Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Grading Garcia

Director of Schools Pedro Garcia's contract is up for review. The City Paper tells us this morning that, as was announced in previous board sessions, the board will utilize a facilitator from the Tennessee School Boards Association.

There are two good reasons to call in a facilitator:

1. The board was unable to conclude last year's evaluation on Pedro Garcia there being too much disagreement about his performance. It was still a sore point months later when I spent a summer on the board.

2. We have a majority of new board members that were not around when the evaluation documents (EE's and Ends) were being presented, vetted and voted on. They're going to need some help just wading through all of that. I sincerely doubt that the facilitator cares one way or the other whether Garcia's contract is renewed.

All year long the school board evaluates a portion of Garcia's job performance. They hear his evidence about how well he's done and they submit paper votes and comments which are compiled. At the end of the year it should be a simple matter of adding up the scores and seeing what the result is.

Mere citizens don't have access to those documents without specifically requesting them. They're not part of the usual minutes that are published by the board (example). Here's a copy of a set I've uploaded to KayBrooks.com page 11 is a blank monitoring report. That evening the board heard from Garcia and his staff regarding how well he had done meeting the board's goals for that issue. Page 14 and following are reports with the scores and comments of the BOE members regarding other issues. You can see that their votes are indicated by their initials and their comments are also identified by their initials.

I have mentioned that I don't believe that there is a full vetting of this information. The Friday before the board meets the board usually gets a page with paragraphs saying Garcia has met the goal. That Tuesday night they hear verbal arguments buttressing that argument. The board is expected to return their votes rather quickly which doesn't really provide any time for the community and parents in particular, to rebut Garcia's comments. If you look at the bottom of page 12 of the pdf (actual document page 11) you'll see that while this monitoring report was presented to the board on September 26 the BOE was expected to return it to the board secretary by October 2 just six days later. That doesn't leave time for public rebuttal before the board and that's a big concern to me. The only formal public comments about the performance of this employee are from his point of view. Yes, board members include comments on their evaluation forms and they ought to have had some dialogue with their constituents regarding the issue--but again, most of this is not really out there in the public where it can be legitimately rebutted and countered. It's no surprise then, that he gets very good marks as a rule.

I may be the only person who ever failed him on anything. It was on facilities and it was because I'd visited schools in the 5th District, I had a bottle of nasty water from Isaac Litton Middle School with me and knew that, at least in my district, he had failed to provide a safe and clean place for the children.

NOW is the time to let your board members know how you feel about Garcia's performance. NOW is the time to let them know how you want them to vote. Here's the MNPS page with contact information for the BOE.

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