Disqus

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

1620 BP is Seriously Flawed

The proposed Board procedure 1620BP has been discussed quite a bit. I don't think it makes much difference one way or the other - except for one small part of it which is critically flawed. I'm very worked up about this little bit, but I'm not hearing anyone else express concern about it.

Here's the sentence:
The Board is charged with setting district policy and the Superintendent is charged with carrying out and enforcing that policy.
This is horribly, horribly wrong. The Board absolutely must not delegate the duty to enforce policy to the superintendent. The Board absolutely must retain and exercise their authority to enforce policy. This is the heart of governance work, it is the heart of policy work, it is the Board's work. Policy enforcement is one of the Board's four governance tools; they can't give it up. Moreover, because the superintendent is the one person whose actions are most regulated by the policies, this abdication of the Board's duty puts the superintendent in the position of self-policing - which is not only bad governance, it is also bad management.

Why do I feel like I'm the only person who has a problem with this?

By the way, the Highline School District's board procedure 1620BP clearly states that the board shall review district operations to assure compliance with district policy. At Highline, the board retains the duty and authority to enforce policy.

By the way, if you read the policy 1620 you will see that it makes it clear that the Board is supposed to take no role in personnel decisions. The Board should not have anything to do with the contract with Teach for America.

11 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

As I posted at the School Board thread -

"Issue of superintendent enforcing policy, according to DeBell, is that "all employees need to understand and enforce the policies that are relevant to their work. The Board itself has no obvious tools to ensure that policies are being followed." He said the Internal Auditor is one place where the Board could do enforcement."

So DeBell doesn't think the Board has the tools to reinforce its own policy. Very weird.

Also, I reread the policy after the retreat but mainly to see what they changed.

There is a big issue, though, that I need to find out - who is in charge when the Superintendent isn't around.

I ask because in the latest batch of public disclosure e-mails there was this disturbing one from Holly Ferguson, head of Governance, and Dr. Enfield dated August 11, 2011
(I'm only going to put in the part that is in reference to this thread's topic - the whole thing is problematic):

"- Last,I made two executive decisions today. (see, you didn't specifically identify your stand in, so I just took control)."

Ms. Ferguson then details two actions to give direction to Bob Boesche and Pegi McEvoy. They were moderate senior decisions.

BUT, the issue is, does Policy 1620BP take up what happens when the Superintendent is out of town or ill? Because we have multiple deputy superintendents and now Ms. Ferguson seems to reveal that she believes her role above theirs and so who's on first?

I would have assumed if the Superintendent is not available, there is a chain of command and not just whoever takes on the mantle.

Another thing to ask about this policy.

Anonymous said...

DeBell is always sliding around the law.

Policy must follow the law which it currently doesn't.

And the AG's office has stated that the Board is the responsible party.

The Board can not pass their legal responsibilites to the Superintenedent simply on their say-so.

You are corret in being alarmed, Melissa.

Why would the Superintendent enforce policy if they are "breaking" policy or the law to push forward an agenda (ieTFA, Writers Workshop, etc.)

Currently the administration investigates itself with little or no Board over-sight. What a deal.

This sounds like another attempt to codify and justify illegal policies with an "we've always done it that way" or "it's a done deal" or "because I said so" defense - tactics currently in high rotation by the administration and a blind-eye Board.

-JC.

Charlie Mas said...

If the Board abdicates their authority to enforce policy to the superintendent and the superintendent allows herself to violate the policy (as is happening right now with the program placement policy) then the policy is simply violated.

If the superintendent is free to violate policy then the policies themselves become meaningless.

If the policies become meaningless then the board, as a policy-making body, becomes meaningless.

Anonymous said...

Shades of Nixon. "It's not illegal if the President does it."

Oompah

Anonymous said...

Charlie - yep. You got it.

-JC.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, you were a real cheerleader and venue for DeBell during his media blitz. He acted like he was working with a bunch of overbearing women co-directors, who were trying to "micro-manage" the superintendent.

Didn't you get it that giving the superintendent final say was his goal all along?

--enough already

David said...

Seems odd that the Board would be so eager to reduce its powers. Any idea what the motivation is for this? What is the goal of the proponents?

I agree it is dangerous and should not happen, but I don't even understand the argument for it. I'd enjoy hearing what it might be if anyone knows why they would be considering this change.

Anonymous said...

IF the board were doing its oversight, THEN they'd know that there was NO need for TFA

and they wouldn't allow borderline illegal, definitely unethical, shell game contracts with pirates.

TFA isn't the board's business?

That is true for the board of Peter, Steve, MDB ... KSB?

DuckAndCover

Charlie Mas said...

@David, The previous Board actually worked very hard to divest themselves of authority. That was their mission as a Board in response to the strong Board that preceded them. That's what the anti-democratic forces that funded their elections put them in office to do.

They went about it aggressively for their first two years. They rubber-stamping everything brought before them no matter how foolish and no matter how much the public opposed it. They also did absolutely no oversight. They did not demand any of the annual reports that policies required them to review. They did not enforce any policies. They did not ask any questions. They did not demand any answers. The only reports they got were the quarterly Strategic Plan Updates, which the staff controlled completely and reduced to a highlight reel.

After the State Audit that named the Board's failures to do their job Director Carr saw the hazard in that course and has slowed the process, but has not stopped it. Director Martin-Morris is still pushing hard in that direction and Director DeBell is also still headed that way in a more orderly manner. Most of the other Board Directors don't quite understand that they are caught in a current running in that direction.

Director Peaslee sees the current and is paddling against it, but is just one oar in the water.

As to the motivation, I can't say with authority, but remember how the previous Board acted as if they worked for the superintendent instead of the other way around? There are folks who just want it that way. That's the way they think it should be: with the experts, the staff, in charge.

Their argument, if I can be so presumptuous as to represent it for them, is that the Board is a group of well-intentioned but sort of goofy, lovable amateurs who don't know nuthin' about all this edumacation stuff. The Board is seen a group of folks who can't add anything to the process or the work so the best thing they can do is get out of the way. They represent the "community", by which they mean the Chamber of Commerce, and the community puts a lot of value in brand names and certifications.

Watching said...

" Director DeBell is also still headed that way in a more orderly manner"

You bet. DeBell took it upon himself to write the original policy. This piece was then taken to the press for promotion. Unfortunately, three news-outlets bashed newly elected and veteran board members. One of the authors - David Brewster- had never spoken to one of the directors. Sure seems like biased reporting to me.

I maintain other board members have legitimate concerns around district operations. Directors hold ultimate responsibility and I praise directors for speaking up. We're a democracy and we need directors to feel free to speak; it appears DeBell prefers intimidation and fear to control members.

It is unfortunate DeBell feels his way is the best way. We're a democracy and all board members need to be heard. I suspect board members are under political pressure to comply.

Watching said...

One more point- DeBell was also inovolved in the Creative Approach Schools MOU which took oversight away from the board and placed it in the hands of the Superintendent and Oversight Committee.

But for a smart boad member- this MOU would have passed. Was this by design or oversight? You decide. I've got my thoughts.

AFTER it was pointed out the school board was not included in the MOU ,DeBell started talking about high over-arching policy.