Observations On The District: The Good, The Better And The What The Heck: Part 4

Good: According to policy 0165.2 The Board can call a special meeting. “A special meeting of the Board may be called by the Board President, Treasurer, or by any two (2) Board members” It gives "at least twenty-four (24) hours advance notice to the news media that have requested notification, except in the event of an emergency requiring immediate official action.” “Special meetings of the Board shall be public. R.C. 121.22” Notification of a special meeting is posted on the LCSD website on the calendar and you can sign-up to get notifications by emailing kent.zemen@lakewoodcityschools.org or calling 216-529-4096. Notifications must be posted at least 24 hrs before the meeting time.

Best: Summer break is here and now our community turns to the extraordinary Recreation Dept. headed by Leslie Krogman. Baseball, softball and the outdoor Lakewood pools. Youth and adult sports, and so many more choices like CSI for ages 7-11, chess lessons K-8, virtual handyman skills for adults and so much more. https://tinyurl.com/mryh9hrw Hundreds of participants and volunteers keep the Lakewood traditions alive and create incredible summers to remember. Don’t forget the other summer traditions of the July 4th parade in the morning and The Lakewood Project concert at night leading into the best fireworks show in northern Ohio.

What the heck:

On February 29, 2024 the board held a special meeting. The agenda was “Planning Session.” Going to minutes for a bit more detail: “The Superintendent and Cabinet members provided Board members with an update on matters pertaining to the 2023-2024 school year and discussed planning for the 2024-2025 school year and beyond." There was no video or audio recording of this meeting. I would have absolutely attended this meeting but at the time did not know the procedure of signing up to be informed that one was being held. But I do think this is a huge discussion that stakeholders should have been involved with and should have been in a general meeting and recorded. When the board does this type of thing, we can only assume that the transparency has left the building. The board is supposed to serve the stakeholders. All of the employees of LCSD are also supposed to serve the stakeholders and taxpayers of Lakewood. Somehow this has been turned upside down and sideways. 

Role of "public servant": At its core, the term "public servant" denotes an individual whose primary motivation and role are to serve the interests, needs, and well-being of the public.

Definition of "volunteer":  A person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.

Policy 8120 introduces the topic of LCSD volunteering. “The Superintendent shall be responsible for recruiting community volunteers, reviewing their capabilities, and making appropriate placements.” I recently volunteered with the Lakewood Project concert, a group I co-founded and for which I am the director in charge of technology. These are some rules shared with my team as we prepared and worked with the students:  “In the role as a volunteer… please bring your concerns to the staff member in charge of your event and allow them to determine what should go to who.” --Dr. Palumbo. This rule applies when a volunteer is actively at an event also. So, volunteers listen up, take time to find that staff member or you will not be able to send any communications to other staff members that may also be involved. Also, that designated staff member is the only person that can communicate with LCSD staff members during the event you volunteered for. 

Furthermore, volunteers will not dictate times or need for meetings. So, if a volunteer needs to meet with a staff member and the availability is while you are at work, just take the time off and wait until the staff member approves of the meetings’ need and sets a time at the staff members’ convenience.

According to Superintendent Niedzwiecki, "Volunteers do not direct employees." Somehow the staff member is to psychically determine the needs of the volunteers’ event or just decide on their own what the volunteer needs. The superintendent continues: “As the Civic manager, you would never have allowed volunteers to direct you.” This could not be further from the truth. It was my job as an employee of LCSD and the Civic manager to take direction from volunteers from the PTA, Music Boosters and Athletic Boosters to name a few. It was my job to make all events successful and that meant taking direction from many people and helping their events to be what they wanted them to be. 

I had emails from and in-person meetings with the superintendent and assistant superintendent as we prepared for our concert. After everything was done, I did ask for some sort of directions for being a good volunteer in order to not step on the landmines that apparently, I kept stepping on. There is no such document. Superintendent Niedzwiecki responded to my request for the guidelines with an email: “There are no specific guidelines for volunteers. Volunteers are just that: volunteers. They are here to assist employees, specifically the employee who has them as a volunteer.”  I think of some of the other volunteer groups that must follow these guidelines: PTA, Athletic Boosters, Music Boosters, the many, many parent coaches for our Recreation Dept teams, who all need to make sure they don’t break the 3 rules I know of, and all the other guidelines that aren’t available, to have a good and successful experience when volunteering for LCSD. 

It would only seem fair that someone thinking about volunteering be allowed to know the rules and guidelines and decide for themselves whether they still want to be part of our students’ lives as a volunteer.

Reminder: Board meetings are the 1st and 3rd Monday of the month. To access the Board information go to lakewoodcityschools.org then choose the Board of Education tab for information regarding policies and contact info for all board members. Archival meeting information is available by YouTube search at “Brent Kallay.” There are many LCSD events on YouTube.

Volume 20, Issue 12, Posted 1:36 AM, 06.19.2024