LR Schools in turmoil | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, November 9, 2006

LR Schools in turmoil

Posted By on Thu, Nov 9, 2006 at 7:42 PM

It has begun. The John Walker takeover of the LR School District. That is not a good thing. But the business community that set these events in motion by declaring war on teachers has only itself to blame for stirring a sleeping giant -- good teachers, good parents, happy school district patrons -- who didn't like  people who had rejected public schools telling us how stupid we were for choosing  them for our own kids.

End of sermon, for the moment.

The LR School Board met tonight. It was tense and angry and sets in motion a string of events to come. An LRSD supervisor, Karen DeJarnette, said she came to the school board only after the administration had ignored her complaints that the final loose end in getting out of court  -- evaluating programs for underprivileged and minority kids -- was not being reported accurately by the administration. Superintendent Roy Brooks sat silently throughout this searing accusation of essential dishonesty.

It developed that the Friday law firm had last week decided to hire an independent law firm, the Quattlebaum firm, to assess this allegation, which is critical to the pending case on getting the district out of court by obtaining "unitary status." John Walker, the civil rights lawyer who has been suing the district since 1957 and who was a key player in the election of board members that has produced a black majority, objected that the Quattlebaum firm was not an independent fact-finder. But the board decided to hire them to produce a full report.

Most of this is inside baseball. Here's the bottom line.

There are four members of the board who, after the building of a sufficient case, could readily vote to fre Roy Brooks as superintendent, fire the Friday Law Firm as the district's legal counsel and otherwise wreak havoc in the eyes of a business community that had quietly thought it had assumed control of the district to implement pet projects of Walter Hussman, publisher of the Democrat-Gazette, and the Walton family, billionaire supporters of programs to end public schools as we know them everywhere.

Why we're here is clear enough. But a vengeful John Walker-led school district will be a disaster for LR. If it happens, the people who thought they could buy the district with their money and their ill-informed presumptions about a district they knew nothing about will be largely to blame. The moderate course was always better. The question is: what now? Critical players are Katherine Mitchell and Robert Daugherty, who have long enough service to know, even if they don't like Brooks, that throwing in completely with John Walker isn't a solution for this district.

The headlines have just begun.

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