Palm Beach County Superintendent Wayne Gent was harshly criticized by School Board members during his yearly evaluation on Wednesday but still managed to earn an overall "effective" rating — the second highest mark.
Most School Board members faulted his communication and leadership skills and said he failed to create a culture of transparency and collaboration.
Gent was hired in February 2012 to replace Art Johnson, who quit in lieu of being fired.
On Wednesday, Gent acknowledged the board's communication critique but said he'd work to improve. He also touted the district's high student performance, despite tougher testing requirements.
"When we compare ourselves to the other largest urban [school districts], even though the bar has been raised, we still are performing at a high level," he said.
The seven-member board evaluated Gent on five goals: student-first focus, having a qualified workforce, accountability, communication and leadership.
"While I agree that there's some fantastic things happening in our district, in our classrooms … I think that is happening in spite of the leadership of the very top of the district, not because of it," said board member Jennifer Prior Brown.
School Board members Mike Murgio and Chuck Shaw were the only two who rated Gent effective or highly effective in every category.
"The superintendent is trying to create a culture that's open … I've been happy with what he's done," said Murgio. "When you're in the hot seat and you have to make the decision, it's not that easy."
But others openly expressed their disappointment.
Board member Marcia Andrews said she was frustrated by the slow progress in fixing low-performing schools in the northwestern part of the county.
"I asked you personally to get something done to try and improve conditions in the Glades area," Andrews said. "I still don't have a written comprehensive plan for the schools in the Glades ... I just don't know what you're doing."
Board member Frank Barbieri rated Gent "unsatisfactory" in leadership and wrote that the superintendent's decisions often "lacked insight." He also said Gent was not always receptive to his concerns.
Board member Karen Brill wrote about issues of "distrust and inequity" and said Gent failed to inform board members in a timely manner.
Many felt Gent had not improved significantly from his interim evaluation in June, when he was cited for similar issues and also received an effective rating.
Gent said he'd work on his communication skills and vowed overall to "elevate my performance and that of the district."
"I know there's a perception that you're not all equally informed," said Gent. "I know that if there's a breakdown in communication, that leads to a lack of trust."
Board member Debra Robinson, who gave Gent high marks in every area except leadership, said the board and the superintendent needed to "work together as one leadership team" to improve.
Gent, who has more than 35 years as a teacher, principal and administrator, highlighted some of his accomplishments -- such as giving teachers the highest raise in the state and meeting the state's requirements for class-size.
He has a year and a half left on his contract.
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