[LCSD] A Lebanon Weekend #3

As it turns out, Alexander sent two documents to the rest of the board (full PDF here).  Let’s go through the second one (which I also do not believe was written by Alexander):

The accompanying letter clearly states my desire to prevent the administration from ignoring those provisions of the Teacher’s Contract that deals with teacher control of grading. How you feel about this issue is irrelevant, because you have no power to interfere.

Current board policy places these decisions squarely under the control of the administration and does not allow us to override the administrative acts of the Superintendent.

This must be changed. It is imperative that the board regain a veto. The people of Lebanon elected us to govern this district. We cannot govern without the power to disapprove the actions of our employees.

Wow.  This is about as open a call for usurping the traditional authority of an organization’s head as I’ve ever seen.  I have been thinking about this a bit, and I have two general responses:

First, that Alexander is actually unaware of the incredible amount of history behind the relationship between a Board, a Superintendent and a District, and what that means for the role of a Board member as is possible.  I know many, many people have commented on this, including me, in the past few years, so I suspect Alexander isn’t completely unaware.  What means, to me, is that the second option is a lot more likely:

He just doesn’t care.  He wants more control over certain things in the district, and he thinks he is entitled to that control, so he will take actions to get that control, usually without thinking about the consequences or bigger picture.  This is just another piece of evidence that he’s not a good school board member.  Moving on:

Delegating day to day managerial tasks is one thing, but the current board policy goes much further and legally prevents us from interfering, even if a majority of the board disapproves of an action. This is bad public policy and it violates our fiduciary duty to the voters.

Wrong.  It is good public policy (and since when does Alexander think in terms of public policy, anyway?!) that the board does not have the right to make or overrule every decision in the district – and it clearly does not violate the board’s fiduciary duty to voters, as they still retain the right to hire and fire a Superintendent if something goes wrong.  Also, the only way this ‘argument’ can be understood as true is if no one else in the district is responsible for anything, or at least anything having to do with money, which is clearly untrue.  Therefore, this line of reasoning is – as noted – wrong.

Oh, and Alexander no credibility to talk about fiduciary duty, not having approved the Robinson buyout and the Yates settlement.  That’s a slap in the face to the very idea of fiduciary duty.

Another example is the change made in the Administrative Rules. On August 26, 2008 one whole section was removed from the ‘Procedures for Implementing the Evaluation Program for Administrators’. These procedures have been in effect for eight years and they were summarily eliminated without consult or announcement. At an absolute minimum AR changes should be reported to the board. However, proper management of the district requires that changes be approved by the board. Under current board policy, we are powerless to prevent AR changes. This situation must be addressed.

I don’t actually know the details of what Alexander’s ghost writer is talking about, and will therefore concede that he may have a point.  However, given that Alexander has no credibility with me (and given that the rest of the letters are so riddled with errors), you may consider me skeptical.

We must amend the board policy to allow the board to override the acts of the Superintendent. Disagreements on policy and procedures, between the school board and the Superintendent, must be resolved in favor of the majority of the board.

Another open call for power.  Does Alexander not understand or care that the historical relationship between boards and Superintendents means that sometimes the Super gets to make a decision the board doesn’t like?  Furthermore, this strikes me – as it did LT – as really insulting to George Lanning.  I hope Lanning does not take this sitting down.

Finally:

The students and parents of Lebanon expect us to act in their stead and in their best interest.  We can not be stewards of the public trust, without the power to act on behalf of the public, when we collectively deem it to be appropriate. Leaving dismissal as the only mechanism to address administrative errors is foolish, poor management practice and demeans us as an entity.

OK, let me see if I can figure this out:  Alexander spends years giving Robinson poor reviews and trying to limit his power (and therefore the power of the Superintendent’s position), and now has (or at least his ghost writer has, but Alexander signed it, so I can only assume he agrees) the gall to claim that the only mechanism to fix things is dismissal?  Alexander weighs in on the Ed Sansom case – a case where an administrator was treated not with dismissal but with a plan to change practices – and still claims that dismissal is the only option?

Also, I have about had it with the smarmy letters.  That’s incredibly dishonest and insulting.  No way can you pretend there are not other methods to deal with administrative errors.  And no, I don’t believe Alexander doesn’t understand what was said in this portion of the letter.  He has to get it.  I keep coming back to the possibility that he actually has such little respect for the public and the other board members he doesn’t seem a problem with his actions and his words being completely contradictory.  I want to believe he is a better person than that, but this has happened over and over and over in the last two years.

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One Comment on “[LCSD] A Lebanon Weekend #3”

  1. LT Says:

    A little bit of information: Apparently, the administrative rule change that was made last summer was the rule that said goals were supposed to be set for administrators each year as part of the evaluation process. The reasons for the change: formal goal setting had not been part of the administrative review process for years and years. Nevertheless, Ed Sansom cited this as a grounds in his appeal of the non-renewal. The D.O. decided that the best choice would be to remove the AR so that there was a consistency with practice and so that an administrator could not use this as grounds to fight in the future.

    Alexander’s citation of this is not credible. If he was really so concerned about the change, then all he needed to do was to change the Board Policy on the evaluation procedures in order to add goal-setting back in. Board Policies supercede Administrative Rules.

    A correction: Alexander did not spend years giving Robinson bad reviews. For several years, he failed to participate in reviewing Robinson’s performance. The board evaluations of Robinson were not poor until the last one, which the board rescinded as part of the settlement with Robinson.


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