Tuesday, March 4, 2008

[LCSD] A Thought on Superintendent Reviews

The DH story revealed something:

Fisher criticized Robinson’s evaluation, saying it shouldn’t be possible to rate Robinson so low when he’d had exemplary evaluations as recently as last year.

He called Robinson “a man of vision” and commended his efforts to raise achievement in Lebanon through programs such as “Beyond LHS,” a college-credit opportunity.

But Wineteer and Shimmin said they felt compelled to act on community anger over some of Robinson’s policies and procedures over his entire tenure, not just in the past year.

1. Robinson's review was supposedly for only the previous year's performance.

2. Wineteer and Shimmin were clear that they were not evaluating Robinson based on only the previous year.

3. Does this create a problem? Is the board required to evaluate only the previous year's performance, or are they allowed to do what appeared to happen here?

4. If yes, then.... is this unfair to the board?

Let's spin out a little thought experiment. For example, say a sitting board approves of a decision made by the superintendent. A big decision.

Then an election happens, and the composition of the board changes significantly. The new members have very different opinions and beliefs about the decision the previous superintendent made - so different, in fact, that their evaluation is far worse than the previous year's.

(Note: This scenario is a little different than what's actually happening, but it's a hypothetical and I'm allowed to do that.)

Should the board then be allowed to incorporate things that happened more than a year ago into the evaluation, since they've never had a chance to weigh in on those issues?

If the answer is no, how does the new board express an opinion on things that happened before they were elected? Board members should have the ability to do that, right?

I'm not particularly thrilled with this little experiment, because I think there are good reasons to officially prohibit a board from retroactively slapping someone's hand (note that such a prohibition does not stop the board from changing a district's direction in the future), and my hypothetical seems to suggest that something like what happened here is legitimate. (To be clear, I think the negative evaluation and vote to nonrenew was sketchy, at best. But still.)

What am I missing?


Anonymous said...

Here's my opinion on the matter.
Two of the members, Josh and Rick, have never met with Dr. Robinson to express their expectations of him. That's public knowledge and has been confirmed by Rick. I suspect Debbie hasn't done so either. In fact, I suspect Debbie's evaluation would have been much different if Bo Yates non-renewal wasn't involved. The decisions Dr. Robinson has made in the past were approved by/voted on by the previous board majority who were his bosses at the time. Small schools, closed campus, campus resource officers, Beyond LHS, loss of vocational classes, contract negotiations etc. If he did 5 years ago what Josh, Rick and Debbie want him to do now, he would have lost his job. Possibly his license. The previous board, ODE and TSPC expected him to hold the charter school and administrators accountable. So yes, I think it is unfair and probably illegal to evaluate him on anything other than the one year period since his last evaluation, but absolutely insane to base it on anything that happened before they were even on the board.

Think about it Dennis. You were hired into your new job by the majority of the board at that time. Over the course of ten years you meet the expectations of several different new board members. Now, without any clear definitions ( which according to your contract should be in writing ) of different expectations you are given a poor evaluation and your contract is not renewed. And to top it off Josh publicly announces his evaluation is based on things you did before he was on the board?

The renewal and evaluation of Dr. Robinson are annual. His is not an elected position voted on every four years as theirs is.

Anonymous said...

How do you know Josh, Rick and Debbie have never met with Dr. Robinson? Are you assuming this because if you are you are off base.

Anonymous said...

[Side note: The very people who are waving the banner of, "moving forward/moving on", are also the very people who have been holding grudges--many of them for years.
Talk about a contradiction.]

"...I think there are good reasons to officially prohibit a board from retroactively slapping someone's hand---note that such a prohibition does NOT stop the board from changing a district's direction in the future---..."
Having the ability to shape the direction is enough.
If they follow existing policies, etc. they can change the direction.

This Board could have done the same thing. They could have set out very objective standards and expectations to Jim R. (and the public). They could have evaluated him after one year on those exact same standards and expectations. Then voted to renew/non-renew based on that process. This would have been legal, ethical, and smart. It would have set a good precedent for the future regardless of the outcome because it would have been done fairly and justly.

"...The new members have very different opinions and beliefs..."
That is EXACTLY why an OBJECTIVE Evaluation is crucial. Not just now, but in the future. This keeps the balance of power in check. It works both ways.

Anonymous said...

anonymous @ 9:56

the anonymous @ 12:42 said:
" (they) have never met with Dr. Robinson to express their expectations of him."
They didn't say they had never met with him at all/ever/for any reason.

Dew Sue said...

Did or did not these board members ever meet with Jim Robinson? If they did meet with him, did they seek explanation about the rationale behind his decisions and priorities? Did they get information that is not public, confidential personnel records for example, or did they place more weight on rumor and the word of disgruntled employees?

As board members they have a right and even an obligation to seek information not available to the rest of us. There is reference to "things that the rest of us do not know" being behind decisions but if they have not rounded out their understanding of that information with the administration's explanation then can they be informed enough to make any decisions?

Did they in fact, get elected on a platform of change (meaning advocating replacement of Dr. Robinson) having only heard one side of many stories? After being elected, did they avoid information that might have completed their understanding of key issues?

Somebody needs to get to the bottom of this story. What will have to happen to prompt the press, the only people likely to do the interviews, pull the public records, and expose the facts. The press only reports when there is a story, a hook. Where is the hook? Will the press ask three board members directly if they have met with the superintendent? Is that enough of a hook to warrant exposing the facts?

Somebody is lying here. Is it the people who claim that three school board members have avoided meetings with the administration or is it the people who claim that they have not?

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