Kinnelon School Board Tackles Ethics and Superintendent Evaluation

In a recent meeting, the Kinnelon School Board focused on ethical standards for board members and detailed the process for the upcoming superintendent evaluation. These were the topics of greatest consequence discussed. The meeting also touched on the tentative budget, including healthcare and travel adjustments, the Stony Brook roof replacement fund, and personnel changes within the district’s sports programs.

The ethics discussion was multifaceted, emphasizing the significance of adhering to the code of ethics for school board members. The board examined the role of the School Ethics Commission and the mandatory training for both new and returning officials. Potential consequences for ethical violations, such as reprimand, censure, and suspension, were explained. The board members were reminded of their responsibilities, including the need for confidentiality, accurate information sharing, and the prohibition against making personal promises or taking private actions concerning board matters.

Instances of alleged ethical violations by board members in the previous year were presented, illustrating improper conduct such as independent information gathering on potential policy changes, unauthorized contact with school personnel, and engaging in discussions with the public without full board consent. The importance of avoiding conflicts of interest was stressed, with a reminder to recuse from deliberations and decisions when necessary. The meeting also addressed the complexities of defining immediate family members and relatives in the context of state regulations, which impact hiring and other employment-related decisions.

Social media usage by board members was another topic, with discussions focused on the need for members to avoid identifying themselves as board members on personal social media accounts and to exercise caution in sharing information that could result in ethics complaints. The board attorney was identified as a resource for ethical guidance, and the importance of staying abreast of ethical updates was emphasized.

Additionally, the meeting addressed the board’s role in the superintendent evaluation process. The legal requirements for the evaluation were reinforced, including its written form, alignment with district goals and objectives, and adherence to criteria set by the State Board of Education. The necessity of completing the evaluation by July 1 was noted, and the process was detailed, from setting effective goals to ensuring evidence-based evaluation. The superintendent’s evidence was deemed critical for the board’s assessment of progress in various areas.

The structure of the evaluation tool, divided into goals and leadership standards, was discussed, and the procedure for compiling individual board assessments into a collective report was explained. The evaluation process must align with the district’s strategic plan and be based on Professional Standards for Educational Leaders. The importance of effective communication between the board and the superintendent throughout the evaluation process was highlighted.

The board emphasized the need to evaluate the superintendent based on their goals and the action plan, rather than personal opinions. Clarity in the evaluation process and the significance of compiling reports to reflect the majority opinion were noted. The recommendation for the full board’s presence at the summary conference was made to ensure that minority opinions were also heard. A calendar to track the completion of evaluation steps was suggested, and the importance of treating the evaluation as a year-long process was stressed. The meeting concluded with a motion to adjourn, which was seconded and approved.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
David C. Mango
School Board Officials:
Jean Donaldson, Michael Petruccelli, Jonathan Eisenmenger, Dana Leonard, Carl Myers, Kelly Parrella, Jennifer Portman

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