Right or wrong, Rock Hill board should start talking

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 14, 2004

Something bad happened Thursday night at the Rock Hill School Board meeting.

This newspaper already reported the details, the board, in a split vote agreed to replace long-time superintendent Lloyd Evans and named county superintendent Harold "Bucky" Shafer as an interim replacement.

The "bad thing" of which I'm referring is that the meeting did nothing to settle the issue.

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No real communication took place. Aside from a statement read by school board member Jackie Harris, the three other board members present made no discussion.

It was apparent their minds had been made up prior to the meeting. That, of course, leads one to believe that it had been discussed and debated prior to the meeting.

Shouldn't that discussion have occurred in the public?

Let me stop for a second and clear up an issue that critics of Lloyd Evans are certain to make. First, I've only met Lloyd Evans a few times. We aren't friends, and I suspect it's fair to say that neither of us believes the other would be a likely person with whom we'd like to hang around.

I don't have children in the Rock Hill district.

I'm not married to anyone with an interest in the Rock Hill district; I'm not related to anyone in the Rock Hill district. I believe I'm just about as impartial as anyone in attendance at Thursday's special meeting.

All of that said, I'm bothered by how the school board has chosen to handle the current situation.

Rather than talking about its reasoning, the majority seems content to purse its collective lips and refuse to talk to the public.

Now, I'll grant you, I wouldn't be too crazy about talking to the angry group of citizens who started fussing and yelling at the board. But you know what? I didn't run for school board, either.

Part of the responsibility that comes with an elected position is to be open to both criticism and communication.

It's a weak argument in my mind to say that the reason no one is speaking about their reasoning is because of legal matters. Turn on the television almost any day of the week and you'll see several high-profile attorneys speaking, or suggesting to their clients what to say, on the national airwaves.

Think about it. Just because something is under litigation does not mean it cannot be discussed. And if you feel your position is strong and based on the truth, why would anyone want to keep mum?

Again, I'm not informed enough about the issues and long history of either the district or Evans to say what the right thing to do is, yet.

However, as a person who lives in the county and who has a strong interest in seeing all aspects of the county - including the wonderful parents and children who attend Rock Hill - succeed, I wish the board would start talking, soon.

Even in criminal matters, a person is innocent until proven guilty. According to three members of the Rock Hill School Board, "you're guilty if we say you are."

And that attitude is a very bad thing, indeed.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1445 ext. 12 or by e-mail to kevin.cooper@irontontribune.com.