Seattle Board Procedures - Series 5000

Today the Board will be holding a Work Session on the Board policies numbered in the 5000s.  The meeting is from 4-6 p.m. at headquarters.  These policies cover human resource matters so you might think it's only personnel issues.  It is but, of course, the SPS students and parents interact with teachers and staff so having awareness of these policies is important. 

For example, volunteer athletic coaches for the district have to have a fingerprint check whereas regular volunteers only have to give a name and birthdate for the Washington State Patrol's WATCH program.  (When I was volunteering, everyone had to do a fingerprint check.)  I don't know why the district has changed this policy; it is more expensive to do fingerprint checks than the name/birthdate check.

Keep in mind that with both, they are checking for criminal history conviction records only for the state of Washington.  Interestingly, the WA State Patrol website says:

WASIS cannot guarantee the records you obtain through this site relate to the person on whom you are seeking information. Searches based on names, dates of birth, and other identifiers are not always accurate. The only way to positively link someone to a criminal record is through fingerprint verification.

Also, as Dorothy Neville has pointed out, there is some confusion in the policies about inappropriate behavior of a staff member towards a student and what should happen and who should be notified.  Again, it is vital to have clear policies on the procedure for reporting an issue to whom, where that report goes, when a principal should call in district management and/or police, etc.  This is protection for BOTH students and staff.  (You'd be surprised at the number of times that a principal has not called in police when it was clearly indicated and the confusion about whether they should call district administration first.)


The vague policy that sort of covers innapropriate behavior is 5253, Maintaining Professional Staff/Student Boundaries.

The discussion in committee was really limited to calling this the "Facebook policy" although it doesn't actually address in any specifics beyond using professional behavior when interacting with students on-line.

There's more in it besides the "no invading physical or emotional boundaries," (whatever that means), such as any volunteer on district property must be under the supervision of a district staff member. So has any volunteer ever tutored 1-1 in an empty hallway or classroom? Hmmm.

Posting for Dorothy Neville.
Charlie Mas said…
Here is a link to the work session agenda, which has links to the proposed policies, and the presentation.
Anonymous said…
"...You'd be surprised at the number of times that a principal has not called in police when it was clearly indicated ..."

Or the times the principal called the police when it was NOT warranted.

Charlie Mas said…
Some notes on the draft policies...

5000 "The Superintendent regularly evaluates...", "The Board and district regularly communicate..." What does "regularly" mean? Let's use a word with a single, clear meaning.

5001 "The district shall recruit, select and employ the best-qualified individuals as employees." This is a pointless statement to include. The fact is that we can't afford the best-qualified people and they don't apply for district jobs anyway. Is this an enforceable policy?

5005 "Volunteers shall be advised that they will be subjected to a name and birth date background check with the Washington State Patrol (WATCH). Volunteers may not start until this background check is complete." So you show up to volunteer at your kid's school and you're told that you can't do anything for a few days while they run a quick background check on you. You are sent away without being allowed to do anything that day. Hmmm. Doesn't sound really welcoming, does it?

5006 "F. Misrepresentation or falsification in the courese of professional practice" What does that mean? Does that mean that a teacher who teaches incorrect history can be disciplined? Does it mean that any staff person who makes misrepresentations or provides false information to the Board can be disciplined for it?

"Unauthorized professional practice" What's that? Teaching out of a book that has not be approved?

"Improper remunerative conduct" Would this include falsifying overtime? Accepting excess pay?
dan dempsey said…
Hummm ... 5006 "F. Misrepresentation or falsification in the course of professional practice" .......Does it mean that any staff person who makes misrepresentations or provides false information to the Board can be disciplined for it? -- wrote Charlie.

GREAT Let's start with the Superintendent on her statements about the TfA donor and TfA being a solution for the achievement gap.

Then let's move on to Holly Ferguson>>>
and her Action report on the Promotion/Non=promotion policies .... Typically students are promoted annually after meeting the standards required for that grade, spending one year at each grade level.

WOWZERS ... the SPS Math Standards for each grade are the Washington State 2008 math standards ... these are measured by the MSP at grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.....

The truth is that Typically students spend one year at each grade level because they are promoted annually whether they meet any standards or not. .... check the MSP data

Truth is the district has failed to offer effective interventions to struggling students for multiple years .... as noted by Holly F. =>the policies are not being followed in the buildings,

hummm... Seems like misrepresentation could be applied to some School Board members as well in regard to their motivations and reasons given for their votes.


OK so who will enforce this policy?
Who in this crew could even recognize a misrepresentation?

For the Staff "Misrepresentations to the Board" have been standard operating procedure for years.
Charlie Mas said…
5020 "The Board... shall abide by collective bargaining agreements reached with... properly designated bargaining units." Is it really the Board who needs to abide by the CBAs? What if they don't? Then what? How is this policy enforcable? Is this statement even necessary - to say that the Board will do what they have agreed to do?

5230 "Each staff member shall have a job description that identifies the essential functions fo the job and which shall also serve as a basis for evaluation." I would love to see the superintendent's job description and how it is reflected in her evaluation.

"The annual evaluation of all staff is a district priority." That doesn't actually require them, and is not enforceable. The sentence should say that supervisors must perform annual evaluations of all their staff.

"It shall be the duty of each employee to know the rules, policies and regualations of their school or department and the district. Employees shall be directly responsible to their supervisor to follow the required policies, instructions and rules and regulations." And if they don't?

5230 "Each administrator's duties shall include, but not be limited to:...

2. Evaluating the program regularly

7. Promoting effective working relationships with students, staff and patrons of the district.
" Program evaluations should be regular? How about annual? And patrons? PATRONS?

5253 "Intimate relationships between school personnel, contracted service providers, volunteers and students are prohibited." Ummm... I know that they don't mean that teachers can't have an intimate relationship with a volunteer - a teacher's spouse can't volunteer at the school - but that's what this says.

5280 "Staff who become eligible to retire under the controlling retirement system, and who intend to retire at the end of the current school year, should notify the Superintendent or his or her designee prior to April 1st of that year." Not only is this completely unenforceable, it really isn't even needed as a policy.
dan dempsey said…
About misrepresentations ... in ACTION REPORTS

I do not mean to single out Holly Ferguson alone for misrepresentations in Action Reports. The action reports are regularly filled with misrepresentations or incorrect information. (And the Board as a group apparently could hardly care less ... note the Board did not even read the first NTN contract to see if it matched the action report ... as for the information being correct... some board members ignore correct information ... preferring to base their votes on fairy-tales)

The New Tech Network contract original action report was filled with incorrect data - ( with Susan Enfield as lead staff for MGJ on that one)

The New Tech Network $800,000 contract redo was not any better ... as it contained a document masquerading as an original, on which a major portion of the Action Report depended.

These folks cannot even follow laws ... so now they are going to talk about misrepresentations in policies.... (That is rich humor.)
hschinske said…
The text of 5253 is at

Must admit that one way and another, I think my teachers at Lakeside technically violated nearly every one of those alphabetical items (not B, "showing pornography to a student," and I can't recall an instance of N, though honestly, who hasn't ever walked in on someone in the bathroom?).

If I think about it hard enough, I ought to be able to come up with *something* we were shown/read that would count as pornography. Hm.

Helen Schinske
Charlie Mas said…
5281 "Staff who fail to fulfill their job responsibilities of follow the reasonable directions of their supervisor; who conduct themselves on or off the job in ways that significantly impact their effectiveness on the job; engage in unprofessional conduct; or violate district policies or written rules, will be subject to discipline." Boy, you gotta like the certainty of this statement: They WILL be subject to discipline. Why don't I believe it?

"the reasonable directions of their supervisor" who will judge the reasonableness of the directions?

"on or off the job" so if you get caught exposing yourself to people when you are off the clock it can still be used against you.

"unprofessional conduct" who will judge this?

"violate district policies" If the superintendent is going to be disciplined every time she violates a district policy, the Board will be busy will little else.

After the strong statement that staff who do these things WILL be subject to discipline, we get a much weaker re-statement that says this behavior "may generate disciplinary action or discharge" The policy should have one of these statements or the other, but it doesn't need both. I would prefer the first as it is clearer and more certain.

"In the event that allegations or charges are made against a staff member for misconduct with minors, the Superintendent or his or her designee may contact the child protective services central registry for evidence regarding the staff member as an adjudicated or admitted perpetrator of child abuse or neglect." I'm not really sure what this means, but it sounds like only the superintendent or her designee is authorized to check the registry. Shouldn't it have been checked BEFORE the person was hired?

"When allegations of sexual, verbal or physical abuse are made against an employee, the district shall make a determination whether the abuse or misconduct occurred. When there is reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect, the required school person(s) shall report the incident to the proper law enforcement agency or state agency as required under RCW 26.44"
Aren't teachers required to report any time they suspect abuse - without making any investigation. Who on the district staff is qualified to investigate?
Anonymous said…
Volunteer coaches also are required to attend a course on sexual awareness. I forget the exact title but it was put together well and took a couple hours. Mostly video and discussion amongst the groups. Lots of grey areas and their was a reporting sequence.

Public School Parent
mirmac1 said…
One thing that struck me is the policy regarding professional staff-student boundaries, which primarily calls out social networks and electronic communication. Some in the board want to require their one employee to "develop training and a procedure to accompany this policy." There was alot of pushback from staff and other directors. Don't know about you but I'm pretty clueless about the social networking biz and expect many teachers are too. At my private sector job, there was training regarding (duh) proper use of email, but not much else. I could see a teacher stumbling and crossing the boundary this policy is meant to address. What if they offer up a website that, without their knowledge, links to inappropriate sites? At what age is it okay to induce kids to communicate electronically? With ever evolving technology, how can adults keep up with today's youth?

My points are:

Why have a policy if there's no admin follow-through to communicate and educate staff?

Shouldn't it be policy to make sure parents are included in electronic communications to their kids (like a cc: or "friending")? (I'm just askin' on this last one)
Anonymous said…
When I was in college, I worked at a summer camp, and one year, we had a horrible woman as our camp director. She treated the staff extraordinarily poorly and was a total dictator. A few weeks into the summer, one of her children (who were staying at the camp for the summer with her--it was a sleep-away camp) disclosed to a staff member that the camp director had been physically abusing her children. Of course, camp staff are mandatory reporters, so, the staff person reported it to CPS. The local police came and took her away, and CPS came and took her kids to a relative's house. Turns out the camp director was wanted in Nevada for child abuse. Our background check, like SPS's, only covered Washington state, so they hadn't learned of the child abuse warrant in Nevada--otherwise, the organization running the camp would never have hired the woman. This would be why it's important to run nation-wide background checks of people who will have access to children. I know it costs more, but so does a lawsuit when it turns out some volunteer with a history of child abuse has done something very bad to a child in our district.

-Summer Camp Staffer

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