Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Barksdale Condemns Resignation Letter Release

In the first school board meeting since top administrators’ resignations were leaked to the press, Board President Patricia Barksdale expressed outrage Tuesday and said the Union County Prosecutors Office will be asked to investigate the matter.

In addition, Barksdale said the issue will be taken up in closed session at a special meeting Thursday that had been advertised as a goal-setting session for the board. The meeting is 6:30 p.m. Nov. 15 in the Plainfield High School Conference Room.

Barksdale said she was traveling last week and was somewhere between Interstates 66 and 95 when she began receiving calls from reporters about the intended resignations of Interim Schools Superintendent Peter E. Carter, Interim School Business Administrator/Board Secretary Michael Donow and Interim Assistant Superintendent and Interim High School Principal Walter Rusak, effective Dec. 31. Reportedly, the interim administrators felt they needed more compensation for the unforeseen duties in addressing massive deficiencies in the Plainfield school district.

Barksdale said she had not yet seen her board meeting packet that included the letter and was “appalled” that a board member would furnish the information to a newspaper. It was a headline story Friday in the Courier News, based on the letter, and Plaintalker also had a commentary Thursday, but did not receive the letter..

“No one – no one had the right to provide that letter to the media,” Barksdale said Tuesday.

Barksdale said the matter “found its way to the newspapers before the board could convene to discuss it.”

On Tuesday, she thanked Carter, Rusak and Donow, “whether they stay or go,” but said, “We’re not going to let anybody take down the district.”

Carter was next on the agenda to give remarks, but said only, “Mr. Carter just says, ‘Hear, hear, Madame President, well-stated.’ ”

Even though Barksdale said the matter would be referred to the prosecutor’s office, the more usual venue for such issues would be the School Ethics Commission. But first of all, the board would have to identify the board member in violation in order to press the case. So far, no board member has been identified as the miscreant.

For an example of a school ethics case, click here.

To see the School Ethics Act, click here.

If in fact the top administrators resign, there may be a gap between Dec. 31 and the time when a permanent superintendent, identified through a search, takes office. According to the search firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, the search initiated recently may not yield candidates until January and may not produce a finalist until February.

Eric Jones, president of the 1,200-member Plainfield Education Association said Tuesday the problem was an ”in-house issue” between the school board and the top officials.

“The association will continue to educate the students of Plainfield,” he said.

--Bernice Paglia


Post a Comment

<< Home