To The Editor:
I hope our community notes that while Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Board member Rob Williams’ commentary of last week disparages and dismisses those critical of district administration as some “tiny aggrieved minority,” the recently released community survey results provide ample and concrete evidence that this is not the case. They reveal widespread concern about district leadership, about integrity, input, transparency, climate and performance. The raw survey results – not the board’s interpretation – should be reviewed by anyone who is concerned about education in our district or the unfolding redesign effort. They are on the district’s website.
Extensive research shows that the highest performing districts have very engaged and vocal students, teachers and parents. So, now that the HUUSD Board has some of this long-awaited, key stakeholder feedback, and it makes plain that the community has significant concerns about district leadership, what will the board do about it?
Can the board continue to presume that leadership issues don't exist and rely so exclusively on their guidance? To credibly investigate the substantial concerns, the board and the public need more feedback, in particular from district employees and students. Such direct feedback has been consistently obstructed by district leadership, who refused to share prior survey feedback with board members in the spring of 2017, blocked a world language survey that same year and refused to fulfill a Valley Reporter FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request for proficiency-based grading feedback this winter. They can only get away with such obstruction, however, when the board sanctions it.
As information is vital to any effort to improve performance, shouldn’t the administration and board both want feedback? Certainly, the HUUSD Board, given its responsibility to provide oversight, should actively seek it.
Importantly, as this effort moves forward, board member declarations of loyalty to administrative leadership, irrespective of performance and community concern, have no place in governance. The public school governance job is and always has been about community input, transparency and accountability. Let’s get on with it then, so we can indeed move forward, with our eyes open, so we can optimally serve our students’ and communities’ interests.