D-B board allows politics to rule

Published 10:36 pm Saturday, October 24, 2009

Politics permeates just about everything in Lawrence County but the most recent example of this is perhaps the most disturbing because it could be children who suffer.

The Dawson-Bryant Board of Education voted to give superintendent Dennis DeCamp a three-year extension. This move alone doesn’t raise red flags, but the problems are in the details.

The former Sciotoville administrator was hired a year ago with a 16-month contract, amid a fair amount of controversy and speculation about DeCamp’s track record.

Email newsletter signup

The board was split 3-2 at that time but there had been significant speculation that he would get an extension before this fall’s election.

And he did.

However the extension comes less than two-weeks before a vote that could remove two of the three board members who supported him.

Plus it came at a special meeting, the same night that many parents and teachers were unable to attend because of parent-teacher conferences that had been scheduled months in advance.

To compound matters, the board knew ahead of time that one board member was in the hospital and couldn’t attend. But the same three who hired DeCamp and subsequently gave him the extension, offered the Coal Grove community little public explanation.

It is impossible to see this as anything other than a political battle among factions. Because there are eight people seeking three seats, this is essentially the same as a lame-duck board voting in their choice before a new board takes over.

Is DeCamp doing a good job? We don’t know, but that evaluation should have been left to the new board rather than a single faction that may not be who the voters want making the decision.

Ultimately it will be DeCamp who suffers because he may be perceived as having a job where he isn’t wanted and may have to work with a board that doesn’t support him.

But now, somehow, all parties have to find a way to work together so this doesn’t hinder the superintendent’s ability to do his job. Not working together only hurts the children of the Dawson-Bryant district and divides the community even further.

And that would show the worst side of small-town politics.