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home : opinions : opinions June 28, 2016

2/16/2012 1:03:00 PM
Commentary: Red flags abound over school district superintendent debate in Camp Verde

Dan Engler

Once again we have a Camp Verde School Superintendent whose neck is on the proverbial chopping block.

Also once again, the school board complaints about Dan Brown fall into the category of generalities vs. specifics.

And, finally, once again we are seeing a School Superintendent hung out to dry in a public meeting vs. the more appropriate setting of an executive session.

So much of what is happening with Mr. Brown right now is like watching a re-run of the episode involving former Camp Verde schools chief Jeff Van Handel. When it became apparent that Brown’s job was on the line at this week’s school board meeting, the conversation began to echo, almost verbatim, the 2009 meeting that brought about the departure of Brown’s predecessor, Jeff Van Handel. Brown said his evaluation by the board - satisfactory to good - did not indicate that the board was unhappy with him.

Flashback to 2009: “There is nothing in my evaluation that warned me they were going to take away my livelihood,” Van Handel said. The three board members against Van Handel - Tim Roth, Helen Freeman and Rick Anderson - did not spell out their reasons for the decision. However, Freeman compared the superintendent to a pair of shoes that do not fit.

There’s several dangers for school board members and the public to consider if the Camp Verde Unified School District is going to play this game of musical chairs with its superintendent.

First, the repeated practice of ambushing the superintendent in a public meeting instead of voicing such concerns in an executive session properly agendized for personnel matters very well one day could turn into a costly lawsuit for the district.

Second, don’t think that those professionals who apply for the superintendent’s job in a town like Camp Verde don’t do their homework before applying. Should Brown go down in so similarly a fashion as did Van Handel, Camp Verde will be branded as a school district where there is no future, no job security and a vindictive political climate.

As a result, only those second- and third-tier candidates -- people who probably were legitimately fired from their last job – will be the only folks who apply for the job. The top-tier professionals will pass on the job.

The Camp Verde School Board should think twice before publicly tarring and feathering Dan Brown and sending him packing, just as they did with Van Handel.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, February 19, 2012
Article comment by: Richard Hertz

Small wonder that six years of deep cuts to education (in a state that has never funded schools well) that the pressure becomes too great and we turn on each other.

Posted: Saturday, February 18, 2012
Article comment by: Lee Cali

It is very sad to read about a couple of Board members setting about to take down a school Superintendent. You would have thought that by the second time around they would have taken great care to get what they felt they didn't get from the former Sup't. I am not part of that school district, however I have read the numerous columns that Mr. Brown wrote in the newspaper and totally agreed with his vision of schooling: a broad academic base with room for the arts and sports. Particularly impressive was the picture of a recorder class playing at the Centennial celebration. I call that expanding the the educational program.
What in the world do they have against him? And outrageously letting it all come out in a public meeting instead of the more discrete executive session.

As a former teacher from a much larger school district L.A.,CA. I wonder what it is with these rural areas where once the parents have a little taste of importance, they get out of control with their power. Much like that happening in COCD where superintendent Barbara U'ren is constantly under attack. No matter that the IB program became an outstanding success and interest in it is growing enough to add a new grade level after only one year of operation, they find fault and conspiracy at every turn.

I do hope this this issue in Camp Verde is resolved to the benefit of Mr. Brown and the children.

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