By Ben Sclair, Publisher
Debby Aby from The News Tribune did a nice job of relating the events from Monday night’s Clover Park School District board of directors meeting. Read Debby’s story here. (Furthermore, there are five comments on the story. Read those comments here).
There can be little doubt the selection of Debbie LeBeau as Superintendent of the Clover Park School District has touched a nerve for some in the community. I witnessed the rally before the board meeting, and attended the first three hours, leaving after the public comment period.
Connie Coleman-Lacadie, board member, took the opportunity presented by a standing-room only audience (130+) to note that, “it would be great if attendance at all board meeting was like this.”
Before the public was allowed to comment, several of the board members felt compelled to comment/defend the select of Mrs. LeBeau as Superintendent, and the process that led to her selection. Following are my notes from the meeting:
Dr. Marty Schafer, vice president of the board, chaired the search process. Some of his comments…
“This is the first time I’ve been involved in a search process.”
“Thank you to the community for participating for working in the six forums held and for helping to develop the criteria used in selection process.”
“Fourteen initial applicants were narrowed to five by consultants.”
“Three candidates were interviewed by board and community members.”
“The selection was criteria-driven.”
“The board asked itself, can the person impact the district in ways that are systemic and dramatic.”
“The selection process was never a foregone conclusion” and was a “living dialogue”.
Carole Jacobs, president of the board noted that “one candidate opted out of the process when he was told a site visit was required.” Carole also noted that an advantage to Mrs. LeBeau is that she hits the ground running. There will be “no time spent getting to know one another” and we “should give Debbie a chance”.
Walt Kellcy, Jr., was the most outspoken director to speak up and admitted that his comments were unusual for a board member to make publicly.
“I take offense to the statement that the [selection] process was flawed.”
“Rob Roberts is a maverick. Winner take all and politically incorrect.” Kellcy felt the district would be “turned upside down” by Roberts. He also noted that Roberts had no experience with unions and had “fired six principals”. He also didn’t want to participate in a site visit and didn’t like the idea of “living in the district”. Kellcy also said the consultant advised the board to not pursue Roberts.
Kellcy said LeBeau is a “doer, not just a talker”.
Elli Falk, the newest member of the board said she put her name in the hat because no one else stepped up.
At this point, the public comment period opened. Suffice it to say there were two main themes from those speaking. First, the 5-12 Learning Community has passionate support from its enrolled students, their parents and teachers. Second, many folks had strong opinions on the board, the selection process, the chosen superintendent.
Clint Johnson noted that he was part of the community process, yet felt his efforts, and those of the community were ignored. He wondered why site visits didn’t occur, especially with the candidate from the Bethel School District. Johnson also found it strange that so many “flawed candidates” made it as far as they did. “Why didn’t the consultants do a better job of vetting?”
Cindy Baij also participated in the process, from the community side. She thanked the board for their comments but still felt as if they had betrayed the community and the children.
Ben Wool noted that he’s lost all confidence in the district and is pulling his kids out of the district. He mentioned that when he went to file the paperwork he marveled at how easy it was, and that no one asked him why he was leaving.
Gary Yazwa, President of the Boys & Girls Club of South Puget Sound said he had worked with Debbie LeBeau in helping to bring the Milgard Family Hope Center to reality. He admitted that he’s not the easiest to work with but that we “should give Deb a chance” and that “leaving is a sign of quitting”. After all, “Deb has the integrity and willingness to do the job” and “this isn’t the end, it is just the beginning”.
It was nearly 9 pm when the public comment period ended. Carole Jacobs called for a five minute recess. That is when I left. But before I could leave someone walked up to me and asked, “Of the 187 students enrolled in the 5-12 program, why did they leave CP?” An interesting question indeed.
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