Sunday, November 30, 2014

It's Worth Writing to Some Board Members on Superintendent Vote

It is becoming increasingly clear that the vote on whether to offer the job of permanent superintendent to Larry Nyland at Wednesday night's School Board meeting will not be unanimous.

In fact, appealing to directors who have not made any statements on this issue might be a good idea.  I think the issue of NOT telling the public that a shift in attitude had occurred over a search is a major issue for a couple of directors.  I think there is discomfort out there over voting yes because of promises made and now a change with no real explanation.  

Again, I suggest writing to Director Martin-Morris and Director Carr who may well believe Nyland is a good superintendent but also have a good sense of fairness.  

And what of a split vote of 5-2 or perhaps 4-3?  That is no way for a permanent superintendent to start his/her tenure.

Now, of course, perhaps there are people trying to manipulate the situation.  What if this were done as a ruse so that either the Board pulls this off the agenda at the last minute and says "Okay, okay, we'll do a search."

But, by then, hasn't the damage been done?  Nyland will feel unsure of his chances and anyone who might apply would be very wary.  How convenient for a mayor who might want to point this out to anyone who might listen.

I also note that a JSCEE source tells me that there was supposed to be some kind of public notice - either at the district's homepage or a press release - about the vote.  President Peaslee said in the Seattle Times that the public could weigh in any time between now and the vote.  She left out that no one would really know if I hadn't been alerted to this and broadcast it.


Julie said...

Please write to ALL directors. We need to know which directors want to ram this through over the holiday weekend.

McLaren's campaign was all about community involvement.

Charlie Mas said...

The most reasonable thing to request is for the vote to be deferred to the next Board meeting - like they normally would.

While the next Board legislative meeting isn't until January 7, they have a management oversight meeting scheduled for December 17 and they could hold the vote then. They are all coming together anyway.

Regardless of the merit of the motion, the public should have an opportunity to be informed, to review it, and to have input.

Charlie Mas said...

If the Board votes to appoint Dr. Nyland it will start his administration under a cloud. It would be unfair to him.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, apparently that means little or nothing to Nyland, or he would be asking Peaslee to postpone any such vote, wouldn't you think?

-- Ivan Weiss

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I believe that a close examination of the quality of sped community engagement by Mr. Nyland will and should raise questions. At this juncture in SPS's evolving difficulties delivering on disabilities rights to the however many students it outed recently in the release of private information to a vendor and onward, I think that holding SPED families and community partners at arms length is a big red flag, not only about Mr. Nyland but about those on whom he has been relying in JSCEE. I understand that with federal and state eyes on SPED right now, the reality checking with families and community partners is not a walk in the park. But the arms length routine is not a solution. I understand that this was also a difficulty in Marysville. I wish the Board would take these concerns seriously.


Robert Cruickshank said...

Charlie, your point is a very good one. If Nyland is the right person for the job, the way this is being done - last minute, without enough public notice or discussion, over a holiday weekend - undermines him unfairly because it makes it look like there's something to hide. They should be willing to take the time to get it right and build public support for him.

Charlie Mas said...

"They should be willing to take the time to get it right and build public support for him."
And there we have the problem.
This Board, like the senior management of Seattle Public Schools, believes too much in top-down rule. They seem to think that just because they order something done that it will be done. That's simply not the case. In fact, that has never been the case.
The only time anything gets done is when the people who actually have to do it are a party to the decision. Only when there is buy-in. And buy-in requires investment. It requires a contribution. Shut out the teachers and you'll never get them to switch to Standards-based instruction, or MTSS, or whatever new fangled thing you want to introduce. Shut out the public and they will never accept your leadership.
The militaristic, top-down style of leadership doesn't work in education because, in the end, the work is done by professionals who have to be trusted to exercise their professional judgement.
I think that may be one of the fundamental reasons that corporate education reform is focused on de-professionalizing teaching. If the teachers are no longer seen as professionals who determine their practice, but as instruments of the curriculum, then top-down leadership will work and they can standardize everything and make it efficient. Kids won't learn, but everything will be easier for the managers.
We should be very wary of anyone in education who doesn't want to engage the stakeholders and get their buy-in on decisions. We should be very wary of anyone who wants to implement this sort of top-down decision-making.

Anonymous said...

And with the top-down management style comes the we-know-better-than-you attitude.

The we-know-better-than-you folks also brought you the:

-Bungling of the Garfield rape episode
-Dissemination of privacy protected information for almost 8000 students
-Signing of the Gates Foundation award without Board approval


Anonymous said...

Based on my conversation with Federal DOE lawyers, it's clear the only way to force SPS to change its ways is to sue. If you notice SPS has designed it's administration structure for immunity from public influence.

A playtime board.

Superintendents unwilling to change the culture.

Administrators on the take or worst.

Laws without any penalties.

State and Federal over-site agencies lacking enforcement capabilities.

This why they act with impunity, why parents and students are marginalized.

It's time the teachers help our students learn what is going on and we get a lawyer who gives a $hit and stops the BS or this situation will go on another 20 years.

All it will take is $2 from each student to bring in a top notch lawyer and the rest will fall into place.



Wondering said...

When did Peaslee begin taking lessons from slime bags? Noted.

Anonymous said...

From the July 18 SPS announcement of Nyland as Interim:

"Seattle School Board members said they will soon outline a recruitment plan for hiring the next permanent Superintendent, a process that will include community engagement."

Until they provide a reasonable rationale for an emergency change in that planned process, this installation should be a no-go. There needs to be a public forum to allow folks to understand exactly what he's accomplished thus far, as well as a chance for Board and Nyland to hear community input on families' experiences with Nyland and his team to date. I didn't think it possible, but it would appear that community engagement has actually gotten worse since he arrived (e.g., SpEd community engagement).

Oh, and adding to the running list of things the "we-know-better-than-you folks" brought us, I'd add these:

- Greatly decreased transparency in enrollment data and staffing calculations (e.g., removal of enrollment data from website)

- Failure to acknowledge and address the looming high school capacity crisis

- Continued disregard for meaningful evaluation of programs and services, as evidenced by recent annual program evaluation and assessment report presentation

Half Full

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reply from Director Martin-Morris. It's the first reply - canned or otherwise - that I have received from him in years (and I'm in his district):

"Dear Ms. Westbrook
Thank you for voicing your concern around the vote to appoint Dr. Nyland to the permanent position as superintendent. The hiring and supervision of the superintendent is one of the key responsibilities of the school board. We take this work very seriously and any we take action based on the long term impact on the district and its staff and students.


Harium Martin-Morris
School Board Director, District III"

Anonymous said...

@Half Full, Thank you for your find and share of the quote from the July announcement of Dr. Nyland as Interim. I will be using that in my email to Board members.

Highland Park Mom

Louis Tice said...

Melissa - please contact me ASAP re Dr. Nyland's proposed appointment. Email please: northernsoundpress@gmail.com
Thank you.
Louis Tice

Anonymous said...

Harium sounds like he is IN!


Anonymous said...

The only thing this episode demonstrates is that President Peaslee and her cohorts lack sound judgment. Period.

At this point, why would there be any trust that they could manage a superintendent search with integrity or professionalism?

The die is cast, my friends.

--- swk

Just Wow said...

The Seattle Council PTSA feels that they were mislead. The SCPTSA believed they were supporting an extension of Nyland's Interim position.

Who led this effort? From the Seattle Council PTSA:

"Our council board feels that a search for a Superintendent could provide other qualified candidates, however we also believe that providing consistent leadership and stability for staff and families also has value for our district at this time. When asked to provide support for a contract extension for Dr. Nyland as interim Superintendent, we agreed. Dr. Nyland's commitment to stewardship and accountability of SPS resources, closing the opportunity gap, providing better customer service, and responding to parent concerns is encouraging. However, when appointing a permanent Superintendent these criteria and commitments should be fully assessed through a formal process.

SCPTSA did not realize the School Board would be voting on this action so quickly without providing time for families to engage. The specifics of the contract extension, specifically to make this a permanent appointment, and the process for hiring the Superintendent, were unknown even to us."

Anonymous said...

Seriously why did they pick Nyland in the first place.

Marysville district was and remains a disaster from Nyalnd.

His CYA over the data breach was pathetic.

He lied about not knowing polices around the grant process.

He's retired and sorry just too old to run this district long term.

He's part of the same system that thinks they know everything and parents know nothing.

Hey Nyland - dont let the door hit you on the way out!

osspect against

Anonymous said...

What? Nyland wants to reduce the "opportunity gap"? That's ridiculous. Nyland's bungling of special education shows NO DESIRE to reduce ANY opportunity gap. You can't fix opportunity gaps if you don't address special education. Period.

I'm not talking about the bungling of 8000+ student records, IEP's, medical information, grades, test scores, etc. That sort of feeble failure reflects continuing lack of care and respect for special education students and the laws protecting them, but was not harmful itself. It was pretty bad though.

I'm talking about the continuation of the hiring incompetent legions of administrators with no education or expertise in special education, with no interest in people with disabilities, with no aptitude or experience in special education. I'm talking about the creation of MORE directors, fly-by night, who do NOT EVEN INTERVIEW for their positions. These fat-cat positions are created FOR THEM (not students), and these pseudo-jobs never even existed before these administrators are suddenly announced - "New Director", or "New Supervisor", or "New Fat-Cat". I'm talking about policies - like "get rid of all 1-1 IAs by June to pay for the RC-CAP, and new Fat-Cat positions. I'm talking about the failure to hire Speech-Pathologists until what? November. I'm talking about CYA policies - never send and email policies (because, gulp, you wouldn't want anybody to document law breaking behavior.) In fact, never send an email at all,m I'm talking to a systematic dismantling of inclusion and LRE. I'm talking about the cancellation of SEAAC, the superintendents appointed advisory group, because of "diversity" concerns - and then the appointment of a group to meet when NOBODY could attend in the middle of the day, and for 5 times - with NO agenda given. Wow! That sounds productive. NOT. Clearly, no advocacy nor advice is necessary for special education. Why? Because there is NO DESIRE to improve.

I could go on and on, but I'll stop for now.

Nyland is the worst special education superintendent yet. And will never solve any "equity" or "opportunity gap".

Keep Looking.

Anonymous said...

Keep Looking:
I think Nyland is working on to close the opportunity gap by sending away as many HCC students from SPS as possible (and as I hear this mass migration never happened before).
He is doing a "great" job!

Anonymous said...

No HCC mom. You obviously don't get it, but nice try. Maybe SPS isn't perfect for HCC, but there's a large and ever growing program, meaning it ain't too bad. Plus HCC students have the MOST choice of any people in the district. Private school capacity is not growing. So, there's no real place to "send out" on the HCC side, at least in any number.

Keep Looking.

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