Brannan tries to do damage control

Published April 20, 2014 by justicewg

Board member Debbie Brannan has sent an email out to try to do damage control for the school board, in the wake of the firing of Band director Hennig. The full email is after the jump.

Brannan is the board member to send out this email? Very odd, she has never been the public communicator in the past. Douglass is the boss of the board, so I guess he though it would be better to have someone else telling parents to calm down. Also, Brannan is the board member who will be up for election next (along with Adam Miller, but Miller was obviously working hard to keep the band director), if the voters are still angry by next election she will take the hit.

“The School Board hires the Superintendent. The superintendent then hires and evaluates the administrators. The administrators hire and evaluate the teachers.” – D.B.

What a load of buck passing B.S. Anyone with a minimum of knowledge about the school knows that the board is intimately involved in the final decision making about keeping or booting teachers. Do you think Ken Chaffin, young and newly hired to the school administration, was the one to decide that Hennig had to go? No way.

I heard that a big part of the reason super O’Reilly chose to quit was that the board (Douglass) was spending a lot of time telling him how to do his job. This decision by the board to get rid of Hennig might have happened back in January, could it have been the final push that drove O’Reilly out?

“Third, any observations / evaluations / improvement plans have a strictly prescribed process that must be followed. That’s why the union is there – for the teachers’ protection to ensure it is a fair process. “ – D.B.

Yes, there is a process, and the teachers union has a representative to give council to the teachers. They have no power to tell the administration how to do those evaluations, and if the teacher is being screwed over by the school, they can advise the teacher about the legal options they can take. Unfortunately the best legal advice for a young teacher who is being screwed over is “shut up and move on, because you don’t want to go down in the records as a teacher who likes to fight in court”.

If the process of evaluating Hennig was completed and the conclusion was that he had to go, why was there a 50 minute executive board meeting to decide his fate? That tells me there were board members who didn’t think the evaluations were fair, or that they warranted Hennig being booted.

“As we look to the future, Mr. Chaffin will be involving parents and students in the process of determining what Grandview values most in our High School Band program, and finding the best person for that job.” – D.B.

Again pasting the responsibility and blame on Chaffin. I wonder how long he will be staying at the school when he understands how this board is willing to stick the knife in his back?

“Keep Calm and March On” – Debbie Brannan

Don’t worry your pretty little heads about anything. Like soldiers marching in a line, you need to learn to obey orders, and the board has spoken!

(Yes, I know that “Keep Calm and Carry On” was a meme, it came from a poster used in WW2 England. Quoting from the Wiki article:

Design historian Susannah Walker regards the campaign as “a resounding failure”, and reflective of a misjudgment by upper-class civil servants of the mood of the people.

So it is very appropriate for Brannan to refer to that meme, her letter is also a resounding failure!)

(Later) A post-resignation investigation by the TVN found that Chaffin had not given his recommendation to offer a new contract  or withdraw an offer at the time the board acted, and super O’Reilly confirmed that there was nothing bad enough in  Hennig’s record to cause an immediate firing. This directly contradicts Brannan’s claim that it was the super and the principal who were firing Hennig. She was lying to the parents.

Dear Band Parents,

We do value your input and experiences, and appreciate your involvement in coming to the Board meeting Tuesday night. We understand this is an upsetting situation in many ways. As much as we are able, while still honoring those involved, we do want to address your concerns.

First, the music program is indeed moving forward, growing academically with increased rigor (concert and symphonic bands, adding AP Music Theory course), growing in breadth (plans to have strings continue in to high school next year), is well supported by the parent boosters and community members (new percussion instruments this year), and even physically moving the class to a newly remodeled and larger space. We are committed to increasing excellence in our music program.

Second, new teachers meet several days before school starts and throughout the year in structured meetings with two Lead Mentors who have been through ODE mandated training. In addition, mentors have ongoing one-on-one meetings with new teachers to provide support in instruction and understanding structures/norms of the district/building. In this district, our entire administrative team is also there to support the growth and success of all staff members.

Third, any observations / evaluations / improvement plans have a strictly prescribed process that must be followed. That’s why the union is there – for the teachers’ protection to ensure it is a fair process. Our administrators’ number one priority is what is best for Grandview students – all they do in each of their buildings is done with that end in mind. Many different data points are used in evaluations – yes, input is considered by parents and students, but there is no way a “small group of parents” has as much influence as you are giving them credit for. These are professionals who do not enter these situations lightly. And who would want their job evaluation debated in public? We are respecting Mr. Hennig’s choice to resign.

The School Board hires the Superintendent. In fact, we are in the midst of that extremely important process right now, which is why we’ve had many recent meetings held in Executive Session for the purpose of “personnel.” The superintendent then hires and evaluates the administrators. The administrators hire and evaluate the teachers.

As we look to the future, Mr. Chaffin will be involving parents and students in the process of determining what Grandview values most in our High School Band program, and finding the best person for that job. If your child became excited about music by the love and enthusiasm of Mr. Hennig, what a gift! Encourage them to “Keep Calm and March On”… together, in community, with respect for one another. It is sure to be a wonderful high school experience!

Most Sincerely,

Debbie Brannan


5 comments on “Brannan tries to do damage control

  • Do you have reason to believe that Miller was trying to keep him, or are you speculating? Just curious. They don’t seem to publically have opinions and votes seem to be five to zero. It is hard to know who to support in an election. I have to say, that email was a patronizing little pat on the head. I know I won’t be voting for her.

  • I don’t have first hand knowledge of what happened in the executive session, it is supposed to be a confidential meeting, but Miller was trying hard to signal throughout the board meeting that he was on the side of the parents who wanted Hennig to stay. The vote was to accept the resignation that was being placed before the board. Without any agreement from the other board members to offer another year of contract, the vote to accept was the one he had to make (unless he had some reason to think the resignation was not what Hennig wanted that night).

    You are not going to hear Miller say anything now that the vote is completed. According to the Ohio School board Code of Ethics:

    “I will Express my personal opinions but, once the board has acted, accept the will of the majority.”

    Continuing to fight after the vote is completed is bad for the board, and Miller is not going to go there. It is up to the community to fight for what they want now.

  • I’m hearing people say that now some administration members are talking about Hennig, and sharing stories about large number of students failing to sign up for band, complaints about tough grading, etc. That story from the board and the administration that they had to keep detail about the reasons Hennig was booted confidential had a short life.

    There were a lot of ways this situation could have been handled better, but bad mouthing a teacher after he has resigned and has no way to defend himself (and we have no way to know if these complains are valid) is just the crappy topping on a whole mound of fail.

  • Tough grading in band? I kind of like it – a little more like real life where you don’t get a free pass. (And yes, I was in both band and choir in school). If there really is a problem with a drop in band enrollment, then the FIRST thing that a good leader would do is go to the band parents and members of those who dropped band and try to find out what is going on. If, then, the feedback had merit, then you have reason to go to the band director to see if it can be addressed. If those things were done and the leader felt that the items were not being addressed satisfactorily, then the course of action taken might be appropriate. If all of those things happened, then I see no reason why they couldn’t make a more public release of the steps taken and why the ultimate actions were chosen.

    Again, it comes down to leadership handling things poorly and leaves us all to speculate. Even if this particular situation is over, their is damage done and trust has been lost. I suspect we’ll see the impacts for awhile.

  • It’s clear here that Debbie Brannan was very clumsily trying to get everybody to drop this story. She’s basically telling us that we must respect Justin’s privacy and, therefore, stop questioning why the school board went in this direction.

    A question for you Debbie: Was it your idea to write this clumsy email, or did Grant talk you into doing it?

    Another perspective for you Debbie: You may have had a conversation with Grant about this whole mess, where he loosely suggested that something needed to be communicated to the parents (voters) about Justin Hennig. You probably thought “I could communicate this message.”

    You are an idiot, Debbie Brannan. And Grant knows it.

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