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Grievance Policies

February 13, 2020
By Fr. David

One of the FAQs we receive concerns a school's grievance policy.  A parent is unhappy with a school decision and wants to address the matter with the board. How should the board respond to parent complaints?  That's one of the things we have to do, right? 

Well, maybe.  Central to board best practices is understanding the difference between issues of management and issues of governance.  Which decisions belong to the board and which decisions belong to the head? Standard C.6. reads, "The board should employ the head of school as its sole employee , delegate the operational functions of the school to the head, and respect the boundaries that separate board governance and administrative management.” 

Too often, a school's grievance policy opens the door to blurring those boundaries. I remind boards that you are not the "court of last resort" for administrative decisions that might be unpopular.  In those instances, the best contribution the board can make is to ask the question, "What can we do to support the head to respond to the complaint?" 

Obviously, some matters will qualify as an appropriate grievance that should be brought to the board's attention--especially if the matter goes to misconduct involving the head of school.  Too often, however, I see boards get pulled into administrative matters because of a lack of any formal grievance policy or a policy that is worded so vaguely that anything can rise to the level of landing on board's agenda. 

How is your grievance policy worded? Is it consistent with the understanding of the board's role of governance versus the head's role of administration? Don't hesitate to reach out to us if we can be of assistance or if you would like to explore this further. 

Bishop Eugene Sutton on Racial Reconciliation

December 30, 2019
By Fr. David

Recently, I attended my Diocesan Convention where Bishop Eugene Sutton (Maryland) gave the keynote address. The topic was how we, as a community of disciples, can live into a life of reconciliation--especially concerning racial relations.  I think this topic is especially important to those of us leading school communities and working with young people.  Bishop Sutton offered four thoughts on the topic:

  1.  Commit ourselves to civil conversations. Unfortunately, this is missing from lots of the public dialogue that our students see on television. "Name calling" and demonizing the other side doesn't help.  Rather, what are we doing to seek to understand as opposed to be understood? St. Francis instructs us to be instruments of peace. 
  2. Criticism is healthy and patriotic.  There is nothing "unpatriotic" about looking at some hard facts of our history together.  Rather than avoiding it, where are some places where we as a country have failed to live up to the baptismal covenant?  Being critical on this topic isn't "anti-American."  On the contrary, it is the most patriotic thing we, as citizens, can do. Are we prepared to "repent and return to the Lord?"
  3. Call out racist language. How many times have we as teachers simply looked the other way when confronted with poor student behavior because it was the easier thing to do.  When we do that (and I am guilty, too), we are supporting racist behavior and creating an environment where racism can take root and spread.  We have a responsibility and a duty to call out racist language and behavior no matter how difficult it may be to open up the conversation. 
  4. What does "repaying the debt" look like? This one is a challenge--but how do we as a society respond to the debt of generations of systemic racism? Some of us and our ancestors have benefited from the systemic racism that plays a role in our country's history. While there is no easy answer to this, how do we now repay that debt? It seems that this topic should be addressed and different organizations are wrestling with how to best have this difficult conversation.  

This is a difficult topic, but one that is so important for those of us called to live a life of reconciliation.  What does racial reconciliation look like in your community? How do we best help create leaders to do this important work?  

"Justice is the Corporate Face of Love"

November 19, 2019
By Fr. David

If you are from the Diocese of Texas, you know the name John Hines well.  Hines served as a bishop in the diocese from 1945 to 1965 when he was elected Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. He served in that role until 1974.  Of note to the SAES family is the fact that Hines was the founding bishop of St. Stephen's Episcopal School in Austin. 

Hines lived a life of promoting social justice. He was especially passionate about the racial injustice he saw as a plague on our country during the turbulent years of his ministry. Austin saw this first hand in his efforts to integrate St. Stephen's in light of fierce and harsh criticism. 

To view a short video where Hines reflects on that decision, click here.

To read more about John Hines from the St. Stephen's website, click here.

Thoughts on Social Media and Marketing

July 24, 2019
By Fr. David

How are schools using social media in marketing?

A recent article in The Yield (a publication of The Enrollment Management Association) explored this question to study how schools were using--or were not using--social media to achieve their marketing goals. Brendan Schneider (Sewickley Academy) shared a few of their findings:

  • Facebook is the most popular social media platform. 86% of schools identified it as the platform of choice for school marketing.
  • Video is king. 85% indicated that they intend to increase their usage of video for marketing. 
  • School marketers want to learn more about Podcasting and live video. Blogging came in third to round out the growth areas.
  • Regarding paid social media, Facebook again dominated with 79% of respondents indicating they regularly use Facebook ads as part of their marketing strategy. 
  • Finally, from the "no surprise there" file, the biggest frustration for marketers is not having enough time to manage everything.  The second biggest frustration? Not having adequate evidence on return of investment. 

What is your school's current strategy to utilize social media in your marketing efforts? Are you taking advantage of paid social media placement?  Are you exploring Podcasting or an increased use of live video? Add a comment below!

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