|Check out the new digs! (Photo from Ch46News)|
The first order of business was the SACS letter requesting that the school system provide input on a list of topics and evidence that it is in compliance with accreditation standards. The AJC published the letter two days ago which you can find by clicking here. The AJC reported that they acquired a copy of the letter from SACS after the school system did not respond to their request. Ramona Tyson defended her actions by stating that she had requested a deadline extension from SACS and was waiting for their reply before sharing what would be a new version of the letter with a new deadline. She also stated that she has three days to respond to media. That said, a simple acknowledgement of the AJC's request with the above explanation would have, in all likelihood, nipped any misreporting in the bud. Communication is absolutely key in every situation and I think it is one of the most important issues DCSS needs to work on. Like it or not, a superintendent is a very public figure, and as such must communicate regularly with the media or assign a spokesperson to do so. Since our spokesperson was part of the recent budget cuts, Tyson will have to take on this task herself. There's just no way around it I'm afraid.
Several board members made interesting comments regarding the SACS letter. Apparently, several of them accompanied Ms. Tyson to a meeting with Dr. Elgart at SACS on June 23. They were informed at that time that some issues have come up and that SACS would provide assistance and resources to help the system address these issues. Dr. Walker pointed out that SACS issued a letter a year ago stating that DCSS was doing well and then he added his personal opinion that the media does not "master the story" and asked the media to "please give us a fair shake". Womack attended the June 23 meeting and took away that these issues would never have come to the fore without the indictments of our top leadership.
All seemed to agree that they will push forward with these questions from SACS and use their results to improve the system. Tyson has put a 15-member team together to work on this project and promises a "forensic" review of all areas of concern. In addition, she will host a website as well as broadcast all meetings, which will all be open, on the subject.
The board also voted to begin the process of creating a RFP for search firms to submit proposals for a superintendent search. The board seemed unanimous in hoping to find a firm that will conduct a national search and that the firm will not hold a pool of candidates that they represent - they wish to find a firm that will strictly work for DCSS and seek the best candidate for the job, even if it requires recruiting someone from a successful system. The board will also set up a webpage that will track the progress of the search.
All good things. I have always prayed for the day that we will not feel compelled to "watch" our school system leaders. In this age of the internet and Google, the power of the people has become very strong and I think our school board has heard this message. They promise to respond with transparent internet access as well as open, broadcast meetings. Who knows - maybe someday they will even host a blog!