Rolling up the red carpet

Meet-and-greet for superintendent finalist treated public shabbily

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Nothing says “Welcome to Augusta” like locked doors to an open meeting.

Superintendent finalist Angela Pringle talked to the press after undergoing her second interview Friday.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Superintendent finalist Angela Pringle talked to the press after undergoing her second interview Friday.

Really, what was the point of all the heavy-handed access control during the meet-and-greet for Richmond County school superintendent finalist Angela Pringle on Friday?

When the information session was first announced, the public was told they would not be allowed to leave and re-enter the Board of Education chambers. Then, anyone who showed up even a minute late to the 1 p.m. meeting was greeted by closed doors and armed guards.

It’s understandable for the Board of Education to promote decorum and minimize interruption during the interview with its sole superintendent finalist, but Friday’s clampdown on public access was an imperious gesture to the public.

Those lucky enough to get into the board
auditorium found a meeting that was highly controlled, with a Georgia School Board Association official pre-screening their written questions to make sure they were “appropriate for the interview setting.”

Just who are we vetting here? The director of our children’s schools, or the head of the CIA?

The school district consumes more of our local taxes than any other government entity, and the citizens who fund its operations have a right to know how its decisions are made.

Yet the school board acts as though it is doing taxpayers a favor by opening the interview process to the public. And to do so only after narrowing its candidate list down to a sole finalist shows a disappointing level of opacity.

Why couldn’t the board have let the public in on the process once it developed its “short list” of candidates? Bringing the public in now is like giving it a choice between Option A and Option A.

Why couldn’t the board release its top three candidates, as has been common practice? Why did it instead choose to make a cramped interpretation of the state Open Records Act that not only violates the spirit of the law, but possibly the letter of it as well?

Above all, what does this say to Pringle, the sole finalist? That Augusta considers the ability of bureaucrats to control information more important than transparency and accountability in its school system? What a poor introduction to Richmond County.

There’s been a woeful lack of openness in the search to replace the outgoing Dr. Frank Roberson since Day One. Locking the doors to Pringle’s “public” meeting Friday wasn’t the only example of this, just the most insulting.

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Riverman1 08/19/14 - 03:52 am
Sets A Pattern

The whole selection process has been bizarre. This is only the latest episode and illustrates the strange management of the BOE even more. Unfortunately, it also sets a pattern for the new administrator to follow and we know who that is going to be. She has learned it's expected to work in secret, keeping the taxpayers uninformed and treating them as if they are unruly kids waiting in the secretary's office to see the principal.

avidreader 08/19/14 - 05:11 am
Bells and Whistles!

It's a sad situation that our elected BOE did not engage the public before making their decision. Hopefully, Dr. Pringle has the moxy to match the bells and whistles of high expectations.

I find it odd that the Columbia County BOE always chooses the current Deputy to step up and take over. And it appears to work. A well-groomed Deputy is already in place and understands the needs of the system.

I guess we must suck it up and hope for the best with Dr. Pringle. I hope we do not have to experience a Goodbye Dr. Chips moment if she's out of her league. Let's see . . . Larke, Bedden, Roberson. The BOE is 0-3 already.

Little Old Lady
Little Old Lady 08/19/14 - 06:49 am

Something here does not pass the smell test.

Michael Ryan
Michael Ryan 08/19/14 - 08:07 am
I think the word we're

I think the word we're searching for is "condescension," though there are other words for what happened...

Dixieman 08/19/14 - 08:45 am
I wonder...

...if she will still want the job after this Klown Karnival performance.

dichotomy 08/19/14 - 10:53 am
I think we all know what is

I think we all know what is going on here and why. And it is WRONG...terribly WRONG. This selection process STINKS TO HIGH HEAVEN. Among 37 applicants there was BOUND TO BE some highly qualified white candidates that Venus Cain did not want us to see. Under Venus Cain's leadership the school board has developed a siege mentality. The school board's record of continued failure and circling the wagons stands. End of discussion. Apparently the parents of Richmond County students want to continue to have their kids spending 12 years getting a barely 5th grade education. The school system in Richmond County is just like the local government....there is no hope for either. Failed school system....failed tax and spend government.....Cyber Command employees....RUN LIKE HELL. Locate in a county that doesn't have a city that needs "redeveloped" and that has a viable school system. Your children will thank you....and your bank account will thank you when it is time to move and sell your house.

hoptoad 08/19/14 - 11:36 am
Typical left-wing tactics.

Typical left-wing tactics. They are only mimicking this administration's examples. Secrecy, bureaucratic strategies, fiat by force and disallowing any opposition.

Bizkit 08/19/14 - 04:41 pm
Dichotomy are you saying

Dichotomy are you saying "racism" played a role in this process?

Sweet son
Sweet son 08/19/14 - 05:50 pm
dichotomy said it all!!!!

The school board as well as the commission need both to be voted out by the numbers. Neither abided by acceptable practices of hiring a public official. I hope both groups live to regret their non-transparency in both of these processes and suffer the consequences of their pitiful choice/choices. We're still waiting on the commission to pull the same trick when they hire an administrator.

I wish no ill will on Pringle or the new administrator but I hope they can't satisfy these misfit board members and commissioners and quit within 6 months of hire.

Pringle was right in the midst of corruption in Dekalb County government so she should understand unrest within the administration of a school system and also the county government. Maybe she is as good as the board thinks and I guess we hope so but she better mind her Ps and Qs or the locals will be dead in her you know what.

Sad that Dr. Roberson had his health problems because I thought he was a good fit. Only God could say what was going to happen to him but I wish him the best.

Guess we'll stand by and see how it goes.

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