UPDATED:Board of Education President Donna O. McLaughlin told 50 parents Thursday night the Board would meet with Saul Yanofsky November 5, to discuss a way they could reveal the “significant differences” behind the Superintendent’s dismissal. She revealed no guidelines are in place describing the kind of superintendent they are looking to hire, and there is no “new direction” planned, contrary to colleague comments. No good time to replace Yanofsky.
BOARD PRESIDENT READING EXPLANATION TO PTA COUNCIL: Donna O. McLaughlin, reads lengthy statement, while Dr. Saul Yanofsky listens Thursday evening. The statement was the statement read at the Curriculum meeting Monday evening, and can be read in its entirety in the WPCNR story headlined “Yanofsky:”They Wanted Me to Resign. Short-term contract denied. WPCNR PHOTO
Denies “new direction” sought by other Board Members
In a spirited discussion after the regular PTA Council meeting at Education House, McLoughlin denied that the Board was seeking a new direction (as stated to WPCNR by Board members Stephen Sules and Larry Geiger privately). She said the board was just seeking a fresh look.
Search Firm Will Draw Up Profile of Ideal Superintendent with Parent Input.
She stated that she had not investigated the cost yet of what a national recruiting search for a new Superintendent of Schools would cost the district. She indicated funds were set aside for such purposes in the overall school budget. She said she had just begun to evaluate search firms.
Asked what qualities the board was looking for in a new superintendent, McLoughlin said the Board did not have any in mind, and that this would be determined by the search firm with help from the community the Board would hire.
When pressed, McLaughlin said the Board would be looking for “someone like Saul.”
Councilmembers said, “Well, he’s right here. Ask him.”
McLoughlin recounts “countless hours,” phone calls
At one point McLoughlin complained that she was just a “volunteer,” as were the rest of the Board and that they had agonized over this decision.
“Look at the bags under my eyes,” she said.
Yanofsky sought to spare community over the summer
McLaughlin said the delay in announcing the departure was Yanofsky’s decision. Yanofsky agreed. Explaining why the decision was not released last April, Yanofsky said,
“I didn’t see any point in disrupting the community back then…nor do I need 14 months to find another job. I didn’t think it helpful to the district to identify the areas the Board and I disagreed about.”
Yanofsky “uncomfortable” with alleged Board Member comments, however.
Yanofsky said he and the board had agreed not to reveal the nature of the differences. He reported pleasantly that he has been hearing things board members have said “that make me less and less comfortable keeping quiet about it that are unfair and inaccurate,” and raising his voice slightly said, “I’m getting close to the point, where I don’t think it’s fair to me to keep quiet about it.”
He gives us a glimpse of the “differences.”
Dr. Yanofsky, commenting on the problem of revealing the differences between himself and the board in a way that would not polarize the community said,
“You have to be careful how they are related without doing harm, they’re not dramatic differences to my knowledge,” saying they dealt with “How do you engage? How do you deal with subtleties, style differences that are a part of it.”
McLoughlin says differences very apparent in “work sessions,” chides parents for not attending work sessions.
Reacting to substantial incredulity expressed by Council Members about differences between Yanofsky and the Board, whom they felt always seemed supportive of Yanofsky, McLoughlin had a different “take.”
The Board President said the differences are very prevalent in work sessions of the Board. McLoughlin said the public rarely attends those work sessions, otherwise they would have noted the differences. She chided parents for not attending work sessions.
However, WPCNR would like to point out this appears self-serving. Board of Education work sessions are not vigorously publicly noticed in an aggressive manner that would indicate that the Board of Education wants the public to be there. However, WPCNR will be asking for notice of all work sessions from now on.
The Board of Education never faxes the media when work sessions are called, as City Hall does. The Board has never, to this reporter’s knowledge, e-mailed WPCNR about a work session, as they do with publicity releases. During the course of the year, the public is only informed about budget sessions. As a reporter, you have to ask about work sessions. When attending them, executive sessions can be called if the public, and reporters are present, thus shielding meaningful discussion from view. The only times, in this reporter’s opinion, when the public was aggressively asked for input last year were on the subjects of budget and the Code of Conduct.
McLoughlin would not, or could not say how many parents had expressed dissatisfaction about Yanofsky.
Parents questioned McLoughlin where the Board got the idea parents were unhappy with Yanofsky. She said she attends many meetings and sporting events, talks to many people and has heard things. When pressed for a number of parents she had heard expressing dissatisfaction, McLoughlin declined to elaborate.
Schere Leaves When the Questioning Starts. McLoughlin Defends the Board Decision Alone.
Does September 11 make a difference. McLoughlin says, ‘no.’
In a revealing answer, one Council member asked if the Board had considered the need for Dr. Yanofsky’s expertise after the Twin Towers attack. McLoughlin acknowledged they had, but decided a replacement for Dr. Yanofsky would have to be found sometime and there would never be a good time.
Only two Board of Education members attended the gathering: Michelle Tratoros and Dorothy Schere, in addition to McLoughlin. After saying, “Dorothy Schere is sinking very fast,” Schere left for the evening, after the first two parents got up and started the long orderly, sometimes loud, inquisition of the Board President. Schere was reportedly ill. However she had stayed for over an hour before being too ill to continue, apparently. Tratoros did not make any comments. Stephen Sules, Larry Geiger, Richard Bernstein and Susan Kirkpatrick did not attend.
Emotional, firm Parent Voices Highly Critical of the Board.
The predominant theme running through the discussion was the Board should have sought input from the community, and asked comment on Yanofsky leadership prior to last April.McLoughlin said that was a very difficult thing to do, because of the sensitive nature of the evaluation process. She also staunchly said the Board had the right to choose a Superintendent on its own judgment.
Petition Movement Is “Not Doing Badly.”
A parent organizing a petition drive calling on the Board to reverse its decision told WPCNR that signatures are accumulating, and that it was “not doing badly.” She said some parents refused to sign, but the drive was ongoing. Petitions are available for signing at What a Bagel Cafe and Pretty Petals.