by Max Brantley
Channel 7's report on the LR School District turmoil headlined it a "scandal." That's a stretch.
Several readers have commented-- and I've done a touch more research myself -- about Board president Katherine Mitchell's notice to several administrators that their jobs could be in jeopardy on account of expected changes in the superintendent's office. I think, as several have noted, that she could make a case that this notice is a routine practice that has been done down through the years in the LR district without comment or notice when changes are anticipated.
But such notice has typically been done by the superintendent, not a single Board member acting unilaterally. Superintendent Roiy Brooks wouldn't do it, of course, because he's happy with his team. But if he leaves, so will some members of his team. And so Mitchell can argue (if only she'd explain herself publicly) that due process requires that SOMEONE do it. But I think that if the board is to act in place of the superintendent, it should do so by convening in public session and discussing it. The outcome likely would have been the same, a 4-3 vote for the action Mitchell took unilaterally. But it wouldn't have seemed so much like a cloak-and-dagger operation.
I was interested to hear today that the mother's group that supports Brooks thinks there's a lawsuit in yesterday's disclosure of names of administrators who might be affected. The mamas will have to sue people on their side if they want to punish those responsible. Mitchell didn't talk to anybody. Also, it's the height of irony that the group praising Brooks to the heavens for something he has very little do with -- the end of federal court supervision of the district -- wants to litigate to the death to save one man's job and fight actions of a democratically elected board majority. So much for the horrors of court expenses.
I'm still looking for the honest broker, the dispassionate mediator, the true swing board voter who could restore some semblance of consensus to the school district. I'm afraid I look in vain.
Just the same, Roy Brooks will never preside effectively over this school district. The wound he's helped inflict -- with aggravation from all sides -- can't be healed. He should go. But he should be paid the balance of his contract, so that he may go quickly and with dignity and have the means to support himself while looking for new work. A quick buyout would facilitate a quick search for an interim superintendent who could take what personnel actions are necessary to prepare for the next school year, including giving adequate notice to the Brooks team members who clearly won't be part of any new regime. Seems so simple. Seems so unlikely.
The new Board majority must begin to lead, not fire surprises from the shadows. Stand and deliver. Be it Brooks' termination, an administrative shakeup (did the mamas cry for the dozens of administrators, many of them valuable contributors to curriculum, ousted by Brooks?) or whatever, call a meeting, announce your wishes and call the roll.