LRSD in crisis | Arkansas Blog

Friday, April 6, 2007

LRSD in crisis

Posted By on Fri, Apr 6, 2007 at 9:28 AM


Little Rock School Board President Katherine Mitchell gave a long interview to Radio KARN this morning. She explained the reasons she hopes the school board will vote tonight to fire Superintenent Roy Brooks (shown last night in happier times after a parliamentary maneuver postponed a move to fire him). She said it's her hope to fire him for cause, not buy out the time remaining on his contract.

I hope KARN posts this interview before the day is out. I don't expect it to sway supporters of Brooks. I'm not ready to say it convinces me he should be fired for cause, but it's a vivid depiction of the hopelessness of Brooks' situation. She alluded to decisions he'd made without board approval. She said he'd been non-responsive to her requests for information. She acknowledged that he'd approached her at times in a conciliatory fashion, but in one case it followed shortly after he reportedly had made disparaging remarks about black board members at a meeting of school principals. There's no doubt that Brooks was dismissive of Mitchell when he arrived and she was in the minority. She said she'd tried to work with him. It's impossible for an outsider to be certain about the depth to which either tried to make this relationship work. Clearly, though, it hasn't.

Two thoughts: The Democrat-Gazette and many of the angry members of the Mother's League continue to trace the unhappiness with Brooks to the Classroom Teachers Association. Undoubtedly, the CTA is a player in board politics. But I think the newspaper and the Mother's League should stop for a minute to realize how deeply offensive it is to black board members to suggest that they are merely puppets of the CTA. It says they are unable to think for themselves. Mitchell's interview -- words you've never seen in the Democrat-Gazette -- was interesting exactly for the number of ways in which she found fault with Brooks, none dealing with teachers except for the general lack of respect he'd exhibited toward them through some ill-chosen public statements. If Brooks is fired tonight, the CTA won't cast the votes. Democratically elected members of the School Board will cast the vote.

One other note: It was disappointing to see Lisa Black of the Little Rock Public Education Foundation quoted in the Democrat-Gazette as advocating a political position -- Brooks' retention. She heads a nonprofit foundation that is required by law to stay out of politics. The Foundation also has received public money courtesy of a decision made by Roy Brooks without Board approval, one of the specific grievances  cited by those who favor his ouster  Judicious silence would be a better course of action for an employee of a putative nonpolitical organizaton

CORRECTION: KARN heard only briefly from Teresa Gray, a mother of a Terry school child who's led the ad hoc group backing the retention of  Brooks. She brought up an error I made in an interview earlier on KARN. I"ve mentioned several times here and elsewhere that much of the support for Brooks has come from white parents in successful, majority-white schools such as Forest Park, Jefferson and Fulbright. Much, but not all. Terry is 56 per cent black. I'm sorry, Ms. Gray, about that misstatement.

ALSO: A group of Little Rock evangelical pastors is weighing in on the LRSD controversy, issuing an “urgent appeal” to pray for “healing and reconciliation” in the district’s leadership struggle. An e-mail sent out by Fellowship Bible Church pastor Ray Williams, and signed by pastors of eight other churches, points out that Roy Brooks has “regularly met with church leaders” since he’s been in Little Rock, and concludes that “our community would be served best and God most honored by sincere efforts to find common ground rather than in changing leadership.” The other eight pastors are Mark DeYmaz, Mosaic Church of Central Arkansas; Gerald Driskill, Little Rock Church; Bill Elliff, Summit Church; Kevin Kelly, Second Baptist Church-John Barrow; Tony Minick, River of Life Assembly of God; Antoine Scruggs, PromiseLand Church; Tracy Shelton, Living Stone Fellowship; and Bill Singleton, Liberty Fellowship Church. Students of history will see a parallel with 1957 in this.


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