You are on page 1of 11

PROPOSED NEW POLICY

1715 Page 1 of 8 (FOURTH DRAFT: FOR SECOND READING PREPARATION) THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS Board-Superintendent Operating Protocol Principles, Beliefs and Traditions Successful organizations are the result of effective and dynamic leadership. To assure a quality operation, leaders must agree on basic ways of working together. Operating principles define the beliefs, values, and methods of working together. Through this protocol the board members and superintendent memorialize principles and traditions and emphasize the importance of clearly communicating the commitment to continuing establishing and following through with them. The manner in which the board members and superintendent conduct their business becomes a model throughout the district for students, teachers, parents, and staff on how problems are solved. The principles and traditions set forth here outline a philosophy of cooperative, collaborative, and consultative behavior that is agreed upon by the board and superintendent in Everett Public Schools. The board governs at the policy level of the district always striving to think strategically about the matters over which it deliberates by respecting the distinction between organizational ends and means the Everett School District as provided under Washington State law. The superintendent manages the District as provided under Washington State Law. As members of the leadership team the elected and appointed leaders of the District, they are committed to upholding these principles. Purpose Students’ interests come first. After their safety, the board members and superintendent value above all else their achievement. The board will represent the needs and interests of each child in Everett Public Schools as its primary responsibility. The five individual school directors have an equal voice in governing the school district, each having been elected by the voters to serve the people. No one director shall be entitled to special treatment or privilege regarding his or her office, and this includes the office of Board President and Vice-President. The superintendent serves at the direction of the board as a whole. The superintendent is ultimately responsible to the board, and the board is ultimately responsible to the people. Communications: Listening, Cooperation and Support Open communication between the superintendent and the board, and between individual board members requires trust, respect and a fundamental belief in goodwill among board members and the superintendent. Listening expresses the concern for others by showing an interest in not only the information but the other person. Active listening benefits each party and is a key to effective communication. The board and the superintendent should take sufficient time to summarize and paraphrase what they have heard.

A healthy climate for communication requires trust, respect and a fundamental belief in the goodwill among team members. Messages are open, honest, and tactful. The board and superintendent will work under a presumption that all board members share in the ideals of trust, respect and a fundamental belief in the goodwill among board member, and will strive to minimize misunderstanding and reduce conflict and strive for mutual understanding and support, and the superintendent will air no judgments about board members to other board members. The superintendent will work to fulfill the directives of the board, who are ultimately in charge of the District. As a leadership teamgoverning body, the board will make the following commitments to minimize misunderstandings and reduce conflict among board members by: • Supporting each other constructively and courteously. • Maintaining confidentiality. • Focusing their discussions on issues, not personalities, keeping the tone and demeanor of discussions professional by avoiding defensiveness and personalized anger. • Encouraging constructive disagreement. 1715 Page 2 of 8 • Upholding the integrity of every individual. • Pursuing thorough understanding. • Expressing their opinions and positions on issues honestly and openly while being sensitive to others’ opinions, demonstrating that they have recognized the other’s point of view. • Respecting the limited resource of staff time in making individual and whole-board requests for information, and committing that responses to individual requests for information will be shared with all board members. As a hired and appointed manager of the school district, the superintendent shall: • Ensure that all board members are kept equally apprised of all information • Ensure that board members’ questions are answered • Respect the limited resource of board members’ time, and ensure that individual board members are satisfied that they have the information they require in order to make an informed decision The board will give direction to the superintendent only as a total board through adopted policies or action taken at a board meeting.Fewer than a quorum of the board shall not give direction to the superintendent outside of an open public meeting, including agenda setting meetings and informal gatherings. If a board member is appears to be acting outside his/her defined rolein a manner to which another board member or the board as a whole objects , the board president or other board member(s) will first talk with the individual board member regarding the problem. If talking does not solve the problem, the matter will be brought forth in an open public meeting for the purpose of scheduling a special meeting to deal with the situation, with at least 5 business days advance notice provided to the public detailing the specific purpose

of the open public meeting. If the superintendent appears to be acting in a manner to which a board member or the board as a whole objects, the board president or other board member will first talk with the superintendent regarding the problem. If talking does not solve the problem, the matter will be brought forth in an open public session, for the purpose of scheduling a special meeting to deal with the situation, with at least 5 business days advance notice provided to the pubic detailing the specific purpose of the open public meeting. The board will give the superintendent feedback on his/her performance on a regular basis. That feedback may be oral, or in writing. An executive session to discuss superintendent performance may be requested by either the board or the superintendent. Board members shall refrain from making evaluative comments about the superintendent’s performance except in an executive session designated for the review of the performance of a public employee. The superintendent will let the all board members know as soon as possible of any major issue that may arise which could be problematic for the district, and will share information with people anticipated to be affected in a timely manner. The team is mutually committed to practicing a “no surprises” policy, which means making issues known as soon as they arise, rather than waiting until a situation reaches the crisis point or waiting for the nearing of an immenent deadline so as to force the board’s hand in a time-constrained fashion. They consider The boardsuperintendent team considers aA major issue to beis one in which student or staff safety, significant liability, or broad public concern could reasonably be attached by an objective observer. The superintendent shall consult with the board president regarding notification ofnotify the entire board about highly sensitive investigations. The superintendent shall also inform the entire board of any investigations resulting in Risk Management opening a pre-claim investigation; any complaints about the District made to the state; and any situation regarding students or staff wherein consulation with an attorney is being considered. The board president will be the official spokesperson for the board when the board wishes to have only the official spokesperson speak on its behalf., The superintendent will be the official spokesperson for areas of district operation when the board wishes to have the official spokesperson for areas of district operation speak on its behalf. and is The board president is the only individual director authorized to seek initiate contact with legal counsel on behalf of the board individually. However, once legal counsel has been contacted about a particular matter, and legal counsel’s advice has been shared with the full board, any individual director may obtain clarification on the matter by way of submitting questions to that attorney via email. If a situation arises where an individual director seeks attorney input on any other matter, the director will send an email to the board president describing his or her reasons for wanting to contact the attorney, with a copy of this communication sent to all other board members. If the board president denies approval for the individual director to ask questions of legal counsel, the matter will be taken up as an agenda action item at the next regular board meeting, unless the individual director agrees to drop the matter. This provision will ensure that individual directors have a means to get their legal questions answered, and that the public will have a means to be kept informed of the activities of

their elected school officials and the decisions those elected officials make. The superintendent will be the official spokesperson for areas of district operation. Communication between district staff and the boardboard members and district staff is encouraged. Board members are encouraged to become familiar with staff and should feel free to ask general operating questions of staff that any member of the public is able to ask staff. However, for the purpose of scheduling visits, Board members should call the school principal or stop in the office prior to visiting classes or the campus as a courtesy measure. In keeping a strong commitment to avoid the appearance of violating the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA), whether letter or in spirit, all directors board members will: • Send all communications from one director to two or more other directors through the superintendent’s office; the superintendent will be responsible for distribution and for communicating with all directors in the event he or she determines forwarding an item of communication may violate the Act, and referring the communication to the board president. Refrain from replying to any email that has been sent by one director to two or more directors. • Not discuss official business with two or more directors via email, including board procedural matters. • Use only district email accounts provided for official business in order to conduct official business, unless the director’s district email account becomes incapacitated, compromised or inoperable, or the director is in a situation where the director does not have access to the District’s web-based email system; the superintendent and other district staff are not expected to The superintendent and district staff, however, will be expected to respond to any email sent by a director, regardless from the account the email was sent. 1715 Page 3 of 8 respond to emails from directors when sent from accounts other than the districtprovided accounts. • Direct questions or communications between administrative staff and directors that will require significant staff time or effort through the superintendent’s office, or through other staff as designated by the superintendent. • Attend and receive, in addition to the superintendent’s cabinet members, training annuallyannulal training on the OMPA and the Public Record Act (PRA) by a variety of individuals to be chosen by the board including: private attorneys; the Attorney General’s Office; and the Washington Coalition for Open Goverment. • Expect the superintendent to ensure that emails sent to the entire board via the district website will not be forwarded by an “autorule”; the superintendent will provide for forwarding of email items that in his or her judgment do not violate the OPMAThere is an expectations that board members will familiarize themselves with open government law. The board does not delegate authority to the superintendent to determine or gatekeep for the board what communications from a single board member will be delivered or forwarded to other board members. The board, not the superintendent, will determine whether to seek further information from legal counsel or other government source if there is a question on the legality of an OPMA communication, so as not to give the public the appearance that the superintendent controls the board.

The superintendent shall decide whether he wishes to exchange emails with board members on weekends. If the superintendent determines he will not send or receive email on the weekend, except under emergency circumstances, the superintendent will not send emails to board members on weekends, nor will the superintendent be expected to respond to emails on weekends. However, if the superintendent does occasionally send board members emails or text messages or phone calls on weekends, this provision will be nullified. The superintendent cannot perpetually selectively determine whether or not to respond or send emails on the weekend.The superintendent or a designee shall acknowledge receipt of board member emails requesting information or action within 24 business hours or within one business day following the weekend. The superintendent may consult the board president or vicepresident and choose to refer the email request to the entire board at its next meeting. The superintendent’s vacations shall not be interrupted by board communication with the exception of a district emergency.This premise also pertains to vacations of the superintendent with the caveat that the superintendent must state before going on vacation whether he will respond to emails. If he determines he will not be responding to emails, he will be held to this standard, and the acting superintendent or superintendent’s designee will be the one in charge – no exceptions. Judgment and Trust The complexities of operating a school district cannot be fully addressed in policies, procedures or operating principles. Working with people and handling difficult and controversial issues on a daily basis requires good judgment, common sense and a strong trust relationship between the board and the superintendent. Every complaint cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties involved; every issue or concern will not be foreseen. For these reasons trust in each other, allowance for error, and team efforts to address problems through open and transparent discussion of all directors’ and the superintendent’s perspectives are a key part of an effective school district operation. The board and superintendent will approach these situations with the belief the other person is working in good faith with good expectations. Decision Making The identification and evaluation of alternatives, an awareness of short- and long-term consequences, and an appreciation for the needs of the group, as well as individuals, and sensitivity toward collective action are essential to the decision-making process. In order to formulate and execute sound decisions, the board and superintendent agree to: • Resolve problems as close to the point of origin as possible. • Provide for input from all concerned when possible. • Use a decision-making style appropriate to the situation. • Reevaluate the effectiveness of the decision when appropriate. • Clearly communicate decisions that are made. • Manage agreement with positive attention to assumptions in order to avoid making decisions based on false assumptions. • Guard against creating the impression that any single board member decides in place of the whole board; board decisions are made by the whole, not individuals. This includes allowing one or more board members to be privy to information that other board members are not – for any reason. • Once a board decision has been reached, all board members support will accept the

outcome, but they will not be expected to publicly support that outcome. Using this process, it is recognized that a decision may sometimes be superseded by a higher level of authority. When this occurs, the rationale will be communicated to those involved before releasing the information. 1715 Page 4 of 8 Responding to Complaints and Concerns Board members will will contact the superintendent directly by phone or email when they hear concerns in the community regarding issues relating to district administration, programs or personnel. The superintendent in turn shall contact each board member directly by phone or email when the superintendent hears concerns in the community, from community members or district staff, regarding issues relating to district administation, programs or personnel. When a board member or the superintendent is contacted by a community member or a staff member who has a complaint, he/she will: • Listen to the individual’s concern. • Inquire if the individual has discussed the issue with the person immediately responsible. • Explain that the district process for resolving concerns and conflicts is to address the concern with the person immediately involved. If this has not been done, tell them how to contact the appropriate person. Describe the appropriate channels that should be followed if the complaint is not resolved. • Remember that anything the board members the board or superintendent says as an individual could be given the meaning by the listener as the “position of the board or superintendent”, and therefore they will be careful not to give the appearance of agreeing with the person when they mean to actively listen or to listen sympathetically. The boardBoard members and the superintendent will do their utmost to listen carefully, and to avoid giving the impression by listening that they are on “their side.” The superintendent is responsible for following up with the board members to ensure each is aware of the response provided by the administration. However, the superintendent will never respond on behalf of the board without first consulting with the full board. The superintendent does not have the authority to speak for the board on any matter without prior full board approval of such statement or communication. Board Meetings 1. The public will have clearly defined opportunities for input to the board of directors at study sessions and public comment section of regular board meetings. Comments will be limited to a time period established by board policy. A. Study session public comments will be held at the end of board discussion and before the conclusion of the meetingstudy session. B. At regular board meetings, there will be a public comment section at the beginning of the meeting. C. Members of the audience may comment on “Action” items listed on the agenda and may also comment on policies at both the first and second

readings. 2. During the times set aside for public comment, in order to promote a welcoming atmosphere for speakers, the board president will ensure that board members and staff will not debate or argue with the public during board meetings. If the board is questioned by the public during the public comment section, the board president may do the following: A. If the question is concerning district policy: Ask the superintendent to take note and answer the person later after consulting with the president for direction if needed. The superintendent will provide a brief summary of the eventual resolution to the board. B. If the question is concerning areas of district operation: Ask the superintendent to address the issue with the person at a later time. The superintendent will provide a brief summary of the eventual resolution to the board. C. Thank the public for making comments to the board without follow-up comment by the president. D. Agree to another board member’s request to ask clarifying questions of a speaker. 3. Changes on minutes will be called to the attention of the superintendent’s secretary or the superintendent, and in most cases, will not be addressed at 1715 Page 5 of 8 meetings. All board members with changes will call or email the district superintendent’s office prior to the board agenda setting meeting. An updated copy of the minutes will be given provided to each the board member and to the public via BoardDocs at the scheduled meeting. 4. Board agendas will be developed as a partnership between the board president or designee and the superintendentby the board, with input sought from the superintendent or other staff as needed. The board president and any other interested board member(s) and the superintendent will review the agenda in detail prior to the board meeting. Agenda-setting meetings will typically include one other board member, normally the vice-president, but any other board member may attend if desired. Agenda setting meetings are vehicles for the entire board, not just the President and Vice-President. Board members requesting items for the agenda will contact the superintendent or board president with the items. 5. Board meeting agenda and background material on agenda items will be provided by the superintendent to all board members at least two three days before regular board meetings. This way board members will have two full business days to obtain clarification in advance of the day of the meeting. 6. Board members will review all material provided and seek clarification or additional information as needed prior to the board meeting. When possible, board members will discuss proposals they have concerns about with the superintendent and/or board president prior to the board meeting. Because it is known that board meetings are most productive when all board members are prepared and present, the board commits to attending meetings in their entirety and absenting themselves on the infrequent occasion when an absence is unavoidable. 7. Board members requesting information from staff at board meetings will do so through the superintendent if the information will involve a significant amount of work and not just a verbal response. All items addressed to the board for action or discussion by staff will be given in an objective fashion explaining both the positive and negative aspects of the decisions. If board members feel “rushed” or feel they

do not have enough information, the board member will request a “table” or postponement until such time as adequate information is presented. 8. Open and honest discussion of issues, ideas and positions on proposals is encouraged. The board debates issues, not one another. Board members agree to avoid any words and actions that cast negative impressions on another board member, the superintendent, or on any other individual. Debate and differing perspectives are encouraged while exercising care and respect for others. To these ends, directors will adhere to the following practices to maintain decorum: A. Speech Limits in Debate: Board members may only speak twice on any debatable motion or amendment in the same meeting; each time a board member may speak for up to five minutes. A board member who has already spoken twice or used up the allotted time may ask of the chair to speak again or be given additional time. The chair will ask if there is any objection from the other board members, if there is no objection the member shall be given an additional five-minutes opportunity to speak. If there is an objection, a majority of the board may grant additional opportunity or time.There shall be no speech limits in debate per se. However, if it becomes apparent that an issue is being belabored, any board member may obtain the floor and call for the previous question to be voted on by the board, thus putting an end to the debate. B. Order of Speaking: The maker of the motion has the one time right to preference in speaking about it. The chair should recognize the first person requesting to speak. Someone who has not yet spoken has preference over someone who has spoken. If possible the chair should alternate between speakers who favor and speakers who oppose a proposal being debated. C. Remarks must be Germane: A board members speech must relate to the motion under discussion. Remarks must have a bearing on whether a motion should or should not be adopted. If there is debate over whether remarks are germane, the specific remark will submitted to the board chair for a ruling. D. Debate Issues Not Personalities: The proposal, not the member, is the subject of debate. Debate must not be allowed to include personal attacks. Bullying behavior will not be tolerated. Under no circumstances may a board member attack or question the motives of another board member. If there is debate over whether remarks are bullying or are of a personal nature, the specific remark will be submitted to the chair for a ruling. Condescending head shaking, faces, or other belittling gestures have no 1715 Page 6 of 8 place in the board’s deliberations. Even when impassioned, board members shall speak with a tone of courtesy and respect. However, the board recognizes the First Amendment rights of every citizen, and as such recognizes that the board’s rules cannot supercede a board’s member’s First Amendment rights. E. Formalities that Avoid Personalities: Board members shall address all their comments to the chair. Board members shall not directly address other board members; and certainly not the audience. During discussion and debate there is no place for direct interrogation of other board members or the superintendent staff. If questions are asked of the superintendent or another staff member, the questions are asked through the chair. As much as possible, board members shall avoid the use of other member’s names, and in particular first names, in debate. Officers should be referred to by their titles. Other members shall be referred to as “the previous speaker” or as “Director (Last Name)”. 9. Once a final decision has been made on a proposal, board members and the

superintendent will individually and collectively publicly support successful implementation. 10. Executive/closed sessions will be held only when specific needs arise. Board members will be extremely sensitive to the letter and spirit of the open public meetings and privacy laws, and will individually and collectively respect their provisions and maintain awareness of the legal ramifications of their meetings and comments. 11. All discussions that occur during executive sessions are privileged and shall not be shared with anyone unless it is the express decision of the board to do so. 12. Executive sessions shall not be used to control information, or to provide a vehicle to control board members’ behavior. If a board member feels the executive session process is being abused, that board member has the right and the duty to address the matter in any appropriate forum. Abuse of the OPMA will not be tolerated. Board and Board Member Requests The board seeks to guide the district through fiveour inter-connected sets of prioritysetting tools, which are updated periodically. However, the board shall not be limited to these five priority setting tools: 1. Strategic Plan and related Action Items 2. Superintendent’s Goals 3. Annual Goals for the Board of Directors 4. Annual Operation Budget 5. Any other items of concern that arise that the board feels is important. Requests for information from the board and its members are intended to advance these priorities established by the board. The superintendent and his/her staff face many challenges in the day-to-day operations of the district, while at the same time providing support for new initiatives. The board prioritizes in order to be clear on the most important strategies and actions for the district. The goals established are ambitious and require extensive focus and attention from the superintendent and his/her staff. Therefore the board seeks to focus its board requests on the goals adopted by the board. Board Request This is a request for information or action submitted to the superintendent by the board through concurrence of at least three board members. A board request occurs during a board meeting, whether regular or special, open or closed. In the absence of a board meeting, unless otherwise specified the board president is presumed to make requests on behalf of the board, provided the board president has made known to the other board members the nature of that request. 1715 Page 7 of 8 Board Member Request Documents. Board members are entitled to receive a copy of any public document through the superintendent’s officethe same office any member of the public would request and obtain that document: The Finance Office. All board members’ requests for public documents will be submitted through the superintendent (or his/her designee) Finance Office, and will be

expedited. It is the superintendent’s responsibility to see that he/she is kept informed of board members requests for public documents if he/she feels the need to be kept abreast of such information. Board members shall receive a copy of any public document upon request, and shall have the option of electing to receive that document in electronic format whenever feasible. General Information. Board members sometimes seek items of information that are not contained in a public document through the superintendent. Such requests may be simple or complex, and may have financial, legal or workload implications. The superintendent will determine (in consultation with the board president when in doubt) if information requests from individual board members are easily resolved or will advance the established goals approved by the board (board goals or goals for the superintendent). If the request doesn’t meet this requirement, the superintendent will direct the board member back to the board president or the full board to secure approval as a board request. To avoid misunderstandings, the superintendent shall confirm and a director request in writing with the director who originated the request before designating the request a director request; a director will be provided 24 hours to respond with a revision to the confirmation. “Confirm” as used in this provision means the superintendent will make valid [the request]by obtaining assent or agreement from the board member on the nature, (and if necessary) wording or language of the request. The superintendent shall make reasonable effort to assist a director in obtaining the information the director seeks. Should any difficulties or complications arise from this process, either the director or superintendent shall seek the assistance of the Director Request Committee, which will be a committee of 5 non-District employed citizens of the District or respresentatives of the News Media which the board will establish annually by its second regular meeting in January of each year. Board Agenda Information. Information requests regarding policy items, action items for board meetings or reports to the board are treated as requests for elaboration. These are information requests which are pertinent to board decision-making. If these requests are only marginally related to the board agenda topic, or involve significant preparatory time they should come as a full board request. More routine questions would fall in the board member request for information category. Non-Public, Confidential Information. Elected School Directors in the Everett School District are given the presumption of having legitimate educational, pecuniary and fiduciary interest in any document or writing made, held, or used by the district.Individual board members shall not have access to non-public, confidential records except by approval of a majority of the board, with the exception of the board president in case of emergency circumstances. As such, individual school directors shall not be denied access to any document or communication made, held or that has been used by the district, nor shall such documents been redacted of any information in any form. If the need arises wherein a majority of the board believes it is in the public’s interest to withhold such information from the board, the board shall take up the issue in an open public meeting so the public can be made aware the nature of the information upon which the board seeks to limit its access wherein presumably district staff members – but not the board – does have access. Again, there is a presumption that the governing body of a school district shall have unfettered access to the same information district staff and the superintendent has access to, and if for some reason it becomes apparent due to circumstances that this presumption should not apply to a particular situation, the public will be informed that the board intends to limit its ability to access information. Such limitation will be the exception, not the rule. Honesty, Loyalty, and Disagreement

A sustained commitment to a group, person, or organization survives and is nurtured in an open environment that recognizes the need and right of the parties to construct, express, examine, and synthesize divergent thought. Understanding opposing viewpoints helps the board to better represent Everett Public Schools’ interests. Board members accept the challenge of pursuing a common intent through a review of opinion and fact, to an end that is understood and defensible by all. Once a final decision is reached, each member will endeavor to support the decision and aid in its implementation, although no board member will be required to support the decision or aid in its implementation if that board member so objects. By way of fulfilling the commitment to the challenge, the board agrees: • To support each other constructively and courteously. • To maintain confidentiality. • To allow themselves and others the freedom to admit mistakes. • To focus their discussions on issues, not personalities, free of defensiveness. • To pursue thorough understanding. The Everett Public Schools Board-Superintendent Operating Protocol was reviewed and adopted on September 7, 2010. Legal References: RCW 28A.330.030 Duties of president 1715 Page 8 of 8 RCW 28A.400.030 Superintendent's duties RCW 28A.330.050 Duties of superintendent as secretary of the board RCW 28A.330.010 Board president, vice president or president pro tempore — Secretary Adopted: Proposed new