June Editorial Winner

A district divided

Regina Smith, Poteau Daily News

As we are sure you have heard by now it looks as though Poteau Public Schools will be without a superintendent as of June 30 when Dr. Alice Smith is set to retire. Of course rumors abound as to whether she is really going to relinquish control of the position or not. It was, after-all, according to several sources, Dr. Smith who placed the item regarding Hank Harris on the agenda. The problem is the same as it has always been, the school board has given too much power to Dr. Smith.
Way back during the hiring process we had issue with how involved Dr. Smith was with regard to her replacement. She should not have been allowed to sit in on the interviews, nor should she have been allowed to at least in one instance ask questions during the interview. How is one supposed to honestly answer a question like "What changes do you think need to be made?" While the current superintendent is sitting right there? Obviously her input was heavily considered during the final decision as well as when that decision was overturned on Tuesday.
Apparently Smith decided to question the morality of two employees who have both worked tirelessly for this district for a number of years. Whisperings like this happen whenever anyone is chosen for a new position but they aren't given any merit unless they are given an ear. We find it sad that even a whisper can wreck the reputation and career of someone regardless of whether a rumor is true or not. You would think that anyone who has ever had that kind of maliciousness directed towards them would take pause before doing the same thing, but maybe not. Heck, there were so many things going on behind the scenes of this one little meeting we really didn't know where to begin for this editorial.
We hate to bring up the accusations themselves because we don't want to add hurt to an already deplorable situation, but once things like this have been voiced out loud in a public setting (even if it was in an executive session) they can't be taken back. Sadly, innocent or not doesn't matter, it will always be out there. What we question is not the truth or lack thereof regarding the allegations, we question what the heck they have to do with whether or not Hank Harris has the ability to run the school district. We also question the balance of the reasoning behind telling someone we don't think you can do the job because we question your morals but we have no problem letting you keep your current position where you and your supposedly horrible moral turpitude can have contact with students on a day to day basis. Yeah, that makes lots of sense. We feel like whatever someone does or doesn't do behind closed doors is their own business as long as it doesn't affect their job.
In our opinion, Mr. Harris fell victim to politics. He ticked off the wrong people. Perhaps by wanting to offer a job to the wrong family member of someone on the board, Or telling someone else that he would be running the district as he saw fit and wouldn't be a puppet. Whatever he did it seems it was decided to be rid of him if he couldn't be controlled, and if another employee had to be hurt in the process, so be it. This issue has firmly divided many in the district. We suppose if someone is planning to leave, why not stir the pot as much as possible on the way out the door? Of course if the board didn't want the pot stirred they could have always just taken away her stick.

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