MOU Madness – III

When the Board of Education denies accreditation to a school, it requires that the local school board enter a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

We have seen that the MOU is feckless nonsense from a sovereign entity charged to enforce a law.  In particular, the standard MOU reduces a legal requirement to an unenforceable agreement that the affected school board comply with the law it is violating.  It further maunders that VDOE and the affected division “should” comply with all applicable laws and regulations.

Today we examine the second sentence of Section I of the boilerplate MOU:

A copy of the [Standards of Accreditation] requirements for schools rated Accreditation Denied is located at the following link:  http://www.doe.virginia.gov/boe/accreditation/index.shtml.

In fact, that link leads not to the requirements but to the VDOE Web page titled “Standards of Accreditation.”  That Web page, in turn, has a link to an unofficial copy of the Board’s regulation.  The official copy is here.

This regulation that has the force of law provides in part:

8VAC20-131-315. Action Requirements for Schools That Are Denied Accreditation.

*.*.*.

B. Any school rated Accreditation Denied in accordance with 8VAC20-131-300 shall be subject to actions prescribed by the Board of Education and affirmed through a memorandum of understanding between the Board of Education and the local school board. The local school board shall submit a corrective action plan to the Board of Education for its consideration in prescribing actions in the memorandum of understanding within 45 days of the notification of the rating. The memorandum of understanding shall be entered into no later than November 1 of the academic year in which the rating is awarded.

The local board shall submit status reports detailing implementation of actions prescribed by the memorandum of understanding to the Board of Education. The status reports shall be signed by the school principal, division superintendent, and the chair of the local school board. The school principal, division superintendent, and the chair of the local school board may be required to appear before the Board of Education to present status reports.

The memorandum of understanding may also include but not be limited to:

1. Undergoing an educational service delivery and management review. The Board of Education shall prescribe the content of such review and approve the reviewing authority retained by the school division.

2. Employing a turnaround specialist credentialed by the state to address those conditions at the school that may impede educational progress and effectiveness and academic success.

If you’ll parse this carefully, you’ll see that it is a redundant accumulation of feckless nonsense:

  • What constitutes an acceptable Plan?  Where is the list of minimum requirements?
  • What happens if VBOE rejects the Plan?  Does this lead to an endless loop of Plan submission and rejection?
  • What happens to a School Board that does not submit an acceptable Plan or any Plan at all?  That division already is violating Virginia law.
  • What happens to a School Board that does not execute the Plan? 
  • What happens if the Plan fails?

The MOU adds a layer of paperwork but does not answer these basic questions.  Neither does it create any enforceable requirements.  It is a bureaucratic excrescence. 

Your $22.3 million tax dollars per year at “work.”