The long road to healing

Published 8:08 pm Friday, March 9, 2012

If you want to destroy a community, mess with its school system.

The last 10 days have been as tumultuous as any I have ever experienced.

The unfortunate series of events that have engrossed this city have been divisive and inflammatory.

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One group after another has risen on the battle ground and drawn one line in the sand after another.

Regardless of what happens next, this healing process will not be quick. Nor will it be pretty.

Distrust with the Board of Education abounds.

This community placed five board members and the superintendent of education in its crosshairs and did everything but fire.

Some of that pressure was warranted. Some of it was not.

The truth in all this is that there is plenty of blame to go around.

You want to blame Dr. Al Griffin? Go right ahead.

You want to blame Leon Clark? Fine.

The Board of Education? Sure.

Point fingers in every direction and you’ll find someone who bears some responsibility.

In the end, a lot of the residual heat that was publicly applied to this situation likely did bring all parties back to the table.

In that instance, it was good.

What makes it bad is the manner in which it lost its focus. It’s the manner in which it made church an uncomfortable place last Sunday if you were sitting on the same pew with certain decision makers.

It’s the manner in which an “outraged” public confronted BOE members in public places.

For the past two board of education meetings, I’ve noticed one change.

There’s been people there.

If anything, I hope the lesson learned here was twofold.

First, the board of education should have been presented viable evidence that the schools’ stakeholders want more information about what’s going on in their school system than what they are currently getting. Further, they want school system leadership held more accountable for their actions than they have been previously.

Secondly, the general public should have learned that public involvement is a vital key in the governmental process. If you added up all the people that have attended BOE meetings in the four years that I have covered them, it probably wouldn’t total the number on hand last Thursday. That kind of relaxed engagement creates complacency in accountability and that’s harder to reactivate than it is to establish.

If, after all this, these two very important lessons were not learned, then we’ve not accomplished anything and we’ll be right back here again soon.