A 'Balanced' SAC

  1. Memo from the General Counsel about "appropriately balanced" SAC composition
  2. Email response from FL Auditor General's Office regarding "balanced SAC membership" and audit guidelines

    Other SAC membership problems:
  3. Research Data: 2007 Auditor General Reports Research re: SAC membership - SI Funds, Gov't in Sunshine
  4. Research Data: Combined Report of 2007 + earlier 2004 Report on SAC, SI funds & Reward audit problems
  5. Research Data: Research data - online district policies regarding SAC membership and elementary students
  6. Research Data: 2004 Auditor General's Reports - Re: elementary students & AP many not be SAC members

Memo from Jim Robinson, DOE General Counsel to Andrea Willett regarding balanced membership question

Sent: Tuesday, March 12, 2002 12:04 PM
To: Willett, Andrea
Subject: RE: From your *favorite* nag: Have you received information back yet?

Andrea:

Feel free to pass this along to the Ms. McCormick.

Regarding SACs and whether they are "appropriately balanced," what the legislature meant by this term is and will remain uncertain. Clearly, it is a term that is clearly intended to apply on a case-by-case basis. We can all get a sense of what the phrase means, i.e., that SACs reflect the face of the communities they serve. But when it comes to quantifying the percentage of White, African-American, Asian, Hispanic or other ethnic group who should be represented on a particular SAC, there is no Legislative answer. Nor does the Department have an answer. It is a local decision to be based upon the facts and circumstances presented in any given case. If a decision cannot be reached, or, having been reached, if the decision is challenged, it may be necessary for a court to render judgment as to whether an appropriate balance has been reached in the case before it.

For what it's worth, I doubt a court would require mathematical precision in the ethnic makeup of the SAC (i.e., that the SAC precisely mirror the ethnic makeup of the community it serves). Courts will generally look to uphold was is reasonable under circumstances such as this. But then, what is reasonable merely begs the question if what you're looking for is a greater degree of certainty.

I know that this question pops up over and over again. I wish there was an easy answer.

Jim Robinson
General General

Note about subject line in email above:  In my quest for a definitive definition of 'balanced SAC membership, I playfully named myself the *favorite nag*, reflected in the subject line of this email, while corresponding with Andrea Willett, Bureau Chief, Bureau of School Improvement and Educational Flexibility, DOE).  The email above is presented exactly how it was sent.  "General General refers to his position of General Counsel, DOE


My E-Mail inquiry to the Auditor General:
I am a member of SAC (School Advisory Councils) and have been involved for years (over 10). I have reviewed EVERY district report on the Auditor General site and noticed that SAC membership composition is one of the points that an auditor reviews for compliance. I am interested in how the Auditor General or the independent auditors determine 'balance'. I have noticed that some audits 'flag' a district for 3% and others are silent. 10% seems to be the number for deviation from the SAC membership representing the student demographics in regard to race, ethnics and economics. Where would I find the legal paper that determines this? The state statutes only use the word 'balanced' and there has not been a determination (that I am aware of) of what constitutes a balance and what is the maximum deviation allowed?    ~ Theresa McCormick

(From the Auditor General's Office in response to my question regarding audits and SAC)

From: DAVID MARTIN [mailto:DAVIDMARTIN@AUD.STATE.FL.US]
Sent: Wednesday, February 05, 2003 4:49 PM
To: theresa@florida-family.net
Subject: School Advisory Councils

Ms. McCormick:

Thank you for your inquiry regarding our audits of school districts. You are correct that the law provides that school advisory councils are to be balanced with regard to race, ethnicity, and economics. I am unaware of any other legal provision addressing the definition of "balanced". On audit, we routinely review the composition of at least a sample of school advisory councils for compliance. Since it may be impossible to obtain representation on the councils exactly equal to the percentages of the various student population groups, some judgment is exercised by the auditor in determining whether or not to cite the school district on this matter. In almost all cases, and for all race, ethnic, and economic groups involved, the representation on the council will be slightly over or under the percentages of the actual composition of the student population. You are correct that we have generally not cited districts for small percentage differences. Obviously, in some instances, there may be a very small percentage of students represented by one person on the council, and this one person on the council may comprise a higher percentage of the council than the actual percentage of the students being represented. Therefore the some judgment must be exercised in evaluating compliance in this area.

Thank you again for your interest in our audits. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance.

Sincerely,
David W. Martin
Audit Manager
(850)487-9039
SC 277-9039
     
 

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