Ontario School District Superintendent Nikki Albisu. (File photo)
ONTARIO – Ontario School District board directors softened and professionalized their previously harsh commentary on Superintendent Nikki Albisu’s performance in a “one-voice” letter addressed to the community.
The Enterprise obtained a copy of the letter Monday, April 5.
DOCUMENT: Board evaluation letter
The letter was written as a consensus document between the five board members and “does not reflect the opinions of the individual board members,” who never came to agree on many of its key points. Nonetheless, the board has in effect delivered an endorsement of Albisu’s work, ultimately stating that “our board agrees that Superintendent Nicole Albisu has fulfilled her contract obligations.”
Despite months of bickering and contention, the board praised Albisu as “a learner who applies what she learns to further the vision of the district.”
“She has collaborated with community health authorities, other local schools, and district personnel to discuss the possibilities of educational opportunities during a pandemic,” the letter said. “Successfully coming through this challenging year with a balanced budget, little to no virus spread amongst the students or staff, and no staff reductions should be recognized and celebrated.”
The letter also drew attention to Albisu’s “very clean audit practices” and use of “equitable practices to promote student success.”
Crucially, said the letter, Albisu effectively managed to pioneer instruction during the unprecedented conditions of the Covid pandemic.
“Instructional time was maximized effectively during this challenging year under pandemic conditions,” the letter said. “Staff were provided with development opportunities and supports while learning a new way of teaching via remote learning in a very short amount of time.”
However, the letter wasn’t all praise. It also included a section entitled “Areas for Improvement,” which stressed the need to repair the relationship between the superintendent and the board, and by extension, the trust between the board, administrators, and staff.
“There have been accusations and complaints made by members of the board and Superintendent Albisu regarding their respective conduct,” the letter said. “Superintendent Albisu struggles to respond well to criticism from the Board and has resisted seeking feedback from the greater community.”
The letter didn’t stop at criticizing Albisu, instead moving beyond critique to suggestions for potential improvements.
Central to these suggestions was the need to seek “consistent effective communication between the board, superintendent, administration, staff, students, parents, and community.”
This standard is a strong contrast to the fighting between the board and Albisu in the recent past. At her initial evaluation, which was held publicly over Zoom, board member Derrick Draper accused the superintendent of breaking two board policies regarding media relations, and suggested that this constituted “conduct which is seriously prejudicial to the district and which substantially affects the fundamental mission of the district” – in other words, cause for the superintendent’s termination.
Albisu shot back at a meeting the following week, characterizing Draper and fellow board director Eric Evans’ behavior towards her as “abuse,” and alleging that the two have refused mediation for the district’s internal conflicts “on multiple occasions.”
News tip? Contact reporter Liliana Frankel at [email protected] or 267-981-5577.
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