Tuesday, March 11, 2008

[LCSD] A Thought

Larry Coonrod and/or Jennifer Moody should write an op/ed in the DH or Express in response to Debi's claims regarding secret information. After all, I believe reporters are allowed in executive session.

Am I suggesting one or both of the reporters break that privilege? No, not really - but they, more than anyone outside the LCSD, know if there is any truth to what Shimmin is saying or not.

So what about it? Can we get the shining light of truth in here, or does journalistic "neutrality" require that you let a lie stand?

What happens when two principles collide?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sunshine Laws.

Roxy said...

If either of them reveal anything from executive sessions that is protected they both risk burning sources, a loss of trust, and well, their careers.

Dew Sue said...

It is kind of you to assume that the "secret information," or the "stuff that you don't know" is exchanged in executive session.

You might have assumed, as some do, that "facts" unknown to the public are actually the kitchen gossip of a gossipy town. Board members don't have to talk to each other, they just have to be tapped into the same gossip group.

Public meeting laws requiring that discussions be held in public under the sanitizing light of public scrutiny. They forbid private meetings of the board, meetings absent scrutiny, where gossip and irrational management would likely result.

When the gossip mungers have an inside track to, or even run, our decision making bodies, you can expect this kind of "trust me, I have the truth but can't tell it" nonsense that we are seeing here.

And that really defines a lot of the problem in this town. Gossipy alliances in the city government, the high school, the board of directors, the sports programs, the parent teacher clubs, the grocery store isles, on the golf links, and everywhere between.

This blog is both a result of the problem and part of the problem. You don't have to be very close to the situation to see that most who take the time to compose a thoughtful post here are intimately associated with the district. Certainly some work there. None, and I mean literally none, of the posts are signed with real full names.

What does it mean?

Anonymous said...

Jennifer Moody had a blog entry that is relevant to your query:

http://www.democratherald.com/dhblogs/jennifer_moody/?p=45

Perhaps, as others have pointed out, Shimmin is not so much "lying" as saying the truth as she sees it. Certainly there are things said in executive session that the rest of the world is not privy to; in schools, personnel matters and student discipline in particular are pretty much always private. It's possible she's referring to some of that.

Whatever the case, I think her letter was too general for a reporter to answer with an op-ed, even if that was professionally acceptable.

Anonymous said...

If you are reprimanding an employee (much less non-renewing their contract) it has to be based on facts that are documented and go into the employees' personnel file. They have the right to state their side of the situation--also in writing--attached to same file.
It doesn't matter if you are the person picking up gum wrappers or the person hired as the CEO...you are entitled to the same just treatments.
Perhaps Jim Robinson did get such treatment--but I sincerely doubt it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 11:48, can you clarify... Are you saying Robinson didn't get judged on facts that were documented?

Anonymous said...

I'm saying; was Jim R. judged on facts from this past year that are part of his employee record?
If he was judged on any previous year's situations or on things that were not a part of his file (as in following the process) that is not just.
If he was judged on things people said but he was not notified about both verbally and in writing (as in employee disciplinary action=process) of said problems and allowed to correct them that is not just.
If he was judged on people's opinions, and even worse, hearsay, and not an objective evaluation that is not just.
Even the most obviously guilty criminal, caught in the act of a crime, is considered innocent until PROVEN guilty. Due Process.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that a board's evaluation has to be specific and based on things in Robinson's personnel file. While the board is ultimately Robinson's "boss", in reality he has no direct superviser. When you get to the top administrative post, you are mostly judged on the general state of the organization. If the board were to place something in Robinson's file and, as some have argued, put him on some type of plan of assistance, who would monitor his progress? Who would assist him? You folks are wrong that evaluations are the same for administrators (especially top administrators) than they are for teachers. By the very nature of a school district's organizational structure, these types of evaluations must be of a far more general nature than that of a teacher or other employee that has direct supervision. Adminstrators are aware (or at least they should be) that this is something that goes with the territory.

Dennis said...

Let's draw a distinction between the legal and the ethical here.

The negative evaluation and subsequent nonrenewal without a chance to improve might be legal according to Robinson's contract and state law. That remains to be seen, at least by me.

In any case, it's not at all ethical. To fail to give an employee a formal chance to improve their behavior - as Anon @ 11:48 suggests - is clearly wrong on that level, as is using information from outside the established parameters of the evaluation (i.e. things from more than a year ago).

Anon @ 6:45: What part of "general state of the organization" can't be broken down and listed as specifics in the evaluation? It seems to me that we could easily establish parameters, goals, objectives, etc. for anything related to running a district within the guidelines of an evaluation.

Claims that evaluating Robinson negatively based on the "overall state of the district" are, in essence, claims that degrade the usefulness of an evaluation in the first place. I'd be careful about establishing a precedent if I were the school board.

Anonymous said...

Right Dennis, because then it goes back to a perception that things are, or are not, going well.
This is in line with Rick thinking he can hire a Superintendent without a true contract--one he can fire by his perception.

 
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