Process is crucial
By Mike Harpold
June 09, 2006
Susan Doherty crosses a line in her thinly-veiled invitation
to retaliate against school board president Russell Thomas at
his place of business. Nor does she treat another board member
fairly by reminding her audience that he works for a local oil
company and his mother in law sells appliances at a local outlet.
Educating our community's children is the most sensitive job
performed by any level of government and the task deserves to
have Ketchikan s most able and trusted citizens serve on the
Board of Education. Yet few business or professional people in
Ketchikan step forward to take these jobs precisely because of
the abuse typified by Ms. Doherty s letter. During teacher contract
negotiations former board president Ben Williams endured threats
of boycott at his business, the A&P grocery. He didn't seek
The community loses when our most able people choose not to run
for elected office. School board members get paid $86.25 a month,
Board President Thomas gets $15.00 a month more, hardly enough
to offset the economic damage that will occur if readers stop
patronizing a board member's business.
While on the one side of this matter there are very compelling
personal aspects, on the other there are very serious professional
considerations. Superintendent Martin has the authority to transfer
Kayhi Principal Eklund to the Vice Principal position and did
so. Mr. Eklund, as a member of the Ketchikan Leadership Organization,
has a right to file a grievance and pursue it to arbitration.
I am not aware that a grievance has been filed or that Mr. Eklund
intends to do so, but it is an avenue of redress available to
Because of the public controversy, however, school board president
Thomas has scheduled a review of Mr. Eklund's transfer at the
board's next meeting on June 14th. Because evaluations of teachers
and administrators are confidential, the board may vote to review
Mr. Eklund's evaluations in executive session. Mr. Eklund will
have the right to be present. He also has the option of having
the board review his evaluations in public.
It will certainly be my intent that the board conduct a thorough
review. Board members will then vote on whether to affirm or
reverse the superintendent. When an issue triggers an emotional
public response, few among those touched are content with pleas
to abide by process. Yet it is precisely under such circumstances
that process is crucial. When board members don't observe process
that is when they deserve to be recalled. But public pillorying
of board members before they have had the opportunity to consider
a matter means only that less able, possibly less caring, people
will be doing the job the next time.
Ketchikan, AK - USA
About: Mike Harpold has been a member of the school board from
1994 to 1997 and from 2002 to 2006. He was a member of the City
Council from 1998 to 2001.
of Principal By Susan Doherty - Ketchikan, AK - USA
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