Therefore, let's start with the basics.
- Responsibility relates to one’s duty or mission. It is an obligation to answer for actions, to ensure that a task is accomplished. A “responsible” individual is one who gets the job done.
- Authority is the power that is vested in an individual or organization to accomplish a given task or responsibility. It is the ability to act that exerts the necessary control or influence to make things happen.
- Accountability is being liable for an outcome. It is not just about whether the job gets done, but also how it gets done.
- Condonation is the act of condoning, especially the implied forgiveness of an offense by ignoring it.
No corrections had been made. I even asked my friend John Butcher to check -- just in case my eyes or my computer were somehow failing me. He confirmed that, indeed, no corrections had been made.
I next sent a note to VDOE spokesman Charles Pyle to see if RPS had sent a letter to VDOE admitting to the errors and requesting permission to correct them. I was attempting to give RPS the benefit of the doubt and seriously thought that VDOE mayhaps had received a letter and not yet made the corrections. After Pyle checked, he sent the following response:
"According to our Office of Information Management, Richmond Public Schools has not asked for permission to submit data corrections that would impact school-level program information displayed on the school report cards."
This is not the first time RPS has submitted false data to VDOE and lied about correcting it. In 2008, RPS was caught spinning its suspension and expulsion disciplinary data to the State Board of Education for five years. The school administration submitted data claiming just one expulsion from 2004 through 2009.
An expulsion, defined as banning a student from city schools for a 180-day school year, is not the same as a suspension. For example, in the 2007-2008 school year RPS reported 13,500 suspensions in a district of fewer than 24,000 pupils. RPS suspensions and expulsions during that time exceeded by 10,000 the number of suspensions and expulsions in the Washington, D.C. public schools, which had roughly 46,000 students — nearly twice Richmond’s enrollment.
In an amazing display of spin and denial of fact, RPS school officials refused to acknowledge any error occurred: They blamed the problem on a computer glitch.
"Technically, we didn’t report incorrect data,” Richmond Schools spokesman Alfonso Mathis wrote in an e-mail to Chris Dovi at Style Weekly, saying problems with an “internal [computer] system” meant “some of our information was being lost in the transition.”
The revised numbers show dozens of pupils expelled during each of those years, a total of 190 expulsions from 2004 through 2009. “Since our initial reporting to the State,” Mathis [wrote]: “This situation has been rectified.” (It had been not been at the time).
Both the current superintendent, Yvonne Brandon, and former superintendent, Deborah Jewell-Sherman, signed off on all information and data sent to the state. Failing to supply accurate data exposes superintendents to a variety of penalties, ranging from fines to suspension or removal from their jobs. That is, if the School Board would choose to exercise its statutory authority to hold Superintendent Yvonne Brandon responsible and accountable. Since the School Board and administration have been aware of the existence of the false information since August, their inaction on this is tantamount to condonation and perhaps could even be seen as an admission of complicity.
But, all this begs the questions of why RPS administrators would fail to submit accurate information and data in the first place and why in the world the members of School Board would repeatedly allow the administration to outright lie about a) the existence of the I.B. programs and b) not simply correct the information?
Vocabulary words for tomorrow: misfeasance and malfeasance. Board members are encouraged to look up the definitions.