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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Parental Power Struggle in West Bend - Who's REALLY In Charge?

Blogged in it's entirety from What's New in West Bend Schools:

The policy committee met last night. The following items were on the agenda:

Review of process for policy revision and Review of the following:

a. Policy 370 – Co-curricular Activities

b. Policy 333 – District Programs/Activities

I sensed a bit of a power struggle in the policy meeting.

I’ve always thought that the administration resented policies made by the board, and they often wrote “administrative rules” to undermine board authority. The discussion that followed confirmed my initial thought.

Dave Weigand, policy committee chair, requested a review of policy 370-District Programs/Activities. He requested, among other things, to have the policy state that written parental permission be obtained yearly for students in each club they participate. His intent is to give parents information on the clubs and obtain parental permission for clubs specific for each co-curricular athletic or non-athletic club. “It’s important for parental permission to participate, “ Weigand stated.

Valley Elliehausen, from administration, stated she, “wouldn’t advocate for a parental permission” policy for clubs. Further, she said that the district uses a Code of Conduct and students and parents sign it for clubs. Weigand, fighting for parental rights, continued to advocate for parents, stating he would like to see parental permission in district policy. Valley then said parental permission could be part of an administrative rule, but would not agree it should be district policy.

Weigand also requested the policy state that the elected school board review all clubs (every level) yearly in order to gage interest and participation, etc. Valley again stated that the administration, and not the board, reviews clubs, “That’s our role” she stated. Al Pauli added that the school principals at the middle school level review clubs. The discussion went on to reveal that the only time the board hears about clubs is when cuts are being made due to “budget constraints” and/or non-interest.

That leads me to wonder why the GSA was brought before the school board last spring and summer.

Valley began the policy meeting by letting the board know that the administration will be making a schedule of policies to be reviewed and anytime an administrator comes forward with a policy they want reviewed, their wishes will “trump” the process. Weigand added that the board would also have the ability to make suggestions for policy review on a case by case issue.

Valley asked that the board contact her to indicate policies to be reviewed, and she would then check with other districts’ and the School Board association to find out what other districts are doing.

By her comments, I came to understand that it wasn’t as important to her what the Board in West Bend thinks, but is concerned with what is done elsewhere.

I wonder what the local taxpayers think of those priorities.

Valley stated she does not want policies from the board telling how to run the district. According to district administration, the board operates “over” and not “under” the line. In other words, the board is to set policy for the administration to use in writing “rules”. Randy Marquardt, board president, wants policies to be general and “guiding”. Dave Weigand stated he wants “the board to make the intent clear” in policy.

This seems a minor difference, but in practice it is a major issue. In looking over some older policies, I noticed that the past boards have clearly written their intent and even steps to follow in policy. I sense a recent shift in where the real authority lies, and that shift is not moving toward the elected board.

After discussing policy 370, Weigand moved on to policy 333 regarding “passive permission” for activities in the district. This is a newer policy, written in 2007.http://wbsd.schoolfusion.us/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/496946/File/Board%20of%20Education/Policy/300/333.pdf?sessionid=b7a340531557af5affc1867a3bea1239

Weigand argued that an “opt in” and not an “opt out” would be more appropriate for activities such as surveys, etc. “We want parents to have opportunity to opt in rather opt out”, giving parents true authority over their minor children.

He further stated that the way it is now is “reversed”. Weigand also said that the Cedarburg School District has an opt-in procedure for human growth and development courses.

Randy Marquardt agreed “on certain issues”. He also stated he has, “no problem endorsing that kind of change.”

Weigand charged Valley, as administrative liaison, to work on the suggested changes to the two mentioned policies.

Valley also mentioned a policy proposal from board member Bart Williams about “truth in disclosure for referendum”. More details will be forthcoming as the board looks into this-hopefully-as the board engages in activities they were elected to do.

1 comment:

bill meyers said...

Nice to know someone else has noticed the junkies got the job as the night watchman at the pharmacy.

In all levels of government non-elected bureaucrats do their best to work around the will of the people and their elected officials. Why the bureaucrats fight attempts at specific rules is obvious. Specifics force them to do as they are told, which we all know is not what they want.

Folks talk about term limits for politicians. I think it is time we start talking about term limits for bureaucrats!