By Carol A.O. Wolf
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the members of the City of Richmond Public School Board are in the midst of an epic public relations meltdown. Although each promised to bring transparency to board governance and policy-making, nary a one has stepped forward with a credible explanation of this nasty business of removing the current RPS Superintendent, Dana Bedden.
These brand-new board members -- with the exception of current chair and 8th-District member Dawn Page -- have barely begun to learn how to use their microphones. How dare they think they are qualified to assess the performance of Bedden?
Rather than respect the people who voted for them, the taxpayers who fund their operation, the teachers and families of children who attend and depend on RPS, no one on this board appears willing to dissent from the gang mentality or even acknowledge the smell of mendacity wafting from behind closed doors at Richmond City Hall.
The first one who manages to engage their backbone and brain to speak up on behalf of the stakeholders and taxpayers who are being marginalized and ignored by the School Board, will earn the gratitude of voters and a place in the annals of "Profiles in Courage."
The journalist Edward R. Murrow once noted: "We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty." But perhaps the following Murrow quote is even more apt:
This board's refusal to say why they chose to oust RPS Superintendent Dana Bedden this past weekend is an abdication of their sworn duty to be wise stewards of academic progress and fiscal integrity for our city schools.
With cognitive dissonance that rivals Donald Trump's clumsy maundering, board members apparently had nothing better to do on their Friday night so they decided to declare an "emergency meeting" to oust Bedden. Emergency? Really? What happens at City Hall stays at City Hall?
Someone needs to help this board understand that it makes them look like a bunch of incompetent liars when they call for an emergency meeting and then decide to keep the man around until June 30. The board's murky rationale and lack of explanation undermines any gravitas the board might be able to salvage from this debacle.
Moreover, no one has bothered to explain what their "plan" is or where RPS will find the money to buy out the two years Bedden has left on his contract, an amount that totals more than $500,000. Yep, you read that right: $500,000.
I don't know about anyone else, but half-a-million dollars-plus is a hefty price-tag for a so-called "philosophical difference."
Stay tuned ... more news to come.