Except in emergencies, lame-duck public bodies should defer decisions following elections.
THE PAST WEEK was tumultuous for the School District of Beloit.
On Tuesday, April 9, the board of education voted to accept the resignation of Interim Superintendent Donald Childs. Tony Bosco, director of bilingual education, was named to replace Childs, who told staff the reason he was leaving was because the board wanted him out.
Then, on Wednesday, April 10, the board of education - with dozens of objectors on hand - voted to transfer Assistant Superintendent Darrell Williams to Fruzen School, where he is reassigned to serve as co-principal. Critics on hand called it a demotion, which it certainly appears to be.
HERE ARE SOME other pertinent dates.
On Tuesday, April 2, the community went to the polls and elected two new members for the school board - past board president John Winkelmann and newcomer Megan Miller.
On Monday, April 22, those two elected board members will take office and two appointed members will depart.
On Monday, July 1, the newly-hired superintendent Dr. Stanley Munro is scheduled to begin work.
LET'S BE CLEAR: We do not have all the information those currently serving on the board may have had when they made these decisions. So we will take a pass at this time on judging the merits of forcing out Childs, and the same with the Williams transfer.
We will say the school board owes the community a better explanation than it has given to date. Adjacent to this article is a letter from board President Pam Charles. Read it. Make your own decision whether her explanations are sufficient.
Likewise, we will make this general observation: If lame-duck public bodies make important and dramatic decisions, the house had better be on fire with an emergency response required. Otherwise, decision-making should be deferred until the people's choices as expressed in the election are on board.
THINK ABOUT THIS. Much of Wisconsin was justifiably up in arms when Democrat Tony Evers ousted incumbent Gov. Scott Walker, but Walker and the Republican-controlled legislature responded by passing multiple measures in lame-duck session designed to cripple the new governor and a new Democrat attorney general. The rationale was unmistakable: Republicans didn't like the outcome of the election and feared they wouldn't get their way anymore under a new governor.
Such lame-duck action is wrong - undemocratic, even. And it's equally suspect when lame-duck local boards engage in similar decision-making.
Appearances matter, and here's what it looks like. None of this was mentioned before people went to the polls, perhaps because it could have affected the outcome. And why not wait until the people's choices are seated on the new board, so it doesn't look like a lame-duck board kept secrets in order to act on the way out the door?
Better yet, why not let the new boss evaluate and decide when he gets here in a few weeks?
Lots of questions. Not enough answers.