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School district decision tough one to measure

Sun Advocate publisher

Since the news broke about Carbon School District superintendent George Park being arrested over a week ago, that seems to be the main subject of conversation with just about everyone I saw in the last week. Everyone wanted to chime in on the situation. Many had a very negative view of the fact the school district had hired him at all with the Garfield investigation seemingly still hanging over his head.

My experience with decisions made by a board of any kind are pretty broad. Boards are made up of many people with different opinions. That becomes even more complicated when one has a paid staff which that board must oversee. That also means the organization has a leader such as an executive director, a CEO, a superintendent, etc.

One of the most important decisions a board must make is when they are selecting a new leader. They look for someone with qualifications, experience and a good record of running whatever kind of organization that board oversees. While most candidates portray themselves through letters, references and resumes as perfect, everyone knows no one falls into that category. In addition, in these days of litigation, so many previous employers are often hesitant to talk about the "real" story behind a potential employee's background.

In the case of this board they also had the help of a citizens committee as well as the Utah State School Board Association. I know from talking with board members at the time of Park's hiring they were well aware of what had gone on in Garfield School District, but were satisfied that the explanations they got for the situation were clear and correct.

I too had my doubts at the time. I had done a lot of research on Park and found the problem in Garfield concerning. But on the other hand there were no formal charges, and according to everything else I could find through research he had never had any kind of problems like that at any other school district he had worked in in all the years he has been in education.

Some community members raised their voices in concern at the time of hiring, largely due to contact with people they knew in Garfield County.

Why the board made the decision they did is information only they have. He was not guilty of anything (and until proven guilty is still not even though he has been arrested) in their eyes and the eyes of their selection committee. Isn' t it the American way to watch and judge only when the state or prosecutor has proven their case? Just because some people in Garfield County think he is guilty, doesn't mean he is.

On the other hand, if he has done something wrong, then the board can take the proper action it needs to take.

Park's education background and some of the things he did while in other states was strong. He seemed to have general support from many educators in the district, despite the fact he hasn't really managed the school district while it was under full operation yet, because of summer break.

It's a wait and see game and the board must play that game now that they have cast their lot. Some of them may be wishing they had done things differently last spring, but what is done is done. All those people saying "I told you so" may have been right.

And then, they may have been wrong too. None of us will know for sure for some time.

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