The Good, The Better And The What The Heck: Part Three

The Good: There is one term that you will hear at every board meeting. “Adjournment to go to Executive Session.” Sometimes the session is held before the meeting so the president will say that they are returning from Executive Session. Board Policy 0166 explains how the Board can enter into an executive session. “The Board, as well as its designees, committees, and sub-committees, may hold an executive session only after a majority of a quorum of the Board (or its designees, committees, or sub-committees as applicable) determines, by a roll call vote, to hold an executive session and only at a regular or special meeting for the sole purpose of the consideration of any of the matters set forth in R.C. 121.22(G).” "If a public body holds an executive session to consider any of the matters listed in divisions (G)(2) to (8) of this section, the motion and vote to hold that executive session shall state which one or more of the approved matters listed in those divisions are to be considered at the executive session." (https://tinyurl.com/4eknra7h) 

The article  “FIVE FACTS ON OHIO’S SUNSHINE LAW” gives us a good review if you don’t want to read all of R.C. 121.22G (.(https://tinyurl.com/msuyvcmn)

Only certain matters may be discussed in executive session. A board may only discuss the following six topics in executive session:

• the appointment, employment, dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion or compensation of an  employee or official, or the investigation of charges or complaints against an employee, official, licensee or student, unless the employee, official, licensee or student requests a public hearing;

• the purchase of property for public purposes or the sale of property at competitive bidding;

• conferences with the board’s attorney to discuss matters which are the subject of pending or imminent court action;

• preparing for, conducting or reviewing negotiations or bargaining sessions with employees;

• matters required to be kept confidential by federal law or rules or state statutes;

• specialized details of security arrangements.

Executive sessions are for the purpose of deliberations only. No action may be taken during an executive session.

Executive Sessions are all held in a cloak of silence. As a matter of fact, if someone reveals information they are violating rules. Why aren't residents, the voters, the public, allowed to know the thinking of the board on the deliberations held behind closed doors? It's understandable during negotiations, but when the decisions have been made on the criteria and how the board is planning to vote--normally 5 yays, no nays-- why are we, the public and voters, not permitted to have the information that would allow us to understand and maybe support these choices?

Better: Graduation time for the class of 2024: This group has seen Covid, the cancelation of school for weeks at a time, virtual learning, masks, social distancing, Homecoming, Prom, fire drills, class assemblies, loud pep rallies and crowded hallways. Add active shooter training to all of that. All the best for what will be an amazing future for this class. The class of 2024 should all get the Resilient Rangers title, along with all the teaching and support staff who helped all of LCSD students through an historic time. The Lakewood community is the best of the best!


What the Heck: Start with Policy #1200 Administrator Ethics

The first line of the policy is: “The proper performance of school business and administration of an effective educational program requires the services of individuals of integrity, high ideals, and human understanding.” That sounds pretty good, but what is the path that the policy takes to help that statement happen? If you ever have contact with an administrator, keep that line in your mind during the encounter. I bet that 95% of the time the contact is extremely positive as the Lakewood City Schools has an amazing set of administrators. But then there is the other 5%. The administrators on the front lines in each of our buildings are dedicated to the school community. There are a number of other administrators in the district that the chances of ever bumping into is slim. This group is housed in the board offices now called Taft Centre for Innovation. 

Continuing with the ethics policy:“...recognize basic dignities of all individuals with whom they interact in the performance of duties”, “exercise due care to protect the mental and physical safety of students, colleagues, and subordinates”, “principle of due process and protecting the civil and human rights of all individuals...”

In addition, the Board believes that each administrator should maintain standards of exemplary professional conduct by “making the well-being of students the fundamental value of all decision making and actions”, “fulfilling professional responsibilities with honesty and integrity”, “supporting the principle of due process and protecting the civil and human rights of all individuals..."

The policy also includes things like not taking bribes or gifts. Maintaining credentials. Obeying laws.

What’s missing from the policy is who enforces the administrative ethics. I asked this once and was told that the administration polices itself. Kind of like introducing the fox to the hen house with the key to the door. All of the above sounds so nice and makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy. 

But enforcement is difficult: How can you prove that an administrator didn’t honor your basic dignities or make the wellbeing of students fundamental for decisions. Only administrators are in the room making those decisions. Should we all be more diligent in monitoring the administration based on 1200 and how can we do that? Transparency is not part of 1200. If a challenge to 1200 is made, it is the administration that will investigate it, which creates quite a bias. Can we ask for the records of all complaints about the administration and the outcomes? The answer is yes, do a public records search (will cover that next time). What would be the percentage of the administration taking responsibility  for the complaint to rejecting what a member of the community is reporting? Again–- hard to prove.  What is the honesty and integrity scale and how can a case be made? 

Before I write this column I email the Superintendent… and tell her the topics I plan to cover. She has spent quite a bit of time with me so I can report things accurately. This column did not include any responses from the superintendent and I chalk that up to it being a very busy time of year for her.

Just a reminder. Board meetings are held on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month. You can live stream the meetings on Youtube by searching “Brent Kallay.” This is also where you will find past meetings and many school activities.



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Volume 20, Issue 10, Posted 5:36 PM, 05.22.2024