It was only a matter of time before Nancy McGinley went all medieval on the Charleston County School Board.
And some of them kind of deserved it.
Last week the superintendent sent the nine board members a letter in which she berated them for failing to show up for workshops they request, for wasting her staff's time, and for making a group of students and teachers wait more than two hours to give a presentation to ... three board members.
The dysfunction in this relationship knows no bounds. Board members ask for workshops on various issues — school safety, for instance — so they can become informed and waste less time in meetings.
But from their perspective, the district turns every meeting into a Broadway production — and few of them have time to attend.
And their regular meetings still last up to five hours.
The only thing getting shorter is the board's attention span — and McGinley's fuse.
The right questions
It is curious that McGinley would pick now to go off because, honestly, the board is getting better.
In this post-Elizabeth Kandrac school district, there's less ranting, fewer 5-4 votes and hours less spent questioning why a certain cafeteria vendor wasn't hired. Kandrac beat so many dead horses it's a wonder PETA didn't show up to protest.
This new board is more diverse, does not adhere to strict factions and sometimes even finds common ground. Bravo to them for thinking for themselves, and rising above politics on occasion.
But there are still a number of them who veer off the policy path and into micro management, which isn't their job. And fact is, more than a couple of them never crack the cover of the voluminous packet the district provides them days before their meetings.
It's the school board's job to question the district's policies, but it is not its job to waste everyone's time because they can't do their homework.
Bad lesson to teach the kids.
Some board members were annoyed by McGinley's note, but some veterans said she was right.
“I think she raised a valid point about utilization of our resources,” member Chris Fraser says. “There's a better way to do this.”
Fraser doesn't attend all the workshops, but still is one of the more informed board members — because he reads.
McGinley could have been a tad more diplomatic, most say.
But she was taking up for her staff, her teachers and her kids — who were treated more rudely than any strongly worded letter.
Still, the board will dissect this, like it does everything, later this month. What they need to realize is that many board members work for a living and can't spend a day sitting in a room listening to stuff they're going to hear again.
Here's the best idea: The people elected to set district policy should actually read proposed policies on their own. Surely they know how hard it is to teach a class when all the students aren't on the same page.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org.