor better than "this is how the powers that be want it" (although about as well as "appoint me permanent or I walk"). It's also a way to see the situation that assumes good intentions for everyone. I do think there should be an open hiring process.

Anonymous said...

I posted on another thread and I will post again here that as a parent who is active in special needs advocacy communities, I see the community engagement of our sped families and community partners as worse in this present administration of Mr. Nyland than any previous administration. Mr. Nyland has effectively dismantled his own sped advisory committee (SEAAC) and is not seeking out families and community partners for any of the ongoing regular reality checking and information sharing that would enable him to do his job better. And, after the release of all data about sped students to a vendor and then to a 3rd party, his administration abruptly canceled a previously scheduled meeting with the SPED PTSA. I'm sorry, but while I have not been a fan of these big superintendent searches I am surely not a fan of appointing somebody who does not seem to understand why he can do his job better if he is listening carefully to our sped families and community partners.

And for the record, the Special Education Advisory and Advocacy Council, SEAAC? That is the Superintendent's advisory and advocacy council. It's been scheduled by unknown administrators for the time of day when our sped families are most challenged, 4.30pm on a weekday, and, though starting 5 months late the SEAAC (such as it is) is scheduled for every other month. There are only 2 returning board members from the previous year (both unable to attend a meeting at 4.30pm on a weekday) and anybody with a longer institutional memory or history has been taken off of the board.


SeattlePA said...

Not seeing my question posted, will try again:
Melissa, would you mind telling this newcomer what it means that Blamsford is a yes vote, "it goes without saying?"
Just stsrting my learning in this topic/with SPS & the board.

Melissa Westbrook said...

SeattlePA, when you know the players, you can pretty well guess how they will vote. What makes it difficult are those who are switch-hitters or have been gradually moving away from the side they vote on.

Blanford is the powers that be friend. He seemingly does not really like working with parents/community. He hasn't been on the board long enough to really know the district well (and seemingly isn't trying that hard).

He DID say, at a committee meeting, that he wanted a national search. So he and Martin-Morris are on record as saying they wanted a search.

If that's true, then they should vote no but I don't know if either will.

Melissa Westbrook said...

But if I were Director Peaslee with two likely No votes (and maybe one or two in the wings), I'd withdraw this BAR or at least amend it for the vote to come in two weeks.

Charlie Mas said...

Commitment to community engagement doesn't mean anything until you withhold your approval of an action that has inadequate community engagement. Without that it is just lip service.

Anonymous said...

From the July 18 SPS announcement of Nyland as Interim:

"Seattle School Board members said they will soon outline a recruitment plan for hiring the next permanent Superintendent, a process that will include community engagement."

Half Full

Anonymous said...

Eric B said:

"As long as we're all speculating baselessly, here's another possible way that it may have unfolded behind closed doors:

Board is working through the long list of attributes they want in a new Super. Somebody speaks up and says, "Doesn't that describe Nyland to a T?" Discussion of just hiring him ensues."

I suppose that's one possibility, but it surely doesn't explain why the rush. Has the board put together a description of what they're looking for in a Supt, and if so, does anyone know where we can find it?

Half Full

Eric B said...

@Half Full, I emailed the Board about the issue and got a response back from McLaren. Her response indicated that there was a document of what they were looking for, but I don't know if it's public. It may be protected under executive session for some time.

As far as the rush, I think Peaslee's statement can be taken at face value. They need to decide now whether they go to a search or whether they just hire Nyland. My read of the tea leaves is they got 90% of the way through the process to go to a search and then some number of directors decided that sticking with Nyland was better.

But again, I don't know anything other than what I read in the papers.

Melissa Westbrook said...

The document you may seek was openly shown at a public committee meeting. It was a list of attributes, etc. I'm sure you can request it.

Eric is always the voice of reason and good manners. I wish I could believe good intent but I frequently find that there are always many issues to any district decision, not all of them good.

If any a decision was away from children and ALL about adults, it's this one.

SeattlePA said...

Thanks for taking the time to respond, Melissa.