Archived Story

FCPS Board owes public an explanation, Chandler apology

Published 10:11am Friday, June 27, 2014

Editor:

I read with amazement the recent article in your newspaper regarding the Franklin City School Board’s vote to rescind its offer to Mr. [Jason] Chandler to be the next principal of S.P. Morton Elementary School. Mr. Chandler has proven himself a hard-working administrator who cares about the students under his tutelage, and I do hope he is ultimately named the next principal of that school.

It appears that the school board must have hired Mr. Chandler very quickly to fill a position that came open before the end of the school year. Apparently the previous principal, Dr. [Debbie] Harris-Rollins, was so emotionally drained after not being selected to be our next Superintendent that she just didn’t have the energy to finish the school year (not to mention her contractual commitment). What a gem of a hire she proved to be as the principal at S.P. Morton!

The FCPS Board recently entered into a well-documented Memorandum of Understanding with the Virginia Department of Education, with the goal of improving educational outcomes for our students. Our local School Board Chairwoman Ms. Edna King signed the MOU in which the FCPS Board agreed to have our FCPS Superintendent forward all suggested hires of instructional personnel to VDOE no less than five days prior to making the recommendation for hire to the FCPS Board in a local FCPS Board meeting.

It sounds as if the offer to Mr. Chandler may not have been cleared through proper channels at VDOE prior to being made. If true, this situation should not be misconstrued to reflect poorly on Mr. Chandler. To the contrary, I believe he is a good and honorable choice to lead that school.

It looks like the FCPS Board rescinded the offer to Mr. Chandler after having its hand slapped because the Board made a lightning-quick offer of employment without first consulting with VDOE. If this is indeed the case, the community deserves an explanation as to how this could happen just weeks after signing the MOU. Did an administrator in our school system advise the board that the hiring of Mr. Chandler had been cleared through VDOE when, in fact, this had not been done? If so, that administrator should be fired immediately. If instead, the FCPS Board acted without a recommendation from our FCPS administration, and without first running the new hire by VDOE, then I believe that the members of the local board should feel compelled to resign. How can the entire school board act outside of the agreement with VDOE, and not have even a single board member pause to consider the requirements of the MOU? If this is how it happened, shame on Ms. King and the FCPS Board. The misstep makes me question whether members of the board have even bothered to read the MOU yet.

One of the points stressed repeatedly by the state board has been the need for improved communication by the FCPS Board with stakeholders. In this instance, I believe the community deserves answers to the questions I’ve raised, and Mr. Chandler likely deserves an apology from the FCPS Board.

David Benton
Franklin

  • JustWondering

    Just Wondering, Benton. Will you ever do your homework or just continue spewing venomous falsehoods? This one was easy. Just go to the Virginia Schools Boards Association website:

    “IMPORTANT NOTE: To be appointed as a superintendent in VIRGINIA, one must be listed on the “Eligible List of Division Superintendents” approved by the Virginia Board of Education…”

    Dr. Harris-Rollins’ name is not on the list, and she did not apply to be superintendent of FCPS.

    Suggest Removal

  • JustWondering

    Dr. Harris-Rollins was and still is a gem who brought much needed change to Morton, but THIS fiasco is not about her. You are wrong in that she did not even apply to be superintendent of Franklin, and she did finish her contract. Her last day was June 30th which was another reason why the board was in error. You can request from FCPS a list of applicants for superintendent, and you will not find her name among them. (Yes, I asked and waited for a response before responding here. Unlike those operating on lies, I wanted to have facts.)

    Here’s the problem: (1) FCPS did not advertise the vacancy. (2) FCPS did not interview candidates. (3) FCPS violated the MOU by not seeking VBOE/VDOE approval for a new candidate. Principals are instructional personnel. (4) FCPS tried to install a principal when one, Dr. Harris-Rollins, WAS still under contract through June 30th; Her notice indicated that she would not return after June 30th which was the last day of her contract. You cannot hire two people in the SAME position at the SAME time.

    ALL contracts in FCPS expire June 30th each year. Dr. Harris-Rollins gave notice early June BEFORE new contracts were prepared. The board accepted her resignation effective June 30, 2014. (Read the board minutes.) HR should have posted the vacancy. The new superintendent should have identified candidates to interview, and VDOE/VBOE should have been consulted in accordance with the MOU.

    Suggest Removal

  • Dakota01
  • Dakota01

    I want to be Mayor of Franklin. First I wowold fire every administrator and make them reapply and to justify why they should be rehired. I owe nobody any favors and I do not believe in the Good Ole Boy Club. The other “elected” officials would also need job justification.
    ELECT ME

    Suggest Removal

  • Resident

    Another example of why every member of the current school board should resign now !!!

    We will never get a good school board until it is elected by the citizens. Then they can be held accountable for just these kind of screw ups !!!!!

    I also do not understand how we let the current school board hire a new superintendent. They are the sames ones that hired the last “highly qualified” one. Look where that got us.

    It is time for this city to get serious about the schools and have an elected school. When my grand child starts school this coming September, she NOT be going to Franklin Public Schools. We will be paying for her to attend another school system.

    Suggest Removal

  • mason

    Good question, Liberty. However, the VBOE seems to be saying that our school board allowed (or was ignorant of) an improper hiring procedure, and in most public areas, openings that offer a promotion are advertised to ensure that everyone has a fair shot at being considered.

    Suggest Removal

  • Liberty With Responsibility

    A teacher I know says principals are not classed as “instructional personnel” and therefore this MOU would not apply to Chandler and his hiring. Is this true?

    Suggest Removal

  • mason

    This being only the most recent example of failure on the part of the School Board to ensure proper and good stewardship, the members of the Board who know there must be a change in Board leadership must bring about such a change immediately, and then steps must be taken to begin to undo the damage that our school system has sustained. I only hope that no Board member claims ignorance.

    Suggest Removal

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