Monday, February 1, 2010

"Dissension" on the Richardson School Board

Kay Waggoner
Kay Waggoner

Dissension, if you can call it that. Jeffrey Weiss, in The Dallas Morning News Richardson blog, reports that the Richardson (RISD) school board voted, with no nay votes and only one abstention, to name Kay Waggoner the lone finalist for the RISD's next superintendent. That abstention is what Weiss, perhaps with tongue in cheek, referred to as the "dissension" on the school board.

After the jump, who abstained and why.

The lone abstention was from trustee David Tyson, who declined to comment to the DMN on the reasons for his abstention. Weiss hints where the reason might be found:

"David Tyson, the lone member of color on the board, had argued vociferously (for this board) during the selection of a search committee that Richardson should use a firm with a track record of identifying good minority candidates and the ability to do a national search for someone who had experience with some of the large-city issues that RISD is facing. He lost that fight when the board chose a search firm with deep Texas roots and little history in placing minority candidates."

Reader comments to DMN blog make me wonder whether it's just my wishful thinking that racial and ethnic strife is not a serious issue in Richardson. One reader says:

"David Tyson is biased, uninformed, and does not, and never has had, the needs of all of RISD at heart. "

David Tyson is not demanding that a minority candidate be selected, only that a reasonable search be conducted, a wide enough net be cast, so that well-qualified minority candidates are not overlooked. Without that, how could a search be assured of having the needs of all RISD at heart?

"No offense, Mr. Tyson, but the board doesn't need to pick 'minority' options. The boards needs to select the BEST person for the job, regardless of race."
Kay Waggoner is likely a well qualified choice, perhaps even a great choice, but how can this reader be confident that the BEST person for the job has been found? The search firm chosen by the RISD did not have a track record of proactively seeking out minority candidates, or of conducting a nationwide search for candidates with experience with large-city issues that RISD is facing. If the BEST person for the job happens to be, say, a minority candidate from a large city in another state, he or she would not have been found in this search. Another reader puts the opposition more bluntly.
"We certainly do NOT need an unproven, not-from-the-south yankee person. The school board, despite Tyson's objections, has chosen a candidate that our district accepts."
And what might it be about a "not-from-the-south yankee person" that this person feels would keep Richardson from accepting him or her? I fear to hear the answer to that.

I hope Kay Waggoner works out and remains a strong and effective superintendent for many years. Again, she is likely a well qualified choice, perhaps even a great choice. I have confidence that the school board did not choose her because she would be someone the "district accepts." Nevertheless, it is disheartening to read comments like the above. David Tyson's term on the school board expires this year. I hope he decides to run for re-election and I hope RISD voters recognize the value of his experience and judgment and give him another term on the school board. RISD needs him.

1 comment:

Mark Steger said...

The day after I posted this, David Tyson announced that he would be stepping down at the end of his second term on the school board. He will be missed.