There’s been plenty of news lately about Kitsap County school
Last week South Kitsap School District Superintendent Michelle
Reid announced she will be moving to the much larger Northshore
School District in Bothell. And Faith Chapel, superintendent in
Bainbridge Island School District for the past eight years, was
lauded last Friday on her retirement.
In North Kitsap School District, Superintendent Patty Page has
faced mounting criticism from the teachers’ union and community. A
vote of no confidence by the union on May 26 was supported by
members of the custodial and food service employees’ union. And on
June 9, the school board received a petition from community members
with 419 signatures asking the board for a leadership change, as
union leaders also have suggested.
The petition reiterated the union’s complaints about a climate
of intimidation under Page’s “top-down leadership” style.
Given all that, there is heightened interest this year in the
superintendent’s annual evaluation process.
The board met last week in executive session (a meeting closed
to the public) that was on a Wednesday (not the board’s usual
Thursday meeting). Board president Beth Worthington confirmed that
the special session held June 15 was related to Page’s annual
evaluation and that the board had met in executive session June 9
for the same reason.
Districts all have slightly different methods for evaluating the
superintendent. As in North Kitsap, discussion of a
superintendent’s performance and goals for the upcoming year
typically takes place in executive session.
In Bremerton, for example, both the mid-year and year-end
superintendent evaluation are done in executive session, BSD
spokeswoman Patty Glaser said. The superintendent’s progress toward
his own goals are reviewed in executive session. The district’s
goals, which may overlap with with the superintendent’s goals to
some extent are presented and voted on in open session, before the
public, Glaser said.
Worthington explained, “It has not been the practice of NKSD to
discuss the content of the superintendent evaluation in public. The
board works hard to have a relationship of trust, honesty and
support with the superintendent and will work hard to have the same
with future superintendents. Not discussing the evaluation of the
superintendent performance in public allows for meaningful and
productive communication for improvement for the benefit of
The superintendent’s final evaluation is, however, a public
record. The state’s open public records act generally exempts
evaluation of a public employee from disclosure. But not in the
case of the director or lead employee of a public agency.
Korinne Henry (no relation to me), North Kitsap School
District’s public records officer, explains, “This is an exception
to the normal rule that public employee evaluation information
affects employee personal privacy rights and is exempt from
disclosure under RCW 42.56. 230(3). The rationale
for this exception is found in an appellate court decision
involving a city manager. Like a city manager, a school
superintendent manages the district and is evaluated directly by an
elected school board, the same as the elected officials of a city
evaluate a city manager, thus the public has a legitimate interest
in knowing the results of the evaluation.”
In North Kitsap, the superintendent’s evaluation is a summary
incorporating all board members’ input and consensus of the board
on the superintendent’s performance in meeting goals and on a
number of evaluation criteria, such as leadership, community
engagement and collaboration, and improvement of student education
and services. The superintendent’s contract, including salary, also
is a public document.
Any action taken by a school board in executive session, such as
voting to renew (or not renew) the superintendent’s contract, must
be made in open session before the public.
Under NKSD policy and procedure, the superintendent’s evaluation
is to be completed by July 1, but the board can extend or modify
the contract before July 1. That will be the case this year,
Worthington said. “Due to the complexity of current issues and
scheduling constraints of individual board members, I believe we
need more time.”
At Thursday’s board meeting (June 23), the board will consider a
resolution to extend the July 1 date to the July 14 regular
meeting, Worthington said.
The board at the July 14 meeting also will discuss Page’s goals
for the 2016-2017 school year. “That has been our practice for the
last several years,” Worthington said.
Page has said she is retiring at the end of the upcoming school
year after a lengthy career in education
As leader of the district, Page’s annual goals are inevitably
intertwined with North Kitsap’s Strategic Plan goals. There are
three main goals in the plan, one of which is “stakeholder
satisfaction and support.”
“The superintendent’s goals may relate to her individual
performance in assisting the district to attain the Strategic Plan
and goals,” Worthington said.
Worthington and Page in a May 25 letter to the public (the day
before the no confidence vote) acknowledged they had not publicly
addressed climate surveys by the teachers’ union in 2013 and 2015
reflected negatively on Page’s leadership. In the letter,
Worthington and Page pledged a commitment to improving relations
with staff and the community. Public and staff comments at the June
9 board meeting indicate a growing impatience to see signs this
effort is under way.
Chris Fraser, teachers’ union president, said frustration among
her members is growing due to lack of movement. “The school board
should strongly consider buying out the contract for our current
superintendent and selecting an interim superintendent with input
from stakeholder groups,” Fraser wrote in a June 9 press
The board meanwhile has made discussion of
communication and public trust a regular item on its
Fraser has called for the board to meet with employees and has
criticized Worthington for discouraging such meetings. Worthington
said it’s not the board’s role to “address complaints directly with
citizens, employees and employee organizations.” That’s up to
administrators and supervisory staff, she said.
Worthington said that board members are indeed willing to meet
with staff and receive their written complaints, comments and
concerns. What the board shouldn’t do, she said, is meet in any
context that would smack of taking administrative action or
constitute negotiation of contract terms. Doing so could compromise
the relationship between the district administration and the union,
However, Worthington said she supports suggestions from board
members Jim Almond and Glen Robbins, who said they’d like to go out
to schools on a listening tour.
“While we can’t really be the workhorse in resolving complaints,
we find it valuable to know what people’s experiences are,”
It’s a subtle difference. How did it get lost in
“We probably are not as competent and well versed in public
relations as we should be,” she said.
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