Manatee School Board member Miner gives low grades to Superintendent Mills

mdelaney@bradenton.comJune 1, 2014 

BRADENTON -- Manatee County School Board member Dave "Watchdog" Miner thinks Manatee County School District Superintendent Rick Mills has performed below expectations in his first year leading the district.

Miner, who emailed his evaluation of the superintendent to the school district administrative assistant Saturday at midnight -- just before the Sunday deadline -- consistently gave Mills low scores on his evaluation. The highest score Miner gave was a 5 out of 10, and and he awarded Mills 2's in multiple categories.

"The Manatee School District is in some ways better and some way worse since Mr. Mills became superintendent," Miner wrote in his evaluation, which he emailed to the Bradenton Herald.

The four other board members, who completed their evaluations well before the June 1 deadline, consistently ranked Mills as exceeding expectations. Mills' average score from the other board members was a 9.25 out of 10.

The evaluation asks board members to rank Mills' performance in 16 different categories, including communication, organizational sensitivity and leadership. The evaluation also include space for board members to write comments.

Miner did not submit his evaluation with the other board members, saying he needed more financial and academic information before he could complete the evaluation.

“I want to clarify that the school board liaison, nor any district employee, has received the superintendent’s evaluation from Mr. Miner as of today, Monday June 2, 2014 at 10 a.m.," Mills said in a statement he emailed to the media. "Additionally, it is regrettable that I learned about Mr. Miner’s evaluation of my performance in the media before he provided it to his fellow board members."

Mills, who had Miner investigated earlier this year for comments he made at a meeting at Miller Elementary, also said he has not met with Miner one-on-one in more than 15 months, despite "my repeated attempts and willingness to do so."

At the last district board meeting, Miner was one of three board members who voted down proposed changes to the superintendent's contract.

Board members Barbara Harvey and Robert Gause also voted down the proposed changes, which included a two-year extension and a change to how the superintendent's annual performance salary incentive was doled out.

Although the two-year extension was defeated by the board vote, the superintendent did receive a one-year extension, because the board did not vote not to give him a one-year extension, per the language of the original contract.

The meeting may have given Mills some insight to Miner's evaluation, but the superintendent focused on another meeting about his evaluation.

“The board agreed by consensus at their February 11th workshop that my annual review was due in March 2014 because I agreed to begin my duties as superintendent early to help stabilize this district, which at that time was in financial turmoil," he said. "It is the practice of the board to meet individually with the superintendent to review the individual evaluations before they are publicly noticed." Miner gave Mills a five in the delegation category, the highest score he gave the superintendent. Miner gave Mills twos, which translate to well below expectations according to the scale, in multiple categories, including integrity, analysis and organizational sensitivity.

On overall performance, Miner gave Mills a four, below expectations.

“Mr. Miner’s evaluation is clearly contrary to the other four board members who rated me above average and my performance as ‘Exceeding Expectations’ with an average score of 9.25 out of 10,” Mills said in his statement.

While Miner's evaluation includes praise for protecting students, he said Mills tactics of intimidation have hurt the school district and employee morale.

"Mr. Mills deserves credit for helping deliver a district-wide emphatic message that students are not toys for the entertainment of staff and that miscreants must be promptly reported," Miner wrote on his evaluation. "He also deserves credit for creating a widespread sense of intimidation that fosters general mistrust of the district administration and public education."

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