Welcome Back, Notter

Just to update: The Broward County School Board is $2 billion in debt, horribly mismanaged, rampantly corrupt, and in a war with its own employees. The place is so dysfunctional that they hired a psychologist/consultant who calls himself "Dr. Bill" to help do Superintendent Jim Notter's evaluation.  

The shrink is Bill Mathis, of the Mathis Consulting Group out of Napa, California. He was purportedly paid $50,000 to help make the evaluation process go nice and smoothly (still trying to confirm that figure). I'm also hearing rumblings that Dr. Bill and his wife, Jan, who works at his side and takes all the minutes, sanitized the criticism of Notter during some parts of the process. If you read what he wrote at the top of Notter's evaluation, you would think the guy was nothing but a quack: "We have seen a School Board move forward while continuing to provide leadership in a chaotic financial time," Mathis wrote. "I acknowledge and salute the current and past Board Chairs who played phenomenal leadership roles in a highly functioning and effective School Board... Keep up the good work for Broward County's children."

"Highly functioning and effective"? What is he, a psychologist or a cheerleader? Now it's making sense why they had to go across the continent to find this guy, and it's obvious he's playing the game with hopes of being returned for another nice contract next year. Please, will one of those great leaders at the School Board send him back now to Napa or Disneyland or Shangri-la or wherever it is he belongs?

If you thought Dr. Bill was out of touch, you ain't seen nothing yet. Nobody wears rosier-colored glasses than School Board Chairwoman Jennifer Gottlieb. We knew Gottlieb was all tied up with lobbyists and bankers and such, but until reading her sham evaluation of Notter, I never realized she was so far removed from reality. In her zealous need to glorify the superintendent's leadership, she illustrates just how deep the leadership vacuum is at the board.

Click inside to see how she fawns over Notter and her own board.  

When asked if Notter provided sufficient infformation and analysis to the board, Gottlieb wrote: "Yes -- huge advances have been made since I first started and Jim brought staff up to grade quickly after becoming Superintendent."

Uh, Jennifer, this isn't a campaign event -- it's an evaluation for the man in charge of the broken government you've been elected to supervise.

OK, so what "general degree of confidence" does Gottlieb have in Notter?

"Very high," was all the chairwoman wrote.

Does Notter inform the board of critical issues?

"Yes -- tremendous job of communications."

Later Gottlieb does write of some problems, including the fact that "personnel has been ravaged of teachers and staff" and the budget has "been difficult daily." But never, ever think that the problems have anything to do with the board members or the superintendent. Heavens no. It's the economy, stupid. It was the recession that made the School Board go on a building boom to help the lobbyists who run their campaigns and the construction industry that funded them. It was the recession that made Notter and the board intentionally avoid doing state-mandated surveys that would have shown all those classroom seats they were building weren't needed.

Repeat after me: It's the economy, stupid.

Anyway, how about Notter's job with community relations, Mrs. Gottlieb?

"He's professional, concerned and wants to meet their needs and passions in Education."

This kind of gobbledygook goes on and on. It gets to the point that it doesn't matter the question; the answers are all the same:

"[Notter] handles all issues well."

"He's a talented person."

"His communication skills are excellent." 

"He keeps students safe -- it's remarkable."

"He continues to on [sic] a high leadership plane. I give him high marks ..."

"He's a consummate leader."

"Open and accountable; down to earth; organized and consistent; detailed and determined; let's [sic] every Board member have their passion; very reality oriented and practical; always very pleasant and professional; tries to take the high road."

Well, now I'm wondering what "passion" Notter let Gottlieb have. There was only one nonglowing thing she had to say about Notter, and it was about his relations with the media.

"Mediocre, but he's accessible to all of us. The Press hurts us badly -- all reporters have changed and don't know our history or real financial problems."

I think what she means to say is, "That Daily Pulp guy is giving us all massive headaches with his relentless march to the truth."

But that's just my interpretation, and I'm not sure. I'm not a psychologist, after all. In the end, she gave Notter a nine out of ten. Only one board member gave Notter a ten. Can you guess which one?

Answer: Robert "Dr. Bob" Parks. Does anything else need to be said?