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Astonishing Finding on NYC Administrative Evaluations

June 26, 2013

A few days ago Diane Ravitch included a link to this blog post from NYC Public School Parents reporting that after one year, the NYC Central Office responded to a FOIA request seeking copies of the evaluations of top administrators. This request was prompted when then Superintendent Joel Klein allowed the media to post the bogus teacher ratings. Here’s the astonishing response to the FOIA request:

“Diligent searches and inquiries for responsive records have been conducted as to any Chancellor (and his/her Chief of Staff) Chief Academic Officer, Senior Deputy Chancellor, Chief Schools Officer, Deputy Chancellor, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and General Counsel for the time period covered by your request.  It is my understanding that no such records were located, because no such records have been created.  Accordingly, there are no records to provide.”

If this happened on my watch in any of the districts I led over my 29 years as a Superintendent I would have been justifiably fired… and during that same time I cannot think of a single Board who did not provide me with a written evaluation. Why isn’t this splashed all over the front pages of the NYTimes? I know the Lewiston Sun, Exeter Newsletter, Fosters Daily Democrat, the Herald Mail, the Poughkeepsie Journal, and Valley News would have covered the news if the Boards I worked for reported that I had not completed evaluations of my direct reports or if the Principals who worked for me neglected to evaluate their teachers. And waiting over a year to respond to a FOIA request? I cannot imagine the news media I worked with sitting quietly if they waited that long… and I know at least one constituent in the NY district where I worked who would have gone straight to the Commissioner of Education if I failed to respond on time to a FOIA request.

Here’s why I think NYC schools get away with this kind of behavior: they think they are operating by the rules of the private sector. I hope someone in the MSM reminds the district that they are a publicly funded entity and, therefore, need to follow the same rules as public schools— or DO they? If the answer is “No” democracy just took another bullet.


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