Friday, July 25, 2008

EDITORIAL: Did SD of L School Board make the wrong choice?

NewsLanc has been sitting on evidence of bungling, ineptitude and total failure to properly administer the School District of Lancaster's athletic program. Our preference was for behind the scenes discussions that would spare public criticism and discord.

Meetings were held last spring with Athletic Director Allen McCloud and later Assistant Superintendant Drue Miles with McCloud in attendance. It was pointed out that McCloud had failed for four years to file the hitherto requisite annual reports. The approximately twenty page reports explained in detail how each team had performed in the prior year and set forth plans for improving performances in the coming year.

Instead McCloud simply provided his boss with team scores!

Miles, to whom McCloud reports, was totally unaware that he was to receive an annual report and, from appearances, patently oblivious and neglectful of his sports oversight responsibilities. Promises were made to accept an offer, without cost, for outside sports experts to help better train the coaches; none was carried out. The excuse was that coaches with abysmal team records felt they didn't need any training on how to conduct drills and teach skills! What more can be said about a lack of leadership?

Due to failure to discharge routine duties, McCaskey continued its descent from sports power house to sports weak sister over the last decade and morale among staff and players plummeted.

Much information was reported by e-mail to incoming superintendent Pedro Rivera last spring and NewsLanc asked for an opportunity to meet with Rivera to brief him in confidence as well as for an interview. There was no response.

Since Rivera took office in July, NewsLanc has made repeated efforts to obtain a meeting. None has been scheduled.

In a brief encounter after the recent school board meeting, Rivera assured NewsLanc's publisher that he knew about the athletic programs problems and was eager to meet with him. Still no meeting was scheduled despite requests.

Do we in Rivera have another public official who hides and obfuscates? Why is he unwilling to meet with concerned citizens, let alone one who has long been a benefactor of inner city youth? Why does he turn his back on legitimate requests from media?

Because of the sports program's dysfunction, kids have missed the opportunity to participate on competitive teams. Because of a failed sports program, many have been discouraged and have dropped out of school. How long will this sorry condition be allowed to continue?

NewsLanc will be reporting further on the athletic department's dysfunction and will likely begin investigating reports of other school district problems with the hope that public attention will lead to transparency and improvements.

Rivera needs to do some 'house cleaning' immediately if he hopes to earn the confidence of the public. And if he doesn't, then the public should insist that the school board reflect on whether they made the right choice.