Lowell School committee ranks superintendent as ‘proficient’ in assessment which member called ‘totally sloppy’

LOWELL – The Lowell School committee on Thursday night gave Superintendent Joel Boyd an evaluation score of “competent” for 2020-2021, although the evaluation process has been criticized by committee member Jackie Doherty, who described it as “totally sloppy”.

Despite criticism of the process, the appraisal score – which shows Boyd’s performance as superintendent is “fully satisfactory” and meets the “rigorous level of performance expected” – was accepted in a vote by the sub. -committee on human resources and labor relations of the committee Thursday evening. . The assessment will now head to the full school committee meeting for a vote on Wednesday.

During Thursday’s meeting, Doherty raised two questions regarding Boyd’s End-of-Cycle Summative Assessment Report. She first questioned how little time she said committee members had to provide a thorough assessment of the Superintendent.

Doherty also asked why school committee member Dominik Lay was allowed to assess Boyd, noting that Lay only attended one meeting during his tenure on the committee, which began when was sworn in earlier this month.

“It would be like a teacher attending a class and then evaluating a student for a year of work,” Doherty said at Thursday night’s meeting. “It doesn’t seem appropriate.”

The superintendent’s assessment has been broken down into several categories, including instructional leadership, management and operations, and family and community engagement. Within each category were several indicators, where school committee members were responsible for rating “unsatisfactory”, “needs improvement”, “competent” or “exemplary”.

There were a total of 20 indicator boxes. Doherty gave a “for improvement” rating in all boxes to describe Boyd’s work as superintendent. As Doherty pointed out during his review of the review process, Lay gave Boyd a total of 12 “exemplary” ratings, which were awarded the most by a committee member.

“His results clearly skew our summative results,” Doherty said. “How he rated it wouldn’t have mattered to me.” The point was, he shouldn’t be writing it down. He attended a meeting.

Hilary Clark, school committee member, chair of the subcommittee, pointed out that she had spoken to the executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, who she said confirmed that Lay “had all of them. rights and responsibilities ”to provide an assessment of Boyd.

Lay defended his right to provide an assessment, stating that he has only attended one meeting, has served on the committee in the past, and stays up to date with the committee.

“I’ve always been involved and I feel like I never left,” Lay said. “I feel like I understand what’s going on.”

Clark pointed out that the school committee has the right to develop assessment protocols at the start of the cycle, but the school committee has not done so for the current cycle. Clark suggested that the school committee should get to work establishing protocols for the next assessment process to avoid similar issues in the future.

“I think in the future we should definitely have these conversations about what we feel is appropriate in terms of experience and exposure before we can participate in a professional assessment. But the rules are the rules and unfortunately we cannot change them on that date, ”added Martin.

During the meeting, it was also revealed that school committee member Connie Martin had not completed her assessment grade, but would provide her indicator grades after asking Boyd a few questions during the meeting. Thursday evening meeting.

Doherty attributed this to the committee not having enough time to complete the assessment. According to Doherty, in November, she said Boyd was due for evaluation after serving the district for more than a year.

“We had time constraints around his contract, but from the moment I spoke about it in November, why did it take until Friday evening to find out that we were evaluating him tonight and that I had need to have my opinion by Tuesday? ” Doherty asked.

Doherty pointed out that the deadline had been extended to Wednesday, but the time was still not sufficient. Doherty said she received a binder distributed to committee members by Boyd with information about the year. The information was supposed to be used in the assessment.

During the meeting, Doherty held up the massive binder filled with pages. Doherty said the binder weighs over 11 pounds, is 4 inches high, and “hundreds of pages printed on one side, by the way.”

She added that the timing of the assessment was also problematic.

“The way it’s supposed to happen is that as a committee we’re supposed to say when we’re going to have a meeting for the superintendent to present his testimony,” Doherty said. “Then when are we going to have a meeting where we’re going to put our evaluation metrics. We never did that.

Clark pointed out that Boyd’s contract dictates when the appraisal takes place.

“There is a time-limited evaluation section and it indicates before June 1,” she said. “It will always fall at the end of the budget cycle, which is exactly what happened this year and we estimate a very short period between the end of the budget and June 1. That’s why we’re here this time around. “

After the meeting, Doherty continued to express his frustration, saying the assessment process was “absolutely sloppy.”

“It’s one of the three big parts of this job, overseeing the superintendent and holding him accountable, budgeting and setting policy, and I take it very seriously.

Doherty also expressed his disappointment at having to submit a poor review of Boyd.

“I hired Dr. Boyd,” Doherty said. “It’s not something I like to do, but I think these areas need to be improved. That’s why I do this work – to get the job done the way it should be done.

Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis

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