September 20, 2014

USD 231 could really soar with effective, open leadership

The culture of secrecy continues at the Gardner Edgerton School District, and its cloaked reach apparently extends to the school board.
It would seem logical that all elected representatives of the district would be informed of matters that could involve potential litigation regarding the district’s flawed appointment process following the resignations of Tim Rayburn and Shelta Collins. (Though we question the process that seated them, newly-appointed board members Tresa Boden and Mary Nelson have proven to be responsive and accessible to the public.)
Rayburn, former board president, interviewed and voted on his replacement. Board member Brad Chandler questioned the process at the time, as did The Gardner News and area residents.
An Oct. 15 letter, mailed to the district’s attorney from Olathe attorney Michael Hunter, analyzes the district’s appointment process, suggests the procedure was flawed, and requests the board review and correct the process.
It echoes Chandler’s question: How can the appointment process begin when no vacancy has yet occurred?
In an email, board president Mark Grannell said the board stood behind the appointment process, although he doesn’t indicate when board members made that decision or if they were aware of the letter. Several board members said via email Monday that they were not aware of the letter and therefore could not comment.
It begs the questions:
Why weren’t board members informed?
Exactly who is in charge of USD 231?
For the past several years, leadership at USD 231 has operated like a dysfunctional family. Power is centered in the superintendent’s position, and information is eeked out in a piecemeal fashion.
Board policies, superintendent’s contract and organizational chart all serve to center the power like the hub of a wheel and control of the information flow solidifies the process.
It’s triangulation at its finest.
Center all power in one person dedicated to protecting turf and dividing, intimidating and discrediting those considered a threat by witholding information, and by delivering misinformation and half truths.
Woe to those who fall out of favor.
This broken wheel will turn – leaving anger, fear and resignations in its wake – until enough people stand up, compare information and say, “enough.”
It’s amazing how, as the district’s leadership lurches along like a dysfunctional family, the nuts and bolts teachers, students, building administrators and staff continue to contribute, function and perform in a stellar fashion.
Think how much higher they could soar with good leadership.

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