Rock Hill district just looking for a scapegoat

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 24, 2007

Everyone has heard the old question, “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it still make noise?”

Let me ask it a little differently: “If the constant bickering, political in-fighting and legal disputes in the Rock Hill School District go on, and the media isn’t there to document it, does that mean none of it ever happened?”

As silly as that sounds, apparently that is what some individuals seem to think as they continue to blame this newspaper for all the woes in the district. This was on display at last week’s board meeting when a reporter was insulted near the end of the meeting with unfounded allegations and biased contentions.

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The many smart parents and taxpayers who live in the district will not fall for this attempt to deflect the blame from the real problem: Lack of leadership.

The constant conflicts that create the negative publicity have nothing to do with this newspaper. We have an obligation to the community to shine a light on the politics and infighting that has gone on in the district for years and years, and continues to hurt the district’s ability to achieve its full potential.

We serve the entire Rock Hill community and will continue to do so, despite the pressures of a few who would prefer the district be allowed to do whatever it wants with no accountability.

We don’t make the news. We simply report on it as fairly and accurately as possible. Are we perfect? Of course not.

Every single word someone tells a reporter cannot be printed in the newspaper. The nature of journalism is to take lots of information and boil it down to the most important elements that accurately represent someone’s position on a given issue.

Sadly, there are many wonderful students, parents and teachers in the district who likely get overshadowed by the constant political battles that have gone on for years — whether the newspaper was there to witness the board’s shenanigans or not.

This newspaper did not cause a board member to question the ethics of the board president’s vote on a recent contract. We simply reported it.

This newspaper did not violate the open meetings laws and commit other acts of misconduct while in office as three board members did. We simply reported it.

This newspaper did not file a string of lawsuits both for and against the school district over the past few years. We simply reported it.

It is far easier for leaders in the district to throw stones and look for a scapegoat than it is for those same individuals to look in the mirror.

The reality is that Rock Hill’s lack of non-biased leadership and stability on the board has caused it to be one of the most academically struggling districts in the county. Longtime superintendent Lloyd Evans’ habit of discounting all opposing opinions as wrong hurts the district’s ability to progress.

Anyone who thinks that all the political turmoil in the Rock Hill district will go away if the newspaper stops paying attention can consider themselves an ostrich because they certainly have their heads buried in the sand.

Both factions in the district struggle to see the truth and can only look at issues with such tunnel vision that they are unable to focus on the whole picture.

I hope, somehow, the individuals who serve on the new board after the November elections can put their differences aside, stop looking to blame others and work for the good of the students.

The children deserve it and the taxpayers deserve it.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at