EDUCATION MATTERS: Can we withhold judgment?

Here I am with my family, on vacation in Washington, D.C. visiting all the historic sites and the exquisite cherry blossom trees (by chance, we caught them blooming during the three days each year when their breathtaking floral beauty is at its peak) – and this is when the Del Mar Union School District decides to explode. But unlike the blossoms, this explosion is hardly of the beauteous kind.

For months I’ve been asking and waiting and asking again, to see when and if the deed will get done, only to learn that the board took action and released former Superintendent Sharon McClain while I’m away.

So I’ll have to delay my planned column on the wonders of visiting our nation’s capital as an extraordinary family destination, in order to expound next week upon the infuriatingly limited presentation of the problems confronting the Del Mar district.

Meanwhile, I would ask all those who are following this drawn-out saga to suspend judgment until all the facts, those facts that professional journalists should have reported but failed to extract, can be revealed.

I plead for patience because everything I’ve read so far has served only to increase hysteria. Depressingly, the reports to date reflect a hell-bent, torches and pitchforks mission that does little to provide the people with accuracy and balance.

While we’re all on spring break, can we have patience? Can folks hold off on condemning this board until more facts have been exposed?

Can we use common sense and ask ourselves why the board would proceed with firing McClain if it were not evident – not unanimously evident – that there have been legal violations?

Can we ask ourselves why board President Comischell Rodriguez, after months of apparent agreement, would suddenly decide at the last board meeting to switch her position and vote against the board majority? Is this an act of integrity, to suddenly flip-flop and play to the political arena? Or was there some new evidence revealed that only she was privy to?

Can we ask why Steven McDowell inexplicably abstained? What’s up with that?
Cowardly? Or something borne of conviction?

Can we ask why one of the best education attorneys in San Diego, Dan Shinoff, feels confident that McClain violated her contract, and perhaps the Brown Act and other breaches as well? Does it make sense that the board would, on a whim, do this without solid legal grounds?

Do Rodriguez’s and McDowell’s actions now put the board at greater risk for litigation? A unanimous decision to vote her out is quite different than a 3-1-1 vote. By flopping and flipping and crumbling to please the crowd, without regard to the law, is McClain’s case strengthened?

And why, oh why, is a speaker’s offhand comment that this action could cost the district $500,000 repeated in the press as if it were an accepted fact?

Questions to ponder.

Meanwhile, I’m going to take one last look at the carpet of cherry blossoms now falling off the trees like so much drifting, snowy confetti and breathe deeply of the scented air – grateful for the few days of respite, ironically taken in our nation’s capital, from the political turmoil of a tiny school district three thousand miles away.

Marsha Sutton can be reached at

Related posts:

  1. EDUCATION MATTERS: What went wrong?
  2. EDUCATION MATTERS: Del Mar dominates local 2009 education stories
  3. EDUCATION MATTERS: How local superintendents spend their away days
  4. EDUCATION MATTERS: Taking care of housekeeping
  5. Attorney: Board is now moving forward ‘optimistically’

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Posted by on Apr 8, 2010. Filed under Archives, Education Matters. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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