By, Michael Horning Jr.
One of the most important duties and responsibilities of the school board is the annual evaluation of the school superintendent. In a recent article, a superintendent was shocked when the school board moved to dismiss her despite meeting the board members’ expectations as superintendent.
According to the story, the school board voted to remove the superintendent after receiving feedback from the staff regarding their problematic interactions with her. In addition to terminating the superintendent, the school board also expressed interest in restructuring the superintendent evaluation process to include opportunities for staff feedback.
Is this the right thing to do?
Proponents of incorporating staff, faculty, and community feedback on the superintendent’s evaluation believe that the leader is accountable not just to the school board but also to the district and the district community. Therefore, the feedback and commentary from various members of these constituencies are important data points for the school board to consider in the evaluation process. A popular review method in the private sector, this method is commonly referred to as a 360 degree evaluation as feedback is coming from various constituency perspectives.
There are also opponents to soliciting such feedback and incorporating this into a superintendent’s evaluation as not all practices in the private sector translate well within the public domain. Opponents of this concept fear that decisions will be made and result in a popularity contest rather than what’s in the best interest of students.
So, what is in the best interest of the students?
One of the most important qualities a superintendent must have when carrying out or implementing the policies of the school board within the regulations of the State is the ability to make decisions based on the best interests of students. Oftentimes, what is in the best interest of students is also in the best interest of the adults within the various constituencies. However, some difficult decisions, which might be in the best interest of students but not necessarily in the best interest of adults, may be viewed as unpopular.
What do you think?
If part of the superintendent’s evaluation is tied to feedback from the constituency, does it lead to a popularity contest? Will the superintendent still make unpopular decisions that are in the best interest of the students if he/she knows it will be unpopular with a particular constituency thus threatening his or her performance review and future employment? Can an educational leader truly be highly effective if all decisions are not being made in the best interest of the students as the most important constituency?
There are pros and cons of having staff, faculty and the community provide feedback in the superintendent’s evaluation. What is your perspective on this topic?
Please comment below or email Michael Horning Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org.