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Friday, February 25, 2011

Please Do This Soon

Please send an e-mail as soon as you can with what you think the Board should be doing.

I can tell you what I think but really, you have to decide what you think is best and LET THEM KNOW. They are going to make a decision this weekend and probably announce on Monday (unless MGJ's lawyer ties them up in knots).

I believe the Superintendent and Don Kennedy should be let go for cause.

I believe that Phil Brockman is the most honorable and believable person to be interim Superintendent.

I believe the Board should careful examine the role of legal counsel, Ron English, in this episode and whether he did do, as an officer of the court, all he should have done.

29 comments:

Megan Mc said...

Dear Directors,

All work on the budget should be put on hold until a new CFOO can be hired. The recent news about the lack of financial oversight by Maria Goodloe-Johnson and Don Kennedy shows that they are not capable of looking at the money in SPS objectively and overly rely on what their program managers tell them. Furthermore, they have created an environment of fear and intimidation that prevents concerned employees from speaking out and encourages them to pass along incomplete or inaccurate information to the board.

Do you see now how the Superintendent and her staff (from the top down) have been deceiving you? Everything should be in question. It is time that the board gets answers to the questions that have been put on hold for months and even years by the staff's assurances that "we'll get back to you on that". The board is not getting the full picture and never will under the current administration. How many people actually work in Central Admin and how could it be restructured to save money? You don't know because they won't tell you. How much savings did the district see from the transportation disruptions? You don't know because they won't tell you. Why did the district RIF hundreds of teachers only to re-hire them a few months later? You don't know because they won't tell you. Positions like Silas Potters are exactly the ones that should have been eliminated before closing schools and eliminating elementary councilors.

Finally, this event should teach this and future boards the importance of creating checks and balances within the organization. The Superintendent should NEVER have been allowed to bring her own CFOO with her. I believe that both Maria Goodloe-Johnson and Don Kennedy should be fired with cause given the dire economic situation the district is facing but at the very least, Don Kennedy should go and a new CFOO be put in place to start the budget process from scratch. The benefits will outweigh the disruption and would help to put some public trust back into the process.

mirmac1 said...

My inclinations are the same Mel...

Bird said...

Could we please fire her and not buy out her contract?

Fire her, let her fight it in court if she wants.

Bringing it to court would almost undoubtably bring out more ugly details that will dirty her name going forward. If she wants to fight being fired, she should at least pay that price.

Bird said...

Can you tell us more about Phil Brockman?

Anna said...

Consider it done! Thanks for the quick round-up.

Anonymous said...

Done.

Another Seattle Mama

Maureen said...

Directors:

You have a difficult decision to make. I am not among those who think you should have known where that $1.8 million went, it was hidden in the capital budget. You have to be able to count on the Superintendent and CFOO to supervise their staff and behave ethically. You have done your best, I believe, to ask staff to account for their actions and I believe you have not been sufficiently supported in that by the Superintendent and her senior staff. You need to fire Mr. Kennedy for cause and request that the Superintendent tender her resignation. If Dr. Goodloe-Johnson resists this, or pursues any sort of compensation for separation, you need to fire her for cause.

Then you need to initiate a national search for a CFOO with a spotless technical and ethical reputation. And you need to put in place an acting Superintendent who puts the needs of Seattle school children above all else. This person has to have credibility with the teaching staff. Dr. Enfield is a possibility, but you need to talk to the teachers (not the principals or the downtown staff and not necessarily the union) about that. Phil Brockman is another possibility. In the end, we need a Superintendent who has a real connection to and understanding of the Seattle community, not one who is pursuing a national agenda. The new senior staff should review the Moss-Adams report and get to work making its recommendations a reality.

Good luck,

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I wish you'd stop touting Brockman. Nobody from the inside is going to shake things up in the way they're needed. Do you think somebody with his long ties to the District can clean house? I also really hope the Supterintendent's attorneys tie the board up in knots. These things are the board's responsibility - they had plenty of opportunities to press for information and specifics and didin't. I think it is totally sanctimonious of them to ask for the superintendent's resignation. What about recusing themselves?

Chris

mirmac1 said...

HOWEVER, I demand that parents are included in the search committee for a new Supt and CFO

Eric B said...

I'm with Maureen--give MGJ a choice between firing for cause and an immediate resignation. They should not buy out her contract.

When you send a request for the CFOO's head, don't forget the Pay for K debacle.

Anonymous said...

Uh oh, debell is confusing the basic lack of managerial competence and oversight with "culture". Let's be sure he isn't on the hiring committee for anybody who may eventually be in a central administration management position!

Sorry to say

Lori said...

Are there any strict requirements to be Superintendent, such as certification or an actual degree? I read in a recent Lowell note that Mr. King is currently doing some sort of education toward whatever the necessary credential is. Perhaps there are other principals on this path as well? The Board may not necessarily have to rely on current top level officials; there may be other candidates in the lower ranks. Of course, I don't necessarily agree that parents need to be identifying possible interim Supers in their notes, but it is interesting to speculate on who locally is qualified nontheless.

Anonymous said...

when you email the board about this please demand that they restore funding for elementary school counselors. Children have not been prioritized for years in this process and it's time they have their needs met as whole children.

disgusted by all of this

Dorothy Neville said...

-------one of my letters to the board today--
"Finally, we conclude that the Board did not receive a briefing on the Sutor Group Report.
The only information provided to the Board was a notification that there may be an article in the
Daily Journal of Commerce about the Sutor Group Report. Again, management’s failure to
keep the Board adequately advised of the significant issues identified by the Sutor Group was
unacceptable and impacted the Board’s ability to ensure that proper oversight and checks were in
place to monitor Potter’s activities. "

Wow. So you were informed of the article in the DJC? You did not need to have the Sutor Report handed to you on a platter. It was public, it was in a newspaper. You were told it was there. Did any of you read it? Did any of you follow up? You are elected officials with a job to do. That job is to oversee the district, regardless of how much the staff hides information from you.

Saddened and appalled,
Dorothy Neville
------------end of letter--------

And I saw in the comments on the Seattle Times article someone mentioning putting that unnamed Risk Manager into COO position on interim basis. That's not a bad idea.

Really, we need a CFO/COO who can handle running a corporation with thousands of employees, a billion dollar budget divided between a public service industry and a construction/facilities industry. There is no reason that a superintendent would have these skills. These are not skills gotten rising through the ranks of education and academia. These are different skills and require executive management. Clearly Don Kennedy is out of his league here and clearly no one we have had in the recent past has been adequate either.

I am not leaving Maria off the hook. She needed an effective CFO/COO. She knew that since she had to have read the Moss Adams report. (and if she didn't, fire her over that.) Instead she trusted her pal from Charleston. That shows lack of effective leadership and decision-making.

whittier07 said...

Just sent an e-mail to the "school board" e-mail address listed on the new website and received this reply: "Thank you for contacting the School Board Office. Your comments and suggestions have been distributed to every Board member." I sure hope so!

Has anyone used this e-mail address & received a response from one of the directors?

Charlie Mas said...

Hey!

Let's remember that the Board can dismiss the superintendent for cause without buying out her contract, and the cause doesn't have to be this Potter Affair.

On January 29, 2009 - over two years ago - the Board voted to direct the superintendent to review and suggest revisions to Policy D12.00. She had not taken the first step to fulfill that direction. That alone is grounds for dismissal.

Board Policy B61.00 (and others) require the superintendent to make annual reports to the Board on every District school and program. There are a number of District programs for which she has never made any report. That alone is grounds for dismissal.

The Superintendent made incomplete disclosures of her potential conflicts of interest to the Board. That alone is grounds for dismissal.

The Board can easily dismiss her for cause and avoid any buyout of her contract. They just have to choose the right cause.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay, I don't consider Phil Brockman an insider because (1) he spent most of his time being a principal and (2) has only been downtown a short while. I personally do not want any outside person to come in - even for an interim - to run the district. I want someone who knows this district. Phil is a calm, steady person who would be a good influence in an unsteady time.

I can't tell you a bio of Phil but I can tell what I know:

- he was a well-respected principal at Ballard by staff and parents
- he came in as worked as an interim high school director. I worked briefly with him as Roosevelt was seeking a new principal. I came away feeling like here was someone who listened, who was easy to talk to and who knew how to get things done
-Phil received the first-ever Washington Music Educators Association Administrator of the Year award in 2010 for "advocating music as a core quality of education."
-from the letter nominating him for the award
"Phil Brockman is the most supportive, caring and respected administrator we have ever had the privilege to work for."
- He won the 2008-2009 Thomas B. Foster Award for Excellence for outstanding leadership from the Alliance.

I want to state that I don't know Phil personally (I'm not sure he remembers my name but I know he knows my face). He doesn't know that I'm saying this about him.

Patrick said...

Melissa, have you talked to him about whether he'd be interested in the job?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Nope, haven't had the chance and I doubt if he's in this week.

I'm sure he would probably say no but again, it never hurts to ask.

I worry that the Board might think it a good idea to get someone like, say, Norm Rice.

Not a good idea.

Anonymous said...

done! I hope it helps.

mirmac1 said...

Brockman's not the person unless he is ready to DUMP the lackeys and lapdogs that let MGJ wreak her havoc. Can he do that? Can he handle the microscope treatment. Does he think we will go away? I will support him if I think his heart is in the right place. Protecting those who most need his help, being honest with all of us, having the balls to get rid of the toxic elements remaining (I can think of a few "apologists" who should hit the road), and streamlining downtown.

Can you do it Phil? Otherwise, NEXT!

Saddened... said...

NO TO ENFIELD. She's dismissive when things are brought to her attention by teaching staff regarding academics. Does not visit schools where there are staff concerns regarding leadership. Also if Bellevue passed on her offer to be their CAO what qualifies her to lead the educator core?

Anonymous said...

I wrote all the directors last night....I only got one response to date...Here it is...............Thank you for your message. I assure you the Board is equally outraged and will hold the appropriate people accountable.

--
Kay Smith-Blum
Director, Position 5





Dear Ms. Smith-Blum....I am writing to express my very strong feelings that Dr. MGJ has GOT TO GO.....Let the healing begin.......I attended GHS myself and used to even buy clothes at your husband's (family?) store for what that is worth...I've lived in Seattle all of my 51 years, and this scandal is vile and disgusting.....Do the right thing,please!....May God Bless You and Yours, "X" :) Mister Mr.

Michael H said...

@Megan Mc: "All work on the budget should be put on hold until a new CFOO can be hired."

Isn't there a deadline established in law by when they have to have their budget done? If so, they cannot just "stop."

Guichon said...

"HOWEVER, I demand that parents are included in the search committee for a new Supt and CFO."

Really? And what standing do you have to DEMAND that?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think at this point, parents kind of have the right to demand accountability and input for a new superintendent. Call me crazy but yeah, I agree.

Way too many people had their radar up on Goodloe-Johnson and got ignored in favor of whatever input Nickels and the Alliance for Education gave the then-Board.

Anonymous said...

Phil Brockman started his career as a high school math teacher at Rainer Beach High School. He has been an administrator at both the middle school and high school level (West Seattle before Ballard), and is one of the most honorable people you will ever meet.

To assume that an "outsider" will fair well is to forget that MGJ was an "oustider."

What SPS needs is a steady hand who has knowledge of the district, the schools, the principals, the unions, and the community. They need a steward to right the sinking ship. That is Phil Brockam.

AIEC

Charlie Mas said...

The superintendent has to go. She has to go because her response to the Sutor Group report was so wrong.

First, she saw the report as a public relations problem - not as evidence of an internal control problem. Her response to criticism is strictly defensive.

Second, her response was to try to hide the report from the Board and to encourage them to see it as a public relations problem and not as a sign of real problems within the District administration.

She acted like some kid who got sent home with a note from the teacher. Her aim was to hide the note, not to improve her behavior. We can't have someone like that running our school district. We need a grown-up.

Picturewoman said...

Take no prisoners. Ms. G-J needs to go NOW. As for Don Kennedy, he has also played a slithery game for a long time. This Board better not offer any form of settlement.
As a long time employee of the Seattle Schools, I say hire someone who has been in the schools - not outside of. These people forget what a school is like.
A colleague once said, I think every administrator in the district should be required to spend at least three months of the school year in a school to understand what teachers and staff are asked to do. I always loved the energy and chaos, but I also knew that once the school year started, my personal life was limited. It was pretty much 24-7 and those breaks in the school year were necessary to re-coop.
We need to elect a new school board and think about paying them for their time. Perhaps they would be more accountable to the WHOLE community rather than the special interests.
I'm writing my second letter to the School Board this morning.
Thank you for this blog.