D209 supt. search must involve public

Opinion

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Just when it seemed that the Proviso High School District might handle its search for a new superintendent with a degree of competence and objectivity, the district reverts to its old tricks.

A town-hall meeting was held last week with the
intention of allowing the search firm to draw feedback from community members. But it was attended by nearly as many reporters as citizensâ€"and there were only two reporters in the building.

Sure seems strange in a district drawing students from 10 towns filled with parents who are fed up with the patronage and incompetent management that has plagued the schools for years. This includes parents whose children are paying the price of these antics by receiving a sub par education as well as those whose wallets are paying the price as they've been unfairly forced to send their children to private schools.

So why the low turnout for the meeting? Well, it seems nobody knew about it. The district, which has a public relations budget that dwarfs that of nearly all other public school districts of comparable size, could not manage to inform parents of their opportunity to weigh in on their children's future.

Newspapers were informed three days in advance, narrowly meeting the Review's deadline last week, and information was posted on the district's web site soon after, but that's about it.

The only question is whether this failure was the result of incompetence or something more sinister â€" either one is believable considering the district's history.

When enquiring about what went wrong, the Review was referred to the office of Chief Education Officer Robert Libka. That's who, we were told, was responsible for organizing the public meeting as well as the invitation-only focus groups for parents and teachers that were held earlier in the day.

That's the same Robert Libka who was selected as superintendent but then given a newly created CEO job when it was discovered that he had no superintendent's certification during last year's sloppily handled debacle.

Only District 209 would not see the blatant, obvious conflict of interest created when you allow your top administrator, who admittedly hopes to continue being your top administrator, to play a key role in the search for your next top administrator. We don't know if efforts have been made to rig the search process, but for the sake of appearances, couldn't someone else have taken on this role?

Perhaps most dishearteningly, the opposition voices on the Dist. 209 school board don't seem to be raising much concern over these matters, instead choosing to spend their time squabbling over much pettier issues. One parent even called two Review writers on their cell phones last week stating that a board member told her we might be able to help her get her son's grade changed.

This level of across the board unprofessionalism is unacceptable and must stop immediately for the district to have any chance of rebuilding in the future.

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