I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"We Can't Get That Deep Into the Weeds"

Okay, this quote needs to be put into context.....

I understand that the News Journal has limited space to expand upon ideas and quotations, and therefore I want to put the statement above into context.  My conversation with the News Journal yesterday after the meeting was on a number of topics, including health care, the fund balance in our benefits account, and also the teacher who was facing termination.

With respect to that situation (employee discipline) I told the PNJ that operational issues and personnel recommendations are the purview of the Superintendent.  With respect to terminating employees, we do in fact have a say in these matters, and I told the PNJ that I was briefed on multiple occasions about this particular employee and the circumstances surrounding her termination in the days prior to the meeting.  I felt comfortable making the motion and also voting

 for the termination based upon the facts presented to me in this case.    

Now, with respect to how the schools are operated---Individual schools and the operation of these schools are the responsibility of highly trained, well paid principals and these schools operate under the framework of school board rules which we as a body (the school board) create.  But in terms of us, as individual board members butting-in and telling principals at individual schools how they ought to operate—that is outside of our lanes.  The principals report to a director, who in turn reports to an assistant superintendent, who in turn reports to the Superintendent.  Operational issues at schools need to follow that chain of command, period.

I do not speak for my fellow board members, but I do speak for myself and I stand by my statement.  If we are going to insert ourselves into the operational aspects of schools--- this is a mistake.  We should not micromanage and we should not get that deep into the weeds.


Colonel George W. Tate said...

If the role of the Escambia County School Board isn’t about oversight and accountability, what then is it? Exercising the oversight role for which your constituents elected you sometimes demands getting “down in the weeds”. The devil is in fact in the details and YOU need to know those details.

While you are down there in the weeds you might ask why neither science or social science ("just give them all A's")is being taught at Global Learning Academy in violation of state standards.

No one wants a big controversy here, but the controversy can be avoided by a board-directed assessment starting with why it is not teaching to Florida standards in these and other subjects along with an audit of why taxpayer dollars were spent on science labs and technology gadgets like Stratografica which are not used. This was what I requested publicly at the 18 Jan board meeting, but which has so far been summarily ignored.

Please acknowledge the possibility that you might not have the complete and objective information here and at least be willing to have a closer look.

As long as the board looks the other way in the face of unpleasant facts, the controversy will remain and I for one hope the News Journal will shine the light of public accountability on this situation. Is there any way we can fix this situation together rather than sniping at each other?

Colonel George W. Tate

Jeff Bergosh said...

Col Tate, Thanks for your input and concern. I read your well written letter and also the correspondence from Mrs. Riesley. I am looking into issues that fall within the boards purview, however I simply will not insert myself into school level operational issues. Micromanagement by school board members becomes problematic, and can lead to a district's loss of accreditation. (example, Clayton County Georgia, 2008. I appreciate your concern but please rest assured this board keeps its eye on the ball and we do our jobs. Call me on my cell at 293-1459 if you would like to discuss this matter further.

be alert said...

Mr. Bergosh, you quoted in your blog, " With respect to terminating employees, we do in fact have a say in these matters, and I told the PNJ that I was briefed on multiple occasions about this particular employee and the circumstances surrounding her termination in the days prior to the meeting. I felt comfortable making the motion and also voting
for the termination based upon the facts presented to me in this case." I am very interested to know what you were briefed on, as the only reason given to me was I was being terminated under FL 1012.33. No other reasons were given. The collective bargaining clearly states the following:

G. No action against a teacher shall be taken on the basis of a complaint by a parent, student, or other individual unless the matter is first reported to the teacher in writing by the principal within ten (10) days of the complaint

A. If the District creates an investigatory file, the affected employee shall be notified. The contents of that file shall not be made a part of the employee's official Personnel File until the investigation is concluded (including appeal, grievance and/or legal proceeding.)


D. The teacher shall be notified 24 hours in advance of any meeting which may result in reprimands, suspensions or dismissal and shall be informed in writing that he/she is entitled to representation. It is the teachers responsibility to obtain representation (Association members should contact EEA). In the event of the more serious disciplinary actions of suspension, suspension without pay and dismissal, the employee shall be provided notice as outlined in Florida Statutes. If immediate action is required to remove an employee from a potentially hostile atmosphere, restore the smooth operation of the school's programs or to otherwise protect an employee or the school, the District may administratively reassign an employee to another worksite or his/her residence in order to conduct an appropriate investigation. The employee shall be afforded all rights of notice, right to representation and due process.

I was afforded none of these rights. Is that not a misdoing that should be investigated?

Jeff Bergosh said...

Be Alert,

The section of the agenda where employee discipline is presented to the board is what I was referring to--not the individual teacher that was being terminated. The teacher that was being terminated was never formally disciplined, therefore the sections of the collective bargaining agreement which are referenced in your post are inapplicable. Under the new Florida statute, a first year employee can be terminated within the first year and no specific reasons for such a termination are required.