Magazine article District Administration

Dear Randy

Magazine article District Administration

Dear Randy

Article excerpt

* Sometimes boards serve in an appeal role for decisions made at other levels. The rules for appeals often focus on whether the lower board followed protocols, rather than whether it ruled correctly. How does an administrator exert appropriate leadership if board members seem inclined to rule on the correctness of the decision, with which they disagree, rather than the protocols followed?

William J. Cirone, Superintendent of Schools

Santa Barbara County (Calif.), Office of Education

Dear William,

When I read your excellent question I was reminded of a quote attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes: "The young man knows the rules; the old man knows the exceptions." Your question focuses on one of the dilemmas that we all face at some time in our career. Often when due process is at stake we present our case and then leave the board of education alone to deliberate. While it is clear that their task is to determine if the decision was arbitrary or capricious or whether it followed protocol, at times they debate the wisdom of the actual decision.

I have found that a good understanding of the situation between the superintendent and the board's attorney is the best way to make sure that their discussion is narrowly focused. Their attorney will remain in the room with them and be able to guide them. It should always be clear that the attorney's job is not to represent the superintendent. It should also be clear that he or she has an interest in making sure the board does its job in a legal manner.

Another way is to continually use the legal community to educate the board members regarding state law, especially when they are new to the board. Many new board members are elected or appointed with a very elementary Understanding of the role and often think they have more authority than, in fact, they do. I would refrain from lobbying board members to ensure that their discussion is on protocol, as this can backfire and actually make the situation worse.



* How do you deal with a situation when a board of education member continually asks for information in order to provide a "constituent" with an answer? …

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