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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Following Up on Recent SAO Management Letter

I just wanted to note one thing from this thread about the recent Management Letter from the SAO to the district.  It covered quite a few items like a mysterious $50K salary increase to the Native American program director (now gone) and raises for all the upper management in HR (still no explanation). 

There was also an issue about a couple of schools that appear to have allowed events at their school but did not charge for use of the building and, in one case, tried to make it appear like it was a school function.  This may have been to build goodwill in the community and/or make some money for the school.  (When a building is rented, the money goes to the district, not the school.)  It is unclear in either case whether the school actually got any funds but it is clear the district DID lose money.

The main culprit seemed to be Cleveland STEM which allowed a couple of basketball tournaments to be at the school as well as a basketball league being allowed to use the gym for six months. 

It's interesting because the principal at Cleveland STEM, Princess Shareef,  just retired.  That's probably for the best if she did not clearly understand that principals don't just get to decide what happens in their building, particularly its after-hour uses. 

I would agree that it would be nice if the district shared the money but, in the end, the district has insurance, safety and maintenance costs to cover.  If every principal decided to do this, you'd have a lot of issues occurring and that's why oversight is important.

It seems to be a current theme from the top down to the principals for the Board to "trust us as professionals."  Okay, but what happens if policy, regulations and rules aren't followed? 

You do have to earn trust. 

7 comments:

syd said...

I have always thought that the school buildings are an under used resource in our communities.

Charlie Mas said...

There are some folks who say that the Board should focus only on policy. Even these folks who want the Board to be hands-off say that the Board has a duty to "hold the superintendent accountable". But they never say what that would look like.

How, exactly, is the Board supposed to "hold the superintendent accountable"? The answer I get is that the accountability comes once a year in the superintendent's annual performance review.

Only there's no place in that performance review that assesses the superintendent for policy compliance. It simply isn't one of the performance measures.

So, in short, the superintendent is under no obligation to follow policy. The policies are unenforceable and unenforced. That makes them pretty much meaningless. Which, in turn, makes the policymaking body, the Board, pretty much meaningless.

So, in short, the people who say that the Board should focus on policy are saying that the Board should do nothing meaningful.

Anonymous said...

This post does not sit well with me. I am remembering when Martin Floe was criticized for leadership that under-served students of color and students from low-income families. Despite that troubling data, Melissa defended him and devoted acres of blog real estate to the campaign to keep him in his post. Princess Shareef retires after decades of effectively serving low-income students of color, including leading two successful school transformations (Meany and Cleveland), and Melissa zaps her for a mention in an SAO report about gym usage. I think Melissa and I would both agree that it is important to achieve good academic outcomes for all children, and important to manage building facilities as the law demands. What bothers me is that these two different failures/missteps in leadership have been treated very differently by Melissa, even though the one she has spent a lot of time defending seems to me much more important, in the scheme of things, than the one she has taken time out to highlight for critique. The inconsistency troubles me.

--south end mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay, first, Martin Floe has always been glad for the numbers of southend students who flocked to go to Ingraham. I think the school would not have attracted those students if their parents didn't want them there. (Yes, the scores for those students were low but they were at every single comprehensive high school.)

Meany was closed. Is that a successful school transformation?

I didn't say Shareef had never done anything good. She really tried with Cleveland despite not having received the kind of back-up she should have (and I said that, repeatedly).

I don't know that I "zapped" her - I reported what the SAO reported. That she misused district property was wrong and she did it repeatedly.

Floe and Shareef and their performances have nothing to do with each other.

mirmac1 said...

Speaking in general, there is a difference between what may be a subjective or nuanced assessment of a principal's performance (gap still there, but was it reduced from what it could have been at another school? programs good or terrible? special services provided or denied?), versus malfeasance. I think ANY principal, anywhere should be busted if information was purposefully misrepresented. Again, I'm not saying this is the case at Cleveland.

There IS a double standard, certainly. A top JSCEE administrator is found to have mischarged hundred$ of thousand$ in improper charges to a federal grant. Punishment? Hell no, in fact board members and the Supt made excuses for her at a public meeting.

Michael H said...

@mirmac1: that administrator was a "he", not a "she".

@Melissa: it was $20K, not $50K

mirmac1 said...

Thank you for the correction Michael H