Update: the district legal counsel claims that the Kepner incident I described below is not the catalyst for his email…but he won’t actually t ell me what was the catalyst. Because now he’s accusing me of “defamation,” I’ve removed his picture.
So, board members got the following email from the district’s legal counsel today:
Dear Board Members: As you are aware there are several schools which are in the process of interviewing new principals to lead their respective school. The process includes the school CSC identifying a PSAC (Principal Selection Advisory Committee) which will review resumes and interview principal candidates. The District H.R. Department assists the PSAC in this process by meeting with the PSAC for training, review of resumes, and interview preparation. The District administration appreciates Board Members’ individual interest in this process and the ultimate selection of a principal at schools. Some Board Members have sought to observe PSAC training meetings, and therefore I am writing this email to remind Board Members of Policy BBAA, as well as the confidentiality of principal candidate resumes and interviews.Board of Education members must abide by Policy BBAA in which members are prohibited from interfering with administrative matters or management. With respect to the principal selection process, members of the Board should be cognizant that they cannot be present or participate in the interview process. Hence, once the PSAC begins review or discuss individual candidates names or otherwise begins preparation for the interviews, no Board Member should be present. Because the PSAC training and preparation almost always involves a review of individual candidates’ resumes and potential interview questions in advance of actual principal candidate interviews, it is disruptive and uncomfortable for district staff to request of an observing Board Member to leave the meeting. Hence, the administration is asking that Board Members to kindly abide by Policy BBAA with respect to the meetings of PSAC, and to further appreciate that even the mere presence of a Board Member can be disruptive or influential to a PSAC and staff. To be clear, Board Members are obviously free to attend and observe CSC meetings, as is the public, however the PSAC training meetings and interviews should not be attended, and members of the Board should respect the PSAC’s authority and confidentiality of the process. I have set forth the pertinent sections of Policy BBAA below for your review, and very much appreciate your understanding in this matter.As elected officials acting on behalf of the public, Denver Board of Education members have an obligation to be accessible to the public and assist citizens with suggestions, questions, and complaints regarding Denver schools. Board members shall provide service to the Denver community and in doing so will not involve themselves in administrative matters or management.(emphasis added).
Each Board member will strive to provide appropriate and timely response to the Denver community. Board members will:
- Respect their obligation not to confer special advantage on employees, parents, students, vendors, or any other personal or entity outside regular management decision making processes established by policy or management directive to guarantee fairness and equity.
Here’s a little background. I recently attended the Kepner principal selection public meeting (as you know, Frank Gonzales is retiring). It was open to the public, and as the school representative of my constituents in southwest Denver, I of course attended. I can only presume that my attendance was what triggered this missive.
Now mind you, this meeting took place after the school’s “PSAC” already weeded out several applicants and interviewed the three that made it to the next phase. At no time did I see anyone’s resume, or listen in on closed interviews, etc.
This is Tom Boasberg’s modus operandi. He likes to send the district’s legal counsel to infringe on board member responsibility to their constituents to provide oversight and accountability. But we were elected to be the eyes and ears of whole communities, to watch and listen to how their dollars are spent, their kids are educated, and their teachers are treated.
Also mind you that the legal counsel is quoting the current board policy, which was crafted according to the advice of the Broad Foundation to create an artificial firewall around the Superintendent and his operation of the district. Does it supersede state law? No. It is an attempt to block the taxpayer’s right to oversight of the resources and operation of the district, because fundamentally, these business-driven reformers do not actually believe that you, Mr. and Ms. Southwest Denver Resident, actually know what’s right for your kids. In many situations, shaky financial deals, mass firings and school blow-ups have happened in the board’s name, and the actual legal vote we take after all the decisions have been made are just window dressing. The closest example is the fact that the Montbello-area blow-up was actually in play for more than two years before we actually voted.
But because I take my responsibility to my constituents seriously, whether I’m an “unpaid volunteer” or not, I choose instead to follow state law. For example, with regard to counsel’s statement that it’s uncomfortable for district staff to ask a board member to leave “once the PSAC begins review or discuss individual candidates names or otherwise begins preparation for the interviews,” my response, taken from the Colorado Revised Statues, is the following:
22-32-103. Board of education – general powers and duties.
(1) Each school district shall be governed by a board of education consisting of the number of school directors prescribed by law. Such board of education shall possess all powers delegated to a board of education or to a school district by law, and shall perform all duties required by law.
(2) Each school director shall have access to all school records at all times. (emphasis mine)
Apparently there is a double standard for micromanagement.