School Board/Superintendent Relationship

School Board Policy C-2.1 (available here) lays out the relationship between the School Board and the Superintendent.  It states:

The School Board creates policy and governs through the policy it creates. The Superintendent manages operations of the school system in accordance with School Board policies.


The Board recognizes, honors, and values the Superintendent’s experience and expertise in instructional and administrative matters. The Superintendent recognizes, honors, and values the Board’s experience in issues related to Arlington Public Schools and the Board’s connections and responsibilities to the community it represents. The Superintendent and Board members respect the confidentiality of communication in both directions and work toward open communication and trust. The Superintendent works only for the Board as a whole, not for any individual member. Only decisions of the Board acting as a body are binding on the Superintendent.

The Superintendent treats all Board members in an evenhanded, equitable, and impartial manner.  Board members work directly with the Superintendent and senior staff, so long as such communication is clearly not giving direction or suggesting a course of action that staff perceives as direction. Board members make requests for existing information through the appropriate senior staff member. Board members make requests for new information through the Superintendent. Individual Board member requests for information or assistance will be honored unless the Superintendent believes the request should be taken to the full Board in a public meeting.

The Board directs the Superintendent through actions and written policies that prescribe the results the Board wants to achieve. The Board is realistic in setting expectations about what can be accomplished, given the school system’s available resources. The Superintendent is accountable to the School Board for the performance of staff. The only staff members to whom the Board may give direction are the Superintendent and the Clerk of the Board. An individual Board member may not give direction to any staff member. The Superintendent is accountable for the success of the total organization. Annually the Board evaluates the Superintendent’s performance. The Superintendent is accountable to the School Board for achievement of the Board goals.

The Board is responsible for clearly setting forth and communicating its expectations before evaluation takes place. The Board will be rigorous and exacting with itself in clarifying its expectations. The Board will monitor the Superintendent’s job performance in a way that is systematic, fair, and effective. The Board will acquire monitoring data by reports, evaluations, surveys, other information from the Superintendent, and community input.

When presented with citizen concerns, Board members refer them to appropriate levels of authority, in appropriate sequence (teacher, principal, administrative staff member, Superintendent). When in doubt, Board members check with the Superintendent.