SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Parents Should Know
By Diana Chaudhary


April 1, 2007

The below public opinion was written by Dave Lieben, Ketchikan School Board President, on Ketchikan Underground ( Ketchikan Underground is a website run by Ketchikan teens for Ketchikan teens. I believe that parents should know what is being said to their children on this website and should form their own opinions as to the motives of the School Board President in posting the article below on a website run by our teens....

Diana Chaudhary
Ketchikan, AK

Received April 01, 2007 - Published April 01, 2007

About: " A concerned mother of several teens..."


Dave Lieben, Ketchikan School Board President wrote on this teen public forum:

"Have you ever felt like the most hated person in town? That's how I felt yesterday.

A little introduction might be in order. My name's Dave Lieben, I'm the School Board President. I'm one of the four school board members who voted to fire Superintendent Harry Martin.

This is why.

Basically, I feel that the district needs new leadership. I think Harry did a great job turning the district around and getting it moving in the right direction. But now it seems to be going backwards again. While I think we could very easily find ourselves with a superintendent who is worse than Harry, we shouldn't use that as an excuse for not trying to do better.

The board and the superintendent can not like each other and still work together. Communication between Harry and several members of the board had soured and as president I'd have to share in the blame for that. I didn't run for the school board because of a thirst for power, I ran because it was a week before the deadline and no one had filed for any of three open seats. I didn't ask to be president because I wanted to run the district, I thought Harry and I could work together better than with some of the other board members. The relationship between Harry and the board was not a big factor in my decision. I feel like I had a good relationship with Harry, he trusted me to not repeat some remarks of his that I assume he wouldn't want repeated in public. I think the relationship between Harry and some other board members had certainly become dysfunctional, but those board members deserve much of the blame.

There has been criticism that we didn't identify where the money to fire Harry and hire a new superintendent would come from. I take full responsibility for that. I asked the business manager to prepare cosst estimates for various scenarios, but I forgot to ask him to provide it to us at the meeting. There is some extra money in the TRS section of our budget. We will approve a budget transfer at our special meeting on Tuesday.

I've talked to many people over the last few days, supporters of Harry and not. I understand it may have seemed sudden to those who don't have an interest in board-superintendent dynamics, that boom! it was on the agenda and then boom! he's gone. It's been coming for a long time. Harry knew it was coming. I think those who watched the discussion about Harry's job performance at the March 14 meeting knew it was coming.

After five board members were recalled in 2001, my wife and I were talking to someone, and my wife said "So Harry was hired by a bunch of conservatives, and now he's going to be working with a bunch of liberals? That's pretty funny!" "Oh yeah," said our friend, "it'll be like The Three Faces of Eve!" (In case that reference is lost on some of the younger people, that was a movie long ago about a woman with multiple personalities.) But no, Harry was always Harry.

Or should I say Harry was always Harrys. Harry was very well-liked, and that certainly says something very essential about the job he did as superintendent. Most of the principals told me they thought Harry was doing a great job. But there was another Harry. At first, I couldn't believe people were talking about the same person. Such horror stories! But it turns out they were true. I don't feel that the district can go forward when it is so divided between those on Harry's good list and those on Harry's bad list.

These are some of the qualities I would like to see in the superintendent we hire. I'm not saying Harry didn't have some of these qualities, I believe he did. You can make your own scorecard of which are qualities you think the new superintendent should have, and how many of these you think Harry had.

Gives the board and the public accurate information with which to make decisions.

Encourages an open flow of ideas and information between parents, teachers, principals, the superintendent, and the school board.

Doesn't use their position for financial gain.

Will create a plan of how to notify parents of a threat at their child's school.

Is effective in resolving employee complaints.

Helps ensure that ALL students have the opportunity to acquire the skills and knowledge to succeed.

Works to help build a positive relationship between the superintendent and the board.

And helps create an environment that is conducive to learning in the
schools, while still ensuring student safety.

I didn't want to write a plan of improvement to tell Harry to not be Harry. I wouldn't want that, and Harry certainly wouldn't want that. I thought it was best to just look for someone else. I think to get everyone working together to make this the best district in Alaska, we need a revolution. We need to get away from an acceptance of mediocrity. We need parents to get involved with their child's education. We need our children to treat each other with kindness. The revolution starts now.

There are many, many other reasons why I voted as I did, but I've tried to avoid slinging a bunch of mud. I've found the discussion here on KU about the situation to be interesting, but it bothers me to see him called fat, or a walrus. That's not cool. Treat other people the way you'd like to be treated, please.

Harry said he and his wife intend to stay here. I'll probably see him around town. If he wants to hate me forever, that's fine, I can understand that. But I hope he'll forgive me, and take the time to tell me what he thinks about this or that. I hope one day he'll realize it wasn't about vendettas or power or agendas, I just did what I thought was best for our children."




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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.


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