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Thread: Middlesex Superior Court rules in favor of School Committee (Superintendent Eval.)

  1. #16
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    Default Kim can you be more specific

    I described a very specific set of events which occured on camera and off camera. The events that were on camera were very detailed about all of the iterations and discussion of Fred's evaluation, the off camera events were only salary and contract details.

    When you say they sound similar, its not really enough detail to know whether the two processes tracked the same way. My understanding is that Hilliard wanted the interim iteration notes and they were withheld and they were not on camera. Fred's interim iterations were submitted and discussed on camera and were in full view. I don't think Hilliard wanted the gory details of the salary and contract term discussions.

    So if you could be real specific about Burton's analogy juxtaposed with Turkington's, I'd like to see it.

    If I were going to place a bet on this, I'll bet the DA will file an appeal and this is not over. So hold your breath for about 20ish days (from now) and see if an appeal is filed.

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    However, there are certain questions that are sometimes ignored and seem to quietly fade away.

    I will resurrect them.
    I've no more obligation to answer questions in this forum than you do, and you too leave many unanswered, most recently (in the spirit of "resurrection") here, repeated here, and reprinted below for your convenience:

    Do you mean to say that our advocacy would be okay if it were available on the publicly-funded Wayland Public Schools web site as allowed by the OCPF [IB-92-02, I.G.]? Or, are you saying that the School Committee shouldn't be advocating for overrides at all?

    For the record, there are all sorts of reasons that I don't answer questions:
    • I ignore them
    • I can't find them
    • I already answered
    • I forgot about them
    • I don't have the time
    • I am looking into them
    • I don't have an answer
    • I don't have the energy
    • I don't find them honest
    • I don't find them respectful

  3. #18
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    So sorry - I'll answer it now. Though I thought it was clear in my post.

    My take is slightly different from some here on this OCPF thing.
    As I said, I'll leave you and Alan Reiss and others to discuss the legal implications of this.

    From my point of view, it's distasteful and questionable, ethically.
    Your argument that the SC wouldn't be advocating to the fullest extent allowable if it didn't push for overrides would be something like saying the police chief isn't advocating fully for the safety or our citizens if he doesn't get out there and try to drum up more money for extra personnel, squad cars or other equipment.

    Why doesn't he?
    Do you think he should?

    So, no, as I have stated many times before and you even named a post after it - the SC should not be in the override business.

    This is not a commentary on the relative need for overrides. There are other people who already do a very good job of advocating for them. It just doesn't sound as good when it comes from the mouths of those who are actually seeking the money.

    Oh, and as for your ownership of the SC website, I think that's completely bogus. Even if the OCPF finds it to be legal, that doesn't make it right.
    I think Dave Bernstein said it best:
    "You seek to have it both ways: You want a private web site on which you can say whatever you like without being subject to regulations, and you want the impact of a town-endorsed "Official School Board Web Site".

    Oh, and for the record, I share your list of reasons for not always replying.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    Tracy,
    You and I will be seeing a lot of each other next year.
    We have both "played nice" on these boards, and it is in everyone's interest that we continue to do so.
    I have not been "playing nice"--I completely respect and accept that you and I have differing opinions. I accept the part of the process that I didn't agree with. I find these different views interesting and do not believe this is personal. I'd hope we can agree to disagree on issues (and maybe even agree on some!!) without worry about "stiring up" anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    You and the other HH parents that were at the meetings fought very hard to make sure that your school did not close.
    Actually, I did not fight to make sure my school did not close, John. I spoke out to the SC about what I thought was the best decision. I truly believe that though I didn't always agree with the process, that if a school was to remain fully open, that HH served that purpose best. So I'm sure I am biased, but I feel strongly that it should not be yours or my decision anyway---naturally we act in what we believe to be the best interest of our kids and will always be seen as biased. It was fair to allow those on the SC and those we pay to be experts on the admin. of our schools, to determine this administrative decision. The discussion regarding downsizing buildings due to declining enrollment and high facility costs had been going on for quite some time.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    But people with no kids at either school, were at some of those meetings and just thought that the whole thing was bizarre.
    I'm not talking about my opinion here.
    Of course we can't say one side's opinion is wrong and the other is right..
    I heard and spoke to many people who did not have kids at either school who did not think anything was more bizarre then the level of anger and reaction occurring. These people came to try and speak from experience reassuring that they had been through this and the kids were fine. I heard from social workers, Preschool directors and parents of older kids that indeed this was a tough situation, but that kids handle these unexpected changes remarkably well. That parents and teachers can support the kids in leading by example and utilizing the experience as a teaching opportunity. If they sense you feel things are not ok, then they will certainly feel things are not ok. So again, we had very different experiences. And yes, I've seen the tapes, heard the comparisons and all the things you mention and still don't agree with the SC deserving backlash. I'm sure I have already responded to each of your examples in our previous exchanges- if not, let me know!

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlanJReiss View Post
    So if you could be real specific about Burton's analogy juxtaposed with Turkington's, I'd like to see it.
    Alan, I was basing the analogy solely on your description of the process, which I quote below.

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanJReiss View Post
    It was said above that the town administrator Fred Turkington had his performance evaluation in front of the camera. What I remember was that we interviewed at least 4 gentlemen and then narrowed it down to 2; one from Canton CT and the other from Lexington MA. This process was infront of the camera and wide open.

    We selected Mr. Turkington and when it came time to have his performance evaluation we each submitted commentary to a special form which was then integrated into a complete form (by the chair) and then his review was in open session. When it came time for salary discussions and contract renewals then that was executive session material.
    From this recounting of events it sounded to me as though individual comments were generated but not shared (I've highlighted that portion of your account in red). If that was not the case, I apologize for not understanding your description that way.

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanJReiss View Post
    If I were going to place a bet on this, I'll bet the DA will file an appeal and this is not over. So hold your breath for about 20ish days (from now) and see if an appeal is filed.
    If I were a betting type, I'd take a bet on this one that the ruling will not be overturned.

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by TracyScheidemantel View Post
    \
    Actually, I did not fight to make sure my school did not close, John. I spoke out to the SC about what I thought was the best decision. \
    At some point, maybe we can talk about the heated discussion of the February 11th meeting.

    But for now, Tracy, let's set the Wayback Machine for 2005.
    Someone forwarded these from the WVN site:

    "Again meeting before a large crowd largely composed of
    concerned Happy Hollow parents, the School Committee
    struggled like a hooked fish before finally deciding to eliminate
    closing Happy Hollow from consideration next year."

    Correct me if I'm wrong, Tracy, but weren't you one of said "concerned Happy Hollow parents"?
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    At some point, maybe we can talk about the heated discussion of the February 11th meeting.
    Happy to, but not sure what the goal would be--

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    But for now, Tracy, let's set the Wayback Machine for 2005.
    Someone forwarded these from the WVN site:

    "Again meeting before a large crowd largely composed of
    concerned Happy Hollow parents, the School Committee
    struggled like a hooked fish before finally deciding to eliminate
    closing Happy Hollow from consideration next year."

    Correct me if I'm wrong, Tracy, but weren't you one of said "concerned Happy Hollow parents"?
    Not that it matters John, but no, I wasn't. And you've given another great example of how inappropriate the WVN reporting can be!

  8. #23
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    Default Still Waiting...

    In repeat of my 7/11 post...I am quite surprised we don't yet have a response from Jeff on the issue of legal fees related to this matter. Is there an answer to this question?

  9. #24
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    Jeff, this is in no way intended as a replacement for a response from Jeff (which I await as well). I remember hearing some time ago that the School Committee intended to spend no more than $15,000 on this lawsuit.

  10. #25
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    Sounds reasonable, Kim. However, I'd like to know if that's true or not. Simple calculations show that's only 50 hours of billable time for a $300/hour attorney. If a downtown firm worked on this, there are no $300/hour attorneys. And 50 hours of billable time sounds VERY low. So somthing does not add up given the length of time this has been going on.

    Unless, of course, the work was done pro bono...

    In any case, the answer exists. It's just a question of whether it will be provided.

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    Sounds reasonable, Kim. However, I'd like to know if that's true or not. Simple calculations show that's only 50 hours of billable time for a $300/hour attorney. If a downtown firm worked on this, there are no $300/hour attorneys. And 50 hours of billable time sounds VERY low. So somthing does not add up given the length of time this has been going on.

    Unless, of course, the work was done pro bono...

    In any case, the answer exists. It's just a question of whether it will be provided.
    Actually, it was a question of *when* it would be provided, the amount being a matter of public record. Everyone's patience in waiting for answers is appreciated--some questions, even ones that might appear on the surface to be simple, may take a bit of time to answer, particularly during the summer months and when multiple parties are involved.

    Regarding its successful legal defense, the School Committee negotiated in advance for a fee not to exceed $8,000. The actual number of hours required would have resulted in a significantly higher fee. In addition, through the Superintendent's office, the Committee arranged for a $2,000 contribution from the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (MASS). The net cost, therefore, was $6,000.

  12. #27
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    Thanks for the reply. I'm glad to know the cost was kept low.

    Out of curiousity, who did the legal work for the SC?

  13. #28
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    I assume that the identity of the firm is also public record, but out of respect for their business, I'm not going to post an answer. Anyone who really wants to know may inquire of the Superintendent's office--if it's appropriate to provide an answer, I'm sure that that office will do so.

  14. #29
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    The answer to the question of why a school committee might wish to keep its evaluation of a superintendent private is simple: to allow for more candid constructive feedback that will result in better educational outcomes.

    By way of background, the Public Records Law (PRL), discussed here by Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin, exempts "personnel files or information" from being public records. The Middlesex District Attorney (MDA) has ruled that the Open Meeting Law (OML) trumps the PRL in the case of department heads (such as a superintendent), notably by consideration of exception 1 of the OML.

    In the case of the Wayland School Committee's 2004 superintendent evaluation, the MDA ruled as follows.
    1. The draft and final copies of the evaluation are public documents.
    2. The discussion of the evaluation is public.
    3. Preliminary evaluation documents are public.

    The Middlesex Superior Court recently overruled the MDA with respect to points 2 and 3, stating that the release of the draft and final copies of the evaluation, plus minutes of an executive session discussion, was sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the OML.

    To suggest that a superintendent's evaluation is private or non-transparent is a substantial mischaracterization. Despite the clear language of the PRL, a superintendent's evaluation is a public document. I'm aware of no inclination on the part of the Wayland School Committee to argue otherwise.

  15. #30
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    Default Daily News editor weighs in with column on court decision

    Richard Lodge, the editor of the Daily News (like the Town Crier, part of GateHouse Media) wrote a column on this decision which appears here:

    http://www.wickedlocal.com/wayland/h...pen-government

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