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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Board of Ed action on Sheard expected next week

Board members Morgan, Jeffers, Anderson and
Wyatt at Tuesday's work/study session.

There was palpable tension in the air prior to Tuesday's Plainfield Board of Ed work/study meeting.

Rumors swirled all day long: this board member or that one would not show, causing voting problems; Board members would -- or would not -- have to publicly explain their votes on the non-renewal of Dr. Sheard's contract; etc.

Imagining a monster crowd like that in May, I was surprised to pull into the Kenyon Avenue lot about ten minutes before the meeting and find only about 15 cars there. The school security officer standing outside confirmed that the Board meeting was going to be in the cafeteria and not the conference room as originally scheduled.

Agendas for the evening were piled in a box near the doorway and people greeted each other and made small talk while waiting for the meeting to begin -- which it did finally at 8:15.

After the roll was called, Board President Emily Morgan advised the audience the board's attorney had an announcement to make. The gist of the attorney's statement was that the public explanation by Board members of their "no" votes on Dr. Sheard's contract had been "rescinded" that very morning. (English teachers would note the use of the passive voice, rather than simple, direct declarative sentences; perhaps it's a lawyer thing.)

At this point, Acting Superintendent Sheard asked Board President Morgan to allow her to show a short video. Apparently surprised, Morgan asked what it was about. "Achievements in the District from February (when Sheard assumed the acting superintendency) to now," Sheard said. Morgan consented.

It took a few minutes to get the video up and running (evidence of not having conducted a dry run -- never a good idea).

When the short video (maybe four or five minutes) finally got under way, it featured an introduction by Dr. Sheard and then a series of photos of students and staff -- many holding certificates of one sort or another -- cascading, twisting, curling over, and shuffling across the screen (demonstrating that someone knew how to use slide transitions).

The whole thing was a
commercial for Dr. Sheard. There were almost no notations (I did see one) of what the occasions were for the certificates, etc.

The whole production struck me as inappropriate. The Board's reaction was, if anything, flat.

Adding this to the earlier adventures by Dr. Sheard in scheduling "listening sessions" with the community -- which I see as inappropriate for an 'acting superintendent' and unfortunate in not being seen as part of the Board's overall search strategy.

There seem to be boundary issues with the Acting Superintendent.

The Board of Ed meets for its business session next Tuesday, June 20, at 8:00 PM. Check the school's website for the location -- I will hazard a guess that it will be the cafeteria.

Dr. Sheard's case is expected to be on the agenda.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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