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Sutherland for Schools blog

June 28 board meeting, HCM, budget item

by Ann Sutherland on 06/24/16

The budget for the 2016-17 board meeting will be voted on Tuesday.  The agenda will be posted shortly (the board book is too large to load).  Of special interest is a $1.3 million item for the superintendent's leadership project, none of which has even been presented to the board.  This may be a continuation of the $1.6 million project the board approved in March.  Hired for this project was Action Learning Systems of Pasadena, run by Gary Soto.  Soto has close ties to EQCA and EQCAI, the premiere California advocacy organizations for LGBT.

 Our HCM program continues to ramble along.  Recall that there is no written procedure for hiring; apparently we follow the "grab and go" operational style utilized by petty crooks.  Our new HCM manager has decided to go elsewhere so we are scrambling to find a new one while we clear up the vacancies for the new school year.

We now have a posting for an Asst. Supt for Curriculum and Instruction.  The job description matches the Exec Director of Curriculum and Instruction.  I can't wait to see the organization chart's depiction of this one.  (The board has not approved an organization chart since Dr. Scribner arrived.  It makes you wonder about who reports to whom, particularly following the news about who is hiring the principals and APs.)


For Wondering

by Ann Sutherland on 06/17/16

I am holding your comment for a few days for investigation.  Thank you for sending it.

Two agendas posted: Board book, EQUITY committee; comments on transgender meetings

by Ann Sutherland on 06/10/16

The board book and the agenda for the new board Equity agenda are on the information page of this website. Included are  campus administrative appointments; however, they are not yet available to us (Friday 5:40 PM)

The board community meetings on the new transgender Administrative Regulations are now concluded.  The superintendent will convene an administrative committee to review this AR.  

I support general protections of transgender students.  However, as I said at our District Six community meeting, I believe the FWISD AR should be withdrawn as the OCR guidelines are now available . Any differences between the two could be used for grievances or even litigation.  

Here is the S-T article by Diane Smith:

Re the board agenda:  mostly more contracts, although a reader posting on a previous item here says the board agenda includes a second I-station item that does the same thing as the state-required ISIP.

Why the budget is so important

by Ann Sutherland on 06/05/16

Citizens often become incensed because of some small thing one of our government agencies does.  But we rarely tackle the big issues, because they are so hard to identify. 

In May, I distributed a list of priorities.  They are at the top of the "information" page on this website.  These are minimum requests:  a plan to eliminate the rampant rudeness and violent acts on our campuses, funding for adequate substitutes, and a commitment to follow school staffing ratios.  These requests are followed by a request for monthly reports.

Staff has responded with small changes which will not fulfill these requests. 

--We need 10,000 more substitute-days to solve our substitute problem.  Staff has proposed funding fewer than half of these.  
--Although our staff has asked for $260,000 for new software to record student behavior, there is apparently no line item to address the need for Tier 1 or other measures to isolate chronically destructive students, including monthly reports from school sites.  (Did you know that the central office has no record of referrals to police and does not track them?)
--Everyone knows that the mess in HCM is a disaster.  Yet there is no evidence of a plan to deal with this.

Meanwhile, the budget does $1,3 million for superintendents' initiatives, presumably for contracts to outside vendors. And eight new positions for athletic trainers.  Etc.

It is very discouraging.  

Now FWISD is having "pretend" job fairs

by Ann Sutherland on 06/03/16

This from a poster this morning:

Cow at cattle barn "job fair" ( at 9:16AM on 6/3/16 commented onBudget goals: Plan for school climate, substitute adequacy and fair staffing
Look at the source selecting teachers subs. I am a sub.  Hire the right people. 
 No one answers the phone and after being transfered several times, the         
Coordinator did Not know anything. That job fair was disorganized and a cattle  
call .  I was offered a job at job fair only  to be told by the principal that  
there was not a position. Who do I complain too?  

The cheese stands alone

by Ann Sutherland on 06/03/16

Resistance to the new Office of Civil Rights bathroom rules continues to grow.

This month's national school boards newsletter includes a report that a Nebraska state school board member asks his board to simply disregard the new federal mandate.  He called the threat to withhold funds "baloney."

Opposition continues to grow.  It reminds me of the old nursery rhyme game, "The Farmer in the Dell" where the farmer picks a wife, who picks a child, who picks a dog, who picks a cat,  . . . until at the end only one child, the cheese, stands alone.

Will we be the cheese to this OCR letter?

Budget goals: Plan for school climate, substitute adequacy and fair staffing

by Ann Sutherland on 06/01/16

These are the three things I am hoping the Board will insist on.  We need alternative classrooms for our most disruptive students.  We need a decent substitute pool.  And we need to have staffing procedures that (1) give everyone a fair chance and (2) staff all schools equitably.  The present system isn't working (as you all know!)

Our fiscal staff did a study of the causes of our absence rates as they think they are too high (remember how the 'solution' is always for teachers to miss fewer days?),''
The study showed that 20% of the absences were for staff-called workshops, not approved by the board.  Only 36% were for sick leave, and 10 for personal business.  Since the year-long shortage of substitutes was 12%*, the problem (including the cost) could be solved simply by eliminating the professional development).

*Note:  some months, the shortage was as high as 17%--one in six absences.  Last week one high school was short five substitutes.

Traditional vs. Teach For America retention rates

by Ann Sutherland on 05/24/16

Some of you already know that I voted against the $1 million for TFA ($8000 per teacher for 25 teachers per year for 5 years. My main issue is that they never have crucial real classroom experience (they go to a 5-week "training" but no real classroom responsibility, but there is also a significant issue on retention.  

Here is the real poop on how long they stay:

5 years:  traditional, 48%; TFA 8%
4 years:  traditional: 56%; TFA 17%
3 years:  traditional: 66%; TFA 43%
2 year:   traditional : 79%; TFA 91%  (TFA teachers sign 2 year contracts)

Over 5 years, we have to hire 40% fewer teachers, over 4, 39% and over 3 years 22%.  Based on these numbers we could save a lot of HCM time by hiring from traditional sources.  
Note:  In 2014-5, we hired 1033 new teachers; this year, 900.  The hiring job is harder because of TFA.

Psst! The CIA blog is hopping this week

by Ann Sutherland on 05/20/16

The last two weeks feature a lot of bad behavior and some of it is appearing on the CIA blog  (  The latest post is about the Arlington Heights High School prom night, when six baseball players and two cheerleaders, obviously inebriated, were allowed into the dance.  The comments are illuminating.  Apparently the AHHS staff let them in and very little was done in the way of punishment of the kids.  

The same thing happened several years ago, leading to a $2.4 million judgment against the school district when the AP refused to let the kids into the dance and was subsequent fired for this and for whistleblowing about attendance fraud and other issues.   AHHS kids appear to be treated differently depending on their ethnicity.  It reminds me of the sixties' blues song,

"If you're white, all right
 If you're brown, stick around
 But if you're black,
Get back, get back, get back get back"

NEW COPIERS! Agenda and Board book available online

by Ann Sutherland on 05/20/16

Yes!  New copiers for school sites are on the board agenda!  Staff put them on the agenda a year ahead of their scheduled replacement due to your many comments.  All of you who complained over and over can "take a bow".

In our budget presentation I will be proposing (a) more substitute money, (b) "tier 1 classrooms" for students who repeatedly misbehave, and several other site-based concerns. 

Also, we will be approving the appointment of Chief Academic Officer and Chief of Human Capital Management.  Dr. Sorum is retiring at the end of this year and Chief Monge is moving to a new unit. 

We will vote on new school board officers at the very end of the meeting.

Tuesday's agenda and board book are available at the INFORMATION apple on my home page.  
The board will be once again discussing the transgender policy behind closed doors.  We are holding community meetings 

OCR transgender letter FYI

by Ann Sutherland on 05/14/16

Here is the letter from the US Office of Civil Rights on transgender students.

I am guessing (just guessing!) that we will conform the FWISD policy to this document. 

Update on transgender: After President Obama's letter

by Ann Sutherland on 05/13/16

Readers, your comments are helpful to me.  I am concerned about the split in our community and am working with others on this.  In a few days I will blog again about it after some more thought and consultation.

Revised#2 Plans for the new transgender regulation

by Ann Sutherland on 05/10/16

Well, I was wrong.  Superintenedt Scribner said nothing in response to my request, proper under board policy, that we discuss this administrative regulation some time in near future and vote on it.  President Ramos merely said he received the request but did not agree to put it on the agenda. Until I get a written agreement to place the item back on the agenda, there is no point in having another meeting.

It was asserted last night that this policy was enacted in 2011.  I invite you to look at this policy (FFH local) and make up your own minds.  

The existing policy is at

However, this version is the 2014 version; the original 2011 version is not available.

Here is the link to the revision Superintendent Scribner approved in April:

District replaces 60 staff with contract staff from CA company

by Ann Sutherland on 05/04/16

It's continuing, and the board doesn't know about this.  In response to a recent question from one of you, Dr. Sorum responded about the DII coaches:
With respect to the DII coaches,

The blogger is correct that the positions of network specialists have been eliminated.  Network specialists provided support in the four tested content areas.  There were approximately 15 per content area—for the total of sixty.  These individuals were responsible for providing support for all schools, all grade levels (some elementary, some secondary), in their tested content area.

The DII model is different. The philosophy of DII is not one in which the DII coach is responsible for building a teacher’s content knowledge or supporting a specific content area. The DII model addresses expectations for quality instruction in all content areas and all grades. The model honors the role of the teacher as the individual responsible for knowing his or her content area and focuses rather on how the teacher is planning, delivering, and evaluating instruction while ensuring that the students are active participants in each lesson.

DII is not a model that I have worked with in the past, but I have been very impressed by the depth of the research behind the model and with the fact that the importance of the relationship between the teacher and student is an essential part of learning.

Knowing that we are having some schools that are struggling more than others, Dr. Scribner’s leadership team decided to concentrate initial resources in the most struggling schools.  As Dr. Scribner states periodically, “Sending the firefighters to the fire.” As you know, many of our schools do very, very well and require little or no intervention or support from central office.  However, this is not the case with all schools.  This first cohort of coaches will be working with approximately 50 schools that have been identified as those in highest need.  Initial thinking has been to expand the cohort to the next third of schools in each of the two subsequent years.

If you have any more specific questions about DII, Dr. Salato would be more than happy to discuss them in depth.  She is much more qualified than I to do this.

Becky Salato, Ed.D.
Chief Operating Officer
Action Learning Systems, Inc.
135 Rosemead Blvd.
Pasadena, CA  91107
Office: 626.744.5344
Cell:      951.453.9563

Know your discipline laws #2

by Ann Sutherland on 05/02/16

Texas education code [G] [Sec.37.002(a), (b) and (c)] allows teachers to remove students from the classroom.

If the reason the student is removed is one of these two reasons:
--"who has been documented by the teacher to repeatedly interfere with the teacer's ability to communicate effectively with the students in the class or with the ability of the student's classmates to learn",
--if it "seriously interfers with the teacher's ability to communicate effectively with the students in the class or with the ability of the student's classmates to learn"  . . . 
then Sec. 37.002(c)  prohibits principals to return the student to the classroom without the teacher's consent unless ordered a committee action (specified in 37.003) establishes that the placement is in the best or only alternative available.