Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

June 28, 2007

Who knew board members were so sensitive?

Filed under: education, Texas — texased @ 1:15 pm

The Daily Times

Public school teachers and employees concerned about operations at their school districts now have added protection to voice those issues with elected members of their school boards.

But this isn’t “good business practice” according to the Ingram School Board president. Excuse me? If your boss is cooking the books you should first report to your boss so that he can fire you before you have a chance to go any further up the “chain of command?”

And then there is the superintendent who is just trying to protect the board members.

The Daily Times

Faust said board members may feel uncomfortable about listening to employees, and the change may require additional training. Contact information for board members is not available on the school district’s Web site, and Faust only provided contact information for Ingram board president Freddie Hawkins to respond to questions about this subject.

So why isn’t contact information available on the website? They are public officials who were voted into office by the public they serve, not the superintendent. If you don’t want voters to be able to contact you after you win office (and teachers are voters), then don’t run!

Given Faust’s attitude, it seems to me this law should have passed a long time ago.

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  1. It’s not as outlandish as it seems at first glance, although I agree that contact info for board members should be easily available to the public. The problem comes in when neither board members nor school employees fully understand the position of a board member. Individual board members cannot act on behalf of the school district. They can only take action on policy level items as part of a properly convened board meeting. But there are board members who misunderstand their role, and misuse it, by attempting to participate in the day to day operations of the district. Similarly, some employees view board members as top level managers who can intervene in work-related problems – an incorrect belief.

    All school employees have a right to talk to board members. When they want to discuss issues of public relevance, as distinguished from individual job-related matters, an employee can contact a board member any way they wish.

    But when an employee is making a complaint or request related to their employment situation, then they must do that through the chain of command and in compliance with the employee grievance policy.

    Comment by Pam Parker — June 28, 2007 @ 7:39 pm

  2. I understand the problem with defining the actual role of the board members. And the law does explicitly exclude personnel issues such as employee grievance issues. But it sounds like some superintendents were using these legitimate concerns to prevent school employees from approaching board members about policy issues. Furthermore, ultimately the board hires the superintendent so it would seem that board members will need to be prepared to hear how the superintendent is failing to carry out his job on a day to day to basis.

    Comment by texased — July 1, 2007 @ 3:46 pm

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