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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A Couple of Interesting Bits of Information

The district has its own internal auditor and apparently, that person just abruptly resigned today. Should make for an interesting Audit and Finance Committee meeting this afternoon.

Also, on the Board meeting agenda for Wednesday is the final decision from the Board on the use of Brave New World. I had thought, per the Curriculum and Instruction Committee meeting last week, that the deliberations would come right before the Board meeting.

No, it is to happen directly after Public Testimony.

Now this should be really interesting. You will have all the Board members trying to publicly suss out a pretty important issue. This is where you will see judgment and thought-processes in action.

My feeling is that they will, of course, side with the Superintendent. I actually wouldn't mind if only they said that the use of Brave New World is suspended until all the professional development that BOTH teachers and district staff say should be done. After that, I think it's fine to use it. Ms. Vasquez in Curriculum said the professional development should be finished in Jan./Feb. Great. Suspend it until then and bring it back when it's done.

I think that is a happy medium that might not satisfy everyone perfectly but it shows the district making an effort to listen to parents' concerns while being mindful of the ability of good literature to challenge.

On a side note, I continue to be amused at KUOW. I had written the station saying I felt the discussion was wrong-headed and unfair. Here's what they said:

Following the segment on Friday we did have some internal discussions about the way the discussion was handled and how to improve for the future. There was some factual errors on the air and unfortunately they are difficult to correct in real time. That’s not an excuse, but just part of the reality of live programming. We need to do a better job in the future.

I appreciate their candor but two things strike me.

One, why were they discussing it if not one of them truly knew the story correctly? They all read one article, made the same judgment and were off to the races.

Two, there was no correction to this mistake. I tuned in last Friday thinking they might make mention of the problem. Not a word. It seems odd they would have 4 journalists incorrectly discuss a topic and not acknowledge the problem. Even newspapers print corrections.

I suspect after the Board votes, they might discuss it again. I'm not expecting any mea culpas from the panel but it would be nice if they acknowledged they didn't have all the facts when they initially discussed the case.

25 comments:

West Seattle said...

Hi melissa, could you expand on the KUOW piece? I don't know what the story you are referring to is about. was it the 17% issue?

Anonymous said...

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/111465599.html More Gates press.

public school parent

Charlie Mas said...

Actually, almost no one who wrote or spoke about the Brave New World challenge was knowledgable about the case.

Mel and Dorothy and I were there. We heard the people speaking for themselves. Phyllis Fletcher was there. I can tell you that none of the folks who bloviated about the case on KUOW were there.

Anonymous said...

re: internal auditor resignation

personal pressure, internal political pressure, or fear of what the next capital expenditures audit is going to say? anybody know this person?

-skeptical-

Charlie Mas said...

The internal auditor never did anything anyway. The position was sinecure.

Paul said...

If that word Charlie used means "merely for show" I agree, but the word I would use would be more related to "mushroom".

Nice fella though. Always good for a hi!

Melissa Westbrook said...

West Seattle, this is about a book on the high school LA list which a parent had requested be removed. Look in the November threads under LA or book ban.

Charlie Mas said...

Sinecure is a job without any work.

Think of college athletes put on the payroll of companies owned by boosters but never expected to show up or do anything productive.

I had sinecure once for about a year. I had the job of network system administrator for an office that didn't have a network.

I know it sounds great, but it is actually soul-crushing. You don't want it.

Paul said...

Yeah, I looked it up Charlie.

Said like a church that pays without saving any souls.

Good example huh?

I heard the internal auditor has been on administrative leave since October.

Who could tell?

zb said...

The School Board makes decisions about which specific books will be on the Language Arts curriculum list (or as in MW's suggestion what training the teachers should receive before teaching a particular book)? I guess it's not hugely different from voting on math curriculum adaptation. But, I'm pretty sure that I do not want any school board making that kind of decision.

I do think I understand the BNW issues, and though I'm completely unsympathetic to parent-based challenges of books, I think we have to be careful to differentiate between challenging/questioning and banning and censorship. I think that's often poorly done, and was done poorly in the KUOW discussion.

Macharia said...

The internal auditors reports were blocked from reaching the board. And when the board discovered important reports, such as the Indian Education report, the board told the Auditor to change the dates of the report so that the board would get credit for discovering the Indian Ed crisis.

So Charlie - get your facts right.

Noam said...

In defense of Charlie, I got his drift.

The internal auditor worked at will for Kennedy and all sorts of hyjinx are going on downtown.

When you make a deal with that kind of people, you dance to their tune or get out.....

We should'nt be surprized.

Scapegoatting is a way of life there unless you come from Broad.

Charlie Mas said...

Here are the facts.

From the Internal Audit Charter:

"This responsibility encompasses the requirements for sound financial management, adequate reporting, maintaining an effective system of internal controls in compliance with applicable rules and regulations, and maintaining the highest standards of ethical conduct. The Board directs the Superintendent in these matters through adoption of the budget and through establishment of School Board policy. Together they will be responsible for attaining the District's Mission.

To aid them in fulfilling their responsibilities, the Office of the Internal Auditor has been established within the District.
"

How does the District rate on any of these things?

sound financial management? Not so good.

adequate reporting? Not so good.

maintaining an effective system of internal controls? Not so good.

compliance with applicable rules and regulations? Not so good.

maintaining the highest standards of ethical conduct? Not so good.

The document goes on:
"It is the mission of the Office of Internal Audit to provide independent, objective assurance and consulting services designed to add value and improve the organizations' operations and accountability. It helps an organization accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control and governance processes."

How's the District's doing in these areas?

independent, objective assurance and consulting services for the Board? Absent.

improved operations and accountability? Absent.

systematic, disciplined approach to risk management? Absent.

systematic, disciplined approach to control? Absent.

systematic, disciplined approach to governance processes? Absent.

So if the District is failing miserably in all of the areas that the internal auditor is supposed to be aiding them in fulfilling their responsibilities, then what assessment of the internal auditor's work is possible other than: Not so good/Absent.

There is, of course, another possibility. There is a possibility that the internal auditor was ringing all kinds of alarms all over the place and nobody was listening - or worse, people were suppressing the alarms.

Let's give the auditor the benefit of the doubt and presume that the alarms were being suppressed. If you're not allowed to do your job, that's sinecure.

Now, of course, I could be wrong. It could be that the internal auditor simply wasn't doing the job. In that case it is still sinecure for as long as it lasts.

Either way, the internal auditor work, as described by its charter, wasn't getting done.

How's this for a duty of the internal auditor:
"Monitor the progress of management action plans arising from external audits"

How well was that getting done if the District was getting dinged for the same audit findings year after year?

Dorothy Neville said...

Seattle Times on Internal Auditor Resignation

Charlie Mas said...

Hey, Macharia,

"The internal auditors reports were blocked from reaching the board."

What? The internal auditor didn't have their email addresses? The internal auditor never met with them? The internal auditor didn't attend Audit and Finance Committee meetings - or maybe he did but he was bound and gagged.

I can see that the report on the Indian Education program has a wide range of dates on it.

The auditor succumbed to the pressure to change the dates?

The auditor has, of course, documented all of this.

And why did the auditor share this information with you but not the Board and not the public? Because you're both Kenyan? The auditor has a higher loyalty to you than to the Board or the public?

Yes, by all means let's get our facts right. What are the facts, Macharia?

Macharia said...

Thats my pseudo name Charle. We have kids and we have to balance the danger of getting fired from overstepping the people who butter our bread. Now that I am gone it makes no sense to argue my case. However you can get a public request for my emails to Don. More interestingly though, emails from him to me. Then you can make up your mind whethther I did my job.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Macharia, would you please, please e-mail me at

sss.westbrook@gmail.com

I would dearly love to speak with you.

Charlie Mas said...

Macharia, who may be Mr. Nderu, I don't care if you did your job or not. It doesn't matter.

More to the point, Mr. Kennedy, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, and the Board didn't care if you did your job or not. If they were suppressing the reports then they would probably prefer that you never wrote them in the first place, but not to a distressing degree. If there were no reports for them to suppress then their willingness to keep you on the payroll is the evidence of their apathy. Either way, they didn't care.

Your role in the District's failure to follow up on audit findings, to comply with law and policy, and to have any semblence of a governance process, is immaterial. In the end, the responsibilities for those duties fall on the Board, the superintendent, and Mr. Kennedy and they cannot delegate those responsibilities.

I don't care if you did your job or not. I do care that they don't do theirs.

Of course, it's not about me and what I believe or what I care about. There remain a few naive souls, true believers, and mindless cheerleaders in positions of influence who still have respect for the superintendent, the Board, and the "C" level staff. I suppose that documented evidence of their mis-management and criminal neglect might awaken them to the Machiavellian reality and might diminish their support for District leadership.

Make your case to them - if you can.

The ship has run aground. I want to know what the Captain, the first mate, and the pilot were doing. The actions of the third mate are not a point of interest.

seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle said...

If Mr. Ndero was not doing his job, and MGJ was working toward having him fired, wouldn't that means she WAS doing her job? It has been said that it takes 2 years for the district to follow protocol to get a teacher fired. Is it be the same long, drawn out process to have any SPS employee fired?

On the other hand if he Mr Ndero was indeed doing his job, and can document that he was, then the fault and blame lies elsewhere. We should find out where the blame lies, and focus on that person or department.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Seattle, a fish rots from the head.

Again, stay tuned because this story has legs and they reach all the way up.

Maureen said...

Fish and legs, Why does that make me think uncomfortably of Pieter Bruegel?

dan dempsey said...

NO No No It does not take long.

"It has been said that it takes 2 years for the district to follow protocol to get a teacher fired. Is it be the same long, drawn out process to have any SPS employee fired?"

Brad Bernetek's predecessor Ramona Pierson was gone in about one day.

Central Office folks can be almost instantly canned. Perhaps that explains their allegiance to so much MGJ lunacy. .... So what is the excuse for a school director's mindless fealty?

Anonymous said...

"Brad Bernetek's predecessor Ramona Pierson was gone in about one day." Because she quit.

PSP

The Real Arnold said...

@Paul: "I heard the internal auditor has been on administrative leave since October.

Who could tell?"

LOL!!

@Macharia: "The internal auditors reports were blocked from reaching the board. And when the board discovered important reports, such as the Indian Education report, the board told the Auditor to change the dates of the report so that the board would get credit for discovering the Indian Ed crisis.

So Charlie - get your facts right."

No, Macharia, get YOUR facts right. The internal auditor didn't discover the indian ed crisis. As a matter of fact, the internal auditor his it from the Board. And, there were no reports blocked from teh Board becasue he didn't create ANY reports!

"More interestingly though, emails from him to me. Then you can make up your mind whethther I did my job." Yes, lets do that. I bet you there is nothing there that supports your supposed position.

This guy was useless.