The staff have responded with their suggestions for updating the policies.
Both versions will be discussed today in a work session. You can read them here.
Director Peters' version would require Board approval for program placement decisions.
The Superintendent and the staff are conceding the inclusion of site closures along with building closures among the decisions that require Board approval and community discussion. That's good. They are also saying, and rightly so I think, that if the Board wants to take a hand in program placement, the right way for them to do it is in the Student Assignment Plan. Outside that, the superintendent will be more transparent but will not cede authority to decide. On the whole, I think that gives the community everything that we really want without bogging the process down with Board approval for changes that are not matters of policy. Beyond transparency in the decision making process and public notice of location changes, the problems are not with the superintendent and the staff but with the Board. The existing policy already requires the superintendent to be a lot more transparent and do a lot more disclosure than he is doing, but the Board isn't enforcing the policy. These revisions restate those requirements in clearer language, but do nothing to assure compliance.
What's getting done in the staff version:
- Site closures require board approval
- Board must be informed of program placement decisions (already required but not done) complete with criteria and rationale (already required but not done)
- Site creation does not require Board approval
- It continues to allow the staff to invent nomenclature to put decisions outside the scope of the policy. They can give something a name different from "program", "service", or "site" - I don't know what they will call it - and claim that the policy doesn't cover it.
- This does nothing to address the dissolution of Spectrum or Montessori to be replaced by a stack of unfulfilled good intentions.
- I don't think this slows the constant and twitchy relocation of Special Education students, let alone their assignment to the least desirable educational spaces in each school. While the student assignment plan does speak to linked schools for services, the selection of those schools is not in the policy and can be changed at the superintendent's whim.
- It doesn't address the superintendent's non-compliance with policy, but that's really up to the Board.