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Board of Ed lets down the public

April 5, 2013
Shepherdstown Chronicle

At a recent special meeting of the Board of Education, an agenda item called for a vote on the replacement of a board member. Peter Dougherty, who had served on the Board, resigned to accept the position of Sheriff of the county. The Board of Education, according to State Code, had 45 days from the date of resignation to select a replacement.

To comply with that mandate, which says nothing more than that a replacement will be voted on by the Board within the 45 days, the Jefferson County Board of Education, led by now-president Gary Kable, failed to make any public announcement that a position was open and that interested individuals could apply. When asked what procedure was followed to make known the position, Kable's curt reply was "People just knew."

Mr. Kable, we challenge you that "people didn't just know." The leadership of the Board should have, at minimum, placed some announcement somewhere whether it be in the newspaper, on radio or on their own website. Instead, Mr. Kable chose to simply put the item on an agenda and vote.

Granted, the board received three letters of interest from individuals who happened to hear that the position was open. The board now has a 2-2 tie on who which nominee should be chosen. The process and comments made with regard to selected were poorly led and somewhat insulting to at least some of those who applied.

While Scott Sudduth, along with Mark Osbourn, called out as a board member for a clear process, transparent to the public, as well as for input from the public who normally votes in a board member, his indication that "someone the voters rejected" should not be considered was far from true. Laurie Ogden ran for the board and lost a seat by less than 100 votes obviously many in the public felt she would do a good job. Alan Sturm was selected by voters twice in the past and chose not to run again, seeking retired life instead. Mr. Sturm offered his services to come back and fill the 18-month gap left by Dougherty's resignation only to be met by comments from Mariland Dunn-Lee that she "didn't want to go backward" or "choose someone with an agenda." Instead, Lee voted with Kable to select Larry Togans to fill the unexpired seat. Togans has served in prior years on the board and is a former board president. With no disrespect meant to Mr. Togans, who we think would do a good job should he be chosen, this choice is also one of "going backward" as it selected a former board member.

The Chronicle believes that any of the three who submitted their names for consideration would be capable and fill the seat well. The lack of leadership and openness by this Board is what is at issue. The president of the board could easily have posted the vacancy and taken names from the public in a timely fashion in order to meet the 45-day deadline. Instead, he chose to do nothing and give a cop-out answer that the Code does not require him to do anything. Shame on you, Mr. Kable, for your lack of leadership.

 
 

 

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