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Policy and Law

Policy and Law Philosophy Statement

         According to Essex (2008), "educational leaders and policymakers must be knowledgeable of the law that governs the operation and conduct of their organizations as they face a highly litigious society" (p. xi). Each day, superintendents are confronted with countless decisions - many with legal significance. At times, these leaders may not even realize the legal ramifications of their decision, but needless to say they are expected to demonstrate a sound understanding of school policy and law in their decision-making process (Essex, 2008). Superintendents need to be well versed in state, federal, and case law governing both general education and special education in order to ensure that the operation and conduct of their organizations are in agreement with the law.
        Policy plays a large role in the day-to-day functions of a school district. For example, policies help ensure that there will be uniformity and consistency in decisions and in operational procedures. Policies also maintain a direction for the school and assist in the planning process by providing a framework. Due to the importance of policy, superintendents need to be able to develop, adjust, and implement policies that align with local, state, and federal requirements. According to Essex (2008), administrators "need to guide the development and execution of sound and well-developed policies, rules, and regulations governing many aspects of their operation" (p. xi). In other words, quality policy development hinges on a strong knowledge base of state, federal, and case law. Therefore, it is essential for superintendents to stay current in their knowledge of school law.
        In my opinion, superintendents need to maintain a strong knowledge base in both general education and special education law. Weishaar, Borsa, and Weishaar (2007) suggest that "special education administrators must develop a shared responsibility with regular education administrators to communicate knowledge, procedures, and connections" between statutory law and the identification and placement process (p. 45). I would take this a step farther and say the opposite is also true. Superintendents need to demonstrate competence in not only in general education law but also in the special education legal arena.
        In summary, superintendents must possess a strong legal knowledge base as they are continually confronted with decisions that require them to draw on their knowledge of state, federal, and case law. In addition, superintendents need to be skilled in aligning policy development, adjustment, and implementation with the local, state, and federal requirements. In order to successfully accomplish these important administrative tasks, superintendents need to demonstrate a high level of competency with both general education and special education law.

References

Essex, N.L. (2008). School law and the public schools: A practical guide for educational leaders (4th ed.). United States: Pearson Education, Inc.

Weishaar, M.K., Borsa, J.C., & Weishaar, P.M. (2007). Inclusive educational administration: A case-study approach (2nd ed.). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.

A. Policy and Law

  1. demonstrate an understanding of the role policy plays in school district governance and administration.
  2. demonstrate knowledge of statutory regulations affecting School Board meetings, communications, procedures, and practices.
  3. demonstrate an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the School Board.

Artifacts

The following artifacts demonstrate my competency in the area of policy and law:

This artifact demonstrates my understanding of the role policy plays in school district governance and administration (A1). During my superintendent field experience, I had the opportunity to review the mandatory policies of the SCRED's member school districts, as well as other education districts and special education cooperative policies.  During this review, I compared the policies to the model policies from the Minnesota School Boards Association (MSBA) and then developed policies for SCRED.  The attached policy development plan was created and shared with SCRED's member district superintendents and Governing Board to outline the policy development process and associated approval timeline. Engaging in this work, increased my understanding and knowledge of the mandatory policies that all school districts must have in place, as well as the process a superintendent may use to develop new or revise existing policies.

The two artifacts above demonstrate my knowledge of statutory regulations affecting School Board meetings, communications, procedures, and practices (A2) and my understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the School Board (A3). During my superintendent field experience, I had the opportunity to review the Minnesota School Boards Association's (MSBA) "The First Monday in January" publication that is designed to help school boards prepare for and conduct their annual organizational meeting.  The publication is based on relevant laws, knowledge of school board and superintendent roles and responsibilities, school board meeting processes and procedures, best practices, and experience.  In addition to reviewing this guidance, I was able to attend the East Central Public Schools Board meeting to see an organizational meeting in action.  Through these experiences, I gained a better understanding of the statutory regulations governing school boards, as well as the roles and responsibilities a school board serves in relation to their organizational meeting.

 
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