Letter: O'Connor episode shows need for board change

To the Editor:

I don't live in Bennington, so I don't have a vote there, but as a disinterested observer of the Jerry O'Connor matter, I do have an opinion. I am delighted that Mr. O'Connor is being retained; it seems that right and virtue have finally prevailed.

It is rare in my experience to see a public servant with as loyal, passionate, varied — and numerous — a group of supporters as Mr. O'Connor enjoys. That tells me that he must be a very special and gifted educator. This is borne out by his unbroken record of positive performance reviews — until the current review cycle, when the Bennington School Board decided it wanted to get rid of him.

So, what's been going on here? A blind man could see it in a minute. This is personal. I think it's personal on the part of certain members of the School Board, and judging them from a certain letter to the editor about "fake news," it is quite possibly personal with senior members in the administrative hierarchy of the school system. I don't know why it's personal, but it clearly is. And not only that, but the people for whom it's personal seem to have doubled down in defiance of the expressed will of the people of Bennington. "The voting rabble can't tell us what to do! No, sir! We're the leaders, and we know better than they do!"

How embarrassing. How juvenile. The Bennington school system is lucky to have Mr. O'Connor for another year, but I wonder if it can keep him beyond that. I imagine he's polishing his resume right now and looking for something better. Jerry O'Connor is not stupid; he knows the knives are still out. The question is, will the people of Bennington clean house on the School Board before the knives are stuck in him again?

I believe that some members of the school board think the answer is "No." I know how this works; I've seen it many times. "This will blow over; the people will turn to other concerns." Don't fall for that, Bennington. It may not be, as we were saying 50 years ago, that "the whole world is watching" — but believe me, a lot of people (like employers with young families who want a good school system) are watching. Look to your responsibilities, folks. The School Board is not the boss here — you are. Clean house!

Gerry Bell



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