A four-page "side agreement" that includes all sorts of do’s and don’ts, and it pretty much – at times – stifles individual board members, which in turn, stifles whole districts.
Here’s the deal: The agreement, I believe, was put together by Superintendent Jim McIntyre, adopted by the board in 2008 and then adopted again (revised edition) in October 2010.
It’s now gonna be presented to the new board to vote on.
Some of the things that stick out:
- Board member are not allowed to ask questions that might stump the superintendent.
- It also says that if you’re on the losing side of the vote and the media wants a comment, well, you can’t tell them why you voted the way you did. (No way, no how, no comment.)
All this is coming to light now because the law department sent out a memo, saying the whole thing is non-binding and and limit a board member’s freedom of speech. (To say nothing about transparency.)
During last Thursday’s orientation for incoming school board members, McIntyre and current BOE chair Lynne Fugate handed over the agreement for the new folks to view.
EMAIL: Law Director's Office memo and the revised agreement RIGHT SMACK HERE.
Needless to say, there were some questions about its legality, so a couple of them asked the Knox County Law Department to look into it.
The law department noted that the “document was not prepared by the law department, nor was the document submitted to the Law Department for analysis as to its legality.”
The law department, in the memo to BOE members, also says that state code “does not grant the authority to the BOE and the Superintendent to enter into any such agreement governing the conduct of members of the BOE.”
Here’s a couple other items in the agreement that stuck out:
- If a BOE member contacts a staffer by email then he or she must copy the superintendent and the chief of staff on the correspondence. (Is micromanagement ever good?)
- If a question can’t be addressed quickly and easily, then the question will be directed to the Office of the Superintendent to assess whether resources should be dedicated to responding to the request. (Does that mean the office won't answer it, if the question is too tough?)
- The BOE and Superintendent agree that the Superintendent is the only employee who reports to the BOE. Everyone else reports to the superintendent. (Should we change his title to "king"?)
- Constituents who contact BOE members with issues will be referred back to the school system at the appropriate level. (In other words, you don’t need to worry about the problem. You let us handle it.)
I wish I could get my boss to approve one of these.