Sunday, May 30, 2010


School board members by law run as nonpartisans.  But does that mean they are nonpolitical in their decision making?


Oh, not Republican/Democrat political.  However, many of those who run for this office do have a political agenda.

In the 2009 election cycle, the SCPR received a telephone call from a prominent Stark County official within a few days of the  Perry Board of Education race "alerting" The Report to the official's belief that two of the candidates were running with an agenda to team up with a sitting board member (Brenner) out of dissatisfaction about how a certain personnel matter was being handled by Superintendent John Richard.

Apparently, the "informing" official (a Jim Casey supporter) thought the SCPR was going to run with this story so close to the election.  Not a chance!

But, after the election, the SCPR did contact the two named by the official (Deitz and Schnabel - who were victorious in the election). Both denied that the official's report had any truth to it.

Obviously, if there was something to the official's yarn; the SCPR is not so naive to think that the newly elected board members were going to fess up.

So what one does is to watch the decisions being made, who is making them and what are the articulated reasons and do they make sense in the context of merit.

What is the biblical expression:  "By their fruits ye shall know them."

And it is not even that media type like yours truly is likely to make an outright assertion that - such and such - was political.  However, there is the "if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then it must be a ? (duck)," -  people will make certain conclusions.

In our democracy, the folks who make judgments on whether or not something is impermissibly political, is with the voters.

Now to the Whetstone matter.  According to a Repository article ('Whetstone's Army' protests teachers reassignment in Perry, Benjamin Duer, May 27, 2010), there are more than a few in Perry who are NOT buying Superintendent John Richard's account that a middle school instructional deficiency requires reassigning superlative Perry junior year English teacher Cindy Whetstone to the middle school.

It just so happens that Whetstone's teaching includes a controversial topic in much of America:  the Vietnam War.

Richard says that reassigning teachers is routine and has nothing to do with her teaching content while acknowledging that the Perry School system has received a complaint about Whetstone and her Vietnam subject matter.


Sounds like part of the story to the SCPR.

Yours truly has had a up close look at many Stark County education venues over nearly 30 years of being civically engaged.  Yes, reassignments are not uncommon.  However, The Report believes that they are generally done with the acquiescence of the teachers being reassigned and their union representatives.

What is not reported of Richard having said (likely because it didn't occur) in the Rep piece is that the reassignment had the approval of Whetstone and the Perry Education Association.

So the SCPR believes that Richard is being disingenuous in the Whetstone matter on describing it as a ho-hum, routine matter.

A complaint having been filed, it is simply incredible to the SCPR for Richard to say that the Whetstone reassignment is routine and that he surprised at the outcry in light of the fact that he had to know that she is highly popular with her students.


Why is Superintendent Richard soft-toeing around this issue?

A SCPR source says that Richard, these days, (having been chastened by the Riggs matter), administrates to the tune of the Perry Local Board of Education.

What the Duer article does not touch upon is what discussions, if any,  have taken place between Richard and any of the Perry Board of Education (PBOE) relative to the complaint and relative to the reassignment. Apparently, none, right?  After all, it is a routine reassignment.  What is there to talk about?

But who believes the Richard attribution?

The Report is told that a Perry teacher when learning of the Perry Board's plan to go along with the Richard recommendation on Whetstone said to the effect:  "they can kiss my a**!"

There is a lot going on in the Perry schools these days from the administrative/board level.  And some of it is not passing the "smell test" to many Perry residents.

What is amazing to the SCPR is that these school districts don't get it that episodes like the Whetstone matter get stored up in the voters' minds and the next time a levy comes up - watch out!

The voters will weigh-in, they will be heard notwithstanding the effort from the very top to spin a version of events to serve the public relations needs of the administration and the PBOE.

With all the other problems that school districts throughout Ohio and Stark County are experiencing (e.g. a 30% cut in state funding likely is coming), administrations and boards of education should not be into becoming their own worst enemy.

This is what seems to be going on in Perry!!!

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