As you have heard (over and over again) your role as a Board Director is not to manage or administer the day-to-day operations of the District. That work has been delegated to the Superintendent. Your role is to set policy, provide oversight, and represent the public.
I have said it many times, but that doesn't make it any less true. It is not enough to write policy. If you do not enforce policy, then you have not set policy.
You will get lots of opportunities to enforce policy. Exercise them.
- You will have the opportunity to enforce policy 2200 which requires an annual report that explains the rationale for program placement decisions. None of the reports submitted yet have met the requirements of the policy.
- You will have the opportunity to enforce policy 2090 which requires an annual report on the efficacy of all district academic programs. No such reports have ever been produced for any advanced learning program, language immersion program, Montessori program, or International program, How can we know if the District should continue these programs or change them if we have no assessment of their efficacy?
- You will have the opportunity to ask the Superintendent for the annual report on Sexual Harassment required by policy 3208. This policy has required an annual report since it was adopted in 2011 but the first annual report has yet to be issued.
- You will have the opportunity to enforce long list of policies that are currently un-enforced. While it is everyone's job to enforce policy, it is the Board's responsibility.
You will also get opportunities to write policy. Exercise it. For a long time now policy has actually been written by staff, not the Board. Sadly, the Board has not even done a good job of reviewing the policies before approving them. Go through the policy book and find the policies that need to be fixed. You can start with the Waiver of Basic Instructional Materials policy 2020 which is not a policy but a procedure.
It is true that no one Board Director speaks with the authority of the Board. That requires a majority vote of the Board. But please remember that every policy already HAS the approval of a majority vote of the Board. That's how it became a policy. So any every Director has the authority to enforce policy - alone if necessary. You not only have the authority to enforce policy, you have the duty to enforce policy. Do your job.
Provide OversightOversight, from a policy perspective means that when the Superintendent or his staff makes a management decision you don't ask "Is this a good decision?" or "Is this best practice?" It's not your job to second-guess management decisions. Instead, you should be asking these questions:
- Is this action in compliance with our policies, state regulations, and federal law?
- Is this action, and the way it was done, consistent with our mission, vision, and core beliefs?
- Is this action, and the way it was done, aligned with the Strategic Plan?
There is a time to judge the quality of decisions by the superintendent. It comes in the performance evaluation. A performance evaluation, by the way, that should include some measure of the superintendent's compliance with policy and law.
Without judging the quality of a decision, you should definitely screen them for compliance. Like the police, you don't arrest people for making choices you wouldn't make, you can only arrest them for breaking the law.
Represent the Public
You were not elected by the District to represent the District to the Public, you were elected by the Public to represent the Public to the District. The District has a Communications Department' a superintendent with all of the authority he needs to conduct the management and administration of the District as he sees fit, and a staff of thousands working inside the organization. The District doesn't need you to represent their interests or perspective. Not one of them is accountable to the Public. The Public, however, has only you. You alone inside the District are accountable to the Public. You must be the voice of the Public inside the District. You and no one else because no one else has that job or is doing that job.
Remember that the Public owns the District. When you speak, you speak as the representatives of the owner.
Thank you for your service.