Originally created 03/12/06

Double-secret probation?



Sources were reporting last week that Richmond County schools superintendent Dr. Charles Larke has received an unsatisfactory evaluation from the school board.

And consider: that's without factoring in student test scores and teacher morale, which you would think should be an integral part of a superintendent's performance measurements.

This would be an amazing turnaround for a board of education that only two years ago gave him nearly $100,000 in unused vacation pay without any public fanfare whatsoever.

Charles Larke may not be in danger of being fired anytime soon; his contract alone would seem to preclude that, since taxpayers would probably have to buy out the last two years of his roughly $200,000-a-year contract.

Instead, what board members may want to do is severely tighten and shorten the terms of Larke's three-year, heretofore automatically-renewing contract, which must be renewed by May 1, while working with him to see if his tenure can even be salvaged.

In short, it's likely Charles Larke is on double-secret probation, and may have one year to prove he's up to the job.

Strange, since he's been in the position since 1995. But the truth is, for some reason Larke's performance has never been much in question, at least among a majority of school board members.

Of course, that's why they have elections.

After all, the newest board members - A.K. Hasan, Jimmy Atkins, Barbara Pulliam and Joe Scott - were largely put in office by an electorate seething at Larke since 2004 for taking $94,000 in unused vacation pay, and with a school board that gave it to him without a discernible public vote or the detailed meeting minutes needed to do any intelligent analysis of the outrage.

How ironic will it be if the backlash from that $94,000 payout - a backlash that is behind everything now going on - ends up costing Larke several years of work at some $200,000 a year?

Accountability is bubbling up from the voters themselves. And it's a beautiful thing.