BOE makes good hire, but poor decisions

Published 7:59 am Wednesday, August 23, 2000

By Staff
It all started four months ago.
The Escambia County Board of Education began looking for a new superintendent.
They found one Monday.
Buck Powell, principal at Rachel Patterson Elementary School, will be superintendent.
It's not that we think Powell is a bad choice. If his track record at Rachel Patterson is any indication of his ability, he will certainly be able to move our schools in the right direction. We have a great working relationship with Powell and look forward to continuing that relationship. We give him our support 110 percent, and if we can help him in any way, all he needs to do is ask.
However, there are a few things the board of education has done recently with which we do take exception.
In our opinion, the board has mistreated Dr. Margaret Breland-Bradley in her final months. They sat by as former superintendent of schools, Curtis Ray Parker, took potshots at her and Julie Madden, business opperations manager, during a recent school budget meeting. Parker has the right to question the budget. Everyone does. However, his comments and demeanor were way out-of-line and very unprofessional. No board member came to Bradley's defense.
It also seems peculiar to us that Parker hasn't attended a board meeting in almost two years. Now out of the blue not only is he attending the meeting but also he seems to have an agenda by vocally attacking Bradley and Madden.
We question why Parker has suddenly taken interest in the board's actions.
The board also failed to hire a seemingly qualified and willing candidate for the principal's position at Escambia County High School.
Was it because the candidate was Bradley's recommendation?
Was it because she is a woman?
Was it because she is black?
Or was the board simply waiting for Powell's recommendation?
Because they gave no reason for their decision, all we can do is draw our own conclusions.
Four months ago, the board offered no reason for not renewing Bradley's contract. They said their decision was in the best interest of the schools.
At The Advance, we've drawn our conclusions regarding these two important decisions.
We believe the board gave in to pressure to dismiss Bradley.
We also believe the board had no intention of hiring anyone as principal as long as Dr. Bradley was the one making the recommendation.
All of this brings us to some very important questions.
When did we decide to not make our children our top priority?
When did we decide that a few individuals would carry enough influence that decisions would be made based on what they want and not what is best for our schools?
To Mr. Powell, you've taken on a job with much responsibility.
And there is much to do to improve our schools.
Although we disagree with many of the decisions the BOE has made, we do hope you are up to the challenge.
Improving the quality of our schools won't be easy.
But you're not in it alone.
To parents and concerned citizens, its time we put our differences aside and put our best foot forward.
We owe our children that.

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