School leadership needs to get its act together

Published 12:15am Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dr. Craig Pouncey, the chief of staff at the Alabama Department of Education, didn’t pull any punches when he talked about the lack of leadership in the Selma City School System.

Pouncey, who normally is calculated in what he says, said state education officials were shocked at the response of local school leaders in response to reported sexual misconduct on the part of teachers, staff.

“There was just a lack of proper reporting, and a lack of thorough investigations that resulted in a lot of allegations floating around the community about what was going and what wasn’t going on,” Pouncey said in a recent interview with the Times-Journal. “They should have been stamped out when they first surfaced. I think anytime there are allegations about students being mistreated one way or another, public school officials have a legal duty to get to the very bottom of it.”

We agree with Pouncey. There is a serious lack of leadership at the top of the Selma City School System.

And, regardless of the outlines, the fixes or the plans laid out in the system’s response to the scathing report issued after an investigation by the state, we are starting to have our doubts the fixes they have laid out, the plans they have in place, will become reality, even with monitoring from state officials.

It’s not that we are skeptical of our elected leaders, because we are. We have our doubts because of the apparent inability by our school leaders to readily admit that they failed to do what they needed to do when they had the chance to do so.

We all forget the school board had the chance to conduct their own investigation after a Selma High School teacher was arrested for sexual misconduct with students.

We all forget school board president Henry Hicks Sr. urged the board to approve an independent investigation, only to have the majority of the elected school board members vote against the measure.

For years — for one reason or another — there have been some who have called for the state to take over the Selma City School System, removing local leaders from directing the system.

We are not at that point. Yet.

We do believe our elected and school leaders have plenty of work to do to earn — as Pouncey said — the trust of the community, the trust of the parents.

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