A UCLA Early Care and Education task force recommended that UCLA hire a new executive director for the center with strong communication skills, respect for colleagues and evidence of leadership skills.
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh commissioned the task force in September to investigate the centers after some parents accused ECE leaders of poorly managing the center and creating a hostile environment for teachers and parents. The task force released its report of recommendations and a summary of major problems Wednesday.
Some parents said they think the problems began in February 2015, when UCLA appointed Jayanti Tambe as ECE executive director. Tambe will step down in March to pursue a doctorate degree in transformative social change, UCLA officials announced in January.
“While we may not all agree on the findings and recommendations, among my takeaways is that the ECE organization is suffering from poor communications, confusion about policies and procedures and low morale,” Waugh said in an email to the ECE community. “We need to improve, and, to do so, we will need systemic change across all three sites and the active participation of parents, teachers and administrators.”
Waugh said UCLA will create an advisory board within the next few weeks to give input to the ECE and improve communication. The center will also create an advisory search committee for a new executive director composed of teachers, parents and administrators.
The task force also recommended hiring a new administrative director who would deal with tasks unrelated to child care, including human resources, finance and Title IX compliance.
Additionally, the report said the center should make its policy for hiring, promotion, assignments and scheduling more clear and recommended that all new staff should have a standardized, in-person orientation within the first two weeks of being hired.
It also asked that the center clarify the role of site directors. There are three directors for three different ECE sites – the Krieger Center, the Fernald Center and the University Village Center. Some parents said they felt some site directors favored certain teachers and poorly managed the sites.
A faculty member and mother said she was concerned with teachers being moved to different centers often, disrupting her children’s continuity of care. The mother, who wished to be anonymous because she fears retaliation from ECE leaders, also said management placed children in classrooms with varying age ranges.
Task force members recommended the ECE create a clear policy on what age ranges can be in a classroom and legally mandate adult-to-child ratios. Additionally, the report said parents and teachers should know of these ratios.
To compile its list of recommendations, the task force spoke to about 56 teachers, parents and administrators, about 21 percent of whom responded, according to the report.
About 75 percent of teachers and all administrators who responded said they think the climate at ECE is bad or very bad. A majority of teachers blamed the new executive director for the bad climate, and most administrators blamed the climate on some teachers’ refusal to adapt to new leadership.
Some teachers complained about a lack of transparency and respect from the executive director. Some also felt certain staff members were favored over others.
Parents’ main complaint was poor communication between ECE administration and parents. About two-thirds of parents said they thought leadership style needed to be better and the quality of administrative decisions should be improved.
Vice Chancellor Steve Olsen and ECE leaders will develop a plan to implement the task force’s recommendations with input from the new advisory board, Waugh said. Olsen will also work with UCLA Communications & Public Outreach to strengthen communication between ECE leaders, employees and parents.
In a December town hall meeting for parents to express complaints, Waugh said he expected changes to be implemented by the end of the academic year.