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Superintendent Bush's Petition of No Confidence


ROBERT JENSENBy ROBERT JENSEN
The Desert Independent

December 21, 2016

BLYTHE, Calif – Regarding Mr. Bush

With many thanks to Kelci Parks, reporter for the Fort Bragg Advocate-News, the Desert Independent has obtained the actual text of the Petition of No Confidence presented to the Fort Bragg USD Board of Education regarding present-day PVUSD Superintendent Charles Bush last May. The text is presented to the reader without commentary and should be taken into strong consideration as a stand-alone piece. It is presented verbatim as follows:

May 12, 2016

Petition of No Confidence

The members of FBDTA would like to communicate our strong desire for the district to employ a superintendent that embodies participative leadership, strong ethics, and effective decision-making abilities. The Introduction to the California Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (2014) states that administrators “have the potential to create an environment where teachers want to work and where teachers and students learn and thrive.” Sadly, this is not currently true for FBUSD. The vast majority of certificated employees lack confidence in our current superintendent, Charles Bush.

FBDTA, after much deliberation, has decided to submit a Petition of No Confidence to the Board of Trustees of FBUSD. We did not arrive at this decision hastily or easily. Approximately 89% of permanent certificated employees have signed this petition. Of our 115 members, approximately 20% of them are probationary, of which one third were willing to sign this petition. Most of them expressed that although the Employment Relations Act, as well as our Collective Bargaining Agreement both provide protection against retaliation, they fear they would be jeopardizing their job security. This speaks to the low level of trust employees have in district leadership right now.

WHEREAS we hope for a strong leader who models honesty, and credibility, we have, instead, a superintendent who has accused three of our principals of dishonesty in public, multiple times.

WHEREAS we need a leader who creates positive morale in the district and a culture of respect and support, we have a leader who has perpetrated a climate of fear, and is seen as vindictive.

  • He has displayed hostility and disrespect to staff directly in at least three different meetings in front of other people.

  • He encouraged staff to bring issues directly to him, and has held meetings with staff without the site administrator, overriding the chain of command and undermining site or department leadership.

  • His communication with the ELA department at FBMS was confusing, caused stress, and left the staff feeling thoroughly unsupported. Furthermore, his directives regarding the implementation of curriculum there belied a lack of examination of the curriculum the FBMS ELA department created collaboratively over a period of years, and a lack of understanding of the history of FBMS’ transition to and professional development in CCSS.

WHEREAS we believe FBUSD would be best served by a superintendent who makes good decisions transparently and with meaningful input from staff, we have a leader who already has a history of unilateral and reactive decisions with negative consequences.

  • There was little to no input by sites or administrators for LCAP in 2014/15.

  • The site schedules this year, which were made with little to no input from administrators, caused safety concerns.

  • He brought in a professional development organization without consulting with administrators, usurping professional development in teaching Common Core math (that had been requested by elementary teachers). ALS was extremely costly and not very well received, in the name of “turning our district around.”

  • However, he did not hold the same priority when it was revealed to him that Redwood’s second grade ELD program was having problems with overcrowded classes and was unable to provide three different levels of designated ELD instruction due to a reduction in teachers at that grade level. These concerns were brought to the superintendent in August. He directed the site to explore all the options. The site administrator worked closely with teachers and intervention specialists to examine several different possible solutions and concluded that what was best for students (especially our ELs, a priority in our district) was to bring in a part time teacher to allow the second grade to provide designated EL instruction at the appropriate levels to meet students’ needs. In October, they submitted a letter to the superintendent explaining why they needed smaller classes and exactly why they needed another teacher part time to help teach the EL students. In November, the superintendent called a meeting with second grade, without the site administrator, and acted like he had never read the letter. The superintendent refused to hire someone to help teach ELD, claiming that he could not justify hiring an additional certificated teacher, although it would have been a fraction of the cost of ALS. Thus, there are second graders being taught by paraprofessionals under the direction of a supervising teacher (not in the room), although this did not begin until January, and is not an ideal situation, because, really, teachers should be certificated, and also when one of the para-professionals is absent, the program cannot run.

  • The superintendent eliminated the assistant administrator position at FBMS, which, coupled with the simultaneous release of the principal, left a vacuum of institutional knowledge and ability to deal with behavior and discipline issues. The chaos created by these administrative changes (which have gone on all year) created a climate at the middle school that has been damaging for students and difficult for teachers.

  • After eliminating the assistant principal position at FBMS, a second counselor was hired. The Edjoin job description was for a counselor, and did not include “behavioral specialist.” The counselor, in her job interview with the superintendent, asked for clarification about the job. She was told it was a counselor position. In her interview, she made clear that she didn't want to do discipline because in her last position, she had to do both counseling and discipline it did not work. The current LCAP includes her current position, described as Counselor/Behavior Support Specialist. She has been expected to provide behavior support this year, dealing with discipline issues in a way that has compromised her ability to serve as a counselor in a time when the student population at FBMS is in dire need of one. It may be difficult to retain this highly qualified counselor, as it is unethical to expect a counselor to both discipline students and counsel them.

  • He directed all teachers at Redwood and Dana Gray to accompany their classes to enrichment classes taught by credentialed teachers, and blamed it on the collective bargaining agreement. He also implied the middle school and high school teachers were upset about the extra 40 minutes of prep time per week elementary teachers would get. This was unnecessary and untrue, as far as we have discovered, in terms of the feelings of FBMS and FBHS teachers and was thus, divisive.

  • Most administrators received a raise in the summer of 2015. This was not discussed with them at all before it was done; they had no input on how/if/when/what was happening, nor notice to explain to staff.

  • Other decisions, including creating positions of questionable necessity, providing individual teachers an additional free period daily, and non-re-electing quality educators have reduced our confidence in the superintendent, as well.

Therefore, be it resolved that the undersigned declare publicly their dissatisfaction with the job performance of the superintendent, and further declare their lack of confidence in his ability to provide the leadership that the students, parents and employees of Fort Bragg Unified School District deserve. As stewards of our community, please seriously consider the evidence we have presented, and what it means for our confidence in our district’s leadership.

We want to work together, and not work in fear. We want to be seen for the positive work that we do as individuals and as teams of educators, and not feel targeted. We look forward to the healing of our district, and creating a climate of cooperation and trust. That is the environment we believe will best serve the students of FBUSD.

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