Wikle: Review Janssen's performance now
Pinellas County School Board member Robin Wikle told The Gradebook today that she wants the board to immediately review Superintendent Julie Janssen's performance in light of concerns raised by her and others.
"I want the board to be accountable for the superintendent's performance," Wikle said. "I think it's up to the board to make sure we're being responsible in our jobs for who we have hired to be the CEO of our school system."
Wikle's comments today follow a motion she made at the tail end of last night's board meeting to pull Janssen's contract for review.
She said then that she wanted to make sure Janssen's salary was reduced as much as other employees, given budget cuts and the strong possibility of furloughs. She also said she wanted the board to conduct a "mid-year evaluation," now, rather than wait for the current time table, which has the board submitting evaluations in about three months.
"Hiring, firing and retaining the superintendent are the responsibility of the board, not outside entities," Wikle told fellow board members. "I'm going to say that again - not outside entities. We're responsible for that."
"I believe the board has a measurable system in place to evaluate the leadership and success of our superintendent, not being driven by outside entities," she continued. "The superintendent has completed a timely improvement plan in November, right after her evaluation, with measurable goals. These goals can be used for a mid-year evaluation."
Wikle's remarks left some board members stumped. The board is set to discuss a new evaluation system for the superintendent at a June 21 workshop.
"Mrs. Wikle, I don't quite understand," said Linda Lerner. "Because we are going to have the evaluation ... The process is in place. It's timely. It's happening soon."
"I think I'm just going to wait until June 21 to find out what's going on just now," said Janet Clark. "I don't understand what this whole deal was about. It just went right over my head. I don't know the outside influences ... There was innuendo. I'm like, what the heck is going on?"
Wikle ended up withdrawing her motion.
In an interview, she said she wanted to be careful with her words last night and not make things sound personal. But she also said given the concerns she has about Janssen, and criticism from other quarters, the time was right to do an evaluation sooner rather than later.
Wikle would not say which "outside agencies" she was referring to. She said she has concerns about Janssen's leadership, communication and organizational management.
"I wasn't trying to dog the superintendent," she said about her comments last night. "I was trying to take those those areas of concerns and take a look at them."
"We hired the superintendent," she also said. "We need to stand behind her ... or we need to move on as a district."