Hoover City School Board of Education
Following its review, the State Department of Education reported this week that claims of poor workplace environment in Hoover Schools are unfounded.
According to a statement by Hoover City Schools Board of Education President Paulette Pearson, she contacted the State Department at the request of the Hoover Board. Pearson’s statement indicates she sought for the Department to conduct an independent investigation of complaints about the work environment at the Central Office.
Pearson wrote these complaints were being spread anonymously and largely through social media.
“Prior to contacting the State Department of Education, we could not find any credible basis for the complaints,” Pearson’s statement reads. “Yet the complaints continued to circulate in a manner seemingly designed to erode public confidence in the operation of the Central Office.”
In the State Department’s review findings, released March 11, State Superintendent’s Office Chief of Staff Dr. Craig Pouncey wrote that the examination focused on work environment and communication skills. Pouncey wrote that reports of pervasive complaints throughout the system are unfounded, as were accusations of employees wanting to walk off their jobs in mass.
“Quite to the contrary, Hoover schools have been able to attract a number of talented applicants for each position vacated,” Pouncey wrote.
Regarding communication in the system, Pouncey investigation findings showed that Hoover is facing challenges regarding student population growth and decreasing state funding. The report does not make a clear suggestion for a remedy in communication.
“The Hoover City School System has had to take an in-depth and long-term look at its current model of operations,” Pouncey’s review findings read. “I have the opportunity to work with all school systems throughout the state, and many of them are doing the same things that Hoover is doing. Anytime this occurs the uncertainty of possible outcomes creates a nervousness among people.”
Pouncey assured the Hoover BOE in the findings that he believes the administrative staff has and will continue to protect the school’s institutional programs and that he is confident decisions put before the board will be well-researched.
He also commended the Hoover BOE and Chief School Financial Officer Cathy Antee for their commitment to go through a 10-year strategic planning process.
“Very few systems even have a need to have that depth of understanding,” Pouncey wrote.
Pearson reported she was “heartened and encouraged” by the State’s report.
“We are grateful for the time and effort Dr. Pouncey and his staff expended to clarify issues that were dis-serving our school district,” she wrote.
However, the findings conclude with a message from Pouncey that seemingly advises the Board to show additional appreciation for its employees.
“In closing, our interviews overwhelmingly supported that the vast majority of the employees feel like they are treated with respect, and that they can express their opinions even if they differ from their supervisor. They agree that when a decision is final, it is final. Furthermore, we found no attempt to micromanage staff. Employees expressed the ability to exercise decision-making responsibilities within their job duties.
“With all of this said, that does not mean that school administrators and the board shouldn't look for additional ways to express appreciation to employees. They have been subjected to some very difficult times over the last three or four years due to a lack of state support and the implementation of new standards and assessments. I know that the board is focused on these challenges, and I am confident in your continued success.”