Sutherland for Schools blog
Home
My family
Biography
Articles
Blog
Information

Fort Worth ISD Trustee District 6 

Contact 817-504-3360 

Sutherland for Schools blog

8-period day: bait and switch

by Ann Sutherland on 04/20/18

This comment is important enough to have its own entry.  Readers, I hope you understand how important your comments can be.

 the committee that was put together to discuss going to an 8-period day was a  
strong group with diverse representation both from schools and central office.  
As a group, they were told that no changes would be made for 18-19, and the     
group agreed with that recommendation. But after a few meetings, Leadership     
decided to move forward for 18-19. It appeared to the group that Leadership     
made the decisions unilaterally. As a campus employee, was a rushed decision
In other words, the committee did NOT agree with the plan as put for to the board and  community, even though we were told this is what the committee recommended.

Budget proposes cut of 175 secondary teachers, plus. . .

by Ann Sutherland on 04/17/18

While forcing secondary schools into an eight-period day, staff plans to reduce secondary staffing by 175 secondary teachers (a cut of $12.3 million which will be redirected to new programs).  Part of the reason for this is that the enrollment is projected to decline by 3% which means a big hit on the money.  But fitting a reduced staff around a larger number of classes makes it difficult to make ends meet.  And, as usual, principals are going to be called in one at a time to negotiate in private their actual staffing needs.  Remember, "Light is the best disinfectant."


Change in teacher pay:  The budget proposes a pay increase for staff.  More on this later.  

Proposed 8-period day on the agenda for Tuesday

by Ann Sutherland on 04/17/18

The district will be providing a presentation on the 8-period day.  President Jackson is insisting on a vote of the board unless some serious concerns are being resolved.  


It looks to this board member as if the proposal (which is impossible to implement with existing staffing as currently proposed) is an effort by the curriculum department to beef up its importance, propelled by complaints of some principals that they are losing students to high schools with more popular Programs of Choice.

Dr. Scribner has already agreed that the Schools of Choice, including Trimble Tech, will be exempted from the requirements. 

Is this racial bias? AMENDED 4-13-18

by Ann Sutherland on 04/11/18

Just yesterday I posted about my concern regarding the number of single-ethnic-group school administrations we have and the possible impact on the equity of management within the school.  


Then last night we had a grievance:  young man, a coach, was terminated because his credential had expired.  Then, after he got this straightened out, they refused to re-hire him because he had been terminated.  HCM blamed the board for this because the board had approved the firing. (This is all without any board authority and I believe it happens too often.)

But the reason the man didn't get his credential renewed was because the principal refused to approve his application.  

This year, HCM refused to let a principal hire this young man and then blamed the  board.

This is why, wherever possible, our administrative teams need to be ethnically blended and major decisions should normally involve an ethnically mixed decision.


Ethnic background of FWISD school site administrators

by Ann Sutherland on 04/10/18

Here is the school by school data of the ethnic identification of our school administrators.  I will post the entire list on the information page.


Administrator BLACK HISPANIC WHITE ASIAN 7 OTHER TOTAL
PRINCIPALS 55 33 46 1 135
ASS'T PRINCIPALS 87 38 68 3 196
BOTH 142 71 114 4 331

Approximately one-third of our schools employ administrative staffs of a single ethnic group:

SCHOOLS WITH SINGLE-ETHNIC GROUP ADMINISTRATIVE STAFFS
Black             27
Hispanic         9
White             9
TOTAL         45

Four of these schools are in District Six, which I represent.  There have been a few cases reported to me in which I do not believe the handling has been independent of the ethnic identity of the parties involved.  

Student violence in schools

by Ann Sutherland on 04/04/18

Below is a link to a really awful incident in North Carolina.  An administrator is attacked, hurt, and then fired.  No fair hearing.


http://www.educationviews.org/violently-assaulted-administrator-to-meet-with-de-vos-on-obama-school-leniency-policy/

Principal Hires for 2017-18 CORRECTED 3/26/18

by Ann Sutherland on 03/20/18

There have been comments about the ethnicity of principal hires, partly because there were so many in the current year.  We have hired 37 new principals for our 143 schools  26%--way too many.  


There is an inherent issue regarding the equity of hiring based on any metric:  do we measure the total population, the percentage of hires, the percentage of credentialed individuals, or what?  The best comparison would be the with the available credentialed principals, but I don't have that.  Let's compare the ethnicity of our district voting age population with that of the new hires per the 2010 census (the latest data I can find for the district itself):

Ethnic breakdown:  of new principal hires     of  FWISD voting age
       population
African American           16 (43%) 20%
Anglo                              10 (27%) 41%
Hispanic                          10 (27%) 35%
Asian, other                      1 (3%)                             4%    

Comments?


Some "action" on Palazzolo case

by Ann Sutherland on 03/20/18

There will be a conference in a few weeks leading to setting further action, presumably the re-trial.  

About those "gun free zone" signs

by Ann Sutherland on 03/05/18

A reader asked whether there should be "gun free" zone signs in our schools.  Apparently some schools have them and some don't.


It is a federal law that all campuses are gun-free zones; however there are exceptions for some people (police) and places.  

The link is at http://bit.ly/2CZHYFM 

Thanks to FWISD staff Clint Bond and Art Cavazos for providing this response.

Mr. Monge is head of the legal staff

by Ann Sutherland on 03/02/18

I was wrong in saying the legal staff reports to CFO Elsie Schiro.  They report to legal.  

Awful status of substitute availability

by Ann Sutherland on 03/02/18

Our unfilled absence rate for Feb. was 22.1%.  I have never seen it nearly this high.  Staff (Rafaela Gomez) correctly points out that it was caused in great part by the flu season, but it has to have a significant destablizing effect on the classrooms.  


It doesn't help that nearly 3% of the 9.9% teacher absences was due to workshop and other central office-controlled activities.  We are taking many teachers out of classrooms for workshops where there are not enough substitutes.


Staff is once again instituting extra payments for substitutes who accept most or all substitute assignment assignments upon request.  I don't have the exact details.

Why the board needs its own legal counsel

by Ann Sutherland on 02/24/18

Many large school boards have their own legal advice, and smaller ones often make use of outside counsel from time to time.  Ours is on contract and is used for specific issues.


All legal board policies derive from statutes carried in the various codes, such as the ed code, the penal code, etc.  In untangling the issues surrounding the recent ethnics policy review, it became clear that our policy committee, assisted with the in-house counsel, had confused issues relating to government code statutes with those of the penal code.  This was quickly corrected by our board counsel.

There are cases when having independent advice is essential.  The prime example relates to an ongoing multi-million dollar suit from a former employee.  Much of the evidence in the case was actually withheld from the board at the then superintendent's direction.  As a consequence,  after eight years and numeous appeals, we are still going back to trial.   Even worse, because of the handling of this case, our liability insurance has been cancelled.

Good legal advice can seem expensive, but bad advice can be much worse.

Corrected data on ethnicity of 16-17 principal hires

by Ann Sutherland on 02/16/18

Thanks to all you readers on this one and thanks to Mr. Moore and Dr. Scribner for getting this right.


 

Name

Class Code

Permanent Date

Ethnicity

ADAMS, OSCAR, J

PRINCIPAL MS/ALT

7/27/2016

B

ANDERSEN, KATHRINA, L

PRINCIPAL MS/ALT

7/27/2016

W

BLACKWELL, KIMBERLEY, L

ES PRINCIPAL

7/27/2016

B

CLARK, WHITNEY, A

ES PRINCIPAL

7/27/2016

W

HANSON, CHRISTINA, L

ES PRINCIPAL

7/27/2016

B

MONTES, MARIA, A

ES PRINCIPAL

7/27/2016

H

MOYNIHAN, JULIE, D

ES PRINCIPAL

7/27/2016

W

ALBURY, TAMARA

PRINCIPAL HS

6/29/2016

B

LAYNE, MARIO, O

PRINCIPAL HS

6/7/2016

B


District says only 7 new principals were hired for the 16-17 year; most ethnically Anglo.

by Ann Sutherland on 02/12/18

Employee #

Last Name

First Name

MI

Effective Date

Approved Date

Ethnicity


MOYE

NIKITA

L

08/15/2016

07/24/2016

H


BLACKWELL

KIMBERLEY

L

08/15/2016

07/25/2016

W


MONTES

MARIA

A

08/15/2016

07/26/2016

W


ANDERSEN

KATHRINA

L

07/27/2016

07/26/2016

B


MOYNIHAN

JULIE

D

08/15/2016

07/26/2016

W


HANSON

CHRISTINA

L

08/15/2016

07/26/2016

B


CLARK

WHITNEY

A

07/27/2016

07/26/2016

W

 


Help!

by Ann Sutherland on 01/28/18

Big blunders recently in our schools.

Never mind the blotched effort to have teachers come to work two hours late because of the very cold weather.

The recent "plans" by senor staff to reduce teacher salaries for these two hours missed illustrates the failure of our leadership to manage our own affairs.  No action could possibly have been calculated to demoralize our school staffs, it is  illegal, and it was never even mentioned to anyone on the board.  

This was a move to "save" dollars, ignoring the impact on kids caused by disruption in the school climate.

We also have a proposal to spend $1.5 million on chronic absence which to me means a ton  more "workshops" featuring "sit in a group and massage your ignorances" instead of real analysis. (It's also an insult to the efforts schools and teachers are already making to help our attendance patterns.) This one came out of the fiscal office (which has a lot of smart people but NO ONE with real urban school site level experience).  

And now, unbelievably, I am hearing that some teachers in our four leadership schools are being told they are not going to get the $10,000 stipends that we offered to entice them to undertake the effort to bring up the scores!  And some, I hear, who have been paid are BEING TOLD TO RETURN THE MONEY.

Our superintendent does not have the independent support he absolutely must have to avoid these disasters.  (This is not new to Dr. Scribner.)  He isn't going to get it from the "Cabinet" or his policy staff.  

This situation illustrates what is wrong with our current staff operating procedures, including our "cabinet".  They all get in a room and one person brings up an idea and no one has the guts to disagree. 

If our district is going to avoid these and other harmful actions, there MUST be an effective independent review of these things.

That, I believe, must be done at the board level.  And that requires real independent board support.  Like a professionally trained policy and fiscal expert.  Like someone from the UT Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.  

   
 Welcome to the Sutherland for Schools blog!  I will be posting items here which are of interest to the Fort Worth Independent School District community..  You will find recommended news items on my Twitter feed 
@DrAnnSutherland, and books and longer articles at the "articles" link above.   
You can get new posts automatically by accessing a link on your browser.