Monday, February 19, 2018

Editorial: Longview ISD should just say what's going on

Jan. 20, 2018 at 11:21 p.m.

When there are difficulties at Longview ISD, they often seem to spring from failures of communication between the district and its patrons — taxpayers and parents.

We're back at such a juncture as students begin the spring semester.

The News-Journal learned before Christmas that principals at two of the district's elementary schools — South Ward and Ware — were reassigned to work at the high school.

No one at the district informed parents of this move; they were left to hear about it on their own. Many found out through the pages of this newspaper — but only after a few weeks of the district's failure to respond to a reporter's questions.

Eventually, the two former principals sent letters to the parents of students at the schools they formerly led.

Beyond that, there apparently weren't replacements ready to take over as the top administrators at either of their schools. The district has since corrected that problem.

Little more is known beyond those basic facts. We suppose someone must know why the moves were made but, so far, no one is talking. Were the schools' staffs notified of the changes before they were made? We can't say.

Understandably, many parents are not happy and want answers. We wish them the best of luck. Openness is not this district's long suit.

A few years ago, officials at Longview ISD, a bit riled about news stories they perceived to be negative, decided to create a monthly publication to get out the district's own information on its own terms.

Thus, The Longview Voice was born. Frankly, it is a publication filled with worthy stories about the good things happening within the district, and there are many. The publication is chock-full of names, too, and that is nice for students and parents.

But the paradigm for the Voice is not to disseminate all the information patrons need, just to print happy stories. That's fine, but taxpayers, parents and others still must be informed of news that is not always so cheerful.

In situations like those at South Ward and Ware, an effort must be made to communicate through all channels. Parents — especially of elementary age students — deserve to know about changes in leadership at the schools their children attend. That is important even if it is not always news that will make parents smile.

As there were no replacements immediately named for the two reassigned principals, it might be these changes were made quickly. Certainly there was no planning done for openly disseminating information about the whys and wherefores of the moves.

The "optics" of this might lead one to think these principals were found to be deficient in some way, but with the lack of communication, we are left to speculate.

If that is not the case, the district owes it to these longtime educators to say so, immediately. If they were deficient, one also has to wonder why they were moved to the high school campus where, presumably, they also will be dealing with students.

We need to know more and don't think the information is going to be forthcoming in the "happy" way the district prefers.

We have some advice: Just say what is going on. The public has the right to know.



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