Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Seattle School Board Meeting Updates

New Board officers:

President - Sherry Carr
VP - Sharon Peaslee
Member at large - Marty McLaren

All by unanimous vote.


Well, I can only say it's a done deal.  The bombardment of words from Peaslee and McLaren were like them taking turns reading Nyland's resume.

Apparently, according to Carr and McLaren, the public, including staff and parents, real have no role in the selection of a superintendent (but do keep those e-mails coming).  Why should you give any input?  They've already said they won't use anything you say in their decision.  (Although the noticeable absence of any SEA Board member tells me that if they have issues, they got addressed.)

I will have more in the morning but right now I can tell you that he WILL be voted in as permanent superintendent of SPS by a 5-2 vote next Wednesday.

As I say, I don't think anyone should show up for this lazy vote.  I say lazy because sure, "change is hard" and working with the public is messy but that's democracy.

Here's what I said tonight to the Board (based on research about Dr. Nyland, I referenced his work in Pasco and Marysville):

Let’s visit some past history.

A former superintendent in Pasco said this what he would have done differently with his plan for change there:

Parents. We would have, should have, involved parents earlier.
They have the power to be supporters or opponents of what you are doing. The more they know about what you aredoing ,the more likely they are to understand and besupportive.
I’d now like to read a couple of things about Marysville School District.  They were looking for a new superintendent in 2004.  That superintendent would be their 7th in 12 years.   The guy they picked was one of 22 candidates for the job.  Quite the superintendent search.

Then, after that guy left for retirement in June 2013, their Board president stated,

"We're going to have a lot of community input and a lot of staff input about what person we want as our leader for the future  "This is a decision that affects the whole community and that person has to be really well accepted."

But now back to you, the Board.  
You all know what this looks like.  Embedded in the Board agenda, with no press release or notification on the district website on a holiday weekend, is information about the most important decision you make as directors?  Not good.
Our district doesn’t need a massive, expensive national search for a superintendent.  That’s old-school, status quo.  We need a streamlined and tightly-schedule regional search.  Because none of you can say, with any real certainty, that you know you have sought the best fit for our district.

It is not just about qualifications and experience – it’s about fit.  Because if it had been just about qualifications and experience, John Stanford never would have been superintendent.

Listen to teachers, to staff and to parents.  

You hurt your credibility to ignore those people.  You hurt this district by trying to rush a vote – that at this point – is clearly not going to be unanimous.  

In the superintendent evaluation, the Board said it liked thatthe superitendent made a mistake and apologized.  Now, it’s your turn.

In these times, the words of filmmaker Spike Lee are clear and to the point – DO THE RIGHT THING.  


Anonymous said...

OMG the mouth that says nothing


Melissa Westbrook said...

If you are referring to me, I actually did say something quite major.

Shocking said...

Board testimony revealed that Peters, Blanford and Patu have concerns.

It is CLEAR, Peaslee brought forth the hiring of the superintendent WITHOUT unanimous support. This action, on the eve of Thanksgiving has shown an incredible lack of leadership. Shocking that she will be the new VP.

Take note: With the exception of Peters, Blanford and Putu, it was THIS board that did not want public input on the superintendent hiring.

It should also be noted that the SCPTSA and the Principal Association wanted the opportunity to weigh-in on the superintendent search.

Hiring a superintendent should have unanimous board support- Nyland does not.

Shameful and clear lack of leadership by Peaslee.

Anonymous said...

no I'm talking about Carr, she is empty yet takes up a lot of space.

She must like seeing herself on camera, but she usually say's nothing. I did like what she said about funding of the downtown school.


Anonymous said...

What about Nyland on KUOW? Stating he won't participate in a candidate search but if we want him now ...?

Very cocky, and VERY Enfield.

Signed, Alienated

Question said...

So, both Seattle Council PTSA and the Principals Association wanted a say in the superintendent selection. Where was SEA on this issue??

Sheer arrogance on the part of Peaslee, who led this effort, McLaren, Carr and Martin-Morris.

Anonymous said...

I hope is as CLEAR as you think......

I really like the comments from Directors Martin-Morris, and McLaren, there is a critical need for stability and leadership, district cannot continue to change leaders every 12-18 months, most initiatives get dropped, delayed, re-re-reviewed, staff leaves, there is no long term plan....6-12 months to learn the situation, process, culture....we will be delaying the changes needed...

Dr. Nyland comes with 40 years of experience, multiple roles in multiple districts and is from Washington...
He had recognized structural problems, been open and transparent, directly addressed difficult, political issues...
Almost impossible to find a better candidate....

Spending $100-400K in a national or regional superintendent search....yes, that makes sense when we cannot pay for our high school teachers.....and are cutting in October...that could pay for another 4 teachers....

I am just intrigued by Director Peters.....She says "community engagement" on every sentence on any topic.......remind me of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11

Aren't the board members chosen by the public?, to represent the public?and meet with the public frequently, and receive hundreds of emails, letters.....isn't that a way to get feedback from the community?....

Most of the time the public feedback, as committee, seems to never agree and when the "some" don't get what they ended up on massive amounts of complains..and then they get what they wanted will just be another committee wasting time.....

Moreover the "public" that email, blog, show, complain mostly don't represent the majority of the 52,000 students...only very few that have the from the high need areas, achievement gap, do not have the time or means or knowledge to blog, email, complain...and ultimately influence decisions....

Having another interim superintendent for another another 12 months of instability...there is no long term is the worst course of action....we have lost other leaders to that idea of multiple interim contracts

The board have seen Dr. Nyland for 4 months, he is doing a good job, that is more test drive than most organizations have... does the public have a chance to test drive a President, Congressman, Major, CEO, .......

It seems that the only real reason for Dr. Patu and Peters to request a 12 month interim option is to have more control of the superintendent...

Anonymous said...

@common_sense, perhaps patu and peters are listening to those who question nyland's record on sped both here and in Marysville. is that too much ask of sherry carr and harium martin-morris?

uncommonsense reader

Melissa Westbrook said...

Question, yes, I tweeted that question - how come the SEA is so absent and so silent? More suspicious by the minute.

@commonsense, your view may be the view of many.. However, if you think the district truly listens to anyone, it would seem not to be true.

Yes, the Board is elected but no, some don't meet regularly and this is a TOTALLY different situation. If you read what I wrote about Nyland's feelings about including parents and what Marysville said about finding a new super after Nyland left, you'll see what I mean.

Melissa Westbrook said...

He had recognized structural problems, been open and transparent, directly addressed difficult, political issues...
Almost impossible to find a better candidate...."

Please be specific here. I have seen none of this except he shows up at meetings and says bland things. I have NEVER heard him say one specific thing.

If you think "doing a good job" is someone who doesn't bother to learn about the district's policies and procedures that he is running or the largest student data breach happened under him and all he did was apologize and fire the law firm?

Where's the accountability? In his first two months in Marysville, he fired an HR person who did not do her job and tried to cover it up.


Which Nyland are we getting?

William Wilcock said...

'I say lazy because sure, "change is hard" and working with the public is messy but that's democracy. '

Democracy is voting for the School board and letting them run it. Every citizen of Seattle in good standing has a vote and many choose to use it. A so called extensive period of public consultation will get no further than a small sampling of activist parents and all sorts of special interests. That is not particularly democratic and is a ridiculous way for a democratically elected Board to select a chief executive especially if they have somebody they like in house.

If Dr. Nyland is indeed selected by the Board as the permanent superintendent and he proves to be ineffective then we can all exercise our vote when the School Board members who voted for him come up for reelection. That's how democracy works.

I still do not understand why Melissa Westbrook doesn't put her considerable energy into running for the school board (with so much name recognition she would be a shoo-in) and doing something positive to make our schools better rather than perpetually complaining from the sidelines.

Linh-Co said...

Thank you Directors Peters and Patu for trying to slow down the train.

Anonymous said...

I've watched this with some interest, mostly on the political process in Seattle.

We elect the board to represent us. We expect them to fulfill a number of duties, including hiring the superintendent.

In a normal search process, the candidates would be announced and there would be a short dog and pony show. Board would hear comments and read emails, then make their vote.

The only difference here is there wasn't a search process. Emails were sent, speeches were made at the board meeting, and now the board is preparing to vote.

How much community engagement do we need? How do we make sure all voices are heard?
Not every decision can make every citizen happy; that is why we have representative government.

I greatly appreciate the advocacy on this blog and the role it has had on many crucial issues facing the district. However, there are also many issues on which I disagree with the blog. This does not mean the blog is wrong, or I am wrong, we just disagree. How the representative board interprets those positions is what is most important.

Regarding Nyland as Superintendent I am concerned about three things: 1) What is his vision 2) What will accountability look like and 3) How will he continue moving the district in the right direction?

The biggest problem with this process is that those questions are unanswered.

As to those accusing Nyland of taking hardball tactics with his "if you won't offer me the job permanently, don't include me the search" stance; this is a common position for interim roles in both the public and private sector.

I've seen this dozens of times at corporations, in education leadership roles, and even in college athletics. I had a good friend who was an assistant coach at the college level. She took over as interim head coach just after the start of their season. Despite her job performance (which was excellent), her athletic director said they would be doing a full search for a new head coach and she could put her name in as part of the search. After my friend considered this, she felt that if you don't have full confidence in my abilities based on my performance right now, then you don't really want me and removed herself from consideration.

You see this all the time in the private sector with interim CEOs. The CEO leaves, #2 steps up in interim, says he wants the lead job. Everyone in the organization knows he wants the lead job. Board of directors says, no, we need to have a search. This is essentially a vote of no confidence in the #2. Either I'm good enough or I'm not. Frequently the #2 will stay on just long enough to transition the new CEO in, then leave.

Why is Nyland (and Enfield before him) using this tactic seen so negatively when it is almost universal?


Melissa Westbrook said...

William, you do know I'm the voice of the blog - you can speak directly to me.

I may just run for the Board but you underestimate how much has been done thru this blog. If you think it's just complaining, you have no idea what has changed in the district because of our presence.

Again, the difference is NO NOTICE whatsoever. The Board - when they knew they were suspending the idea of a search - should have said so. Because people took them at their word (and work) that they WERE doing a search. (If they had told me, I sure wouldn't have sat thru a 2-hour committee meeting where they discussed many issues.)

E-mails got sent ONLY because of this blog.

El Fabo said...

Peaslee was the master mind behind this bothched process. She was supported by McLaren, Carr and Martin Morris. Nyland has to sit at the dias and watch his fate get debated.

William Wilcock said...

"William, you do know I'm the voice of the blog - you can speak directly to me."

By posting comments on your blog isn't that what I am doing?

I know that pressure from you and elsewhere has led to useful changes in SPS and I also know that I do not know everything that has been accomplished. On the other hand, the perpetual outside pressure on the school board has is my view also led to paralysis, repeated course changes and idealogical divisions in areas where they should be action, consistency and pragmatism.

I feel that it is perfectly reasonable for the School Board whom we elect to make personnel decisions without a lot of public notice because that is what I think they are elected to do. If their decision proves poor then we can elect new board members. If the current email writing campaign leads to a Board vote with more dissenters then it probably will increase the chances that Dr. Nyland fairs poorly in our district. That will increase your chances of being able to say "I told you so" in your blog but I do not think that is a very positive approach.

Shocking said...

Well, William....are you suggesting that the board does not need to hear from principals? Similarily, if you noticed, there is NOT unanimous support on the board.

The board took lack of public engagement to a new level.

Anonymous said...

William Wilcock,

To clear something up, if I were speaking to you in your home or place of business I might say something like "I still do not understand why you used the word fair when fare would have been correct." It would be peculiar to instead say to you "I still do not understand why William Wilcock used the word fair when fare would have been correct."

That's what Melissa was referring to.

Not Melissa

english must go! said...

William and Mark from the previous thread you are both trolls... Albeit positive-ish in your post. The facts are not supported in your sunshine statements.

You know about the SPS GHS settleda rape lawsuit that no one at DT or at GHS lost their job?

Do you know who lost a job at GHS? A latin teacher because of some fuzzy math.

You know about the 8000 kids who's IEP's were leaked. Those affected have received some ambiguous email saying oh yeah this may have happened and ... sorry and nothing to suggest it hasn't happened before (thanks to the person who reported, it twice!) and it won't happen again. Why won't it happen again?



Nyland is better than Banda and MGJ but that is like saying electrification is better than starving to death. You still die.

I have never been so disappointed. First with KSB in dropping out after 4yrs and not allowing someone other than a homophobe and a puppet run for her seat. Great we got the puppet.

But with Carr ( occasionally the voice of fairness) and with HMM and any yes vote because this is important and there really is better out there.

English brought and bought you to Canlis right?!?! from all that out sourced legal money. DAMN!

Is Potter in jail?


PS/ Thank you MW and CM (I would have voted for you if I could have) for keeping the heat on. Give the bastards the battle but I intend on winning this war!

Vote no to:

Anyone who votes yes to anointment.

Anonymous said...

Enfield was better, and woulda been a better Supe for SPS. At least there's no consulting fee for this turkey, at least he won't be here long.


Juana said...

If in the past a national search didn't work that should not equate to hiring the person already keeping the seat warm. There must be other hiring procedures. "Head hunters"/consultants were not the only hiring avenue in the past.

And what have we learned from recent superintendents who were hired through consultants? They don't stay for very long.

Gates/Shrug Gate said...

Gee....let me guess.... who sent William to troll on this blog???

Yea Right said...

Martin Morris and Carr were sitting on the board when they failed in their oversight duties and there was a scandal.

Peaslee and McLaren got into office because Sundquist and Maier failed in their oversight duties.

With the exception of Patu and Peters, it is time for the board to wake-up. They have failed to oversee Nyland; they have bought into his pansy excuse about contract signing in Marysville. Are we to believe that Nyland did not seek legal advice before signing a contract with Gates (!!) for $750K.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry the FAILURE of the SpEd RC-CAP will purge the system of the deadwood.

Remember what Gill said:

. Doug emphasizt:d (that's being nice) to me that absolutely NO Extensions
will be granted to deadlines in the RC-CAP. For example, November 14
means November 14 and not a day later. He said, "don't ask me and tell Z to
not call me for an extension." OSPI is clearly bent on hold us to firm
deadlines and watching very closely what we do. I believe they feel as
though they have granted all the flexibility they can before imposing heavier


Patrick said...

William, as far as SPS central staff are concerned, the Board is sidelines too. They can state policy but if SPS staff ignore them they can't do very much about it. They're more restricted than the general public in what they can say. Melissa has more power on the blog than she would on the board.

Chris S. said...

I'm a little confused. Nyland has already retired once, from a much easier job. Why do we believe he will last any longer than the typical 2-3 year sup tenure?

Anonymous said...

I have a problem with SPS at the Assistant Superintendent level. For example Mr Tolley is in charge of both Gen-Ed and SpEd directors. SpEd according to Mr Jessee is NOT going to meet the June 30th OSPI deadline for full implementation of the RC-CAP. Jesses clarified at the SEAAC meeting that "We can't do the RC-CAP and provide services".


His oxymoronic statement speaks for itself.

There's is also a systemic issue will the legal dept. The legal dept should first insure SPS is NOT violating the law and unfortunately SPS continues to violate the IDEA both procedurally and in the implementation and delivery of educational services which circles back directly to Mr. Tolley.

The issues with SpEd were well known for many years, yet SPS did little to fix the obvious issues before coming under the pressure of the C-CAP. When you examine the current progress you notice a haphazard plan which has SPS two months behind the original schedule. We are not sure what the SpEd consultants are doing for $450K and SPS is unwilling to provide proof that their consultants are doing any meaningful work.

It's notable that SpEd legal is still denying most parents IDEA violation allegations and hiring external lawyers to fight the allegations. It appears most of the parents allegations are being confirmed by OSPI resulting in corrective actions for the district including inclusion in the RC-CAP. This trend shows the impunity of SPS towards parents and SPS poor legal risk management.

Here's the $1,600 a day question, so what is Nyland going to do about it? He's about to be the first SPS superintendent having to deal with a class action lawsuit.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay first, William is not trolling (to my mind) - he is stating his opinion.

Nyland, again, is not really the issue (although I have my doubts about why he wants the job). He is fully-qualified. (Interesting how he kept his head down during Peters and Patu's statements but looked mostly up when Peaslee and McLaren spoke).

Patrick, that "Melissa has more power on the blog than on the board" kept me from running last time. I might rethink that.

Chris, Nyland openly said he would stay until 2017 so yes, we are buying into another superintendent in a little less than 2 years. That point seems to missed or more to the point, it seems we have a caretaker superintendent.

As I said, I want to see the Nyland who was in Pasco and Marysville because that guy got things done. (Not all good - he managed to cut arts to the bone.)

And I want to see this plan to "fix" everything that McLaren and Peaslee touted as well as the 100-day communication plan.

Anonymous said...

Peters and Patu have the right idea. Keep him on temp status and let him prove that he is the great leader that the other Board members think he is.

Just from last night's public testimony: Let him find a way to keep the Latin teacher at Garfield. Let him solve the lunch/recess issue in favor of the kids. Let's get all the CSIP data filled in and compliance verified. Let's see him advocate for the Bailey Gatzert kids who are, inexplicably, being moved to Lowell. Let's see what he does for the Native American kids. These and many more.

If he solves these things, and solves them fast, then he will have gone a long way toward proving his worth. If he lets staff run wild, and nothing gets done except hiring more staff, then raus!

-- Ivan Weiss

Anonymous said...

I wish I had the confidence in Supt. Nyland that William and others seem to feel. I do not. The handling of the data breach situation would be enough for me to question this choice. Add some of the other issues in the last 4 months and it boggles the mind why some of the Board think he's so dandy.

But ultimately, I think this is about just wanting a warm body in the seat for most of the board for a longer period of time. I hope they all still feel that way in the 2 to 3 years Supt.Nyland said he'd give SPS, when this whole charade has to be replayed (assuming any of the 5 yes votes are still in office then).

I sincerely hope they don't come to regret this choice. I have little faith that will be the outcome however.


Charlie Mas said...

All I have ever asked of Seattle Public Schools is that they do what they have promised to do. I have never asked them for anything that they did not freely offer.

So when the District - by itself, without any pressure from me - sets a policy about community engagement or puts a community engagement element in their Strategic Plan or names community engagement as a stated value, then I feel justified in asking for community engagement.

I'm not saying that the Board should vote against hiring Dr. Nyland; I'm only saying that they should do the voting on December 17th instead of December 3rd (as originally planned) or on December 10th.

I don't think that's asking a lot of them. I don't think it's an undue burden to expect them to do the things that they willingly commit to doing.

mirmac1 said...

Yea Right,

Yes. That is simply implausible and greatly erodes what little public trust there is. It's telling that Nyland would risk that in order to please the Alliance, Gates and Murray - you know, the so-called "stakeholders" he cares about.

Anonymous said...

This seems, based on Melissa's reporting, to be a done deal. No cause for wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth at this point. It's time to turn our attention to making this thing work. Nyland's not an awful choice. Here's some things to keep in mind from my perspective:

(1) All of those people in this thread and previous threads who have expected Nyland, as an interim, to clean house and "hold people accountable" have no idea what it takes to manage a large organization. Yes, it would have been relatively easy for him to fire people. Firing central administrators, unlike teachers, is relatively easy. It's hiring good people and keeping them that is the hard part. So, with interim status, how was he supposed to recruit quality replacements for those he fired? Good administrators are already employed. He would have had to persuade them to leave their current jobs and come join SPS. How the hell was he supposed to do that with interim status?

(2) Why are some people getting bent out of shape over his 2-3 year commitment? Urban superintendents on average only last that long. He's local, he's not looking to use SPS to jump to a better gig, etc. This seems like a non-issue to me.

(3) The chances of getting a superintendent these days to run an urban district that isn't aligned to education reformers, et al is pretty slim. And given the education reformers' stranglehold on the education politics in this city, it would only be a matter of time before a new hire is entrenched with them. What we really need to see out of Nyland is independent thought. Just because he's standing next to them or eating their food doesn't make him one of them. Let's see how he performs with authentic authority before we judge him.

Everyone needs to take a deep breath. Melissa, for one, seems to be taking this as it presents itself and I applaud her for it. A few of you could stand to take her cue.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

Gee swk - maybe because several Board members SAID they didn't want any more "churn" that has been the result of the rapid turnover situation in Supes and here they are appointing one that has already made it clear he won't be here for very long.

Why NOT get someone who could, conceivably, be in it for the long haul? Its at least possible in theory.

Interim or not, he has, in my eyes made some serious errors in judgement already. Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. Will he learn or will he shrug?


Anonymous said...

reader47, other than not firing people or holding people accountable for the errors over the Gates grant and the SpEd data breach, what serious errors in judgment are you referring to?

And, despite any statements by school board members vis-a-vis stability, "churn" is what happens with urban superintendents. You can talk theory 'til the cows come home, but evidence says turnover is rapid.

--- swk

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Why are some people getting bent out of shape over his 2-3 year commitment?"

Why? Because (1) all the powers that be in this town has said that, over and over, as a problem with SPS and (2) well, we'll be in the exact same place as we are now.

The Board is not choosing a "permanent" superintendent for our district; they are choosing a good caretaker.

"And given the education reformers' stranglehold on the education politics in this city..."

You think so? I don't think they do. I think the lack of charters approved, the charter law having an excellent chance of being partial or totally overturned, lack of ability to get their candidates on the School Board - no, they don't have a stranglehold....yet.

Anonymous said...

But, you've called out the powers that be on the issue of turnover as BS in the past. I tend to agree with your past statements in this regard. And the chances are, given all the evidence, that we'd be in this same exact place anyhow. The chances of getting a long-term superintendent is much smaller than getting one that will stay 2-3 years.

I hope you're right about the stranglehold thing. The pre-K issue and the ability of the mayor to create a new education office unnerves me.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

i'm disappointed that Sue Peters isn't president.

She can run circles around her esteemed colleagues. This she has proven time and time again. She always comes with thorough preparation, and a detailed nuansced understanding of the immediate concerns and how those concerns fit into the big picture.

Sue for president, Sherry for vice Pres., Betty for at-large. That would've been far more productive and positive.

Dear, dear Marty has completely walked away from her common sense and her principles. I think she just got so overwhelmed and is so utterly conflict averse, she now thinks the staff walks on water because they can't all be as bad as people say. Oh well, at least she didn't forget to fix math, at least some of the math for some kids. Middle school and high school math still awaits.

Sue Fan

Anonymous said...

@ Melissa: An appellate court in AZ has ruled that charters cannot demand the same public funding as traditional public schools. It seems something you might want to watch/cover as perhaps it will impact WA's case.

P.S. In reference to your comments elsewhere about running for the board: Keep the blog, forget the board. The power of your blog to impact SPS is exponentially the power of a single board member. Just MHO.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Sue Fan, if you had been able to listen to the Board members comments during the elections, you would have understood.

Being an officer takes time, time, time and I think Sue is doing the best she can now. Her time will come.

Anonymous said...


Don't forget that the district handed-out a $700K settlement agreement for the Garfield incident. Has someone been held accountable??