Bibb school board late with Dallemand evaluation

Although Bibb County school Superintendent Romain Dallemand has been on the job nearly 18 months, the school board has not given him a written evaluation -- despite legal and contractual obligations to do so.

The state requires each school board to evaluate its superintendent within a 12-month period every year. According to Dallemand’s contract, the board agreed to an annual date of “no later than Nov. 15” each year to hold an executive session to evaluate him.

The agreement requires that the board provide Dallemand with a copy of the written evaluation at least 10 days before that executive session. Before that closed session, each board member fills out an evaluation form, and the average score in each category determines how Dallemand is rated.

School board President Tommy Barnes said this week that the board is “in the process of doing it.”

Barnes didn’t explain the delay or say when the board plans to formally complete its evaluation.

“There are certain things we’ve established as benchmarks,” he said. “We’re still compiling it. It wouldn’t be fair to say at this time” when it will be finished.”

School board Vice President Susan Middleton said the process hasn’t started yet, however.

“It’s just a matter that there’s been a lot of other work for us, but something needs to take place,” she said. “Hopefully, something will come up at our next meeting. It’s a personnel matter, so we would discuss it in executive session.”

Susan Sipe, who has served four years on the board, said she remembers evaluating former Superintendent Sharon Patterson during Patterson’s final two years on the job, but she didn’t remember formally evaluating interim Superintendent Sylvia McGee, who served in that capacity during the year between Patterson and Dallemand.

“(The evaluation) is built around the goals we’ve established,” Sipe said. “It’s a way of evaluating (a superintendent’s) accomplishment of those goals.”

According to Dallemand’s contract, his evaluation is supposed to be based on seven basic areas, ranging from meeting state academic requirements to having effective community relations.

School boards in Georgia can use either the state’s evaluation form or one created by the Georgia School Board Association. State law says performance evaluations are considered a personnel matter and are not subject to the Open Records Act.

Matt Cardoza, spokesman for the state’s Department of Education, said his office is aware that the Bibb County school board has yet to perform an evaluation, but he said the law doesn’t specify what punitive action should be taken if the law is violated.

“(The law) doesn’t give the state much of a policing authority,” Cardoza said. “What should happen is that the public should demand (of the board) what the law requires.”

Cardoza said it’s up to the board, not Dallemand, to make sure an evaluation is completed.

“He’s not the one not obeying the law,” Cardoza said. “He’s on the receiving end. I don’t know why they haven’t done an evaluation. It’s their job to comply with that law.”

Herb Garrett, executive director of the Georgia School Superintendents Association, said it’s fairly rare for a school board not to perform an evaluation within a 12-month period.

“It’s not unheard of that (evaluations) slip through the cracks,” Garrett said. “But it is unusual. It’s not common.”

If done right, evaluations are an excellent way for a school district to measure progress, Garrett said.

“Some (evaluations) are more valuable than others,” he said. “If it’s nothing but a cursory check of the superintendent’s job description, then it’s probably not that valuable. But if the superintendent and the board agree on measurable and key things, then it’s a very valuable way to discuss progress on locally developed objectives.”

Middleton said that while the evaluation is important, the board also needs to stay focused on other issues, such as seven open principal vacancies and a low graduation rate.

“We’ve got to spare the time to do a review,” she said. “I want to see which principals are named. We’ve got to stay focused when we’re stuck at a 50-percent graduation rate.”

Writer Andrea Castillo contributed to this report. To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.