Failed vote to hold system-wide investigation shows ignorance

Published 4:43pm Saturday, May 11, 2013

It is becoming clearly evident that the Selma City School Board doesn’t think we’re serious. It is becoming clearly evident that the Selma City School Board has its head firmly placed in the sand and doesn’t appear to be coming up for air any time soon.

Thursday’s decision to not order a “top-to-bottom” investigation of the system by an outside firm in response to a cascade of school system problems and innuendoes is proof there is a real lack of leadership when it comes to those elected to the Selma City School Board.

During the board’s work session two weeks ago, board president Henry Hicks Sr. stepped up and asked the board to consider hiring an outside investigator to review the system in the wake of recent problems. It was a move we had suggested in earlier editorials and one we strongly supported.

Unfortunately, we did not have a vote this past week when the motion came before the board.

In the end, the motion failed to carry enough votes to pass and failed. And, in the process, the Selma City School Board failed.

It would be easy for us to start offering our criticism of the school board now, just weeks after a teacher was arrested and charged in connection with having inappropriate sexual relationships with students. But, there is so much more to take aim.

It was only a few years ago some on the school board were calling for the state to take over the school system because of a weak financial position. Then there was the entire circus surrounding the firing of a former superintendent — a move we felt was justified, but far too ugly and divisive.

Then there are the lackluster school performance reports, the high dropout rates and the scope of problems at the new Selma High School that have included a gun magically making its way onto school campus and drugs discovered. So much for increased security.

In no way should our criticism — and our calls for a system investigation — be confused as a witch-hunt against the teachers, staff and administration at our Selma City Schools. Quite the contrary.

It is our belief, the problems that have been brought to light, the bad apples that have been pulled from the classroom, are a minute percentage of those who come to work everyday to teach and develop our children.

But, there is a problem. And that problem is perception.

It is the perception that Selma City Schools are below average, that they do not do their job in educating and training our children for the next steps in their lives. And, while this perception may not be reality, unfortunately it is widespread and must change.

The board’s decision to not approve the investigation was bad enough, but those who voted against or abstained from the vote, did an even bigger disservice to the system and their constituents by not explaining their votes. That should be fixed and fixed soon.

In fact, we extend an invitation to Dr. Kirit Chapatwala, Frank Chestnut and Brenda Obomanu to write a column explaining their decision. Hiding behind no comments and veiled, calculated remarks just cheapens and weakens their questionable decisions.

Stand up for your vote and explain the reasons why.

In the end, we call on Hicks to again make this motion, call again for an investigation, because only when a thorough report, a thorough evaluation of our school system can be provided to the parents who entrust this system with their children, can this failing perception be cleared.

Quite often school board members go behind closed doors to discuss someone’s good name and character. After Thursday’s failed vote, it is the good name and character of our elected leaders that now must be examined.

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