You, a new Trustee, walk across the school parking lot for a meeting with the School Head. You’re approached by a mother who immediately launches into a tirade about the fourth-grade teacher. “Tom, my child isn’t being treated fairly, and I expect you to do something about it!”
Sound familiar? In some schools, parents often contact Trustees with their complaints. They see Board members as the top of the power structure and, therefore, the best path to results. In turn, Trustees—out of an understandable desire to be cooperative and helpful, or an inability to say “no” to a concerned and demanding parent, or a basic misunderstanding of their role in the life of the school—often leap into the fray.
An incumbent Board President often steps down as a new Head takes over. It is seen as a logical time for the transfer of power—allowing a long-term relationship to develop between the new Head and a new President. The next President is selected by the Trustees without the Head-elect’s input. (What input could be knowledgeably given?)
However, the new Head may well have been influenced to accept the job based on the “chemistry” demonstrated with the existing President and key Trustees on the Search Committee. A new President changes all of this. Moreover, if other leading Trustees move on at the same time, the team envisioned by the new Head is greatly altered.