Wednesday, March 14, 2012

High school musical

Guerilla warfare

Last November, Goochland voters replaced the entire school board. The healthy margins received by all victorious candidates clearly mandated community support for change.

Fast forward to March, 2012. The school board went into closed session at a March 8 meeting to discuss personnel matters. This is permitted by state law. The confidentiality of these proceedings is intended to protect the privacy and dignity of those involved.

Following this meeting, the matters under discussion, which are believed to have addressed the possible reassignment or demotion of some principals, became public in the most inflammatory way possible.

The rumor mill spread misinformation faster than a wind driven brush fire. Parents and teachers, the same folks who wanted changes in school culture and administration, were outraged.

The school board was inundated with calls and emails protesting decisions made in secret. In fact, no such decisions were made.

At the start of the March 13 meeting school board chair Beth Hardy District 4 read a statement about the incident, which is available in its entirety on the school website This is located on the “about” tab for the school board. Please read this carefully and think about what it means.

No one was specifically identified as the culprit in this episode. However, it seems possible that school Superintendent Dr. Linda Underwood, who listened to public comment with the demeanor of a cat who has swallowed a very large canary, is somehow complicit.

Underwood is believed to hail from Chicagoland, where the dead vote and power is king. She undoubtedly prefers a compliant school board to the take charge group now in office. Let's hope that this is not another metaphorical waving of her PhD and declaration that she knows best how to run the school system.

The breach of the confidentiality in this matter is unacceptable and exhibits a complete lack of professionalism and integrity. The adolescent tantrum model is not acceptable behavior for professional educators who are supposed to be role models.

Parents and teachers who complained about a culture of fear in the school system last year seemed to applaud the public airing of what should be private personnel matters.

Remember when parents feared to speak out lest there be reprisals against their children? What happened to that outrage?

The school board was elected to make changes in the school system. Yet, ten weeks into its term, parents and teachers fell into lockstep and followed a carefully choreographed attempt at undermining those changes.
Ivan Mattox, who was soundly defeated in November, even showed up at the March 13 meeting to gloat.

To their credit, all school board members listened attentively to the handful of speakers objecting to the actions that were never taken. They made it clear that they will publicly announce and vote upon all changes after following the procedures dictated by state law.

Once again concerns about the security of communications between parents, teachers and the school board have reared their ugly head.

To prevent prying eyes from interfering with communication between the public and board, the school board has established a totally anonymous suggestion box located off the county server at Only the school board will have access to this information.

This board is setting the course it believes best for county schools. While it welcomes public input, the board understands that it is responsible for making hard decisions and dealing with the consequences of those actions. This is what integrity in elected officials looks like, Goochland. Get used to it.

1 comment:

Pat said...

Sandie, I'm just curious about your statement that Underwood "is somehow complicit." McDermott made a similar insinuation in his recent list letter. Neither of you provided any corroborating evidence or anything else to indicate why you feel that she did something wrong. I'm not saying she did or didn't do anything wrong, but I am trying to figure out what she would have to gain by intentionally starting such rumors, and I'm just wondering whether public trial by insinuation is the fairest way to go about things. Perhaps there is much I do not know and you can provide some factual information for the benefit of those trying to figure out what this uproar is really all about.

You seem to insinuate that anyone from Chicago is implicitly guilty. It's not much different from when McDermott insinuated that if one was a priest he must be a child molester. And what leads you to believe that she prefers a compliant SB? (Noting that I'm sure most Administrators do!).

I've been out of town this week and am catching up on all this excitement. I'm having trouble figuring out why the Superintendent is being demonized for doing what the SB apparently told her to do. What specifically is she accused of?