Days are limited for ‘gang of three’

By Debra McGinty-Poteet

Resident, Del Mar Heights

I am not surprised that the current school board finds itself in a situation where it has managed to enrage both parents and teachers. Ever since the new slate was elected to office 3 1/2 years ago, the community has been subjected to high-handed tactics and low tolerance for opposition, with Katherine White at the center of the maelstrom.

Behind-the-scenes deals that ousted the former superintendent thereby settling old personal scores and the bargain basement sale of the Shores property to the city of Del Mar are commonplace occurrences for these elected officials. This new saga of their attempt to fire the current superintendent, just 18 months after they forced the beloved former superintendent from office, would be laughable if it wasn’t really happening.

In fact, at the beginning of their tenure (Annette Easton, White and Steven McDowall) very clearly outlined a multipoint program of district reform. They campaigned on a platform of “transparency,” which included attacking and discrediting the former superintendent and almost destroying their own education foundation.

As they transitioned into power, board meetings became marathons and there was the appearance of community outreach. In reality, these endurance contests became a smoke screen to wear out the opposition and carefully install changes that they felt met the needs of their constituency.

If one analyzes the voter turnout at the time of their election, less than 20 percent of the registered voters turned out and the “gang of three” was voted in with little opposition.

So where does this leave us?

The slate is performing as expected. There is no tolerance for opposition, certainly not by a superintendent who should, as some believe, simply do their bidding, irrespective of whether it is in the best interests of the district and its students.

Fortunately, the community is finally waking up to the stark reality. Requests for a school board to be more in tune with the will of the electorate are not possible. Requests for these folks to resign will fall on deaf ears.

The only solution for a return to a district that is fiscally sound, staffed by teachers who feel empowered and content and populated by parents not fleeing the district in droves to private schools, is to elect a new group of school board members when the terms of the “gang of three” expire. These three ran as a slate, and with any luck, they will leave as a slate.