That would be a shame because in the District's governance model, with its management/policy dichotomy, program placement is solidly on the management side and belongs among the Superintendent's tasks, not the Board's. That said, this same governance model expects the Superintendent to follow the Board's policy and, when it comes the program placement, Dr. Nyland has been an extremely naughty fellow with policy violations all across the horizon.
So this becomes just another episode highlighting the district's fundamental governance flaw: the Board's only way to discipline the Superintendent is to fire him. No one is happy about how he has handled Program Placement, but no one is unhappy enough to fire him over it.
What to do?
The policy isn't the problem. The policy, on the whole, is pretty good. It requires the Superintendent to:
- use a set of objective criteria when making program placement decisions
- give the public and the Board early warning of upcoming decisions
- engage the community and get input in the process
- and provide the rationale for decisions when they are made
Pretty good, right? The policy is not the problem. The problem is that the Superintendent is completely ignoring the policy.
- We have no idea what process he uses when determining program placements
- He has never given the public or the Board any early warning on decisions
- He refuses to engage the community or get their input
- He utterly fails to offer any rationale for his decisions
- And he tries to evade regulation by re-defining programs to exclude them from the policy
So what can be done?
- The Board can pull back the authority and require Board approval for all changes going forward. That way the Board can require compliance before they grant their approval. With good behavior and after he has established some good habits and practices perhaps he can have the authority transferred back.
- Or, same sort of idea but in the opposite order, the Board can put the Superintendent on some sort of probation requiring good behavior on Program Placement for some period and, if he fails to comply with the policy, then pull back the authority.
- The Board can keep doing what they have been doing: try to cajole good behavior from the Superintendent while continuing to provide him with consequence-free non-compliance.
- The Board can amend the policy to remove the requirements that chafe the Superintendent.
What are your ideas?