An open letter to Superintendent Donnie Carter.

Dear Superintendent Carter,

As Chief of Operations since the days of dear old Frank Till, the corruption and incompetence of district management and staff has only grown worse.  With a Chief Information Officer handing out no bid contracts while taking graft in the form of free vendor paid trips for himself and other members of staff, at least one “free” vacation to Disney World for his family, the lack of action by the chain of command is evident.  Even the termination of the errant CIO took a scandal of media proportions rather than interception by his immediate supervisor or even the COO’s supervisor.

With a transportation department that has been bleeding money for years, the corruption is simply inexcusable.  The “misplacement” of more than $1 million in assets along with allegations of harassment and violation of hiring policy has garnered no response from the chain of command other than an “investigation” by then Superintendent James Notter.  The suspension of the two top managers was prompted not by any internal controls, but by outside exposure.  The ultimate termination of these two, delayed by a year and a half, would not have taken place were it not for constant reminders in the media by a former Board member with a loud (and widely read) voice.

In each of these cases, it was the job of the COO to manage and if necessary, intercede in the operations of these departments rather than permit escalation in any way shape or form, let alone escalation to the media.  A Chief Operations Officer that can’t manage operations is no manager at all.

And now sir, you are Superintendent, even if it’s only a temporary assignment.  But the fact is; you wanted the job.  Holding that title, even for a short time, requires that you act like a Superintendent.  The actions that either you take, or fail to take, will affect the district for years to come.  The bleeding of money must be stopped now for the sake of those teachers who will no longer have jobs.  The bleeding of money must be stopped now for the sake of classrooms and children.

A number of questions have recently been posed to you regarding transportation’s refusal to use the Kronos time and attendance system while employees are permitted to fill out time sheets in pencil.  Neither you nor your subordinates have had the decency to respond to the requests with so much as a “thank you, we will look into it” response.  But suspiciously, the very same department is also one of the highest consumers of overtime within the district.  Please be aware that the public is now monitoring the performance of district management along with that of the Board itself.

Not only is it completely within your power  and authority to take the pressure off the shoulders of the Board members and raise public confidence in the district itself, it is your ultimate responsibility.

According to the state’s education law the responsibility of the Superintendent is defined as follows:

fs 1001.32 (3) DISTRICT SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT.—Responsibility for the administration and management of the schools and for the supervision of instruction in the district shall be vested in the district school superintendent as the secretary and executive officer of the district school board, as provided by law.

Now let me step on the grand jury report with this little gem:

1001.32 (2) DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD.—In accordance with the provisions of s. 4(b) of Art. IX of the State Constitution, district school boards shall operate, control, and supervise all free public schools in their respective districts and may exercise any power except as expressly prohibited by the State Constitution or general law. (emphasis, mine)

Specifically, section 4(b) of Article IX reads: The school board shall operate, control and supervise all free public schools within the school district and determine the rate of school district taxes within the limits prescribed herein. Two or more school districts may operate and finance joint educational programs.

Does that mean that the School Board should be meddling in day to day operations?  Only, sir, when the Board considers its management team incompetent or corrupt.  According to Ed Marko, the previous Board Attorney, the School Board is bound to take the recommendations of the Superintendent unless members determine the Superintendent is wrong.  And that, sir, provides the members of the Board with whatever latitude they need to step in and correct the situation.

Marty Rubinstein,
Former Broward School Board member, District 6