Real news: Tough coverage of the Forrest City School District | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Real news: Tough coverage of the Forrest City School District

Posted By on Thu, Nov 30, 2017 at 1:12 PM

DR. TIFFANY HARDRICK: Forrest City school leader gets a hard look from local newspaper. - FORREST CITY TIMES-HERALD
  • Forrest City Times-Herald
  • DR. TIFFANY HARDRICK: Forrest City school leader gets a hard look from local newspaper.
Times are hard in the newspaper business, you've no doubt heard, maybe even more in smaller communities. So today a tip of the hat to the Forrest City Times-Herald for close examination of the bedrock of most towns, the public school system.

Dr. Tiffany Hardrick, a 1994 Forrest City High graduate, has been superintendent since 2014. Recent reporting in the Times-Herald indicates she's adding in Arkansas to a resume checkered by controversy at a charter school in New Orleans and public schools in Newark, N.J.. The record includes allegations of academic cheating in New Orleans and financial questions. In Arkansas, the Forrest City reporter notes business being done with a long-time Hardrick associate and the housing of a 20 teachers recruited from the Philippines. The newspaper said they've been crammed into houses in Madison at exorbitant rents paid to school-connected owners.

The superintendent won't talk to the newspaper. The School Board has its own problems. One, the newspaper reported, was barred from visiting a school. The School District has canceled a tiny bit of advertising it did to honor a top student.

You have to read it all to appreciate what's up. The newspaper, which has a pay wall, provided copies of relevant articles to share.
Here's reporter Caleb Talley's recitation of controversies surrounding the superintendent.

Here's publisher Tamara Johnson's followup editorial.

And here's an attaboy letter to the editor from Travis Frank, an Episcopal priest.

If we had a state Education Department worried about something more than making excuses for charter schools, maybe they could shake somebody loose to take a look at things in St. Francis County.

Forrest City at least still has a newspaper covering the local schools like the dew.  Autocratic public officials can get away with a lot when nobody is watching.

Sidelight: When Hardrick was chosen, one of the other finalists was Roy Brooks, fired as Little Rock superintendent and then later moved quietly along from the eStem charter school where he landed next.

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