Uproar In Schools! Principals Squealing Over Evaluations, Possible Firings

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

That bleating you hear is from public school principals and their labor organization Executive Director Lisa Maxwell.

Maxwell is everywhere , whining that the school system dared, dared to consider firing 11 principals.

She is threatening legal action.

Well, Lisa, I’ve got a different take.

I say, It’s About Time!

It’s about time that principals are held accountable for their job performance like almost every other person in the workforce.

It’s about time that the school system got rid of deadwood.

Is it inconceivable that out of 200-plus principals,  11 of them are not doing their job? Twenty five?  More?

No. They all deserve to be retained, according to Maxwell and the principals.

Threats In The Past

This is the very same principals’ organization that in September 2012 resisted a proposal that principals account for the hours they worked.

“Accurate reporting and documentation of employees’ attendance is a fundamental necessity in any payroll and timekeeping system,” warned Chief Auditor Pat Reilly on September 6.  Reilly said he was following Superintendent Robert Runcie’s orders.

Maxwell threatened that such documentation would result in “canceling all after school programs! It sets a dangerous precedent for Mr. Riley’s(sic) department to be encroaching in the administrative chair of commands….”

Translation: The principals want to be immune from oversight.

This latest controversy started because Runcie was hired to change the way Broward Schools do business. He’s doing it.

The change includes making sure that school employees are accountable.

Accountable to their supervisors.

Accountable to the school system’s customers – parents and students.

Principals are now evaluated on criteria that include a teacher and student satisfaction survey and the total number of complaints about them to their supervisors in the Area Offices.

Since one of the major complaints about the school system is that bureaucrats are not responsive to the public, it’s a step in the right direction

Maybe the evaluation forms have to be fined tuned.

But the idea of including parents and students in the evaluations is a good thing.

Principals are upset about this.  At least one principal called a meeting of her faculty to ream out teachers for giving her a bad evaluation.

The world is changing, folks.

Taxpayers are demanding that school employees improve their performance. That includes principals, too.

Principals should be happy about getting rid of 11 potential bad eggs.

Instead, they are acting like a bunch of union goons with their stonewalling and threats.

I got some advise for principals.

Start acting like professionals and you’ll be treated like professionals…if you do the job we are paying you to do.

 XXXXX

BPAA

URGENT NOTIFICATION – UPDATE                                         MARCH 12, 2013

 

As of today, BPAA has been contacted by  11 principals who have indicated that they have been notified that they will not be returning to their schools next year and due to the fact that they are low or poor performing based upon a new set of criteria the totality of which is their VAM score, the answer to a single question on the teacher and student customer satisfaction survey, and based upon the total number of complaints relating to them or the school that were logged in at the Area Office this year.  There are five more principals who may also have been so notified but that has not been confirmed by our organization.

We have referred  these individuals to our legal counsel and we are preparing to defend them in court as well as before the School Board as we firmly believe that their due process rights have been violated by the district, as well as their reputations unduly harmed due to the use of untested, subjective and nonsensical data.

As of 5:00 pm we have not heard anything from the District Office as to what other principals might expect, whether they have completed their notification of principals etc.  Neither have they explained to the individuals who have been notified exactly what they can expect in terms of the conditions of their employment such as pay.  Since there are currently few to no vacancies in the District as a principal, these individuals will have to wait until their current job is advertised,  and then filled which will create vacancies elsewhere in the district creating any possible jobs for them to apply.  We all know that the process of advertising and filling a principal position can take several months at least.  Chances are very good that assuming that any of these principals could be hired as a principal at another school after having been told they are low/poor performing by the very same individuals who will be involved in deciding which principals will be hired throughout the district – that they won’t be appointed until after their current contract expires.  If they choose to take their chances and apply as a principal as oppose to opting for the other choice they were given – accept a demotion to an assistant principal, then where will they assigned?  How will they be assigned?  There are so many aspects to this decision that have never been thought out, and if they have been, they certainly have not been communicated to the individuals who have been told they no longer run a school.  Even in the years where people were most fearful about their job security, the district did not treat human beings in this horrendously thoughtless manner.

There is no excuse for this level of incompetence, and we have recommended to the District that they withdraw these findings and admit that this whole idea was a mistake, and handled badly to say the least.  We have then told them that if they believe we have low performing principals in the district , then they should use the BASA instrument and process that is already in place which guarantees their due process rights, gives people a clear understanding of the expectations and allows them a chance to improve and if they don’t , then the district can take these kinds of actions.

Although I loath to repeat rumors, I understand from reliable sources that the District may now be saying that there is no list, and that there never was a list.  This would be an irreparable mistake as evidence of such a ranking list does exist, and has been shown to Board members.  BPAA submitted a freedom of information request today, asking for  the list and all information pertaining to how people were ranked and what criteria was used. Principal’s names have been shared with elected officials and have been described as low performing without ever notifying those individuals.  The principals who have been actually told they are not returning are but a fraction of the total names on that list.  There were first and second year princpals and retirees who were  deemed poor performers and they have no idea that they were categorized as such because they did not receive a visit from their director.  Rest assured that if the district attempts to tamper or destroy evidence, we will be asking the State’s Attorney to investigate, they need to acknowledge what they have done, take responsibility for their mistake and correct it, not dig themselves a deeper hole. 

We understand that the Superintendent and Dr. Blackburn may be calling a meeting of the principals in the district later this week in an effort to explain themselves.  Let’s hope they see the error of their ways and see the light.   We will be asking the Board to intervene as this issue has gone on too long without any, let alone adequate communication out to the principals.  It is a travesty to have people waiting, thinking they may be on a list, not knowing – this is simply inhumane. 

Know that your organization is doing everything we can to support all principals and seeing that your rights are protected.  Unfortunately this issue has been mishandled by the district to the point now that it is out of control.  Yet another blunder.  Not sure how principals can ever trust the District staff who were involved in creating this fiasco again.  We need the district to deliver a workable solution NOW!

Lisa Maxwell

Executive Director BPAA

 



37 Responses to “Uproar In Schools! Principals Squealing Over Evaluations, Possible Firings”

  1. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    As a consultant who’s paid by the hour, my clients (including several big gov’t types) demand an accounting of how I am spending their cash.

    If I was to follow Lisa Maxwell’s approach, believing it’s my right to undocumented billable hours, I’d be out of a job in a heartbeat.

    What’s next? Make believe expense reports? Charging for vaporware IT gear?

    As a card carrying, tree hugging, east coast liberal intellectual, I truly value and appreciate the role of unions. But, I believe the protect the ranks at all costs, sometimes does more damage than good.

  2. Stoneman Douglas says:

    We have a principal who has been negative. He plays “favorites” with certain staff members and has destroyed the morale. Some misguided parents are holding a demonstration for him today. Many say it would be good if he left and we went back teaching kids instead of all the politics he brought into the school.

  3. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    The charge of lack of due process is one that will be tested for accuracy, hyperbole notwithstanding, of that I have no doubt. And if the administrator charged with the responsiblity of making sure it was done properly failed, then we have another candidate for replacement.

    A situation such as this illuminates which administrators are up to the task, just as it did with the Transportation crisis.

    What I object to is what I called “undue process” when I served on the State Task Force for Teacher Evaluation. The Task Force agreed with my suggestion that students, parents and the community should have voices in the evaluation process, one that should not drag on endlessly.

    That they were included in this process is a great step forward. I would bet that the BASA evaluation instrument is an example of undue process. Otherwise we’d have seen many more administrators held accountable.

  4. parklander says:

    I read that 10- ll principals had received evaluations that caused the actions by the school board. Are you telling me that a lobbyist for the Principals is crying foul. Who is she to second guess the progress of the school district. She doesnt even live in broward county. what the hell!

  5. Floridan says:

    If the evaluation criteria are fair, then apricipal’s performance should determine whether or not he/she is retained in the position.

    That being said, it is not BPAA’s responsibility to do the School Board’s job. Rather, in this instance, it is more akin to a defense attorney, making sure that the individuals effected are being treated fairly. The best way to do that is to force the School Board prove the validity of its case.

    As for “billable hours,” at the principal level the rule should be that they are expected to work regular hours, but that they have the responsibility to determine what they are doing and where they are at any specific time. If they are doing their job, it will be apparent; there is little need for someone to be micro-managing their time.

    Finally, it will be useless to get rid of these principals and not evaluate the criteria for principal selection.

  6. Former School Board insider says:

    Holding principals accountable? Finally getting rid of problem principals? Halleluah! It is indeed about time!

    However, there are several inherent problems with the current process.

    I find it extremely ironic that the administrator who is now in charge of all the directors who are directly over the principals, one Desmond Blackburn, is himself a failed principal. There were so many complaints about Desmond that they kicked him upstairs, where he soon was put on the fast track of upper management. If he were still principal of Ramblewood Middle, he would be or should be on that short list of soon to be retired principals.

  7. Former School Board insider says:

    Also, the process is still subject to manipulation. One of the criteria is the amount of complaints received about the principal.

    I know for a fact that in the past, many complaints were lodged against principals, only to be “lost” or not documented. It really is up to the directors to properly document the complaints, and directors who want to protect a certain principal will simply not file those complaints.

    Therefore, the process is subject to abuse, and perhaps an argument can be made that it lacks due process because it is not consistently applied. If a director wants to get rid of a certain principal, the complaints will appear in his or her file; if they want to protect the principal,the complaints won’t exist.

    Believe me, I’ve seen this happen frequently, in the past.

  8. Former School Board insider says:

    Finally, Lisa Maxwell states that they “will be asking the Board to intervene…” Well, that ain’t gonna happen.

    Board members have been repeatedly told that, after the grand jury report alleging “micro-managing” by board members, their role is not to question any decisions made by administration, but simply stick to strictly setting policy.

    One can argue either way on this issue. Yes, it avoids them sticking their nose where it don’t belong, and letting the superintendent run the District as he was hired to do. But, on the other hand, it does effectively prevent them from raising concerns when there might be abuse occurring.

    In this case, they hired Runcie to clean up the district, he appears to be doing just that, so Lisa can huff and puff all she wants about getting the Board to intervene, but they will simply tell her that, pursuant to their attorney’s directive, they are unable to do so, so she is SOL on that point.

  9. No Goon says:

    Bob…. comparing the Principals to Union Goons makes a hypocrital comparison. (and is an unnecessary name calling tactic)…
    Just so you know, in Broward the Union (BTU) does not protect bad teachers, it may provide due process but does not excuse bad behavior or performance. WHO does excuse and allow bad behavior and performance by teachers??? Administration. They refuse to hold teachers accountable. Too much work or fear of controversy.. whatever the reason. It rarely happens. Behind each ineffective teacher is an ineffective administrator, or several of them. There are vindictive administrators who go after someone they do not like, all the while ignoring teachers who do not teach. In the end: the students suffer.

  10. Han Solo says:

    Runcie needs to continue up the food chain and get into the ranks of the Sharon Airaghi’s of the world. The Principals are just the beginning to cleaning up what is really wrong with the way this District operates. Runcie’s well on his way, but he needs to clean his own house too and Airaghi would be as good a place to start as any.

  11. sidelines says:

    I’ll bet Runcie or one of his trusted senior staff read BrowardBeat.com and report back. He wants to keep his job, make some progress and gage the public perception via sampling, and the comments here are unbiased outspokeness, even if slanted one extreme way or the other at times. Runcie can weigh them and take action. And if he can’t do the job and show progress, he probably knows the fate that awaits him and definitely no approved school construction bond in november 2014.

  12. KCWright says:

    Runcie is not doing enough. There are probably 25-50 principals who are over their heads.

  13. Illogical Captain says:

    Evaluating staff is easy- set expectations, track them in a comprehensive manner and hold people accountable to produce.

    None of the above apply to this debacle. An after the fact, secretive, and completely new set of standards were set parallel to a state approved evaluation system. Use the current 27 item evaluation system to improve performance if you are truly trying to improve the system- not 4 criteria hand picked after the fact.

  14. PaulGiordano says:

    Hey Buddy I love your idea

    “It’s about time that the school system got rid of deadwood.”

    But you missed the main point. The real deadwoods in the district are hiding behind the bumping benefit that BTU TSP bargaining unit enjoys.

    Since I was an insider I know where the deadwoods are hiding in the system. The treasure trove is the BTU-TSP contract Article 14, which allows all the deadwoods in the system to take shelter using a peculiar rule called “bumping” (whereby the deadwoods arbitrarily bumped out most qualified and productive employees from the system by virtue of just seniority in the system) when they are no longer needed and let go. I have used that Article 14 of TSP successfully to milk the system over 10 years – FYI I was high school dropout and was making around $80k for doing nothing.
    Still bunch of my deadwoods buddies throughout the District are enjoying free pay check using the bumping benefits.

    I wanted to be honest with you as I am no longer in the system – this bumping is a total waste of taxpayers’ money – may be in the magnitude of millions. The District could save millions by eliminating all the deadwoods (majority of them are really high paying and do nothing like I was) from the system.

    Buddy I honestly think you should run an investigative article on this issue. You should contact current BTU-TSP Vice President Virgil Cruz to get more insight into this issue.

  15. Transparent says:

    This principal announced over the loud speaker at 9 am that the news media would be outside of the school at 2 pm yesterday . What kid isn’t going to want to yell into a camera and get out of class ?
    Did anyone notice that the bus that advertised Collado has the initials MSG on the front ? The school is Marjorie Stoneman Douglas MSD Not MSG .
    The problems at his school since Collado had been hired have many claims of bullying . He allowed it , people talked about it people complained about it and nothing ever was done . If you watch the TV. Reports and read the articles about Collado I see a common thread , he blames or his followers claim that it was someone else’s fault that he was fired . They are trying to take the blame off of him and place it on a few parents . Amazing that a few parents can be blamed for all his problems . Over and over they blame someone else , stand up and demand he be accountable . Stop blaming someone else and move on . 12 other principals have been told they are not rehired and Collado is the only one crying and kicking as he leaves , who is ever going to want to hire this man again .

  16. Education Matters says:

    There is a significant lack of professional talent in the pool of Asst. Principals in Broward. Most got the job based on a certain quota criteria or they knew someone. Excellent talent exists but never is given a chance. Most of the ones I have seen are clueless.Some are truly loose cannons. Many are evaluating teachers but never taught a class, or it was 20 years ago. Most have absolutely no PR skills or any idea about educational matters or common professionalism. Of course, the Principals allow this.

  17. Tell The Truth says:

    The Broward School District has been under the influence of the good-ole-boy network for many years. It’s unfortunate that staff like Mr. Giordano were allowed to continue “working?” in the system for so many years but fortunately, at least in his case, his errant ways were discovered an he was finally let go. Now it’s sour grapes? Really? Those of us who have been in the system for many years, were FORCED to use the bumping system to keep a job AND we were required to prove proficiency in our jobs to a much greater extent than any other person hired into the system. If the same criteria had been placed upon Mr. Giordano when he was hired he would never have made it past his probationary period. Mr. Runcie is cleaning out dead wood as we speak and those who don’t work up to standards will be elliminated just like Mr. Giordano. Cry-baby.

  18. Troy Aikin says:

    Buddy – Why don’t you just let the Fertig’s write your column because you obviously no longer have a mind of your own. You used to be a good reporter/columnist, interested in understanding all sides of an issue. Your bias and desire to have your blog read, has caused you to make outlandish and reckless statements. You smear people’s names and reputations without care or concern for whether what your stating is even factual. I suppose that is the world we now live in. People can’t rely upon your column for anything other than slanted opinions which are frankly not even your own, but belong to special interests. People like the Fertigs are using you to further the cause of the frivolous law suits they continue to file, and they hide behind bloggers such as yourself to put out their filth and lies. Perhaps someday you will find your own way Buddy.

    FROM BUDDY:

    “Troy Aikin” refers to school activists Chris and Mary Fertig.

    I know the Fertigs. They had nothing to do with creating this article or the idea behind it. Anybody who has read my commentary over a period of time knows I have been a consistent supporter of reforming the school system and holding administrators accountable.

    I printed the entire letter from Lisa Maxwell. I consider that the “other side of the story.”

    I have no idea what you mean by “frivolous law suits.” The only law suit concerning this piece is that ones that Lisa Maxwell threatened to file.

  19. Troy Aikin says:

    The Fertig’s have filed a number of frivolous lawsuits against princpals perhaps you should ask them. Printing the entire story involves putting issues in context which you never seem to do, as a consequense you slant stories to fit your world view. You have been a consistent supporter of slinging mud and rarely are you balanced anymore – just scan some of the taglines of the stories you print on this blog – perhaps a good look in the mirror might bring some clarity to your writing. It is clear that you are an instrument of the Fertigs and it does not surprise me that you can’t discern that fact.

  20. frank says:

    Troy akin sounds like a lazy principal that is scared that he’s about to loose his kooshy no show job. He realizes that his job prospects outside of the school district are slim to none, and his lashing out is a product of the frustration of realizing he will be a night janitor making 8$ an hour.

  21. in the know says:

    Runcie called an emergency meeting of all principals after school today. What does he want to say?

  22. Chris Fertig says:

    Buddy,

    I have successfully represented many principals, administrators and teachers against the District on a pro-bono basis. In each case my firm donated its time and resources to support dedicated educators attacked by the system. My law firm has also prevailed against the District on major civil rights issues. But I never recall suing a principal prior to Collado. The current lawsuit against the Board and Collado challenges the police power of a principal to unilaterally and arbitrarily ban a parent from campus without any form of appeal or review. It is not frivolous and seeks to protect every parent’s fundamental American right to due process. The lawsuit does not seek monetary damages.

    But the real point is this: Mary & I have nothing to do with the new matrix the District is using to evaluate principals. The District did not consult us. The District has not shared the evaluation matrix with us. Mary & I have nothing to do with Collado’s current situation. Collado and supporters, by trying to attribute the non-renewal of his contract to the Fertigs, are not helping their cause because the Board and District know we had no input into the decision.

    Chris Fertig

  23. Harvey says:

    Mr. Runcie is doing something that is long overdue in holding Principals accountable. Area Offices let Principals do whatever they wanted and many did. Principals arbitrarily decided which Board policies they needed to follow and those they would ignore without fear of repercussions. One need only look at recent revelations of a discretionary account for a Principal at a High School and how far back that went to get an inkling of how bad it has been. Ten is only a start, more will surely follow as will the Principal Association wailings.

  24. Candy Cane says:

    Go Runcie! Change is here! Let’s rid the system, the future of our society, of those who abuse power and set their own interests before those of the students’. There are many great principals out there who embrace the idea of distributed leadership, and those who want to dictate and control, ultimately quashing the motivation and talent among educators.

  25. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    I said it before and I’ll say it again. The principal allowed the situation to escalate. It never should have blown up the way it did.

    I’ve been involved in school stuff for a long time, in many volunteer capacities, and I’ve seen situations that could’ve ended just like this one at SD did. But the administrators involved were proactive and solved the problems most of the time at the school level. A few went to the area, but no further.

  26. bilbo baggins says:

    what about sunset learning center and wingate oaks ? open/ closed? big meeting on thursday at sunset by runcie?…who shows up with bad news?…

  27. Jim Kale from the Villages says:

    To “Tell The Truth”

    Based on my personal experience with the District over 12 over years and going through 2009, 2010,& 2011 Layoffs I will concur with friend Mr. Giordano that BUMPING is the only reason the District cannot get rid off deadwoods from the system.

    Looking at your comments I suspect either you are one of those deadwoods or you are silently collecting pay checks and doing nothing.

    I am positive Runcie will find ways to get rid off you? Be careful!!!

  28. christine says:

    @Charlotte #25,
    With all due respect, unless you have lived and worked in Parkland, you have no idea what the dynamics are that the principal had to deal with. When I arrived in the city, I had 23 years of professional experience under my belt,including directing a national non-profit organization in Washington DC. Having spent 10 years living and working there,I can only say that there is NO place like Parkland that I have ever come across.

  29. Mia says:

    Agree with Christine… Parkland is a unique entity…

  30. Harvey says:

    Uhm,

    Parkland is not unique in any way.
    Parents who have high incomes and feel entitled to have their way no matter what and will exert every influence they can to get it are not unique. Too many parents with too much time and too much money on their hands with far too little common sense makes it inevitable that unreal levels of self entitlement develop. Weston and Boca are no different.
    Look up helicopter parenting. These communities are the hotbeds for it and it starts well before High School.

  31. Violet says:

    The school system is not like business/industry where people are usually promoted on merit. A person decides they want to leave the classroom, get a degree in administration, go through the county’s LEAD program, and get their name on the list. They could have been poor teacher, but that didn’t matter. They wanted out of the classroom. In my tenure I remember some questionable persons that made it all the way. Some because they were connected. The truth will never come out.

  32. Christine says:

    @#30 Harvey,
    While I agree that Boca and Weston are similar in effect , Parkland has it to a significantly stronger degree.

  33. Tell The Truth says:

    To Jim Kale from the Villages:
    Your experience with the SBBC has consisted of the same type of work ethic as your “friend” Mr. Giordano. Aren’t you the one who also lost his job the same time as Paul by being “allowed to retire” due to the fact that you were caught flying out of town while claiming to be on the clock on overtime? Yeah, right! You should both shut your traps and crawl away into some dark hole before the SBBC actually grows a set of balls and sues you both for the return of monies you never earned.
    Another Crybaby…

  34. schoolboard member says:

    Start with Michael Walker at Sunrise Middle- who protects him? He is horrible and thrives on making employees FEAR him!

  35. Mia says:

    @Harvey> I used the word unique for Parkland so that I would stay professional .. I wouldn’t work or live there … Can’t stand the atmosphere of entitlement .. Mr. Collado needs to run and not look back!

  36. Just Beachy says:

    And the wheel goes round n round…

  37. Just Beachy says:

    Thanks though Buddy, for allowing so many views to be shared on Sbbc issues as they arise.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>