Sunday, June 29, 2008

The five second rule in running a school district.

Imagine the organizational structure of a restaurant. There are many parts and pieces that lead to success or failure. A great restaurant becomes great if all of the various parts and pieces work together to maximize the customer experience. If customers enjoy dining at this restaurant, others will hear of the delicious meals and exceptional service.

To make a restaurant successful, each part and piece has to be performed remarkably well. If the worker that makes salads keeps his area clean and ingredients fresh, customers will enjoy that part of their meal. If the hostess seats customers quickly and does so with great care and consideration, customers will appreciate the manner in which they are seated. If the dishwasher ensures that every utensil is clean and all of the glasses are free of lipstick, this will also ensure satisfaction.

Now, imagine if everything about this restaurant was managed in an exceptional way. All of the parts and pieces routinely come together to heighten the dining experience. Success would be inevitable.

What would happen if the guy making salads decides to use less-than-fresh produce? What would happen if he didn't wash his hands after using the restroom? What would happen if the five second rule was applied at every opportunity and debris from the floor found its way into the salad? It wouldn't be long before a customer became sick. It would only take a few cases of hepatitis or E.Coli to destroy the reputation of a highly-regarded restaurant. The customers may still be shown to their seats quickly and the dishes may be clean, but people may stop coming by if there is a confirmed health risk.

In every organization there are parts and pieces that make everything work. In a school district, for instance, there is the education side of the house and the operations side of the house. If the operations side of the house is throwing money around like it grows on trees, how is the education side of the house supposed to maximize the impact of their efforts with an extremely limited budget? Every part and piece of an organization must work well together. A school district can have the best teachers in the state, but if they lack the resources to perform their duties, success may be rather difficult to achieve - without redefining standards.

The mission of this forum has never been to discredit or devalue the great work of committed public servants. The mission is - and always will be - to draw attention to problems in the hope that questionable behavior and poor decisions will become less common. No one wants to see a publicly-supported school district whither and die, but everyone would love to see their taxes spent wisely and without friends of management becoming enriched in the process.

The mission of this forum is to make sure the salad doesn't hit the floor and if it does, that it won't be served to the public.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Just what passes for an audit these days?

June 27, 2008

Mr. Zandberg,

We have received your records request below for records of communication pertaining to Edmonds School District since January 1, 2007.

We anticipate we will be able to fill your request by July 31, 2008. If we are unable to meet that date, we will contact you and let you know when the work will be completed. Our copying charge is 10 cents per page. We will inform you of the amount due prior to sending the documents you have requested. If we are able to send them electronically, we will do so.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at (360) 725-5617.


Mary Leider
Public Records Officer

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Federal Court Upholds Anonymous Speech on Internet

Seattle -- In a precedent-setting ruling on free speech in cyberspace, a federal court in Seattle yesterday upheld the right to speak anonymously on the Internet. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Zilly quashed a subpoena seeking to force an Internet service to disclose the identity of persons who spoke anonymously on an Internet message board. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) represented J. Doe, one of the anonymous speakers, in blocking the subpoena.

The subpoena was filed by, Inc., which is currently defending itself against a class-action lawsuit alleging the company engaged in securities fraud. The subpoena requested that InfoSpace turn over the identities of 23 speakers who used pseudonyms in participating on the Silicon Investor Web site owned by InfoSpace.

The ruling is the first of its kind nationally in a case involving anonymous speech by a third party. The case differs from many other Internet anonymity cases because J. Doe, who used the pseudonym "NoGuano," is not a party to the case, and no allegations of liability against Doe have been made. While Doe does maintain a Silicon Investor account, Doe never made any statements about 2TheMart, nor has Doe ever posted on Silicon Investor's 2TheMart message board.

"This is an important ruling for free speech on the Internet. The court recognized that you should be able to express opinions online without having to worry your privacy will be invaded because of a lawsuit that has nothing to do with you," said Aaron Caplan, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization with an 80-year history of defending freedom of speech. "You have the right to speak anonymously on an Internet bulletin board just as you have the right to distribute a leaflet using a pseudonym," added Caplan. Caplan argued the case on behalf of J. Doe before the Court.

"By ruling for Doe, Judge Zilly has sent a clear message that the courts will not tolerate lawsuits designed to chill online speech," said Lauren Gelman, director of public policy for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties organization working to protect rights in the digital world. "We hope that this decision will force companies to think twice before they issue subpoenas, and encourage users to step forward and protect their rights if they receive a subpoena."

The ACLU and EFF argued that the Court should adopt the same test currently used to determine whether to compel identification of anonymous sources of journalists or members of private organizations. Under that test, the Court must first determine whether the person seeking the protected private information (in this case has a genuine need for the information in the context of the case and cannot discover the information any other way. If so, the Court must then balance the harm to the anonymous speakers against the plaintiff's need to discover the identity of the speaker. Anonymity should be preserved unless the identity of the anonymous person is clearly shown to be of central importance to the case. In his ruling, Judge Zilly said that the information sought by the subpoena clearly was not central to the case of was a fledgling company that intended to launch an online auction house. After its stock price plunged in 1999, a number of investors sued for securities fraud, alleging that the company had misled them about its prospects. Like many Internet start-ups, had a number of people who chatted about the company on investor-related bulletin boards. One of these bulletin boards was operated by Silicon Investor, a Web site now owned by Seattle-based InfoSpace. The postings were made under 23 different user names, including "The Truthseeker," "Edelweiss," and "NoGuano."

J. Doe was represented by ACLU staff attorney Aaron Caplan and Cindy Cohn, legal director for EFF. InfoSpace also submitted a brief supporting the right of its users to speak anonymously, and Brent Snyder of Perkins Coie argued the case before Judge Zilly on behalf of InfoSpace.

The briefs may be found at the EFF website at: and may also be available on the ACLU-WA website at:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Legal counsel" conflicts with opinion of Attorney General

From: "Mark Zandberg"
Date: Wed, June 25, 2008

Please provide;

1. any and all records of communication between the Washington State Auditor (and all designees, employees or consultants) and the Edmonds School District since January 1, 2007,

2. any and all records of communication between the Washington State Auditor (and all designees, employees or consultants) and any other entity regarding the Edmonds School District since January 1, 2007,

3. any and all records of communication regarding consultation with "legal counsel" regarding the Edmonds School District. It is my understanding that such communication is not legally protected or privileged information.

Please provide an estimate of costs for copying prior to generating copies.


Mark Zandberg
9003 Olympic View Drive
Edmonds, WA 98026

You can read the opinion by clicking here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

And what about all of the other concerns?

June 23, 2008

Mark Zandberg

Dear Mr. Zandberg:

Thank you for contacting our Office regarding your concerns about the Edmonds School District. You asserted that the District’s purchase of pianos violated state bid laws and represented a conflict of interest. You also asserted that the District’s purchase of land for use as a bus facility violated state bid laws.

Piano lease

We found that the District did not purchase the pianos, but entered into a lease agreement with a purchase option. We reviewed the lease agreement and all supporting documentation for the lease between the District and the business it leased the pianos from. We also discussed this matter with our legal counsel. We were not able to find conclusive evidence of a conflict of interest or that the vendor received preferential treatment from the District. We found that although the District technically complied with state bid laws, it cannot be sure it received the lowest, reasonable price for the lease of the pianos as it did not obtain competitive quotes from multiple vendors. We reported this issue to the District and recommended it use the bid process to ensure the lowest, reasonable price is obtained.

Purchase of land

You stated you believed the District paid more than the asking price for property that will be used for a new bus barn. The District’s original appraisal valued the land at $3.3 million. A subsequent appraisal valued the land at $5.6 million, which the District paid. We reviewed state law (RCW 28A.335.090) which states:

…(2) Any purchase of real property by a school district shall be preceded by a market value appraisal by a professionally designated real estate appraiser as defined in RCW 74.46.020 or by a general real estate appraiser certified under chapter 18.140RCW who was selected by the board of directors.

While the law requires an appraisal, it does not say the purchase must not exceed that appraisal. We reviewed the District’s purchase and discussed the matter with legal counsel and determined the final purchase price was negotiated by the District and the seller and went through the proper approval process.

Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention. If you have any further questions or comments, please feel free to call Chris Kapek, Audit Manager at (425) 257-2137.



BS:CK:jc H-2007-132

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Because the last letter made such sense.

June 20, 2008

To: Edmonds School District Staff

From: Nick J. Brossoit, Ed.D. Superintendent

Re: An Open Invitation

With some employees leaving soon for summer vacation, I wanted to share this month’s letter to staff earlier.

Because the last letter made such sense.

Please accept my deep appreciation for you and the many caring and hard working staff in our district. Thanks to you and many others we have made and continue to make important progress with student learning, instructional programs, professional growth, facilities/capital projects, technology, as well as other services and operations. Each of you has made a contribution to our collective success. Clearly, there is more to do and with limited resources, it will be challenging. Still, our dedication to the education of young people in our schools and the purpose for which we all serve in our respective roles are precious.

Saying you are dedicated doesn't magically make a leader dedicated. The dedication may come from the more than $200,000.00 in salary each year.

Four years ago, I accepted the responsibilities of serving this district and community as Superintendent. For all staff, I want to reaffirm my always open invitation to you. My regular site visits and open agenda meetings each year provide some information and opportunity for conversation; however, the pace of the school day during the year is busy and that time is limited. The summer schedule may simply provide more time for deeper listening and quality dialogue.

Clearly, this email was intended to do the following; 1. Flatter staff as they leave for an extended break and slip momentarily from the clutches of district control, 2. Leave the impression that the Superintendent wants to hear from staff and actually cares enough to constructively engage real issues, and 3. Provide an explanation as to why no real communication or constructive dialog took place during the school year. He was far too busy, after all.

If you would like to visit about our district or statewide issues, educational topics, career questions, professional growth challenges, questions, rumors, perceptions, directions on various topics, etc., please feel free to call JoAnn Kerns at 425-431-7003 and schedule some time for us. We may never have all the perfect answers, yet through open discussion we can better understand and together keep moving in a positive and productive way to the best of our ability.

This will make for a very interesting public records request. Who requested a meeting and when was that meeting actually held? I would be willing to bet that nothing of substance will surface because discussing real issues will ultimately result in a premature departure from district employment.

Thank you for the work you contribute to helping the education, services, and support our young people receive to be among the best.

That's quite a sentence. Smooth as stubble.

Defining "Malicious Prosecution"

An action for damages brought by one against whom a civil suit or criminal proceeding has been unsuccessfully commenced without PROBABLE CAUSE and for a purpose other than that of bringing the alleged offender to justice.

An action for malicious prosecution is the remedy for baseless and malicious litigation. It is not limited to criminal prosecutions but may be brought in response to any baseless and malicious litigation or prosecution, whether criminal or civil. The criminal defendant or civil respondent in a baseless and malicious case may later file this claim in civil court against the parties who took an active role in initiating or encouraging the original case. The defendant in the initial case becomes the plaintiff in the malicious prosecution suit, and the plaintiff or prosecutor in the original case becomes the defendant. In most states the claim must be filed within a year after the end of the original case.

A claim of malicious prosecution is a tort action. A TORT action is filed in civil court to recover money damages for certain harm suffered. The plaintiff in a malicious prosecution suit seeks to win money from the respondent as recompense for the various costs associated with having to defend against the baseless and vexatious case.

The public policy that supports the action for malicious prosecution is the discouragement of
VEXATIOUS LITIGATION. This policy must compete against one that favors the freedom of law enforcement officers, judicial officers, and private citizens to participate and assist in the administration of justice.

In most jurisdictions an action for malicious prosecution is governed by the
COMMON LAW. This means that the authority to bring the action lies in case law from the courts, not statutes from the legislature. Most legislatures maintain some statutes that give certain persons IMMUNITY from malicious prosecution for certain acts. In Colorado, for example, a merchant, a merchant's employee, or a police officer, who reasonably suspects that a theft has occurred, may detain and question the suspect without fear of liability for slander, false arrest, FALSE IMPRISONMENT, unlawful detention, or malicious prosecution (Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18-4-407 [West 1996]).

An action for malicious prosecution is distinct from an action for false arrest or false imprisonment. If a person is arrested by a police officer who lacks legal authority for the arrest, the proper remedy is an action for false arrest. If a person is confined against her or his will, the proper remedy is an action for false imprisonment. An action for malicious prosecution is appropriate only when the judicial system has been misused.

Malicious Prosecution - Elements Of Proof, Damages, Other Considerations, Further Readings

Refining the Human Resources playbook

Many of you have stated that you found these meetings valuable and helpful in your role as a supervisor or manager.

As we have discussed, one of the most valuable parts of the meeting is to listen and learn from each other. Another outcome has been to develop consistent practices in handling employee situations.

Over the past two years, these are the topics that have been covered:
Reviewed hiring practices
Reviewed progressive discipline (difference between evaluation and discipline)
How to create an environment free of harassment
How to establish effective working relationships and improve motivation of your employees
How to handle suspected substance abuse, odd behaviors; review of guidelines, warning signs and observed behaviors
The procedures for placing an employee on administrative leave
How to work with employees who have medical, psychological, emotional or other health related issues such as
On the job injury
Light Duty
Employee Assistance Program
Business communication
Evaluation procedures and how to conduct an evaluation conference
The new on-line application process and use of Nextel phones

We would like to continue having meetings next year, perhaps monthly. Please send me any suggestions for items that you would like to discuss during the 2008-2009 school year. I would appreciate receiving your input no later than July 11, 2008. Then I will send out a tentative schedule and agenda.

Thanks and have a great weekend.

Catherine L. Birdsong
Director, Classified Employees
Human Resources Division
Edmonds School District
20420 68th Ave. W
Lynnwood, Wa 98036-7400

FAX 425-431-7034

Blog: Thank you to the anonymous contributor that sent this along. Perhaps a few of our readers may have a suggestion or two.

Friday, June 20, 2008

An objective evaluation makes it all very clear.

June 20, 2008

Dear Mr. Zandberg,

The Washington State Auditor takes every whistleblower complaint seriously. It is only through free and open communication that instances of corruption and crime can be detected, because God knows, we can't find anything ourselves.

I regret to inform you that none of your complaints resulted in any determination of wrongdoing. We were initially under the impression that a significant number of laws had been violated, but when we asked Marla Miller, she reported that everything was fine and that we needn't look any further. Ms. Miller was very helpful.

So, regarding your allegations, we agree with Ms. Miller. You are disgruntled and made everything up. Surely no one in public service could be as stupid as your allegations suggest.

Thank you for your letter. Please do not contact us again.

Brian Sonntag
State Auditor

Blog: The District's legal team should be advised that this letter is a work of fiction. It was not written by Brian Sonntag or anyone employed by the Washington State Auditor's Office. The Washington State Auditor indicated that a response to the blog's lengthy list of allegations would be provided this week. Friday marks the end of the week and our readers continue to wait for the results of the Auditor's evaluation.

Unions question salary increases

Some employees and union leaders are concerned about increases to Shoreline administrators pay and benefits for next year.

Most of the concern is in three areas. First, district principals will return to receiving extra money next year that puts them in the top 25 percent of pay for local districts.

Second, superintendent Sue Walker and deputy superintendent Marcia Harris will receive 5.6 percent pay increases, about 1.2 percent above what is mandated by the state. The state mandated a 4.4 cost of living increase for administrators.

Third, as part of a revised three-year contract approved by the board June 16, Walker will receive a roughly $15,000 annuity per year to be used for investments for retirement, a new addition to her contract.

"We have sustained so many cuts in the past several years, it's frustrating to see the highest paid employees in the district continuing to increase their compensation," said Elizabeth Beck, co-president of the Shoreline Education Association (SEA), the teacher's union. Teachers are still waiting to see some of what was cut restored to classroom, she said.

"Why is the district not asking administrators to give up something?" Rose Anne McLaughlin, a district employee, asked the school board at its June 16 meeting.

In response, district officials defended the raises and reinstatements, citing loyalty to bargained agreements, raises that were forfeited this year and the district's fiscal progress under Walker.


This past summer, teachers almost went on strike over the district's refusal to fully fund cost of living increases, or COLAs, on all parts of their contract. Officials said the district, struggling financially, couldn't afford that.

In the end, teachers and other certificated staff took cuts to activity pay and "impact and inclusion" money to get a full COLA on their basic contract and a smaller COLA on supplemental contracts. Impact and inclusion money helps teachers with a special needs student in a mainstream class.

Principals' salary

Principals' annual salaries are based on a formula that compares 12 local school districts. Their contract says principals must be in the top 25 percent in pay for those districts.

In August 2007, principals suspended that "top 25 percent" stipulation for one year to help the district with its financial troubles.

This coming year, principals will once again receive extra pay to be in the top 25 percent for local districts.

If the district commits to paying one group of employees in the top 25 percent, it should do that for all employees, Beck said.

In response to the union's concerns, Harris said that the stipulation is in the principals' contract and is not being bargained this year, so the district must honor those agreements.

District office administrators' salaries are based on an index of Shoreline principals' salaries. They don't directly receive extra money to be in the top 25 percent, but their salaries go up the following year if principal's salaries do. The administrators' group doesn't include Walker and Harris.

Read the rest of the story by clicking here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Our District role models at work.

People in power positions get to set the rules and name the players. That's why in political contests, the object of the game is to define your opponent in the negative before s/he can clearly define themselves in the positive. Thus you get "flip-flopper" or "third Bush term" or whatever seems to be necessary to paint the opponent as a bad choice.

In this case, you are getting "disgruntled employee." If administration can name you before you get a chance to tell your side of the story, they have won. No one wants a "disgruntled employee;" they are stereotypically anti-social, grumpy, not humorous, untruthful, and whatever other negative you want to lay on them.

But the "disgruntled employee" can actually be someone who is trying to look out for the many-students and employees alike. They see injustice, incompetence, or willful neglect and they are trying to bring some justice and fairness to the organization. The powerful do not want that because it is a threat to their status. They have resources (money) and the ear of the media and use it as a mouthpiece for their statements to justify their incompetence.

Do you fight this? Or do you just walk away in frustration? Here's something to consider. Administration has the responsibility for the education of the children of the school district. Children learn by example. Which example do you want them to follow? Do you want them to think that bullying is OK or do you want them to treat others as they wish to be treated?

If the answer is the latter, then you need to "screw your courage to the sticking place" (Macbeth) and let it be known that you will no longer allow the bullying to continue, that you insist on competent, fair management of the district's resources, primarily its human resources which it is squandering. Let it be known that you will expect that anyone who bullies others will be disciplined and fired if they don't stop.

Tell other parents, co-workers, newspaper reporters and editors that you expect better than you are getting. Picket the ESD. Pass out flyers.

If there is no pressure on the administration, nothing will change. You must create and maintain that pressure. Don't expect that Mark can do it himself. Don't sit back and think the blog will do the trick. It will take effort from each and every one of you to affect the change necessary to correct the mismanagement of the district.

Yeah, I'm sitting here 230 miles away; it's "easy" for me to say these things. We gave a combined 25+ years to the students and parents of the district. We are not the kind of people who can turn our backs and say, "that's not my problem anymore." Paraphrase Tom Joad in "Grapes of Wrath": "Where there's a teacher being bullied, I'll be there. Where there's an administrator abusing their power, I'll be there." This is not a case of being vindictive, but rather a case of seeking justice.

This is a much larger problem than just Edmonds. We are here to fight the good fight for everyone who is suffering under poor, bullying administrators. But we can't do it alone; we need your help as well. To change the culture at Edmonds will require input from the many. That's you-parents and employees. And if you don't want to stick your neck out or put out the effort, we can't help you.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Blog celebrates one year anniversary.

With just under 100,000 page views, the blog starts its second year of service on June 17, 2008.

Thank you for your comments, entries and email messages. We are looking forward to many new developments in the coming year.

Requirements have to be met, period

I was disappointed to see that two of your front-page stories on Friday were on the subject of high school students not graduating. The tone of both stories seemed to be sympathetic to the students, and implied that the schools should have allowed these students to participate in graduation exercises.

With the increasing call for higher standards for graduation, using front-page space to sympathize with students who did not meet the requirements for graduation was an odd choice. Should we let anyone who feels left out graduate? Why have any standards at all?

If Collin Murphy had time for a part time job and time to play baseball, he could have made time for his schoolwork if graduating with his class was important enough to him. He should probably be apologizing to his grandmother instead of looking for public sympathy.

If Mark Klinefelter did not pass the reading portion of the WASL, he needs to continue to work on his reading skills until he has reached the standard required by our state school system. I have great admiration for anyone learning a foreign language, but if students who don't speak English as their first language are held to a lower standard, we are doing them a disservice. What about students who struggle with dyslexia or other learning disabilities? Should the requirements be lowered for them, or do they just have to work harder than other students do? Life may not be fair, but making the requirements for graduation apply to everyone equally is.

Instead of celebrating excellence and accomplishment, The Herald seems to be making excuses for substandard performance.

Read the rest of the letter by clicking here.

Amy Knutson

Sunday, June 15, 2008

State Auditor convicted of felony corruption.

[Oklahoma] State Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan faces automatic suspension from office after a federal jury convicted him and his wife on three of eight felony corruption-related counts.

Jurors found that Jeff and
Lori McMahan illegally accepted excessive campaign money, jewelry and trips from southeastern Oklahoma businessman Steve Phipps. In return, the state auditor, with his wife's help, provided favors for Phipps' abstract companies, the jury determined.

After 13 hours of deliberations over two days, jurors found the couple guilty on a conspiracy count and two counts of violating the Travel Act to promote bribery. The Travel Act counts involve trips the McMahans took at
Phipps' expense in 2003 and 2004.

Jurors acquitted both on five mail fraud counts.

Prison sentences are likely. Federal sentencing guidelines treat public officials more harshly in corruption cases, which would portend a longer sentence for
Jeff McMahan than his wife.

Outside the courthouse, jury foreman
Michael Miracle said that after hearing nine days of testimony and arguments, he considered the state auditor "a small fish in a big pond with a lot of whales.”

"Granted, he's an elected official, and he should be held to a higher standard. But there's a lot of other people that were involved,” Miracle said. "I just don't think
Mr. McMahan was one of the ringleaders.”

An emotional verdict
Three jurors appeared to wipe tears as or after the sentences were read. As they filed out of the courtroom about 2:15 p.m., none looked at the McMahans.

Jeff McMahan, 48, seemed to choke up as the guilty verdict on the first count of conspiracy was read, then exhale as the judge announced "not guilty” to the first of the five mail fraud counts.

His wife, 43, sat clutching her husband's wrist but showed no emotion as the verdicts concerning her were read.

Jeff McMahan's attorney, Rand C. Eddy, said he was "extremely disappointed” by the verdicts. He said it's unclear whether his client will resign.

In a written statement Saturday,
Gov. Brad Henry called on Jeff McMahan to step down.

Auditor McMahan has had his day in court and a jury of his peers has spoken,” Henry said. "In light of the guilty verdict, I believe he should resign his office immediately so the state of Oklahoma can move forward under the leadership of a new state auditor and inspector. It is critical to restore public trust in that position.

"As governor, it will be my duty to appoint a successor. I will begin that process as quickly as possible.”

In a separate statement,
House Speaker Chris Benge said impeachment proceedings are likely if Jeff McMahan doesn't quit.

"We will now await
Mr. McMahan's decision on whether he will resign his position on his own or if the House will need to move forward with the impeachment process,” Benge said. "I certainly hope the House doesn't have to have an expensive and redundant impeachment proceeding, but we stand ready to do so if necessary.”

Lori McMahan's attorney, Kevin Krahl, said his next step is to "just go figure out the sentencing possibilities ... evaluate our options and go from there.”

Friday, June 13, 2008

Accentuate the positive because image is everything.

If someone is breaking into your house, you call the police. If your house is on fire, you call the fire department. If your school district is mismanaging public funds, sell your looted, smoked-stained rubble and leave town.

This process has revealed one rather obvious issue. There are absolutely no checks and balances in school board governance. The school board doesn't follow their own policies. They answer to no one because no one understands the depth of their responsibility. The superintendent doesn't have to justify poor choices because the board doesn't want to attract any attention to their own inadequacies. Asking tough questions may demand tougher follow-up questions.

The superintendent, after bouncing around school administration for years, knows that mismanagement is not taken seriously by the public or the State Auditor. No one expects a school district to run like a business because they aren't considered a business. They have people with music degrees running a $180,000,000.00 enterprise. Of course, mistakes will be made - this is the public sector after all.

No one knows how to detect a crime when it happens. If they did, they would be working for the police. If corruption occurs, it must be covered up. Image is everything.

I am reminded of my job in South Africa as a Housemaster. I was in charge of 90 students that lived in Roan House during the school week. They went home on weekends. On a night I was not on duty, a man broke into the hostel and used a razor blade to slash several blankets with children sleeping underneath. When students awoke, I was notified and became deeply distressed. The security alarm had not been set by the duty officer and this intruder walked right into the Main House through an open window.

I soon found out that this unknown person was known as "PK" and that events like these happened at least once a year and sometimes children were hurt. I immediately asked what steps had been taken to prevent such attacks and was basically told that the school's reputation was greater than the safety of any single child. I notified the local media and the perpetrator was caught in a matter of weeks. The perpetrator had been breaking into hostels for years and each target school was more concerned with their reputation and how enrollment might be impacted if people found out.

When the Headmaster of the school found out about the leak, I was not offered a contract for the following year.

People like to pretend that bad things never happen. Rather than preventing bad things from happening, this school district chooses to "accentuate the positives". Sadly, it gets tougher to do when you run out of positives and start making them up as you go along.

Terrace Park students could be moved to middle school

Would-be seventh- and eighth-graders at Terrace Park K-8 School could find themselves attending Brier Terrace Middle School in fall 2009 instead.

District administrators and parents are studying whether to close the seventh and eighth grades at Terrace Park and send those students to Brier Terrace. The Citizen's Planning Committee aims to make a recommendation to the Edmonds School Board in November.

Enrollment in the seventh and eighth grades at Terrace Park K-8 is not at the level that generates enough staffing to give "optimal opportunities," said district spokesperson Debbie Jakala.

"The main driver for (a change) of this nature is making sure (students) are receiving the best academic program offerings they can," she said.

The main reason for the proposed change is not to save money, she said.

If the seventh and eight grades close, that could affect children in the Challenge Program, which is at Terrace Park. Sometimes families opt to keep their children at Terrace Park through seventh and eighth grade, said Jakala.

Read the rest of the article by clicking here.

By Sarah Koenig
Enterprise reporter

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Something to stick on the refrigerator.

[Sent on May 30, 2008]

Sorry for the delayed response. The audit report that was published is one portion of the audit, but we have not completed the entire audit at this time.

We are currently working on wrapping up the audit, including responding to the concerns you forwarded to us. If you would like to call me to discuss the audit prior to receiving that correspondence, please give me a call at 425-257-XXXX.

Thank you,

Christopher J. Kapek, CPA

[Sent on June 10, 2008]

Is a final report for the Edmonds School District expected in approximately six days, six weeks or six months?

[Sent on June 11, 2008]

The audit report that has been released is the final audit report. What we are currently working on is correspondence to each person that forwarded us any Hotline concerns regarding the District. The drafts are currently going through our review process and we should have them out within the next week. I apologize for any confusion regarding this process.

Thank you,

Christopher J. Kapek, CPA
Audit Manager - Team Everett
Washington State Auditor's Office

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Superintendent leaves others feeling disgruntled.

Dear Nick:

Beware. Name calling is the first step down the road to a very bad end. It is a method of trying to demonize an "enemy" or "opponent." It indicates that you have no "facts" but merely "opinions" and are trying to switch the one for the other. It also indicates that you are trying to play one group of people off against another group. Don't go there.

The next step is scapegoating where the offending person or group is blamed for all of the problems of the bullying group. Again, this is an emotional appeal, not based on fact but rather relies on falsehoods and innuendo to create a smokescreen to deflect attention from your own mismanagement. If there IS something in the auditor's report that is uncomplimentary to the District, don't even think about blaming it on Mark. It won't stick.

After that comes encoding discriminatory behaviors into practices, rules, regulations, and laws. Example: yellow Star of David arm bands, Krystallnacht, etc. Hyberbole? Think again.

I suppose that you might also put Chris and I into your "disgruntled" category. Mr. Limon already started the demonization of us last year when he named us as a "threat" to staff and students at MMS and signed out the "no trespass" order against us. (BTW it expired on June 5. Don't worry; it's not worth the $40 in gas.)

My dictionary defines "disgruntle" as "to make discontented or cross." This indicates that the action of the verb is directed AT A VICTIM to make them "discontented or cross." Therefore, to be "disgruntled" means that an action has been taken TOWARD you to make you "cross." By definition, it does not follow that people become "disgruntled" for no reason; something has been done TO them. If you are saying that Mark or Chris or I or anyone else currently or formerly employed by the District are "disgruntled," you are ADMITTING that something has happened to us that would make us "discontented." You are ADMITTING culpability somewhere in the District that something was done TO us. Who did that, Nick? Check with Ken. Check with Marla.

The more I investigate this type of school management behavior, the more "disappointed" I am that it has become "standard operating procedure" in Edmonds and is so endemic to many schools across the nation. I am "disappointed" that so many administrators have so few management skills that they have to resort to these crude management methods. I have become "disappointed" that our legislators show little interest in crafting legislation to strenghten our current weak bullying laws.

The children deserve better management techniques from administration than what you are showing here. If the current administrators think that name-calling and scapegoating are appropriate tools of supervision, they need to "go somewhere else."

Remember, "it's what's best for the kids." Is that the type of behavior you want modeled to the children of the District?

Editor: Thank you to today's contributor.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sometimes it's just offensive.

I remember the first time the Edmonds School District used a preemptive attack to thwart bad press. It occurred when a local news station did an investigative report on speeding buses. They had video of buses being clocked with a radar gun well above the speed limit. A press conference was quickly organized prior to the broadcast of the damning footage. The District fessed-up to its record and provided a plan to remedy the situation.

As a result, there was no public out-cry.

Since then the preemptive attack has been a stable in the Community Relations tool chest, along with euphemisms to hide under and the standard slogan “It’s for the Kids.” The last deployment of the tactic was the costly flyer providing justification for the purchase of the land for the new administration site. This time, the District did not fess up to overspending by 2.3 million dollars for an old dump site. They did however provide a spin to the facts to make it appear they were doing “it for the kids.”

Now Nick Brossoit is conducting his own preemptive attack for the forthcoming audit of the issues raised on this blog by stating it is full of lies. There is no attempt to admit responsibility for anything. So I wonder; was it a collective hallucination that Bruce Williams resigned his seat on the school board when it was revealed on the blog that he was not eligible to serve? Did all of the experts lie on the King 5 Investigative report regarding the new administration site? Lastly, if Cathy Birdsong did not send that pathetically inappropriate email, where did it come from?

The best defense is not always a good offense. Sometimes it’s just offensive.

Editor: Thank you to another contributor.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Zandberg disputes 'disgruntled' label.

Mark Zandberg says he's "disappointed," not "disgruntled."

"Disappointed at the way things turned out," said the former Planning and Property Management Specialist. "A lot of us hoped things would turn out differently."

These days, Nick Brossoit is making the rounds to refute claims made by the blog.

In a recent appearance at an elementary school, Brossoit claimed the blog was full of lies, that the Auditor found nothing to support claims made on the blog, that Mark Zandberg is a disgruntled former employee and that the matter is heading to court.

Let's address Brossoit's claims.

1. The blog is full of lies.

It would seem totally appropriate for Brossoit to explain to our community which claims are true and which are false. The blog would certainly post any rebuttal offered by Brossoit. The last explanation was not only entirely laughable but resulted in the resignation of the most senior member of the school board, Dr. Bruce Williams. Please share with us how the claims made on the blog are false and maybe we might start believing you.

2. The Auditor found nothing to support the claims made by the blog.

Here is an email sent on Friday, May 30 at 10:59 AM (three days after the posted audit reports)

Sorry for the delayed response. The audit report that was published is one portion of the audit, but we have not completed the entire audit at this time. We are currently working on wrapping up the audit, including responding to the concerns you forwarded to us. If you would like to call me to discuss the audit prior to receiving that correspondence, please give me a call at 425-257-XXXX.

Thank you,

Christopher J. Kapek, CPA

The final audit report has not yet been completed. Brossoit is aware that the final report hasn't been completed and yet appears to be making a claim unsupported by facts. Some would call that a lie. Technically, the Auditor has not yet responded to the claims made by the blog so it could be argued that the Auditor "found nothing" so far.

3. Mark Zandberg is a disgruntled former employee.

Disgruntled is a loaded term used by management to pigeonhole opposition. Zandberg lives in the Edmonds School District and was a loyal and frequently-praised employee for more than six years. He is clearly motivated by doing what is right - despite a lack of support from management.

Parents do not oppose the District for fear of what could happen to their children. Employees do not speak up for fear of what could happen to their jobs. Zandberg doesn't have children and no longer works for the District. A few minutes in his company and the distinction between disgruntled and disappointed becomes crystal clear.

4. The matter [regarding the blog] is heading to court.

The basis for legal action is wrongful termination.

Editor: Thank you to another guest contributor.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Some public officials are more responsible than others.

Edmonds' planned purchase of the Old Milltown plaza park has hit a speed bump.

A $282,766 purchase agreement with developer Bob Gregg appeared imminent in April, but environmental concerns have slowed the process.

Even though the lush and leafy 22-foot by 100-foot plaza is now park-like, it has an industrial history that raises real contamination questions, city attorney Scott Snyder said in April.

"This is a property you take a good, close look at," Snyder said. "The city is probably going to cap it -- it'll be a courtyard -- but you want to take a good close look and see what is under there."

Neither Gregg nor the city is anxious to assume those risks. The property was a garage in the early 1900s.

The city tried to build strong language into the contract regarding possible environmental clean up, but Gregg balked. Now, the city wants to know exactly what problems might exist.

This week, the council approved a $6,500 environmental study to examine the property.

The study is expected to take a few weeks, and results could be ready in July, Mayor Gary Haakenson said.

In April, Gregg also expressed concern to the Enterprise about who would be maintaining the park property. The plaza is immediately adjacent to Old Milltown, a commercial development, and so its maintenance is vital, Gregg said.

Read the rest of the article by clicking here.

Chris Fyall

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Schools may face closure

Edmonds School District officials and parents will study closing Woodway and Evergreen elementary schools, aiming for a recommendation to the Edmonds School Board in November.

Closing Woodway and Evergreen would save about $1.2 million, about $600,000, from each building.

If approved, the closures would take effect for the 2009-2010 school year.

For more than a year, officials and the district's boundary and enrollment subcommittee have discussed the pros and cons of small schools. The focus was sharpest on Woodway Elementary, the district's smallest school. Meetings were held with Woodway parents to get input.

"I believe you can no longer continue to operate an equitable educational experience (at Woodway)," Ellen Kahan, assistant superintendent, told the board Tuesday, June 3. "Especially at considerable cost to the district. It may be the right time to look at consolidation, given the district's financial situation."

Though officials insist on using the word "consolidation," Woodway and Evergreen would not be combined. Both schools would be closed.

But whether they would be closed depends on a few things. First, the citizen's planning committee, a group of parents and administrators, will study the topic and make a recommendation to the board in November. They could recommend the schools be closed, or not. The board is expected to vote Dec. 9.

As for the district's financial situation, officials cut about $3 million from its budget this spring for 2008-09.

It costs more to operate a small school because a small school is staffed with as many people as a large school.

Woodway has about 180 students, and 150 of them live in the school's boundaries. Evergreen is expected to have 274 students next year, and 210 live in the school's boundaries.

Enrollment has been dropping at both schools for years.

In contrast, Martha Lake Elementary, the largest elementary school in the district, has about 580 students. At the Woodway meetings earlier this year, teachers saw benefits to the small school but also challenges, Kahan said. There are more split classes, and teachers often have to change grades. There has been a split class of first, second and third graders some years. Because teachers wear so many hats, the workload is large. There are only six members in the band. That doesn't offer an equitable experience, Kahan said.

However, many parents at the meetings earlier this year were emphatic about wanting to keep their school open. They cited the personalized environment and high quality of education.

It's almost like sending your child to private school and in a larger school, kids get lost, parents said.

If Woodway were closed, students might be sent to nearby Westgate and Sherwood Elementaries. If Evergreen were closed, they might be sent to Mountlake Terrace Elementary, another small school. If schools closed, students from the closed schools would be split up. No school is big enough to take them all in, Kahan said.

Read the rest of the article by clicking here.

By Sarah Koenig
Enterprise reporter

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Try as you might, you can't retract stupidity.

From: Birdsong, Catherine (ESC)
Sent: Thursday, May 29, 2008 7:58 AM
To: Joos, Sherry (ESC); @All Edmonds Email
Subject: RE: Finalists for Edmonds Elementary Principal

I hope this [Person] is different than our existing one.

-----Original Message-----
From: Joos, Sherry (ESC)
Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 9:42 AM
To: @All Edmonds Email
Subject: Finalists for Edmonds Elementary Principal
There are three finalists for the Principal position at Edmonds Elementary.

Laura Clift
Laura is the Dean of Students and Mentor at Fairmount Elementary in the Mukilteo School District.

[Person] Dellino
Since 2005, [Person] has served as the Assistant Principal of Shorewood High School in the Shoreline School District.

Melissa Oliver
Currently, Melissa is completing her administrative internship at Island Park and Lakeridge Elementary schools, and is the Mentor to Teachers for the Mercer Island School District.

There will be a Community Forum at Edmonds Elementary this evening, May 28th, starting at 6:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend. Those in attendance will have the opportunity to meet each finalist, ask questions, and provide written feedback.

Thank you.

Sherry Joos
Administrative Assistant, HR