Fast and Furious: New Compromise Amendment on Superintendent

Directors Peters and Patu have offered a new compromise amendment to the current item that offers   the job of permanent superintendent to current interim, Larry Nyland.

Amendment 1 to motion to select a permanent superintendent, to instead authorize a one year extension.

I move that the School Board amend the Motion to offer Dr. Larry Nyland the position of permanent Superintendent, and replace it with the following motion to authorize the Board President:
1) To offer an extension of the interim contract of Superintendent to Dr. Larry Nyland; 
2) To negotiate an employment contract with Dr. Larry Nyland for the position of Interim Superintendent through June 30, 2016; and

3) To present the completed contract to the School Board for approval at the January 7, 2015 Board meeting. 

The resulting contract will cover the period from the time of execution through June 30, 2016, with the opportunity for review and possible extension to a permanent position in Fall 2015.
That would mean Nyland would be here two full years, still as interim, with his term ending in July of 2016.
I think this a good in-between measure.  I can see issues in terms of discussion around who would ultimately decide on a new superintendent - the Board as it is now or the new Board who is voted on November 2015.   I can see benefits both ways.  
I would say that the discussion around whether Nyland becomes the permanent superintendent, if this amendment were adopted, should come AFTER the election.  
I do want to add that one reader, SWK, said that perhaps Nyland was being a poker player and holding his hand close to his vest.  
There could be some truth to that thought, based on some research I did. 

Nyland became superintendent in Marysville in 2004.  Two months in, he found out the HR director failed to give staff timely evaluations, then changed dates to hide it. He reprimanded and removed her.

But oddly, when he was faced with the largest student data breach in Seattle Schools history, he did not say that a single person in the entire district would be reprimanded for this assault on data privacy.

Again, in Marysville, this superintendent said that the Native American program in Marysville was “hugely important to him.” and, he helped to develop a partnership with the local tribes. It resulted in “Our Native kindergarteners now outperform students district-wide.”

And yet that same person in our district’s Superintendent’s Friday Memo had this to say:

Teaching and Learning did send a memo to schools asking them to “do something: during November to recognize Native Heritage month."

The disconnect between the actions in Marysville versus our current situation is troubling.   Is he waiting for something?  Of did he give all he had to Pasco and Marysville.


Jamie said…
This is a perfectly reasonable compromise. I hope the rest of the board sees that.
Eric B said…
I like this compromise. It will give him a chance to show true colors.

On the Native programs, keep in mind that the Tulalip tribe dropped a LOT of money into Marysville schools. That would make me very interested in a program to serve them as well.
Lori said…
I haven't weighed in on this issue at all, but I'm curious that people think this is a reasonable compromise. Either you think he's a good fit or not. What's the difference between June 2016 and June 2017 at this point?

The various concerns people have raised on other threads are that he's too eager for ed reform/pre-K/charters, didn't act forcefully enough over the Garfield issues (field trips and WSS/budget/teacher removal). and/or didn't respond adequately to student data breaches. If those are your dealbreakers, why would you support extending a contract even 1 year, until June 2016? If you're really worried about his priorities, don't you think he can accomplish much more in 18 months than in just another 6 months?

Sorry, I'm not following why a sudden 1-year extension is preferable to a 2-year extension/"permanent" hire.

(and again, I have no opinion on the matter - just want to follow the thought processes)
Anonymous said…
I have to totally agree with Lori - why would this change anything? Why would a long extension be better than just hiring him for the 2+ years he's stated as being willing to give?

Unknown said…
This is a sensible solution.

Nyland gets a year to prove he has what it takes to run our district and the board doesn't give away its power to hold him accountable.
Why not. said…
There is merit to continuity.

However, Nyland did state that he would consider charter schools. There are concerns regarding a $700K settlement with no accountability and lack of transparency regarding Gates contract.

Looks like a good compromise to me. If Nyland has any plans of bringing in charter schools with the city/Gates...we can let him go.
Greg said…
This seems like a perfectly reasonable way to go.

The only part of it I don't understand is why there is any need to offer anything beyond a year-to-year contract in cases like Nyland. Why do anything longer at all?

I was under the impression that we offer senior executives like superintendents a multi-year contract if they are incurring substantial costs to moving here or leaving another position at the same level. It's an enticement.

In cases where we are hiring locally or someone who is not already in a superintendent position at a similarly sized and similarly prestigious city, why would we offer a multi-year contract? The most both sides should need to do is show a commitment to the next year by offering a one year contract, and I could even see an argument that that is unnecessary and that employment could be at will.

So what's the big deal about only offering a one year contract? That seems pretty generous to me.
Why not said…
I hope Nyland realizes Gates Gate was a big mistake and he needs to rebuild trust with the board. However, I'd like an audit to ascertain detailed information with that transaction. Who was in the room when Nyland signed and did he receive legal advice.

I also would like to know whether or not the Garfield numbers were manipulated.

There aren't any saviors out-there and I hope Nyland takes this compromise.

Laurie said…
At $1500/day, why wouldn't Nyland accept offer?
mirmac1 said…
I intend to bring up the reported Gates screw up with the State Auditor, and will remind them that Jose Banda did much the same with the STR, with the usual English 'splaination of the boo boo
Odd said…
Whatever happens, let's remember this:

"What’s up with the Seattle School Board? On the day before Thanksgiving, the Board very quietly added to its agenda for this Wednesday’s meeting a vote on a proposal to turn Larry Nyland, the current interim superintendent, into the permanent superintendent. The move, engineered by board president Sharon Peaslee, came two days after the board met in an executive session to discuss the performance of Nyland, "

Note: Peaslee was the only individual that had their name on the BAR. According to the weekly, Peaslee wasn't sure if there were enough votes to pass. Why would you put an item on the agenda, unless you knew it would pass?
Anonymous said…
My opinion, he is NOT a good fit.

(1) Obfuscation of gross errors (signing Gates grant, then weakly saying sorry; pushing for downtown school without data; etc),

(2) unclear loyalty (is it to the K12 students, or to the Mayor and preschool), and

(3) bad performance (did not direct staff to provide full matrix for teacher pulls to public; bizarrely held back enrollment counts from the public; blowing off SpEd parents; ignoring Title IX fiasco at Garfield, etc) make him a detriment to our District.

There is nothing really good going on here with him, under him.

Being an interim, a retired interim at that, is the PERFECT time to make changes, because you can apply corrections on a broken system and not worry about what to do personally with your career or personal economic viability if people react badly to the changes. Makes me think he thinks all is well; that having an overstuffed supers' cabinet and loads of high-drawing FTE in JSCEE when teachers are being cut is honky-dory. It is not fine, and, him not being disturbed by this is also not fine. He is not a keeper.

A year merely buys time to hire a good super.

Not that we will get a good one, but, we won't/can't do worse. Sue Peters is there. She will protect us.

Dr. Nyland seems like a cross between a lapdog (inaction) and arrogant detached insulated boss (let's push in preschools when we don;t fund K and have no space; clamp down on all information sharing with his public -- cuz we apparently don't seem to need to know).

Plus, this guy is retired and wants to stay retired, he said he will only work 2 years, which guarantees more churn.

I wonder, why just 2 years? Because he is driven to fulfill his promise as a visionary leader who yearns to have a societal impact to better the lives of children so he can't resist coming out of retirement to serve? Or, is his 2 years just about dipping his toe in the water to cash in on his seniority and collect another $350 grand knowing it is just a temporary gig so he really doesn't have to work up a sweat?

SPS makes me such a cynic.

It is funny; VNESS's ringing endorsement definitely reinforces my serious misgivings about the damage he will do to our relatively fragile District. If VNESS is for him, that really, really is worrisome for me, personally. (remember their math book stance?)

tired cynic

Anonymous said…
Instead of a proper procedure and community involvement, there is a new amendment to leave Dr Nyland a temporary superintendent for another year from Directors Peters and Patu?
That doesn't make any sense. What could be their reason I wonder?
- curious
Wondering said…
"did not direct staff to provide full matrix for teacher pulls to public; bizarrely held back enrollment counts from the public;"

I can't disagree.

Who is VNESS. Are they the same group that lobbied against the levy and were extremely loud because they wanted their middle school updated?
Anonymous said…
Why lock him in for the next 18 months now,? Can't we just proceed with the search the board had already planned to do, and then get either Nyland, if he rises to the top, or hopefully a more promising and longer term candidate, next fall?

When he's talking about having just 2, 3 maybe 4 years left to give to SPS, giving him a long interim gig isn't really much different than hiring him outright (aside from compensation issues). If we're not convinced he should get the "permanent" gig now, why should we go for this long-term temp version?

I'm not understanding the need to lock him in now... Is he threatening to leave otherwise?

Half Full
Anonymous said…
@Wondering said...
Who is VNESS. Are they the same group that lobbied against the levy and were extremely loud because they wanted their middle school updated? 12/3/14, 3:23 PM

Yup, the very same. And their pet middle school is my middle school; I live in the NE, but they absolutely do not represent me or my values.

tired cynic
Anonymous said…
It just stupid, Nyland gets a year to show he worthy of another year?

It must be the water in Seattle!

Anonymous said…
Right. "the need to lock him in now" is the ultimate question.

What is the "real" answer?

Call me cynical but there is something else at play here that we just aren't privy too.

hogan (ok funny - the captcha phrase is "arr uninvited" - ha!
Anonymous said…
Anyone else having trouble with the link to the agenda?

- North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
Wow, just wow. In his comments, Dr Nyland said 6 schools were found to be under-enrolled and told to pull FTE.

No mention of that 7th school that was told to pull an FTE, but given a reprieve, Hazel Wolf.

He, again, attempted to validate the Garfield FTE pull, but until he explains why Hazel Wolf gets to keep the 1.5 teachers their low enrollment doesn't support, then he his wasting his breath.

- reality check
Anonymous said…
RE: Hazel Wolf -

The challenge with the HW numbers is that a few students were missing from each grade level. There were no 2 adjacent grades where the numbers were low enough to do a split classroom. 5th grade was lowest, but 4th grade classes were above 26 students each and 6th grade classes were 29.

There is only one language being offered now (Spanish) and 3 cores are as low as you can go in middle school and be able to have a schedule that works, an elective or two, and the math levels you need, especially in a spectrum-designated school (this is what I have been told).

Hazel Wolf enrollment:

K: 79 = 3x26.3
1: 74 = 3x24.6
2: 77 = 3x25.6
3: 71 = 3x23.6
4: 79 = 3x26.3
5: 66 = 3x22
6: 87 = 3x29
7: 108 = 4x27
8: 70 = 3x23.3
Total: 711

Someone took the time to look at the numbers and how they played out at each grade level and realized that there wasn't a good cut to make (or even a bad cut). These are pure headcounts - I don't know the additional information around how FRL, ELL and SPED numbers play into the equation as well, but I'm guessing they do.

I certainly hope that the Ed Directors from all of the affected schools sat down with each principal and had the same conversation.

- no conspiracy
Anonymous said…
@ no conspiracy, I'm sure there are ways it could be done. It doesn't have to be as simple as creating a single split. I've been at schools that had multiple matching splits (e.g., two separate classrooms that were 2nd/3rd combos), as well as schools that had multiple different configurations of splits impacting a particular grade level (e.g., a 3rd/4th split and a 4th/5th split). Depending on the kids and teachers, these arrangements can sometimes work well.

I'm not saying Hazel Wolf shouldn't have been given a reprieve--I know nothing about their situation and how it compares to situations elsewhere. But I am saying that if that's the argument they made, it was a pretty simplistic one. I'm sure they had options. But hey, it worked, so good for them.

Half Full
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Charlie Mas said…
Some people, such as the author of the anonymous comment that was deleted because it was unsigned, say that Dr. Nyland is doing a good job.

Could some of those folks tell me what Dr. Nyland has done that leads them to this conclusion? I'm not seeing it.

I see a refusal/failure to know the policies. Instead, we get insincere excuses.

I see a failure to address the real problems in Special Education. Instead we get documentation and more administrators in the JSCEE.

I see a shocking lack of candor about the Garfield enrollment. How could Garfield have higher enrollment than predicted and names on the waitlist and still lose a teacher?

I see the Title IX compliance effort dropped immediately after the settlement and after the stories were out of the press.

I see no effort to enforce policies or procedures. I see no accountability.

No rationale provided for program placement other than: this is where we have space (Interagency at Queen Anne Gym). That's in direct violation of the policy.

No program evaluation - not even after they were promised - and then blaming the Board for not budgeting a position to do the work. The Board does not write the budget. Does Dr. Nyland want the Board to start writing the budget? How are program managers evaluated if there is no evaluation of the quality or efficacy of the programs they manage?

I see no meaningful action to address critical capacity crises.

That's what I see.

What do you see that makes you say he's doing a good job?
Anonymous said…
"I see a failure to address the real problems in Special Education. Instead we get documentation and more administrators in the JSCEE."

Well said, Charlie.

Another Charlie
Anonymous said…
The only way to get real change for SPED is to sue. I was it wasn't so, but it's true.

Robert Taft
Anonymous said…
Sped problems:

The big "Fix" from the district's side has only to do with paperwork and nothing to do with actually providing services in a timely and appropriate manner. We (sped staff) are being inundated with ridiculous demands to "fix" supposed IEP errors. While some minor errors have been made, many "fix" demands are arbitrary and capricious. Worse yet, these internal auditors kick back IEPs that supervisors have said are just fine.

What would be wrong with a federal take over of the department?

Sped Staffer
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