Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Superintendent Mercer’s departure continues to percolate on the local scene

His departure is over a month and a half old now, but the curious nature of the timing of the parting of the way between former Superintendent Eric Mercer and School District 52 seems to be one of the hot topics of conversation on the North coast these days.

With the School Board providing little in the way of information about the departure of their former superintendent in the middle of the school year, the process of making sense of it all seems to be one of the more interesting of local pursuits these days.

As we mentioned a few weeks ago, the departure became an item on the popular Vancouver Sun feature Report card, a Sun blog which highlights items of educational concern.

Since that item first appeared on March 29, a number of comments have been added to the debate on the Sun site which highlights the nature of suspicion that the departure has added to the community. From concerns over the relationships between the School District and First Nations education partners to the subsequent hiring of a former SD 52 employee Lynn Hauptman, all has apparently come in for discussion on the Sun blog as well as on the local information message board hackingthemainframe.

Indeed, that portal’s forum boards have become ground zero for debate on the issue of Mr. Mercer’s departure (see here and here), with a number of defenders of his time here starting to make their voices heard, among those that seemed to have found his departure only a matter of time and an event not unexpected.

The problem with the debate however is that the wild range of unsubstantiated speculation doesn’t do much to clear up the mystery of the departure, nor does it provide much in the idea that the issue is going to go away any time soon or that any underlying problems within the School District have been settled.

It’s to that point that the School Board may be forced to provide further details on their decisions of late, from the decision to go separate ways between the District and Mr. Mercer, as well as the sudden announcement of the return of Mrs. Hauptman.

It may make her job even harder than it appears that it is going to be, if there is to be over six months of speculation to build up between the time of Mr. Mercer's departure and her return to the local education scene.

It might be best to provide her with a clean slate of the baggage that seems to be piling up from the departure of Mr. Mercer. The best way to provide her and the educational system in Prince Rupert with a fresh start, is probably to explain with more detail and transparency why the steps were necessary to make the changes in the first place.

As it is, all the discussion on the topic is taking place away from the School Board offices, a situation that takes the issue out of their control and beyond the oversight of the School board. It leaves them in the problematic situation of having to live under the spotlight of suspicion, leaving many in the community to wonder what is happening inside those Board offices on the east side of town and wondering if the goal of the education of our children is suffering as a result.

No comments: