A major responsibility for the Board of Education is the annual evaluation of the Superintendent's performance, while the Superintendent/staff is responsible for all other employee's performance evaulation. Typically, the superintendent's contract lays out the structure for the evaluation process. However the agreement on annual goals/priorities can lead to problems (goals are confidential). For example, the San Francisco Board of Education struggled to complete their 2004 evaluation of their superintendent. When Board identifies unsatisifactory performance, they decide on a course of action. Afterward, the Superintendent may not agree file a lawsuit. The Oregon School Boards Association published a workbook for Superintendent Evaluations.
Superintendent Evaluation Process
What do we evaluate?
The superintendency is a professional position equivalent to the Chief Executive Officer in the private sector. As such, the superintendent is charged with leading and administering the District according to the policies of the school board. The purpose of evaluating the superintendent is not to micro-manage the organization, but to provide oversight and public assurance that the policies are being effectively implemented. Another critical purpose is to provide input and feedback to the superintendent in order for continuous performance improvement to occur. The evaluation process is also used to make critical decisions about contract extensions and non-extensions, as well as terminations if necessary.
The written contract with the Superintendent identifies an evaluation process. The assessment is based on the following criteria: District goals and objectives, Board-Superintendent relations, community relations, staff and personnel relations, educational programs, business and financial matters, and professional and leadership development.
How can we do it objectively and fairly?
It is our responsibility to evaluate the performance of the superintendent. No process or form is completely objective. There will always be some subjectivity and judgment on our part, but remember we are elected to make those judgments.
When does the superintendent’s evaluation take place?
The contract establish June 1st as latest date the annual evaluation can be given.
Superintendent performance goals are confidential personnel records
A recent court decision, Versace v. Superior Court (Palomar Community College District), has confirmed that a superintendent's annual goals and objectives established in closed session for evaluation purposes are not automatically incorporated into his/her contract, thus the records are not public under the Public Records Act.
The superintendent's contract provided that the she would receive an annual evaluation by the governing board and that the evaluation would be based on “overall performance and mutually-agreed upon goals and objectives established each year.” A union representative made a public records request for a copy of the annual job goals for that academic year. The district denied the request on the grounds that the information was a confidential personnel record. Versace sued to compel the disclosure arguing that the Public Records Act required that the goals be made public because the goals were “key terms” of the employment contract and the law is clear that the contract is a public record. The trial court denied Versace's request and he appealed.
The appellate court upheld the trial court's ruling. The court analyzed whether the goals were incorporated into the contract noting that a document separate from the contract could be incorporated into the contract if the intent of the parties is clear. The mere mention in the contract of performance goals to be mutually agreed upon does not unequivocally indicate intent to incorporate those goals into the contract. Versace argued that the goals were contract language because they included compensation terms in that if the board found the superintendent's performance lacking, she would be denied a pay raise and contract extension. However, the court disagreed with that reasoning since the contract language stated that the evaluation would be based on overall performance in addition to the agreed upon goals. The court also held that, since the goals were part of an evaluation that is confidential under the law, the goals and the evaluation were similar and thus constituted a confidential personnel file.
In an interesting aside, Versace also argued that disclosure of the superintendent's performance goals was necessary to help the public evaluate the board's performance in giving the superintendent satisfactory evaluations, raises and contract extensions. But the court found that the board, in open session, had adopted numerous documents under which the district is run, such as a strategic plan, implementation plan, and board goals. Since these documents are available to the public, the public has enough information available to assess the board's performance.
Impact Boards following this type of contract model in which the evaluation is partially based on goals to be determined are now assured that the goals and objectives, as well as the evaluation of the superintendent's performance, remain confidential.
While performing the evaluation of the superintendent is advised that Board member did not respond to inquiries from the press. Having published comments from Board members can only complicate the evaluation process and potentially lead to dissension among Board members afterwards.
Peebles' job may be on the line
By Steve Brandt, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Jun 13, 2005
Thandiwe Peebles' tumultuous first year as Minneapolis schools chief climaxes in a meeting today with dissatisfied school board members who say her future is up in the air.
Board members say that they are considering one option that would give Peebles a short period -- perhaps 45 days -- to address shortcomings defined by the board.
"I think there are some serious concerns that can't be put off any longer," Board Member Colleen Moriarty said Sunday. "This is the time when we should address them."
Asked if the board's potential actions could include termination of Peebles, Moriarty responded: "It could be." But she said the board had not consulted its legal advisers about that option.
In her first year on the job, Peebles has alienated some parents, teachers and principals with what they describe as a intimidating top-down style. But she has also taken control of the worst-scoring schools, and the first set of test results to be released for her watch showed marked improvement in basic-skills tests for eighth-graders.
A woman who answered the door at Peebles' townhouse Sunday night said she had no comment.
"We're certainly at a crossroads, and it can go either way," said Board Member Peggy Flanagan. She said that the superintendent's future will depend on how she responds to the board's message but that board members want her to succeed.
Peebles has just over two years left on her contract, which pays her a base of $163,500 plus benefits normal for a superintendent. Her contract sets out several scenarios for termination, but if the board unilaterally fires her, it could owe her as much as 18 months' salary plus benefits.
Rumors about Peebles' future swirled as soon as a notice appeared Friday on the district's website that the board would continue its evaluation of her contract in a closed meeting this morning. The board first met to evaluate her performance in a closed meeting on April 30. Board Chairman Joseph Erickson said in mid-May that he expected that a summary of the board's evaluation would be released before he returned from an extended trip last week. But that didn't happen and board members said the evaluation required more discussion. Erickson said he hopes the board will finish that today, but declined to forecast where the board is headed on Peebles.
He made it a priority after assuming the chairmanship in January to set up an evaluation process for Peebles, but said that has proceeded slowly because the district hasn't given such feedback to its chief for years.
Some board members expressed frustration over the board's pace in addressing complaints about Peebles. "I'm a very decisive person, and I have been less than satisfied with our reluctance to make a decision," said Moriarty, one of four board members interviewed Sunday. "I just need to come out of this meeting with a clear sense about how this is going to unfold."
Peebles, 62, came to Minneapolis from Cleveland schools, where she first served as chief academic officer and later as the administrator in charge of the that city's lowest-performing schools. Board members said they chose her for her passion and for her reputation for turning around troubled schools, both in Cleveland, and in New York City.
Peebles unveiled a draft strategic plan in November. It emphasized academic achievement for all students, family and community support, equitable access to high-quality teaching for all students and accountability for results. She and her staff pushed troubled schools to more frequent assessment of students to pinpoint which math and reading skills they faltered on.
Feelings about Peebles often fall along racial lines.
She has worked to build support on the heavily minority North Side, and held her first two town meetings there. Several black community notables have spoken up on her behalf.
'Climate of fear'
But discontent seems to be building among some white, middle-class parents on the South Side. Some complain of a lack of response from Peebles, or that she has browbeaten principals. One parent, Kristin Anderson, drew applause at a recent board meeting when she described a "climate of fear" among district employees that she said resulted from a fear of retribution from Peebles.
Concerns were raised about Peebles as early as last fall when it was incorrectly rumored that the board could act to fire her without financial obligation until she was on the job for 90 days. Peebles riled some parents by sending home holiday homework that many teachers didn't get until the last minute. Some principals lived in fear of Peebles' visits to their schools. Teachers widely complain about Peebles but say they won't do so for publication because they fear retribution.
One of their complaints is that they're required to get state licensing for their fields but Peebles failed to make a board-set deadline of Jan. 1 to be licensed as a superintendent. She was granted a variance by state officials, and after additional course work, is expected to be approved for a superintendent's license in the next few weeks.
Some are beginning to discuss next year's school board elections as a venue for dealing with what they view as the board's failure to rein in Peebles.
Board Member Judy Farmer bridled at that criticism: "We have discussed the areas that we've been concerned about consistently, almost for the entire time she's been here." She said the board has made offers to get Peebles help in areas where it finds her lacking. How has Peebles responded? "They remain concerns," Farmer said.
Peebles was hired last summer following a nationwide search. She succeeded Carol Johnson, who served six years before leaving to head Memphis schools. Initially, the board designated one of Johnson's assistants, David Jennings, to follow Johnson. But he withdrew before assuming the job in the face of vocal opposition from some black community figures.
Former Delano superintendent claims wrongful termination
The Bakersfield Californian, Oct 15 2008
The former superintendent of the Delano Union School District has filed a wrongful termination claim against the district and its board of trustees.
Garcia says in his claim he’s known for years about — and tried to correct — improprieties by certain board members.
The claim says the board believes Garcia is responsible for a highly critical Kern County grand jury report on the district while he simply responded to a “legitimate and proper request” for information about the board.
“These acts of retaliation were calculated to demean him and ultimately deprive him of his career and livelihood,” the claim contends about the Garcia punishment.
The claim includes various allegations against some board members including improper use of district funds, unethical hiring procedures, one board member sleeping during meetings and conflict of interest.
Board member Frank Herrera referred questions to the district’s attorneys, who were not immediately available for comment.
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