2014

30 July 2014: Time for school board to come clean

Time for school board to come clean

“A little water clears us of this deed.” – Lady Macbeth

Let’s pick up where I left off last week: with the untimely decapitation of Todd Lancaster, our erstwhile superintendent.

I emailed Peter Monson, an old friend, colleague, and long-time member of the Board of Education inviting the BOE and “interim” superintendent Roslin Marshall to my KYGT show so to give them the opportunity “to clear the air re: ‘Toddgate.’”

“No hiding behind the ‘advice of your attorney’ stuff, though,” I qualified to my lawyer friend.  “I simply won’t buy that.”

In response, this time including the other BOE members and Roslin, Peter wrote, “I think I am safe in saying that we would like to continue our outreach to the community about where we want to see the district go, and appreciate your invitation to us to come on your show.

“We don’t, however, want to re-hash the resignation/termination of Todd Lancaster or the reasons therefore, as it is old news and we don’t see how that moves the district or the county forward.  So, if we can agree to a forward-looking conversation, then we are interested.”

“Rehash?” was my first reaction.  Todd’s doffing hadn’t been “hashed” publicly to my knowledge, only in the heads of the players.

To that effect I replied, “It’s not a matter of ‘re-hashing’ since the reasons for and the way in which you axed Todd have not been vetted.  Thus, there can be no ‘re-.’”

“There remains simmering anger and distrust of the BOE,” I continued.  “I have heard this from folks across the county.  Until an accounting is made, that will linger and fester.”

My suggestion to handle the situation is classic politics: not by avoidance but directly.  In that context, I encouraged them “not to take the ‘ostrich approach’” but to talk in an unscripted format about what went down with Todd and the reasons for it, the plan to hire another superintendent, and finally the District’s course or direction, including the consolidation of administration at the high-middle complex.

I reminded them that in my June 11, 2014 column, I wrote the BOE’s and the other players’ credibility “is languishing in Richard Nixon territory and will remain there until there’s a thorough public hashing.”

Further, “The dust won’t settle on this because school’s out for summer. My hope is the board and the teachers who penned the letter will explain their actions in a public forum aired on KYGT.”

“If what you did was necessary and proper,” I offered in the email, “you have nothing to fear from talking about it.  Not talking about it, on the other hand, suggests there’s stuff to hide.”

I also made clear my role as journalist and commentator/observer “is not to serve as an organ to convey ‘official lines,’ but to speak truth to power no matter the level of power from the president and governor to local chieftains, including BOE’s and commissioners.”

I encouraged them to step up and have “a profile-in-courage moment.”

In response, BOE President Jeanne Biggs, wrote, “Thank you for the invitation to the Board to speak on the radio.

“Unfortunately, you can understand that we, as a Board, promised the community, administration, staff, and teachers that we will move forward and continue to give our students the best education possible. Nothing will be lost in this transition. We do have the support of the administrators, teachers, staff, and community.  By discussing something that did, at the time, create some questions in the community, but have now been resolved, is not moving forward.

“We have a lot on our plate as far as a new curriculum, teacher evaluations, a new and confident superintendent, we will (emphasis is Jeanne’s) only look ahead.

“Again, thank you Jerry for the opportunity. If, at some time in the future, you would like to have a discussion on the positive aspects of our plan and the district moving forward we would be glad to do so.”

In other words, “What’s done is done,” as Lady Macbeth exhorts her husband.

Todd’s gone, Roslin’s permanent, and everything is sunshine, lollipops, and roses amongst the fine folk in education la-la-land.  As long as they’re happy while taxpayers foot the bill.

I have to admit Jeanne might be right about the BOE having community support though I’m not sure how she measured it other than with a showing of hands from the off-with-his-head crowd.

But I dunno…It simply sounds too warm-fuzzyish.  Wholesome.  Even somewhat incestuous.

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