Letter: Decision on O'Connor casts doubt on leadership

To the Editor:

A great person, and later a great leader, once said, "When people lead, the leaders will follow." This morning's headline in the Bennington Banner, "Assistant principal defended by public," should please anyone in the community who cares about children or education.

In my opinion, Jerry O'Connor is one of the best educators, coaches, and volunteers that I have ever worked with. I have coached and worked in this district with Jerry for a long time and I have found him to be tireless in his efforts to publicly serve this community.

The treatment that Mr. O'Connor is receiving is becoming more common in this district. Action to hire or dismiss, or sneak into executive session and hope no one asks for an explanation, has become (for some reason) "acceptable." Does the board hope no one notices? That the public is ill-informed or does not care? That no one calls school board members? Do they hope the teachers and staff are afraid to confront injustice, or raise a voice to protect good public servants who can't protect themselves?

This type of scenario has played out more than once here at MAUHS over the last two years. For example, two new administrators were hired at the recommendation of the superintendent, and we have suffered as a school because of his decisions. The foundation of stability within our education community has been shaken and rattled, and our kids are suffering the consequences. We, as a community, are now paying for a principal who does not work here and we have an interim principal who is picking through the remains and getting the staff and school through the year.

This type of story does not instill much confidence in the future recommendation of leadership in our school system, from our superintendent to the board. Here are three good rules for personnel to go by: 1) When you have good people who are well liked and respected, keep them. 2) If you make a mistake in hiring someone, own up to it and be honest. 3) If the community tells you to keep a teacher or principal, do so (they may understand what you don't).

Richard A. Crosier



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