EDITORIAL: No excuses for secrecy of superintendent search

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Do the ends justify the means?

It depends on what the means were.

And in the Schenectady school district, the means were to ignore public outrage over a flawed 15-month superintendent search.

The means were to hold a new search without even telling the public it was moving forward, exclude the citizens from the renewed search and fail to follow their recommendations for an involved and transparent process.

The means were to ignore the fact that voters elected two new school board members and ousted one a month ago as a statement of dissatisfaction.

The means were to quietly announce the hiring of the new person on a four-year, $215,000-per-year contract on the Friday before a holiday, and make the formal appointment less than a week later.

That hardly sounds like the school board got the message they were sent at public meetings and at the voting booth over the past year.

One could argue, as outgoing board President John Foley did, that the board had laid the groundwork for the current search by gathering information from the public during the last search.

But that doesn’t excuse the board from rushing ahead in secret with the current search after citizens made it very clear they felt disrespected and ignored, and that they still wanted input and participation in the new search.

And it’s true the district desperately needed a new superintendent before the start of the new school year in September, and that time was of the essence.

But that shouldn’t have prevented Foley and the outgoing board from communicating with the citizens about the status of the search, from providing the public with the resumes of the top candidates (even anonymously at first to keep their identities from being made public), from revealing the level of compensation and length of the proposed contract being offered, and from waiting until the new board was seated and operating to narrow the search.

Finally, one could argue that the ends justified the means because the board found the right person for the job.

Certainly, it appears new Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr. has strong qualifications and experience. And he said all the right things at his introductory meeting on Wednesday.

But we won’t know how he stacked up against the other candidates because the public was kept in the dark until the final, cowardly announcement was made.

Education is supposed to be a learning process.

Clearly, the Schenectady school board learned nothing from this one.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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