RSF School District responds to different Grand Jury report

RANCHO SANTA FE — Once again, the County of San Diego Grand Jury has issued another report to the school districts within the county, including the Rancho Santa Fe School District.

The most recent Grand Jury Report is entitled, “Evaluating the Evaluators.”

While students undergo county, state and federal evaluations, the Grand Jury believed it was time to address the protocol for evaluating teachers in San Diego County.

A few months ago, the Grand Jury delivered another report to the districts in San Diego called, “School Security: There Is No Greater Purpose.”

The Rancho Santa Fe School District’s legal representative, Richard Currier, Esq., responded to the most current report.

According to Currier, from time to time, the Grand Jury will find certain topics essential enough to issue a report to the school districts.

“This report is not aimed at the Rancho Santa Fe School District because a number of the findings and recommendations don’t relate to our school district,” Currier said. He speculated that the report was perhaps aimed at larger school districts.

All in all, Currier’s response was sent back to the Grand Jury. It underscored either a disagreement to some recommendations, while highlighting how the others were already being conducted.

The letter responded to the Educational Code Sections dealing with teacher evaluation at the Rancho Santa Fe School District.

“Evaluation procedures are a mandatory subject to negotiations. We have a provision in the collective bargaining agreement and these are not accurately described as merely guidelines, these are things that the District must comply with,” Currier said. “Having said this, I put in the response the actual article from the collective bargaining agreement dealing with evaluation procedures, indicating it is consistent with the Education Code Sections and does not overly restrain the District in being able to evaluate certificated employees.”

With the Grand Jury recommendations having to do with developing guidelines for teacher evaluations, Currier responded that additional guidelines were not necessary at the District.

Recommendation 14-24 stated, “Encourage and support district superintendents to give input to the evaluation clauses in their union contracts.” Currier said in his reply that in Rancho Santa Fe, the superintendent already sits in on negotiations and has direct input.

Perhaps in lager districts they do not. But in Rancho Santa Fe District, Currier pointed out, the superintendent plays a role in what goes into the collective bargaining agreements.

Recommendation 14-25 reads, “Develop and support programs that give more individualized attention to teachers who may need to ameliorate their performance.”

Currier indicated in his response that the District already gives individualized attention to teacher performance. “In fact, the superintendent and the two principles are very proactive in regard to providing support and evaluating teachers,” he said.

Currier pointed out that in the report teacher “Burn Out” was discussed in reference to moving instructors to other schools. Again, this does not apply to Rancho Santa Fe.

There is only one school in Rancho Santa Fe and teachers don’t get transferred to another school in the District.

And the Rancho Santa Fe School District already abides with recommendation 14-28 which reads, “Give oversight and input to the districts’ contracts to assure that teacher evaluation has some elements based on student performance rating, to comply with the state law.”

Another recommendation was to allow teachers to participate in Professional Learning Communities, which the District already historically complies with.

The last recommendation, 14-30, reported, “Develop a system to measure effects of teacher evaluation on student performance.” Currier pointed out that the District already carefully evaluates teachers based on pupil performance. “In fact the superintendent, herself, tracks all of that,” he said.

Most of the items in the San Diego Grand Jury Report either did not apply to Rancho Santa Fe or they were already being done.

“The district does a really good job and it is reflected in the quality of their teachers,” Currier said.

Currier also wants people to know that not at any time when this newest Grand Jury Report was created, did they ask the Rancho Santa Fe School District to provide any information, documentation or testimony.

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