March 5, 2007

Dean is a common position

Districts of similar size also employ deans and assistant principals

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

With cuts ahead for the Dassel-Cokato School District, the need for a dean of students position has been questioned.

Administrative data previously gathered shows four out of five school districts with similar student enrollments employ a dean of students, or its equivalent, at both the high school and middle school levels.

On the high school level, schools such as Waconia, Delano, Worthington, and Rocori, with 580 students or more, employ an assistant principal position to fulfill the dean’s duties.

Last year, the DC School District cut the assistant principal position, which was based on administrative salary, and hired a dean of students on a teacher’s salary; saving the district $54,695, according to Tina Palmer, district business manager.

A dean of students is not required to have a principal’s license and therefore does not demand an administrative salary.

On the middle school level, Delano and Worthington employ an assistant principal as well, with Waconia and DC employing a dean of students.

High School Principal Mark Herman began as a teacher in the district in 1974. The high school then had an assistant principal position with 500 students for grades 7-12. Now, the building has approximately 1,400 students with grades 5-12, he said.

“Needs increase the larger the school is,” he said.

“Also, safety and security issues are much different than they were 20 years ago,” Herman said.

The demand on principals is greater now as well, according to Herman. There are more state requirements, more reports, and a larger staff for more observations, he said.

Also, there is more demand for principals to be in and out of the building, he said.

“Someone needs to be in the building to deal with day-to-day discipline issues,” Herman said.

Dale Carlson worked at Dassel-Cokato schools as a social worker in the 1990s and is currently employed as principal at St. Michael-Albertville High School.

He too, agrees that a principal needs the assistance of a dean of students or the equivalent in order to effectively operate safe buildings for schools of this size.

Duties of a dean of students

The majority of the dean of students job duties are dealing with discipline issues, but it is only a piece, according to Herman.

“With the increase of single-parent homes and behavioral issues, we’ve seen the need for this position increasing year after year,” said Bruce Jean, middle school dean of students.

Other duties besides discipline include monitoring and regulating student attendance.

“Some parents need extra assistance getting their kid to come to school,” he said.

Camera security is also a time-consuming part of the job, according to Jean. Both the middle school and high school have TV monitors in the dean’s office with cameras placed throughout the school and parking lot.

There are times students have item stolen, which the dean will then look through videos to pull up that particular incident, Jean said.

Also, the dean is involved in student and staff services including the new bullying prevention program, Olweus.

In 2000, the Alternative Learning Center was added to the duties of the principal and assistant principal, according to Herman. Now, the dean of students assists the principal with any discipline issues concerning students at the ALC as well.

The high school dean is also co-advisor to the FLY mentorship program, student registration, office team planning, ninth grade orientation and family/parent communications.

The dean of students in both buildings assist in the overall safety, supervision, and discipline of students, Jean said.

With recent board discussions over proposing to cut a dean of students position, these duties would then be absorbed by the teachers and principals, causing some student behavior to become overlooked, according to Jean.

“Little things that make this school exceptional will no longer be there,” Herman said.

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