Letter: ‘Stakeholders’ like groupies

Regarding your article on May 22 detailing “stakeholders” grading the Lafayette Parish School Board, they seem wholly uninterested in the performance or accountability of the superintendent or his staff. This self-appointed group is operating as a partisan vehicle to bash selected board members for doing their jobs, while ignoring the role of the superintendent in the chaos that has engulfed and divided the board this year.

First, while insisting that board members are fully accountable for their actions, they buy into the absurdity of the superintendent’s repeated stance regarding his alleged unfettered authority over all personnel matters. To whom, then, is the superintendent accountable? If you accept his take on Act I, he can do what he wants, when he wants, and the board has no power to stop him. Why aren’t these “stakeholders” questioning his actions, leadership, responsibility for the mass exodus of our classroom teachers, decorum at board meetings and interference and opposition to policy decisions taken by the majority of the board — his employer?

When the board objects to his actions, such as spending parish funds on personnel and salaries that were not approved by the board, these concerned citizens blame the board for attempting to meet their statutory obligation as the only entity legally entitled to authorize such spending. How much taxpayer money would they suggest the superintendent can spend without oversight or approval? A million dollars? Ten million? In fact, why do we even need a board? Just give the superintendent the checkbook and let him do whatever he wants.

Having attended many board meetings, it is painful to watch these agenda-driven groups repeatedly denigrate elected board members while fawning over the superintendent like crazed Justin Bieber zombies. They have no idea what is going on in our classrooms. They do not represent the views of classroom teachers, who are still routinely excluded from critical central office decisions, despite administration claims to the contrary, nor do they have the interests of our students at heart.

In fact, they and the superintendent routinely invoke “the children,” using them like human shields to silence board criticism, rather than attempting to defend their actions and positions with facts and logic. Hiding behind kids is the hallmark of intellectual cowardice.

Not once, in all of these stakeholders’ criticisms of board action, have they offered concrete suggestions for solving specific problems. So I will offer one for them.

Survey classroom teachers regarding the performance of the current administration and superintendent. Then compare their reality with your biased, one-sided questionnaire.

And, if you want to be taken seriously, get over your crush on the superintendent.

It’s embarrassing.

Richard Thornton

attorney

Lafayette