Good info leads to good decisions

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School board should have been fully informed before acting on promotions.

THIS WEEK, THE Beloit Daily News published findings from its extensive survey built from legal records requests to local governments throughout the region concerning formal complaints of sexual harassment or other significant matters.

Not surprisingly, the records requests turned up some examples of bad behavior. All in all, though, not a lot.

A number of regional governmental agencies reported no complaints at all over the five-year period surveyed. For those that did report incidents, most were relatively minor and were handled quickly and appropriately through internal channels.

Some governments - notably, Rock County and Winnebago County - have not yet fulfilled the newspaper's records requests. Our journalists will review those records and report accordingly at a later date.

WHICH BRINGS US to the single reported incident that does raise serious questions.

The School District of Beloit reported a complaint that originated in 2013. A school principal, Anthony Bosco, acknowledged drinking too much while attending an out-of-town conference. He was accused by a female teacher of inappropriately touching her. The matter was investigated and Bosco received a one-day suspension which, in light of serious consequences being reported around the country in recent months, seems lenient. But let that consideration go. Now is now; then is then.

We're more concerned with what happened - or didn't happen - after the incident and disciplinary resolution. In 2013, the Board of Education was not informed of the incident, even though it involved the top leader at one of the district schools. Two members of that 2013 board - John Acomb and Nora Gard - confirmed to the newspaper they were kept in the dark.

THEN, IN 2017, Bosco was recommended to the board for a promotion to lead bilingual programs. Superintendent Tom Johnson did not inform board members of Bosco's disciplinary history.

Near the end of 2017, when Johnson became unable to work for medical reasons, the designated acting superintendent - Darrell Williams - recommended Bosco for another promotion, as acting assistant superintendent to fill Williams' previous post. And, again, school board members were not briefed on Bosco's disciplinary history.

If they had been, board members might have promoted Bosco anyway. Williams says Bosco's performance since the 2013 incident has been "stellar," and we have no reason to dispute that.

We do, however, fault administrators in 2013 for failing to inform the district's elected governing body of what clearly was highly inappropriate behavior by a ranking employee. We also fault Superintendent Tom Johnson for not revealing Bosco's history to the board when he was first recommended for promotion last year. Likewise, we fault Williams for not making sure the board knew Bosco's record when recommending him to fill the acting assistant superintendent position.

GOOD DECISIONS REQUIRE good information, and a succession of administrators short-circuited the process by not being pro-active in making sure the people's elected representatives had all the facts.

The board might have made the same decisions. That's not what this is about. We are not saying Bosco is the wrong man for the job.

We are saying elected boards exist to make those judgments on behalf of the citizens, and asking members to make decisions in the dark shows poor administrative management.

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