Due Diligence

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Geo

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Jul 29, 2011, 9:14:51 PM7/29/11
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As most of you know, my name is George Schiro. I was nominated by District 5
Osceola School Board Member Tom Long to sit on the Osceola County
Superintendent Citizens Search Committee ("the committee", see
http://tinyurl.com/6zmzkgt ).

For the most part, the committee took its responsibility very seriously.
This was affirmed by Dr. Wayne Blanton, Executive Director of the Florida
School Boards Association, during the committee's final meeting (see
http://groups.google.com/group/harmonyfl/msg/584655088a793623 ):

He [Dr. Blanton] shared that our group was one of the
very best citizen search committees with which he has
worked in his many years as a consultant.

It is my contention that the committee took its responsibility far more
seriously than did the Osceola County School Board itself. While the
committee clearly did its due diligence in evaluating superintendent
candidates, it should soon become obvious that the school board clearly did
not.

This is another very long story. Like the related "Subtle Little Lies" (see
http://tinyurl.com/3flo5to ), I have decided to present this topic in
installments.

Before getting started, we should all have a common understanding of what
the term "due diligence" means. This term can sometimes have different
meanings to different people and its meaning can sometimes depend on the
subject matter. The meaning of "due diligence" in the context of selecting a
new school superintendent has already been defined at length in a previous
post titled "How to Evaluate Superintendent Candidates" (see
http://groups.google.com/group/harmonyfl/msg/b823adba0ea82768 ). The same
meaning applies here.

I will now repeat several statements made at the outset of the "Subtle
Little Lies" topic (see
http://groups.google.com/group/harmonyfl/msg/c3528e38d9cb706c ). They are
relevant here as well.

The Osceola County School Board recently announced its decision to discard
five highly qualified superintendent candidates, candidates recommended not
only by Dr. Wayne Blanton (hired and paid by the Osceola School Board in the
amount of $6212, see attachment), but the same candidates recommended by the
committee appointed by the school board itself.

Shortly after the school board announced its decision, I wrote an email to
Cindy Hartig, Barbara Horn, Julius Melendes, Tom Long and Jay Wheeler which
included the following content (see
http://groups.google.com/group/harmonyfl/msg/1064d0a7d2eb1b90 ):

I am trying to fully document the superintendent search
process from the search committee through the school
board itself. I have already completed most of the
documentation of the search committee's efforts.

I have found that using a single concrete example and
following it all the way through is most illuminating.
As I am sure you could guess, I am using the case of
Dr. Roberta Selleck as the example. I am sure that we
would get similar results following any of the other
candidates in the same fashion.

There are reasons why Tom Long is unwilling to publicly discuss his method
of evaluating superintendent candidates during this process (see
http://groups.google.com/group/harmonyfl/msg/d16e95546396b277 ).

Not only did Tom Long and the other school board members fall far short of
due diligence in evaluating superintendent candidates ( again see "How to
Evaluate Superintendent Candidates",
http://groups.google.com/group/harmonyfl/msg/b823adba0ea82768 ), but Mr.
Long also stood idly by when informed of misstatements made into the public
record by search committee members as well as by the chair of the search
committee and the chair of the school board herself (see
http://groups.google.com/group/harmonyfl/msg/33dc548088b0f3f8 ). This
misinformation was used as the primary rationale for the non-selection of at
least one candidate (Dr. Selleck). It is also my view that the other
superintendent candidates were similarly mistreated during the evaluation
process.

Tom Long is also aware of two things that I attempted to do, one that
occurred several days before the May 17, 2011 workshop (when superintendent
candidates were discussed by school board members and the preliminary
decision was made to discard them) and the other that occurred a day or so
thereafter:

Before) When Tom Long told me that googling was
sufficient for him to properly evaluate superintendent
candidates, I pleaded with him to speak to the
candidates themselves on the phone and listen to the
phone interviews that I recorded. He refused.

After) When I informed Tom Long that several statements
made into the public record by committee members were
false, and even statements made by Osceola School Board
Chair Cindy Hartig were either patently false or wildly
exaggerated (by 50,000% in one example), he said that
the school board's decision was final and none of that
matters now.

It matters. Tom Long was wrong.

More to follow ...

Invoice # 9873.PDF

Geo

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Sep 13, 2011, 7:22:12 AM9/13/11
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What follows is an indictment of the work ethic and the qualifications of
current members of the Osceola County School Board.

These folks were entrusted to carry out their responsibility faithfully and
with every effort to do what is in the best interests of our children. It is
my opinion that the recent superintendent selection process demonstrates
that the majority of school board members failed in their responsibility.
They are ineffective at best and incompetent at worst.

While district 5 school board member Tom Long represents my area (ie.
Harmony), the official school board rules ("OSCEOLA COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD
POLICY MANUAL", "RESPONSIBILITIES AND AUTHORITY OF THE BOARD", Item I., see
http://www.webcitation.org/60hubbuoD ), state that it is not only fair and
reasonable, but it is also my right as a citizen of Osceola County to
comment on the performance of all of our school board members:

Each School Board member shall serve as a representative
of the entire School District, rather than merely as
representative of a School Board member area.

Holding all school board members accountable is the scope of this topic.

In addition to its general responsibility for establishing school board
policy ("RESPONSIBILITIES AND AUTHORITY OF THE BOARD", Item I., again see
http://www.webcitation.org/60hubbuoD ), the highest purpose of the Osceola
County School Board is the hiring of a superintendent (see "RESPONSIBILITIES
AND AUTHORITY OF THE BOARD", Item II.,
http://www.webcitation.org/60hubbuoD ):

The Board shall enter into a written contract with the
Superintendent which shall stipulate his/her salary,
benefits, and terms and conditions of employment.

As we all know, the Osceola County School Board recently hired a new
superintendent.

Holding school board members accountable for their recent poor performance
during the process of hiring a new superintendent is the purpose of this
topic.

Shortly after the superintendent selection process was completed, I asked
each school board member to provide an example of his or her evaluation
procedure. I suggested the example of just one superintendent candidate, Dr.
Roberta Selleck (see
http://groups.google.com/group/harmonyfl/msg/1064d0a7d2eb1b90 ). With one
exception (Jay Wheeler), every other board member refused to cooperate with
this request.

While Barbara Horn refused even to acknowledge my email, Tom Long refused to
answer any questions about how he evaluated Dr. Selleck or any of the other
candidates. Julius Melendez and Cindy Hartig initially stated or implied
that they would be responsive, yet they both failed to cooperate at all.
Again Jay Wheeler was alone in his willingness to discuss his methods.

The implication is that most of these people believe that they are beyond
reproach. They seem to believe that they are not accountable to me, to you
or to anyone else in Osceola County.

Since these folks are not talking to me (or to anyone else on this topic, as
far as I know), we have no alternative but to scour public records for this
information. The primary source of information available on this topic is
the Osceola County School Board workshop meeting held at 9:00am on the
morning of May 17, 2011 (see http://tinyurl.com/3fj5zvq or
http://www.osceola.k12.fl.us/board/Board_Meetings.asp or
http://harmonyflcommons.com/OCSBvideos.aspx ).

If you watch the meeting video, you will see school board members offering
their evaluations of superintendent candidates at two different points in
the meeting. I have combined details from both sections with a primary focus
on how Dr. Selleck was evaluated. My presentation below follows the same
sequence as the video.

My commentary follows the school board members in the following order:

Jay Wheeler
Julius Melendez
Cindy Hartig
Barbara Horn
Tom Long


Jay Wheeler
-----------

Jay Wheeler was the only school board member in favor of interviewing
in-person each of the candidates recommended by Dr. Blanton and the citizens
search committee. In my opinion, this was the correct choice. This was the
rational choice.

Although the focus of this thread is how due diligence was applied (or not
applied) during the evaluation of Dr. Selleck, I think that it will be
instructive to hear how an experienced school board member thinks and
behaves during a superintendent selection process (however much you may
disagree with Mr. Wheeler's oft noted histrionics).

Bear in mind that Wheeler is the only member of the current school board who
was also involved with the selection of the previous superintendent (Dr.
Grego), a choice that most folks would agree significantly moved the school
district forward after many years of stagnation.

I have decided to include Mr. Wheeler's generally constructive comments
about all of the candidates for comparison with the generally negative
comments made by the other school board members about one candidate
(although their negatively was by no means limited to just one candidate).

First, after hearing the false testimony made by the chairperson of the
search committee as well as the false testimony made by the chairperson of
the school board about Dr. Selleck's so-called failure to return phone
calls, Jay Wheeler speculates in a constructive way about how Dr. Selleck
might be excused for failing to return phone calls - she was busy caring for
her ailing mother:

Wheeler - Selleck - No Return Calls
http://tinyurl.com/44uabnh

At the time, Mr. Wheeler would have no way of knowing that the "calls not
returned" testimony was patently false. But unlike the other school board
members, Mr. Wheeler was inclined to give any candidate applying for such a
position the reasonable benefit of the doubt.

To my understanding, Jay Wheeler was the only school board member who made
phone calls to more than one candidate. According to the candidates
themselves or from Wheeler's own phone records (which he provided freely and
without hesitation, again unlike any other school board member), he called
Dr. Browder. He also spoke to a Lee County School Board member about Dr.
Browder for 15 minutes. He also called Dr. Alexander to ask if he was
prepared to relocate. And he even called Dr. Geismar directly (twice) and
talked to him at length for 36 minutes.

Thus Jay Wheeler made several phone calls related to the superintendent
search process, either directly to the candidates or to people who
personally know the candidates.

Based on the candidates' resumes and his own phone calls, Mr. Wheeler made
the following statements during the 9:00am 5/17 school board meeting:

Wheeler - Selleck - Bring Her In
http://tinyurl.com/3m2hf88

Wheeler - Alexander - Bring Him In
http://tinyurl.com/3jbmadt

Wheeler - Geismar - Bring Him In
http://tinyurl.com/3e93vtz

Wheeler - Teran - Bring Him In
http://tinyurl.com/3vh5xwj

Wheeler - Browder - Bring Him In
http://tinyurl.com/6x9qszk

While Mr. Wheeler could have spent considerably more time evaluating these
candidates up-front, his saving grace was his willingness to bring these
candidates in for interviews in-person.

Since these candidates were recommended not only by the search committee,
but also by Dr. Blanton, this was the reasonable thing to do, especially in
the light of the several phone calls that Mr. Wheeler did make.

Next, Julius Melendez ...

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