LAND O'LAKES — School superintendent Kurt Browning wants the power to accept employees' resignations.
During a workshop on Tuesday, he asked the School Board to give up that responsibility. Under a new policy, the board would instead receive a list of the superintendent's actions.
"It's an arcane practice," Browning said of the existing rule. "I supervise employees on a day to day basis … and I can't accept a resignation."
Board members did not question Browning's intention or challenge his request. But they did want assurances that if they yield their authority they won't be inadvertently letting some employees off the hook.
Board member Steve Luikart pointedly asked whether the board could prevent the superintendent from accepting a resignation so it could instead fire an employee. He did not mention names, but he has suggested such action for former Connerton Elementary principal Anna Falcone, whom Browning removed on accusations of insubordination.
"You can't prevent a person from resigning," executive director for administration Renalia DuBose told Luikart. "That's slavery. … They have the right to resign."
Luikart pressed the issue, saying he did not like the idea of not being able to say the district fired someone simply because they quit first.
Employee relations director Kevin Shibley assured the board that the district can accept a resignation with prejudice. If an employee quits in lieu of being dismissed, Shibley added, the staff immediately places a "do not hire" notice in the personnel file.
"We also would freely share that with other potential employers?" board member Allen Altman asked, picking up on the concern.
"Absolutely," DuBose said. "We can't pass the trash any more."
With such guarantees, the board members agreed to the policy revision Browning requested. The update requires two public hearings and a final vote before it would take effect.
The board also agreed to firm up its policy on charter school applications, making clear that no applications will be considered before the Aug. 1 submission deadline.
Once the deadline passes the staff would then review all applications that are deemed complete.
That standard generated several questions about the definition of "complete."
Board members noted that applicants would have time to make technical and nonsubstantive changes, and asked what that means.
Luikart, for instance, gave the example of an applicant who might have inadvertently left a page out of the paperwork. Shouldn't they have the chance to just add it back, he wondered.
Other members said the staff gives applicants ample opportunity to go over the requirements and ask questions before they turn anything in. By the time the deadline rolls around, they suggested, major omissions such as a missing page should not be considered unimportant.
Browning stood by the completion standard, so long as every charter applicant is treated similarly and fairly. The board agreed as it ended discussion.
Browning said he intended to bring the policy revisions to the board for the first of two public hearings on April 16.
Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek.