Monday, February 27, 2012

Richmond Heights board may dangle Pingle tonight Also: FitzGerald Town Hall meeting tomorrow; African American Museum talent show audtions; Civic Commons Commentary; County Prosecutor endorsement alert


Richmond Heights board may dangle Pingle tonight
Also: FitzGerald Town Hall meeting tomorrow; African American Museum talent show audtions; Civic Commons Commentary; County Prosecutor endorsement alert.

Tonight’s special Richmond Heights school board special meeting to decide the fate of suspended high school principal Timothy Pingle will take place without one of the key protagonists — board member Josh Kaye.

Four days after voting not to renew the contract of suspended Richmond Heights Schools Superintendent Linda T. Hardwick when it expires on July 31, the district’s school board meets tonight in special session, this time to consider firing Dr. Pingle.

Pingle was suspended December 12 after interim superintendent Robert Moore accused Pingle of unprofessional conduct. The charge appears to have been made after Dr. Moore obtained a copy of a December 3 email from Pingle to Josh Kaye in which Pingle questioned Moore’s qualifications to be superintendent. 

Following his suspension, Pingle claimed to have been set up by Kaye, used as a pawn in an attempt to undermine Hardwick, and falsely accused of manifesting racist attitudes. Pingle claims to have questioned Moore’s appointment only in response to Kaye’s alleged confidential disclosure that Moore was being selected for racially motivated political reasons.

Kaye and Pingle are white, Moore and Hardwick are black. Pingle has claimed that Kaye told him that Moore was being hired as interim superintendent so that he Kaye, would have a defense to being accused of racism.

Kaye’s absence from tonight’s meeting — he is out of state on business — suggests that the Board is unlikely to terminate Pingle this evening. The underlying charge against him appears flimsy to begin with and points to the deeper issues confronting how the district’s schools have been run for years, with board members routinely exchanging private emails with school administrators and having clandestine phone calls that have nothing to do with educational policies.

The whole situation is rife with hypocrisy on many levels. Under the Kaye regime — which ended when a new president was elected at last month’s organizational meeting following the November election — several board members routinely interacted inappropriately with various central office personnel and others, most often to undermine Superintendent Hardwick and to advance other agendas unrelated to the education of the district’s children.

In the midst of ongoing controversies — the Popp incident, ongoing federal and state investigations, to name only two— Hardwick’s alleged handover of these inappropriate emails to investigators led to both her and clerk-typist Peggy Parker being accused of theft.

The result has been a district accelerating into chaos, with only the district’s attorneys benefiting to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Irrespective of the results of the findings from the Department of Education’s Civil Rights Division, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, and possibly the Ohio Department of Education, the district is likely to face litigation from Hardwick, Parker, Pingle and others over numerous personnel decisions during the Kaye administration.

The challenge before the board, and by that I mean principally its new majority of president Linda Pliodzinskas, vice president Bobby Jordan, and newly-elected Frank Barber, is to find a way to end years of destructive official behavior, repair relations with a  teachers union that is both hostile to the district and intimidated by its own leadership, and then regain the confidence of the district’s voters.

Race has of course been a volatile factor in the Richmond Heights school district for some time. Charges of racism have sometimes swirled about irresponsibly, even as on other occasions clear evidence of racist behaviors have been overlooked or worse, defended as appropriate. But we must comment on the irony of the interim superintendent taking offense at an underling’s questioning of his qualifications and attributing the challenge to a racist attitude. It was, after all, Dr. Moore, who shuffled his feet and looked the other way when first students and then parents implored him to assist them in addressing the clearly hostile racial environment created by then-boys basketball coach Jason Popp during the 2010-11 season. Astonishingly, Moore earlier this month recommended that Popp be given a contract to coach the boys' track team. [Moore has reportedly applied to be superintendent in the neighboring South Euclid-Lyndhurst School District.]

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County Executive Ed FitzGerald will host another in his series of district Town Hall meetings tomorrow night in Cleveland Heights. The meeting begins at 7PM at the Cleveland Heights Community Center, One Monticello Blvd at the corner of Mayfield Rd.

The meeting is free and open to all. Near public transportation. Handicap accessible. FitzGerald will make a presentation to the residents and then engage in a question and answer session.

Cleveland Heights is in District 10, along with East Cleveland, and Cleveland wards 10 and 11. Julian Rogers is the county councilman.

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Calling budding or accomplished talent
Final auditions  will be this Wednesday, February 29 for the African American Museum’s March 10 talent show. The show will have three contest categories: 11 years and under, 17 years and under, and 18 years and older. Singers, dancers, musicians, lip sync-ers, and those with any special talent are invited to audition for the chance to win prizes that include studio time, a cash award of $250, a laptop computer, and three chances to win an iPad or Kindle.
There is a $10.00 nonrefundable entry fee.

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Green Behavior and Black History on tap
Just a reminder to tune into the Civic Commons tomorrow [12:30 pm on 88.7 FM WJCU and 7:30 pm 88.5 FM WYSU] to catch your humble scribe talking about Black History Month. My commentary comes after some especially trenchant criticism from Cleveland city councilman Brian Cummins and others regarding Mayor Frank Jackson’s vaunted sustainability initiatives.

Or, listen on your own time via these links: iTunes    RSS   Stitcher]

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Endorsement for County Prosecutor
The Real Deal has been tracking the county prosecutor’s race for some time. Our early observation about the history of this office — namely, that this is the voters’ first open choice in more than half a century — has been repeated by almost every candidate and countless others. Come on back tomorrow and learn why we think *** is just who the office needs to clean up an office that everyone agrees is in need of major reform.

1 comment:

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