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 (www.ketchikanunderground.com). 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....
Received April 01, 2007 - Published
April 01, 2007
About: " A concerned mother
of several teens..."
Note: Comments published
on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
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
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
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."
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.
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