Now that The Dallas Morning News has published its story reporting that Dr. Jeannie Stone, Superintendent of Richardson ISD, will resign on Monday, the biggest assertion this blog has been chronicling for the last month or so has proven to be true. But that's not all I claimed. The related claim has ramifications going forward.
Once the hubbub over the news of Dr. Stone's resignation dies down, perhaps the public can focus on the other assertion made in this blog's articles. That's the presumed reason for the departure. The Dallas Morning News spends most of its own article talking about public criticism of school district leaders, as if that was behind the resignation. The Dallas Morning News only hinted generally at a national trend of "tension in boardrooms." I made a more specific claim:
Dr. Stone's departure will not be a surprise. And it's not due to public vilification. Unfortunately, public vilification is all too common for public figures today. The challenge of being in education, whether as a teacher, principal, or superintendent, requires the skills of a diplomat and the backbone of a strong-willed person. Dr. Stone has both. She departs RISD not because of the challenge faced by many but because she lost the support of her bosses, the Board of Trustees.Source: The Wheel.
Is that claim also true? Well, it deals with motivation, which only Dr. Stone can definitively answer. And she is unlikely to be giving interviews. For one thing, I would be surprised if she would want to go down a nasty "she said, they said" fight. For another, her departure was a mutual agreement. Such agreements often contain a confidentiality agreement, prohibiting the parties from commenting on the dispute. I would be surprised if her agreement doesn't contain one.
Social media is full of comments to the effect that Dr. Stone's departure was her own decision, that she wasn't fired or even forced out. One sign that's not entirely accurate is that the RISD Board of Trustees will be buying out Dr. Stone's long-term contract, which runs through June, 2024. The total cost to the district will be enormous. You don't do that for someone who up and quits. The Board is making that decision themselves. They must really, really, want her gone to spend that kind of money. Given that Dr. Stone was awarded "Superintendent of the Year" by the Texas PTA as recently as 2019, it's hard to believe she has suddenly gone from best to worst. Given that five of six board members are new since 2019, including two in just the last six months, I find it more likely that the change from best to worst is in the board room and not the superintendent's office. Paying a small fortune to get rid of a Superintendent of the Year is hard to explain otherwise.
The President of the RISD Board of Trustees, Karen Clardy, also resigned, back in September. Clardy also declined to issue a statement explaining her resignation. But she didn't have a contract. She didn't sign any confidentiality agreement. She is free to talk about what led to her own resignation. I hope she eventually chooses to do just that. I believe her own departure was also precipitated, not by public vilification, but by a deep dysfunction on the board itself. Not all board members by any means. Possibly three, to differing degrees. And another two or three are at a loss about how to deal with it. As I said after watching the board interact in a mandatory board training session, on teamwork no less, "if the RISD school board is dysfunctional (and I think it is), this team-building training is not likely to change much. What the trainer had to say was excellent, but what this board needs is not training, it's counseling." The public deserves to know that simple truth. It just cost the RISD the services of a Superintendent of the Year. It threatens to cost the RISD so much more going forward.