Says different rules exist for superintendents
To the Editor:
I don't believe New Milford Superintendent of Schools JeanAnn Paddyfote is as good as they portray her. I have no children in the New Milford school system.
Dr. Paddyfote is right about the superintendent burnout rate being high. The superintendent has to operate and adhere to many contracts.
They all fall short on superintendent standards.
I was employed over the years in a number of different job capacities in different school systems. The one thing I noticed was every contract had standards for teachers, custodians and school bus drivers. They all state the superintendent can fire any one of them without justifiable cause. Not one contract has standards to which a superintendent must adhere.
Superintendents seem to think they can fire anyone at the drop of a hat but that is so wrong. We have all seen stories in the newspapers about teachers being fired or bus drivers. Yes, it is stressful for the superintendent because our state labor department requires every employee to be given due process. That means the burden of proof falls on the employer.
Superintendents say they have to deal with irate parents. There should be standards for parents to follow, too. They should be told up front hearsay is not acceptable. They also should be told complaints over the phone are not acceptable because they can't be verified.
Superintendents could say anything they want. Every Board of Education office should have a complaint form. It should be signed by the employee to prove they were notified and allowed to respond to it.
The burden of proof is on the parents. They have to be able to say who the teacher or bus driver was and the day and time it happened. This form should say the superintendent will be given an allotment of time to address the complaint.
Another problem I have seen is what happens when the superintendent is contacted by an officer of the court (attorney). Superintendents seem to think if they ignore it, that it will just go away. It results in a mushroom effect and does not go away.
Superintendents have too many responsibilities to begin with. Some of them should be taken away, like school cancellations. That should only be made by the highway department and the bus company. The average superintendent has never driven a school bus.
Deciding whether a bus driver should be fired or suspended should be left to the bus company. I can't tell you how many times I have seen bus drivers reinstated because of lack of evidence and credibility. The parents get angry at the superintendent thinking the driver was fired.
Discipline on the school bus should be handled by the bus company and the police department and the principal enforcing disciplinary action, after all facts are known.