Monday, May 5, 2008

Lebanon School Board Rips Hole in Fabric of Universe, Shrugs Shoulders and Walks Away

Word is filtering in that this was one of the worst board meetings ever. This is getting really fucking old:

Members of the Lebanon School Board decided by majority Monday that they have waited too long for a new contract for Sand Ridge Charter School but not long enough to hire assistant principals for Lebanon High School.

Board members voted 3-2 to continue the district's current contract with People Involved in Education, the private organization that runs the charter school, with a 10-item list of amendments as proposed by Vice Chairman Josh Wineteer.


Chairwoman Sherrie Sprenger and board member Chris Fisher urged the three to wait until they could read the proposal - first unveiled at the meeting - and have it vetted by the district's attorney. Both protested being asked to vote on something with potentially far-reaching consequences virtually sight unseen.

Hm. I bet Rick and Debi had seen Josh's amendments beforehand. I would not be surprised if Jay Jackson and Paul Meadowbrook had seen them, especially Jackson.

This is starting to remind me of the early Bush Administration: So focused on ramming their agenda through, so convinced of their own brilliance and rightness they fail to notice, don't care, or assume it's not really a problem that they're leaving a trail of wreckage in their path. A few years later, the damage done will start to become evident - but the people responsible will either be long gone or pretend it's not even a problem.

Oh - the hypocrisy thing. Note that one of the problems with the board's passage of the PIE amendments was the fact that no one has any idea what the financial ramifications are.

In that light, check this out:

But Alexander and Shimmin said they prefer to wait until more budget information is available before making administrative hiring decisions.

Using two rationales that are diametrically opposed to each other in the same meeting? That's disrespectful to everyone in the room - at the least, board members could act on a principle that's not some combination of "f*ck Jim Robinson" and "Go PIE!" because the latter principle is clearly on display: PIE wants more money? OK! LHS wants to hire two new administrators instead of three? Gotta wait and see if there's money available...

Speaking of the "f*ck Jim Robinson" principle:

Robinson reminded board members that, by contract, personnel decisions are his responsibility and called the lack of action "micromanagement." Wineteer countered that the board's majority vote in March to not renew Robinson's contract indicate the board wishes to guide the district itself.

Really, Josh? Really? I mean, it's not a surprise - however, you must be really clueless to come out and say it. While I support citizen experts and the value of relevant practical experience (not just formal education or training), the current board - ironically, with the possible exception of Springer - has neither.

In the reading I've done, local control has been increasingly cited as the reason the U.S. is lagging behind the rest of the world in education; after all, it's one of the big differences between the U.S. and most other industrialized nations. The LCSD board is not doing anything to disprove that notion.

Oh, and based on that last comment by Josh, it seems like Robinson can sue the board for breach of contract. Again.

I'm tired. I'm sure there's more - LT will certainly be posting on this, and the Express story will be posted Wednesday.

Just when you get lulled into a false sense of sanity...


Anonymous said...

There's also an article in the DH about the hiring of Linda Darling as business director. Josh and Rick voted no which isn't surprising. Linda Darling is more vested in this community, has more budget experience, and is far more ethical than Josh and Rick will ever be. My only regret is she works for the school district which makes her ineligible to run for school board. Lord knows we need people like her to replace Josh, Rick and Debi.

"Wineteer said he proposed his own amendments to the charter contract because he does not believe the school district's team, which has been in negotiations for three months, has been bargaining in good faith.
Rick Alexander and Debi Shimmin joined him in voting for the amendments, which now go to the PIE board for review."

So Josh either blindsided his fellow board members and the community once again or Debi and Rick assisted him in breaking the the law by determining their motions and votes before the meeting.
Four months ago Josh and Rick volunteered to be on the PIE negotiating committee. Josh did not attend one single meeting yet still thinks he's entitled to bypass the entire committee. If the PIE board has an ounce of ethics they will reject the proposal based solely on how it was devised. If they do agree with it they have no business serving kids. The very fact that Jay worked with Josh to draw up the amendments shows he has no respect for board policies.

"Robinson reminded board members that, by contract, personnel decisions are his responsibility and called the lack of action "micromanagement." Wineteer countered that the board's majority vote in March to not renew Robinson's contract indicates the board wishes to guide the district itself."

If I had known I was voting for a superintendent of schools during the school board elections I would have asked to see their list of qualifications. I think a formal education and training are very important for a superintendent to have.

Strayer said...

I had the very short term experience of being on the board of a state funded organization called OCTA. I was asked by an employee to present evidence submitted by two of the five paid employees of that nonprofit, who quit, that the director was doing nothing, incompetent, using the state car and cell phone for personal use, even smoking dope in the state car. They had submitted letters to this effect. I was in the process of moving, had a severe injury and didn't want to go up to Portland for that meeting. The employee, second in command there, assured me I would be supported in bringing up the issues raised by the employees who quit. He came all the way down to Corvallis, to urge me further to attend and bring up the complaints against the director. Up I went, naive to the core. I presented the complaints, and then the ridicule and put downs began. Other board members, unable to attend, even called to put me down. One man there, whose wife was a board member, told me it was me exploiting OCTA because I'd eaten a bag of chips provided for lunch. The employee who had wanted me to present the letters of complaint, said it was my duty as a board member to demand responsibility, sat there totally silent as I took abuse from every quarter, for daring to bring up these things, and ask that this agency act wisely in both hiring and in use of taxpayer dollars. I stood up finally, shaking from taking so much crap, shocked that they would complain so much that the state's mental health department behaved in exactly the same manner this group now behaved, and told them all to go to hell and that they should be ashamed of themselves. I wrote out a one sentence resignation and told them never to contact me again. I turned to the second in command employee, who had come all the way to Corvallis to make sure I was coming to that meeting to present the evidence, and told him exactly what I thought of his character. Later, the state gave the director of that little group, (the one accused of ethics issues) a new position with a huge salary and the second in command became the director, also garnering a huge salary.

Moral of the story: assholes/cowards almost always win and nothing is accomplished by committee or board. Takes a tight board, dictator type leader, to keep a committee/board on focus and focused to solve selected problems and not stray off topic, in my opinion. One good leader is better in my opinion than time wasted arguing and off topic straying/discussing in committee's. I avoid committee's and boards like dog poop or bird flu now. The only use I have for a committee/meeting attendance is some extra dozing time.

Jennifer Moody said...

Board Chairwoman Sherrie Sprenger did ask the other board members whether they'd had a chance to see Wineteer's document ahead of time. All said they hadn't, although Rick Alexander said he has spent at least 100 hours on the PIE-Sand Ridge issue and was thus very familiar with the issues presented.

PIE Chairman Jay Jackson was in the audience and said he had spoken to Wineteer by telephone about the proposal but had not seen it in writing.

Anonymous said...

So Debi votes yes when it comes to her family being impacted--Sand Ridge connections--(conflict of interest); and votes no when it comes to the Administrators at the High School because of 'budgetary concerns'.
It seems clear that the Troublesome Trio had been in discussion on these items OUTSIDE of Public session--but lied about that when directly asked by Chairwoman Springer if they had seen it before it was presented last night.
Maybe because she didn't ask them if they had ANY PRIOR KNOWLEDGE; DISCUSSION; OR ANY INVOLVEMENT OF ANY KIND, they felt it wasn't a lie to say, "no".
Debi learned nothing from her behavior last July, and all the problems that created for the community.
This woman is working in our local city government too.

Anonymous said...

anonymous at 11:49 said, "This woman is working in our local city government too.

That's exactly what I have been thinking. How deep does this go? Last August the Mayor read a letter at a board meeting essentially applauding the board for putting the superintendent on leave. Later, it came out in the paper his assistant had written the letter and since then it has come out that she is Debi's best friend and they all work closely together.
For him to sit in the board meetings and see one of his employees act in this manner while in a government position and still keep her on his staff speaks very strongly of his standards as well as his character. In the future we all need to pay closer attention to the city elections as well as the school board elections.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Debi doesn't have family connections to Sand Ridge at all. Her daughter works for PIE in a capacity unrelated to the charter school.

Anonymous said...

LOL nice headline. Oh wait, it's accurate.

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