by Bob Forward
The fix is in! The Caddo Parish School Board has stacked the deck to force the hiring of “insider” Mary Nash Robinson as the next leader of the Caddo Parish School System. In doing so, they have reinforced the lack of confidence concerned members of the community feel about the board’s actions. But it still boggles the mind that the Caddo Parish School Board paid over $30,000 to come up with John Dilworth and Agnella Katrise Perera as two of three finalists for superintendent.
According to the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, soon after he was hired as the East Baton Rouge Parish Superintendent, questions were raised about a prior working relationship Mr. Dilworth had with Clay Siagle, a manager in Volkert and Associates, the company hired to “improve EBR schools.”
WSFA television in Montgomery, Alabama reported that Clay Siagle “worked with Dilworth in Caddo Parish and came to Montgomery at the same time” that Mr. Dilworth became superintendent. When Mr. Dilworth left Alabama before his term expired, Mr. Siagle was named by the school board as Dilworth’s temporary replacement. Next, Siagle was hired by Volkert, and the company was granted the EBR contract. When the relationship surfaced, acording to The Baton Rouge Advocate, Dilworth said that he had cleared the relationship with the EBR school attorney who said there was no conflict. But when the attorney said he was not consulted, Dilworth changed his story.
Then, just nine months after he was hired, Mr. Dilworth submitted a letter of resignation without an explanation. WAFB television station in Baton Rouge said that Mr. Dilworth told them that he made the decision “after months of assessing his fit as superintendent.” He also said that his wife’s health played a part in the decision and that they both wanted to return to their “home in Arkansas.” Three weeks after the resignation letter was submitted, no charges were brought against Mr. Dilworth, and he took the resignation back.
Two year later in May 2011, Dilworth informed the board that he would not ask for an extension of his contract when it expired at the end of June 2012. According to The Business Report, Dilwoth admitted his thoughts about leaving “affected his work” and, according to The Baton Rouge Advocate, teachers, administrators, and staff complained about the “lame duck superintendent” for the next thirteen months. Mr. Dilworth told WBRZ television, “I have failed in my duties as superintendent.” Before this, Mr. Dilworth was in Montgomery Alabama for less than three years. He has been unemployed for the past year.
A second candidate, Agnella Katrise Perera, was hired as superintendent of Wight Island schools , a system of less than 6,000 students, in July of 2011, and she admits that she started job hunting only 10 months after being hired. She says she withdrew her application to a school system in Florida when the job in Caddo, much closer to her home in Lake Charles became available.
Does anyone believe Mr. Dilworth or Ms. Perera plan to invest much time or energy in Caddo Parish? Does anyone think Caddo will be their home? Is it even possible that the school board would consider either of these candidates? Thus, Ms. Nash Robinson becomes the only viable candidate. Couldn’t the board have come up with a cheaper way to give Mary Nash Robinson the job?
This superintendent search is just one more example of waste and obfuscation practiced by the school board. Rather than scrub the budget line by line to find and execute cuts that protect classrooms, they continue to insulate non-classroom positions filled by friends and families as well as countless wasteful practices such as continuing to start school during the two hottest weeks of the year.
Most of the public is still not aware that the board cut out half the planning time for high school teachers, added one more class to their teaching load, and forced high school principals to increase the school day by twenty minutes. Most parents are not aware that class size in all grades will increase in all grades. Let’s educate enough people, about the superintendent search scam and demand that the board reopen the process of filling the top position.
One more failing leader may guarantee failure for the whole system. But, failure may be the “End Game” some are working to achieve.
SHAME, SHAME, SHAME on the Caddo Parish School Board for their failures and lack of responsible judgment!