What the Flunk: Commission's Report Says Dallas ISD's HR Department Is Basically Useless

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Via.
See Item No. 16 in the Star Employee Commission's report
Just returned from a funeral to find the Dallas Independent School District board discussing 21 ways to get better candidates down to 3700 Ross and how to restructure human resources -- which, I know, sounds boring on the surface. But this is the so-called Star Employee Commission's report to the board, which has been months in the making, and it comes at a crucial time for the district, which isn't just looking for a superintendent but also a chief human resources officer (apply here, if you dare).

As trustee Eric Cowan put it: "Everything begins and ends with HR. The success of this district depends on HR." And a report such as the one you'll find on the other side could "fix decades' worth of mismanagement." Could. Didn't say "will."

The commission -- which included no less than Garrett Boone, co-founder and former CEO of the Container Store, who's written about issues of performance-versus-seniority at 3700 Ross -- more or less says HR is a dysfunctional, emasculated, inefficient, unhealthy mess that has no power, doesn't report to the superintendent and has given principals the ability to hire "without accountability." For starters.

Most of the trustees want the dozens of recommendations found below to be implemented day before yesterday. Said interim superintendent Alan King, he wants to "implement everything I can that doesn't cost anything or require board approval." And he wants to do it now. Edwin Flores said this will take years to implement, so they'd best hustle. Only Carla Ranger, of course, put up the whoa-whoa-whoa: "We have two weeks before some are calling for this vote. I would say we wait till February ... to study this more closely ourselves."

Far as Boone's concerned, "the most shocking" thing about the report is Item No. 16, which says "74 percent of employees are at risk for high blood pressure, 67 percent do not get enough exercise, and more than 48 percent have four or more risk factors." The report suggests creating "wellness incentives" for DISD employees.

But till that happens, said Boone, "It's disturbing. ... To run a school system, to be effective ... you have to have energy and be healthy." Far as he's concerned, this revelation is "cause for five-alarm bells."

They're now talking about that teacher evaluation system, which they see as a piece of the solution to the problem delineated below.STAR Employee Commission Report
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Dallas Dad
Dallas Dad

"74 percent of employees are at risk for high blood pressure, 67 percent do not get enough exercise, and more than 48 percent have four or more risk factors."

The report suggests creating "wellness incentives" for DISD employees.

This should not be surprising. Incentives for employees to adopt healthier lifestyles isn't the answer. Principals are requiring employees to work 10 or more hours a day and to work on Saturdays. When are they supposed to work out? Increased class sizes, increased responsibilities, constant harassment and berating - no wonder their blood pressure is going up and they are having health problems.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

What teachers want is a department that recognizes its purpose--and that is true of ANY department in DISD. Sometimes, they forget they are there to SERVE the teacher who educates the child. If you do not serve the teacher, the child just won't have a good teacher in front of them.

The nepotism issue was supposed to be addressed years ago. The sorority/church connections are harder to trace, but they exist ALL over DISD, from the TOP all the way down, not just in HR. A big-mouth like me learned early on to be careful whom you criticize in DISD, because the person you are saying it to may be their auntie, their cousin, their sorority sister, their tabernacle brother, etc... It cuts across all ethnic lines, too. (Y'all should have been at the latest LULAC Chorizo breakfast to see the connect-the-dots there, too!)The purpose of SUPPORT, again, is to SUPPORT the teacher. We teachers have NO choice but to keep good records, return phone calls, be available, etc... All we ask is that others do the same. I watched as an excellent candidate for administration was worn down by FIVE requests, FIVE, for his hiring paperwork--which they should have had when they HIRED him. After disgust set in, he left DISD to go to a suburban district. In one year, he was teacher of the year, and in two, he was an administrator. The talent drain hurts us all. Over the years, several HR people there have gone out of their way to help us, to be repspectful of our time and just get it right. Sadly, that is not the overall experience by many for too long.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

HR department is a mess-no supprise.   The trustees have been a mess for decades too.  

Guest number 987
Guest number 987

DISD is hugely dysfunctional, and there is no silver bullet. The fact that Garrett Boone was willing to invest his time down there is wonderful. Container Store frequently ranks in the top tier "best places to work" in all kinds of magazines. He's not tied to any of the unions or any of the organizations like DFPE who squeak a lot but don't always have the business sense to go with their noise. Let's hope he is able to provide good guidance in a tough environment.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Mere words cannot express how much is wrong with HR.And although I'm no fan of anything related to Hinojosa, these problems pre-date his appointee, Claudia Rodriguez.-Teacher files--including SS#, transcripts, you name it--stacked to the ceiling instead of in files.  Constant loss of paperwork, demands that you take a day off and replace it, threats of freezing your paycheck until you do, etc.  It's a breeding ground for lawsuits and grievances.-Petty, hateful employees who have been there for decades and run the place like their own personal fiefdom.  One of them is a flat-out sociopath.  One refused to open a letter bc there was a small piece of clear tape holding the envelope shut.  Games like that while kids sit with subs.-A passive-aggressive approach to campuses.  Principals select a teacher, but HR (just to show people who's really boss) stalls and stalls and stalls.  Kids get stuck with subs for way longer than necessary.  Then HR requires an almost full day to sign papers, get passwords, etc.  Without those full-day "trainings" (again, at the expense of the kids), HR people would have no justification for their salaries.  Send an email instead.-Rampant cronyism and nepotism.  Good candidates are driven off so spots can be saved for friends, family members, and sorority sisters.-I was down there once to replace a form they had lost.  A young-ish guy, in a suit, told me had been waiting TWO HOURS to meet with his staffing specialist.  He had a math degree from a respected college.  He told me he was "this close" to getting up and walking out.  They told him there was a "conference call" that was "more important right now."  So typical.Carla is on the wrong side of this issue.  Replace every person who has anything to do with staffing.

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

No secret HR has been a mess for years.  But there's a reason it hasn't been fixed - HR is a racial landmine waiting to be stepped on by the unwary do-gooder.  My recommendation: outsource the whole effing thing in one fell swoop. 

Nuke it from orbit, it's the only way to be sure.

Gangy
Gangy

Outsourcing HR operations would be a disaster.  A big problem in the school district culture is the feeling that outsiders/non-education professionals think they know more about school administration and teaching than the professionals do.  There would be a huge lack of trust between faculty and HR, if it was staffed by an outside entity.

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

How else can you scrape off the layer of crap?  Also, HR is a pretty standard business function - education HR doesn't have any unique features that would daunt the outsider.  This is arguably the most legitimate place for outsiders to be injected into the system.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Racial in the demographics of the department, but equal opportunity when it comes to treating people like crap.

Teachers of all races at my campus hate HR and tell tales of incompetence and mistreatment.

I think Claudia might have been afraid of a discrimination lawsuit if she took anybody on.

So yes, it has to be nuked from orbit.

Paul
Paul

I suggest nannites.

The Royal Wii
The Royal Wii

Just like a T-rex: Huge body, little tiny brain and a few useless appendages.

Every time this beast turns around and swings that huge tail, hundreds of students and teachers are damaged and the beast doesn't feel a thing. Just looks for more to shove into it's massive, hungry maw. 

Anonymous
Anonymous

If, after fixing the people and operational issues at DISD, they can fix the households/parenting (or lack thereof) so many of these kids are raised with, they will be making progress.  Otherwise, we're unfortunately flushing tax dollars down the drain.   

Gangy
Gangy

That is a mean comment.  The education and socialization of young members of the community is not a waste of money.  Parenting skills vary in all school populations - public and private. 

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

In September of 2009 DFPE identified Culture (Superintendent), HR and Accounting (obvious) as the major failures that must be remedied by the Trustees.  DISD is an entity with 20,000 employees and a cash flow of $1.25 billion dollars per year. In Trustee endorsement interviews and in public statements we kept asking how the trustees and administration  could possibly allow the HR department to be headed by staff that had no experience in HR. The only direct answer we received was from Edwin Flores during his election campaign (at least he had the balls to comment) that "everyone wanted a teacher or principal in that position and ultimately it was the superintendent's (Hinojosa's) decision."  The majority of the Trustees knew in 2009 that something needed to be done.  The "old-guard" Trustees - Blackburn, Ranger, Flores and Bingham - have had more than enough years to try to fix what's broken. This change has been such a long time coming we will have to pay a premium for an HR director with the skills to turn the department around rather than simply step in to a fully functioning organization.  The longer we wait, the worse it will get. It's time for action Ms. Ranger.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

"This change has been such a long time coming we will have to pay a premium for an HR director with the skills to turn the department around rather than simply step in to a fully functioning organization."

So do you think some on a Day Pass from Timber Lawn might want to take the Job ?

mm
mm

After all the teacher layoffs we've had recently, I'm seeing 250 job openings for teachers.  Am I reading this correctly?     http://www.applitrack.com/dall...

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

Yes. Although some of these are positions that should be filled many are simply budget placeholders.  Gotta have some wiggle-room.

Anon
Anon

"no accountability" is the motto of the DISD trustees, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that it's standard operating procedure for the HR department.

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