SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



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 reelection.

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 him.

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.

Mike Harpold
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.

Related Viewpoint:

letter Demotion of Principal By Susan Doherty - Ketchikan, AK - USA



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