More Davis

Another article just up on RGJ webpage.  Note that lack of qualification for jobs such as director of special education are a part of the story.  The superintendent in place when MS. Davis was made assistant superintendent was not lawfully qualified to be a superintendent.  The Las Vegas school board noted this when he was not hired as superintendent there.  Ms. Davis was responsible for the hiring of the other two administrators recently fired.  Their qualifications for their jobs have been questioned, for good reason.  Why were such people hired in the first place?  I mentioned patterns in an earlier post.  I do not think it paranoid to notice insider advantage for positions beginning three superintendents back with Heath Morrison.  Serious allegations involving the safety and well being of children, some with special needs, are involved here and the public should be made aware of what is and has been taking place in relative secrecy.

Update

New RGJ story that, as far as I can tell, only appears on their online posting site.  It is not today’s front-page story.  It should be.

“Holland said in the statement there were reasons why she didn’t share details of the situation earlier this week when asked directly about it by the press.

“The District’s counsel discussed the issue with them hoping for resolution that would not harm the District,” she said. “District counsel has provided information to me which I feel shows a reasonable conclusion that at minimum was recklessly negligent supervision and gross misconduct on her part.”

Okay, but knowing what she knew, Ms. Holland, that is, would it have been good for the district IF the matter was resolved in discussion with Ms. Davis’ lawyers and would such resolution kept quiet have been to the benefit of the public?  Remember that we still do not know why the Galena administrators were fired.  Good for the public?

A meeting will take place at which Ms. Davis’ behavior will be discussed.  It will be a public meeting.  From the article:  ““The District’s counsel discussed the issue with them hoping for resolution that would not harm the District,” she said. “District counsel has provided information to me which I feel shows a reasonable conclusion that at minimum was recklessly negligent supervision and gross misconduct on her part.”

 

Talk to me!

As of Sunday night, 617 people have read–clicked, at least–he piece titled Tracy Davis.  That is considerably more readers than anything else I have published on the lafered.com site and I cannot help but wonder what has caught the interest of so many.  I invite those who have read the piece to tell me why they are interested and, too–and more importantly–what they think about the situation the piece describes.  Please comment on the lafered.com site or e-mail me your comments to lafer@unr.edu.  I would appreciate the conversation.

Valedictorian speech erased, WCSD does not want to talk about it

The WCSD finally began to explain some of what was going on in regard to three top district administrators who suddenly were administrators no more, the superintendent said to be on leave and then said to be absent from a meeting she was required to attended to discuss her misconduct.  The district says now that Ms. Davis is accused by the district of violating confidentiality rules, the medical leave explanation complicated now by this revelation.  As I said in the earlier posts about district conduct, particularly its tendency to find excuses for sharing with the public information the public has a right to know, for instance, why administrators are forced to leave their positions.  Those excuses are, ironically, often couched in concern for confidentiality.

So again, the district is telling the public that it cannot discuss the matter of an administrator preventing a valedictorian from giving her speech at the commencement ceremony.  According to the Reno Gazette-Journal,  the district, when asked about the incident said, “The decision regarding the valedictorian speech for North Valleys High School involved school staff, a student, and a family. It would be unprofessional and unfair for the District to comment on such individual matters concerning a student.”  The story  is an interesting one for it appears that the administrator who objected to the speech do so for no other reason than that the valedictorian planned to say about her experience at the school that it had not been a positive one, that she felt that she had been ignored by those who are payed to care about her as a human being, as a student.

My concern is as it has been for a long time, that this entity, the Washoe County School District, far too often tries to keep things from the public, things that the public has every right to know, things the public, through its representatives and through proper media pressure to get at the truth of things, needs to know in order to act as an informed public when it comes to matters of public education in the county.  District administrators should be questioned every time they use the excuse of law and confidentiality to make sure that such claims are valid ones and not misuse of public policy to hide wrong doing.

Inadequate. Not to be tolerated.

From Reno Gazette-Journal today: “The Washoe County School District again provided no information after Superintendent Traci Davis went on an indefinite leave of absence and two of her top administrators were no longer employed.”

Does the district know things we, the public, do not know.  Of course they do and, as I said in the last post, any person with the least bit of sensible curiosity has good reason to believe that withholding information here is more than an instance but a way of doing business for this school district.

There is “no investigation” says the Board president, this as if she wishes people to believe that there is nothing amiss.  But, again for the least bit curious and enough memory to recall other recent events, “no investigation” means that really important information is being buried.  Firings of administrators, their sudden resignations without explanation, without explanation of cause, is unacceptable and for a public school board to treat the public so is cause for investigation into the board’s behavior.

Secrecy for the public’s own good has become an excuse for hiding bad behavior and, here, confidentiality is being used to withhold what people concerned with the welfare of the young and with the proper operation of institutions of education have every right to know.  What did those who are forced to leave leadership positions in a school district do that was serious enough for them to be forced to leave.  Whatever happened, it has to have been very serious and this is most definitely cause for a need to know.

The Board president and the Board cannot be allowed to get away with the “no comment” is the best we can do approach to queries into actions taken.  Something is going on in our school district that is obviously wrong.  People trusted with our children have done wrong.  There had to be wrong done if these people were forced to leave their positions.  What that wrong was and why it was allowed to take place must be made known.

Tracy Davis

Note: Less than a year ago, top administrators at Galena High School suddenly left.  Using the shield of the confidentiality of personnel matters, no explanation was ever provide for why they were removed.  Yesterday, the top three administrators in the Washoe County School District either left or were removed from their positions, without explanation of cause.  The paranoid see patterns where they do not exist.  Fools fail to see patterns when they obviously do exist.

For Washoe County, the Tracy Davis story begins with the hiring of Pedro Martinez as assistant superintendent by a fellow Broad Academy “trained” administrator who, like Martinez, left under suspicious circumstances and then went to somewhere in the southern part of the United States where he left his job there under suspicious circumstances.  Pedro hired Ms. Davis and Ms. Davis hired as top administrators two who have now left under suspicious circumstances.  Washoe County people should remember that the hiring of Ms. Davis as superintendent was done under suspicious circumstances, without a national search.  Once hired, the issue of her compensation was decided under suspicious circumstances.

I suspect that there is much that has transpired in the Washoe County School District that deserves scrutiny and much that has deserved scrutiny that has not been subject to any kind of meaningful investigation.

Among the subjects that needs scrutiny is the district’s reporting of achievement gains during the Davis administration, achievement of students being a critical marker of a school district’s success.  There are many reasons for some to want achievement to rise, some wanting rise in really achievement, others caring only for numbers, gotten however they can be gotten, that give the appearance of improved achievement but which, in reality, have little or nothing to do with students gaining in ability to do the things that good education allows people to do.

Really, the recent history of the Washoe County School District is an object lesson in civic failure and a tragedy for the effect it has had on the lives of students and the broader population that has been led by those who are known as civic leaders to believe that, despite considerable evidence to the contrary, that the schools were not only good but getting better.

The whole story of the Washoe County School District, its management, oversight, and achievements needs to be put before the public so that truth can guide the public decision making process and officials held accountable for what they actually produce.  That the media consistently fails to dig below the surface is understandable but also tragic in that those sources that provide citizens the information they need to make informed and reasonable decisions is not made available because revealing faults in the system is not the kind of publicity that draws wealth to the region, that makes for good business.  Sadly, our media is business and with the failure of schools to help citizens grow the ability to properly detect bullshit, the people live without truth or the ability to discover it.

The place to begin recovery is with the school district.  The district cannot operate as a lie.  It does now and it has for a long time.  Pressure needs to be put on the media, to risk profit in order to tell the truth so that people have the information they need to make reasonable decisions.  Until then, those like Davis will be placed in positions of authority, too inept to make the systems over which they preside effective, but thought by those who hire them, able enough to keep the public from knowing just how bad the institutions they run really are.

Really? These Public Schools?

I do not support the privatization of public schools.  I am adamantly opposed to the privatization of public schools.  This does not mean that I support public schools as they are or that I do not see legitimate reasons for some wanting alternatives to what public schools offer.   I am one of those who wants alternatives to what the public schools are now and what they have been since I have known of them, repressive institutions that never reflect in the least the democratic principles that students must understand if they are to be effective citizens of a democracy.  Schools, the public schools of the United States of America, to sell a brand in the way commercial advertising so often does, without much reference to meaningful truths, the messages meant to be believed without investigation.

I am in favor of public education because the pubic must be an educated one if sensible decisions are to be made to benefit the whole of the society, all of its people.  That our educational system has not succeeded is evident in the reality that is the American government today and its effect of the whole of the people. Instead of teaching independent thought, the system teaches obedience to authority and willingness to accept authority unquestioningly.  The choice is too often by which authority to abide and only rarely of the kind that reflects deep study of the complexity of issues and the real meaning of the authorities in place and those who might want to replace them.

Multiple choice politics is what we have and the choices are, and have been for a long time, extremely limited and this is because new choices arise when people create them, demand that they be included on the slate.  As in school, in the voting booth, the choices from which one can pick are few when the issues are always so complex as to breed a great many.  Somehow all of the complexity is reduced to a box on a ballot that is filled in with a check and no commentary.  There is some talk before the test but it usually isn’t about truth but, rather, what will happen if one marks the wrong box, how bad things will be but hardly ever about what that is really good and worthwhile will result from the good choice.  Most of our good choices are chosen for us with the details, the meaningful ones withheld and, too often packaged in a bundle of lies and half-truths, even these ignored by those who promise once the vote has been taken.

Schools prepare the American people for a false democracy that functions without revolution because there is so little that needs to be understood to check the box, to decide between answer one or two or three or true or false.  The people make the rules in the same way students make classroom rules, in very limited fashion and of little consequence.  The boundaries are so tight that there is no room for meaningful change.  Things stay the same, in essence, given new names and adjusted sometimes, to appease but rarely to change conditions.  We have, because of our schools, a passive democracy when there can be no thing.

So to those I know who wish to convince people that charters are evil because they pose a threat to public schools, I say spend your time changing the public schools to reflect the needs of a public that has a right to democracy and a democratic right, of necessity, to be able to think for themselves using the best tools available for collecting information and making good sense of it for themselves.  Right now what the charter thing is really about is choice between different forms of indoctrination and that leaves no choice at all for those who understand the importance to meaningful life of independent thought.