There was an exchange yesterday with a reader that produced some new questions about the Mariners Gold Ribbon application and about leadership in the district.

These questions need to be asked:

  • Who, if anyone, assisted the Mariners’ principal in completing the application?
  • Who reviewed the application for accuracy before it was submitted?
  • What was the application process at the 11 other schools that achieved Gold Ribbon status?
  • Who completed the applications at the 11 other schools?
  • Who reviewed the applications at the 11 other schools?

Nothing happens in a vacuum. In this case, because there is one application with alleged untruths and inaccuracies, the district’s investigation should include all 12 schools, not just Mariners to determine the standards everywhere. Where there is Mariners smoke, I believe there may be district fire.

But they won’t investigate the other 11 applications. If they follow the script, the administration and the school board club will do whatever they have to do to confine this latest scandal to Mariners and insist – if the accusations are correct – that it was limited to one school and to one person. Containment is everything. Someone may be thrown under the bus and taxpayers will be led to believe that the problem is solved.

Until we know about the process at the other 11 schools, and whether there were untruths and inaccuracies at any of them, this matter is not finished.

According to the recent Daily Pilot story, “For the past few weeks, the investigative firm [hired by the district find out what happened during the Gold Ribbon application process] has been interviewing school staff and administration relative to the complaint, according to district spokeswoman Annette Franco.” What the story does not state and what the district is not offering is exactly when this report will be ready. All those who guessed “sometime during the summer” get ten points.

The flurry of scandals this close to the end of the school year reminds me of a scene in the classic movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In the scene protagonist George Bailey, his uncle, and two members of the staff at the Bailey Building & Loan are anxiously awaiting the ticking down of the clock to 6 pm., which signifies that they can remain in business after having all but two dollars of their cash drained by panicky shareholders.

The clock reaches 6, the company’s door is locked for the day and Bailey and friends are dancing around the office, toasting their business acumen and celebrating because they’re still in business.

It’s now about 5:55 p.m. on Bear St. They’re anticipating that this Friday, we’ll all be going off on our vacations, scrambling to find day camps for our kids, and doing all the other things we do during the summer. They know that the last thing on our minds will be the Gold Ribbon application, the audacity of paying an administrator not to retire, the rodent infestation at CM High that closed part of the school, the absurdity known as Swun Math, the latest John Caldecott shot across the bow, the bungling of the development of two high school stadiums, the Laura Boss/Ann Huntington lawsuit claiming a hostile working environment, the amateurish handling of the “Dump Trump” T-shirts, and all the other miscues that have plagued the worst administration for which taxpayers have paid in the 30 years I have been a resident of the area.

They know that all of that will be a distant memory a week from today. Need proof? That internal report by the three Bear St. administrators on the Gold Ribbon application that is supposed to be submitted to the superintendent because he refused to attend the meetings himself? It’ll be ready this Friday, the last day of school.

If you’re a bureaucrat on Bear St., it’s a wonderful life.

Steve Smith

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