By Charlotte L. Glover
June 09, 2006
In a small community like Ketchikan, a man can live or die by his reputation. Larry Eklund has a reputation as good as gold in our town and I cannot fathom what Harry Martin hopes to accomplish by making Mr. Eklund Vice Principal of Ketchikan High School. Given that Mr. Eklund has just one year left in our school district, the decision of Mr. Martin to demote him seems childish and vindictive. This action seems especially cruel given the almost biblical year or two that Mr. Eklund's family has had facing numerous deaths and several serious illnesses.
What possible cause could there be for Mr. Martin's decision? Of course, we'll never know because administrators love to hide behind the cloak of the personnel office and the private evaluation. Surely that same office has a few words to say about due process, as Mr. Eklund has never been on a plan of improvement. Furthermore, it's my understanding reading the school board bylaws that the demotion of an administrator needed to be approved by the board in advance of such an action. Mr. Eklund has done nothing to warrant such a serious and humiliating action and if there are differences between the two men in private, Mr. Martin should take care to use his authority in a fair and just manner.
The public library desk is something of a community gathering spot and a good place to test the pulse of the educational community, since we serve many teachers, librarians and students. In the years that Mr. Eklund has been in Ketchikan, I have heard nothing but praise about him from his colleagues and his students. They all say the same thing: that he puts the kids, programs, and staff first, that he is incredibly hard working, that he is a kind and compassionate man with a pleasant work demeanor and that he is easy to talk to. What more do any of us want from a school leader?
The Kayhi senior class just paid Mr. Eklund a tremendous compliment when they asked him to be their speaker at graduation. As he said himself, administrators are rarely honored with such a request and it was a clear indication of how much the students at Kayhi admire and respect Mr. Eklund.
In the two decades I have lived in Ketchikan, I have seen time and time again good educators run out of this town by school district administration who seem to feel threatened by anyone with intelligence, moral fiber, and character. I didn't speak out when a fabulous science teacher was blacklisted from his dream job at the high school and moved, or when an outstanding Valley Park teacher had to leave, because his wife was purposely denied a classroom job time and time again, despite working hard on getting her credentials, or any of the other dozen times good people were forced to leave, but I am speaking out now and encouraging you all to join in the chorus of protest. I know with every fiber of my being that Larry Eklund deserves to keep his present job for another year and leave our district next year with our grateful thanks for a job well done. Join me in telling the school board that the action against Larry Eklund is unwarranted and should not be stood for. I hope to see many of your at the school board meeting on the 14th.
Charlotte L. Glover
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