Letter to the editor of the Palo Alto Weekly, received April 13:
There is a crisis of leadership in the Palo Alto Unified School District. Members of the Palo Alto management team (principals, assistant principals, directors, coordinators, managers, and psychologists) have worked hard over the past few years to resolve issues of trust, preferential treatment, inconsistency of practice, and lack of communication.
Despite our best efforts, there has been little progress towards a resolution of these issues.
On September 6, 2006 the management team delivered to the Superintendent and the BOE a document outlining the critical issues hindering our work. On September 28, at an "emergency meeting" with the Superintendent and her Cabinet, we learned that this document had been "leaked" to the press.
Although it was not the intent of the management team for the "trust" document to become public, until it was reported in the press there was no real discussion.
Despite the publicity generated by the "trust" letter, the initial responses from the BOE and the Superintendent (and Cabinet) were somewhat indifferent towards the issue we brought forward. It was not until December, when the BOE hired Talley and Associates, that we saw any concrete action taken to address our concerns.
Talley and Associates designed a process that included collecting data, confirming overall themes, and eventually forming problem-solving groups in order to improve our organization.
At first, many members of the management team were skeptical of the proposed process. Ultimately, however, most chose to participate, believing that all parties were now acting in good faith to improve all levels of leadership in the district.
On March 13, the BOE appointed a new Assistant Superintendent. This action was undertaken in a vacuum with no communication about the need for the position, the duties associated with the job, or the rationale to explain why this was now the most critical district priority.
Worse, there was no process to ensure that the best possible candidate had been found. This further example of inconsistency of practice, preferential treatment, and poor communication concerned many PAMA members.
The fact that this is just the most recent Senior Cabinet position to be filled in this manner is a major problem. By August 2007, three of the four senior cabinet members will be appointees chose without a rigorous and public screening, an interview, or any checks and balances.
At present, PAMA members have a list of conditions we feel must be addressed by the BOE before we can continue to work with the Organizational Development consultants to craft PAUSD's future.
We hope this letter helps members of the Palo Alto community understand the views of the management team regarding the continuing crisis that faces our district.
Palo Alto Management Association
Susan Charles (President)