Favorite

Stop the bleeding 

Hardly a day passes without another black eye for the Little Rock School District.

It’s fallout from last September’s school board elections, which produced a new majority opposed to Superintendent Roy Brooks. Brooks earned his trouble. He treated board critics with contempt. He cut secret deals with fat cat private school patrons intent on using the public schools as a laboratory for untested pet projects. He declared war on the Classroom Teachers Association, which is not the gang of incompetent union thugs many suppose. He summarily dismissed concerns of inner-city neighborhoods. He ousted administrators by the dozens (not all of them deadwood, despite the received wisdom in the Little Rock business community).

Did the new board majority — Katherine Mitchell, Charles Armstrong, Dianne Curry and Michael Daugherty — do any better? I’m afraid not. They’ve treated Brooks roughly. They’ve worked in secret on a plan to remove Brooks and install administrators more to their liking. They’ve disregarded board policy and fine points of the law. Their maneuvers have been clumsy, a tragicomic series of poorly scripted surprise attacks.

Last weekend, Board President Mitchell unilaterally notified nine administrators after sundown Friday that they might not hold the same jobs next year if Brooks is terminated. She gave no formal advance notice to the board or public about her action, though at least one board ally said he’d been told informally. Notices of potential job changes are a matter of routine when school reorganizations are pending, but they are typically delivered by a superintendent. The notice had little legal meaning. On the face of Mitchell’s letter, it seems to have been meant to silence the administrators in the ongoing effort to fire Brooks. (Indeed, he sued Monday making that precise point, though his suit is dubious legally. In short, he sued over damages that have not yet occurred.)

It should be evident to all that Brooks cannot successfully lead the Little Rock School District any longer. The board majority is within its right to change leadership if it can’t work with Brooks. But they should simply buy out his contract, a decision he can’t appeal in court. Mitchell believes there’s cause to fire him. As I go to press, I have yet to see proof sufficient to change hardened minds on this point. The desire to punish Brooks has had ill consequences, however. Legal fees have mounted. And now Brooks has put the district back in the federal court it recently escaped.

Extending the fight guarantees more bloodshed. In September, we’ll see the business community mount an all-out effort to shift the balance of power by defeating Brooks’ foe Michael Daugherty in his black-majority district. It will be ugly and racially charged.

We’ve had enough fighting. The current board majority should negotiate a paid Brooks departure. It should reach out to those making efforts to improve board communications. A baggage-free interim superintendent with no interest in the permanent job, perhaps assisted by an academic or business executive, should be brought in to lead the district during a careful search for a successor.

Kids in the Little Rock School District are more important than Roy Brooks, whether your desire is to humiliate him or to save his job. It’s time to start over. Sooner rather than later.

Favorite

Sign up for the Daily Update email

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017
  • Along the civil rights trail

    A convergence of events in recent days signaled again how far we have come and how far we have yet to go in civil rights.
    • Jan 18, 2018
  • The Oval outhouse

    One thing all Americans finally can agree upon is that public discourse has coarsened irretrievably in the era of Donald Trump and largely at his instance.
    • Jan 18, 2018

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Are you being served?

    These aren't good times for confidence in public servants.

    • Mar 22, 2018
  • Send in the segs

    The state Board of Education last week rejected requests from Camden Fairview, Hope, Lafayette County and Junction City to be exempt from the state law requiring students to be able to freely transfer between school districts.
    • Mar 15, 2018
  • Rich get richer

    Arkansas State University heard from a paid consultant last week about ways to become more efficient — make more money, in other words — and perhaps even serve students better.
    • Mar 8, 2018
  • More »

Most Viewed

  • Redefining candidate quality

    Despite what national party organizations like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Campaign Committee say, conventional definitions of candidate quality are not leading to progressive wins in 2018.
  • Stormy shaming

    Can we talk about Stormy Daniels? More specifically, can we talk about how we talk about Stormy Daniels?
  • Trump and Comey

    In the Bizarro World of the Trump administration, it's only fitting that the president serves as publicity director for James Comey's big book tour. (In the old Superman comics, Bizarro World was an upside-down reality where wickedness was virtue and vice versa.) Supposedly, Trump's stomping around the White House and various golf courses red-faced with anger, emitting smoke from his ears.
  • Week That Was

    After the wildest week of the wildest presidency in history, the clouded future suddenly unfolds more clearly and, yes, nearer. That includes the end of the Trump presidency.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Stormy shaming

    • Ms. Daniels is a female version of Trump. Someone with a valuable talent for making…

    • on April 19, 2018
  • Re: Stormy shaming

    • I do not automatically have contempt for women who have careers built around selling sex…

    • on April 19, 2018
  • Re: Stormy shaming

    • And if new 15 minutes of fame celebrity is a fat, fast-food worker then she'd…

    • on April 18, 2018
 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation