The sudden departure of the former CIO of Minneapolis Public Schools, Rich Valerga, early last week leaves a lot of questions for some Daily Planet readers such as myself. Mr. Valerga served as MPS CIO for almost exactly 15 months. It seems a little odd that Valerga would decide to step down so abruptly since he had been pursuing the position for two years prior to him being hired in the summer of 2013. Was there some reason for Mr. Valerga’s departure that hasn’t been publicly revealed yet?
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The other big looming question concerning the MPS Department of Information Technology is where is the department now headed? Readers may want to know who Fadi Fadhil is, the employee who Superintendent Johnson has “temporarily” placed in charge of the department? What direction is Mr. Fadhil planning to take the department? Will Fadi promote a less hostile atmosphere in the department and district than Valerga reportedly did? Mr. Fadhil was my boss for more than three years at Saint Paul Public Schools. During his SPPS tenure Mr. Fadhil implemented many unpopular and controlling policies, such as not allowing IT personnel to have district telephones because he only wanted IT personnel to communicate via the Service Desk ticketing system. To Fadi (or “Freddie”, as he was known at SPPS), there were no exceptions to this policy. Has a similar policy been implemented in the MPS IT Department? If so will Fadi continue to enforce the policy or will Fadi take the department in a new and more transparent direction? If history teaches us anything the chances are slim that he will since the above mentioned policy was implemented by Fadi after Valerga left SPPS in November of 2010. I believe that MPS staff and parents of MPS students deserve to know this information so they can better understand how technology is being supported and driven in their school district.
The main question that should be asked at the end of the day by a school district’s community is how is a support service helping our students’ education? Maybe some people think that taking away phone privileges and monitoring the activity of your department staff every second of the work day has a positive impact on student achievement. I have never understood how severely restrictive policies can enhance a child’s education but maybe I’m not looking at the situation from the “correct” perspective? In any event, I am encouraging the Daily Planet to follow up with a story that pertains to the MPS IT Department after Valerga’s departure. I think the current state of affairs is more important than most people realize.
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