by Max Brantley
She sent to members of the School Board a series of questions about three new "teacher on special assignment" positions the administration wants to create. These teachers, according to the job description, would, among others, oversee discipline of students and work on attendance. Among many questions, Koehler asked how this job would differ from that already handled by others. She questioned, too, the need for an additional expenditure on new positions. Her letter says the only previous "teacher on special assignment" in the district was created for a half-year to create a slot for a football coach at Central High and reports on that assignment had not been favorable.
You can read Koehler's full list of questions at this link. But the interesting part is at the top — Suggs' email to Koehler about his unhappiness that she wrote the School Board, but not him, about the issue.
He copied the School Board and various district administrators (which, I should have added originally, is how the correspondence came to me from an anonymous source):
In the future any questions you may have regarding the LRSD are to be directed to me. I do not appreciate the fact that you smile in my face and go behind my back! (It's amazing that you FORGOT to send me the email below ... especially being that you spoke to me this morning regarding another matter.) You have stated that your desire is to work with the district in order to improve our school district; however, the information that you sent below or more-so the manner in which you sent the information to my School Board does not reflect that. If you have questions or concerns regarding the Little Rock School District, you will need to see the Superintendent Dr. Dexter Suggs I am easy to find.
I will see you soon regarding this matter.
Should a superintendent discourage direct contact with School Board members by a representative of teachers? Should a union president communicate with the Board without also copying the superintendent? Will this set a tone for future administration-union relationships?
Wherever you might fall on these questions, I think you'd agree Dr. Suggs has sent a strong signal about his management style.