Administrators are aces at making trouble

October 16, 2003|by TIM ROWLAND

"Hello, Washington County Board of Education? Rowland here. May I please speak to Superintendent Hitler? Huh? What do you mean, 'which one?'"

Oh right, I forgot. Betty Morgan is not the first Washington County superintendent to be named in the same sentence as that Very Bad Boy from Berlin. Happened to our last superintendent, too, so-called by associates of a Virginia school system for which he previously had worked. So don't feel bad, Betty. Around here, it's just sort of a family tradition.

Besides, school superintendents are supposed to be Hitlers, although preferably sans death camps. Easy for me to say, since I am almost universally equated with the one man on earth who most represented goodness and truth. I can't tell you how many times I've walked into a room and someone says, "You're Tim Rowland? Jeeezu ..." Well, you get the idea.

So I gots to stand up for Betty since as long as she's around, I am guaranteed of only annoying the second largest number of Washington Countians.


Of course, usually it's a disgruntled parent or school employee that drops the H-bomb, not a state delegate. In this case, it was Del. LeRoy Myers who, upon learning that Morgan had fired an employee and had her escorted from the building, said it "sounds like something Hitler would do."

Hmm, I don't know. I have trouble picturing Hitler saying something like, "What? Col. Hogan was caught trying to sabotage the Third Reich? I want him escorted out of Stalag 13! Yes, escorted! That should show him."

Myers' comment was reported back to Morgan (by the same employee who reported Morgan's actions to Myers, I wonder?) and the superintendent and delegate eventually talked it over, had a good chuckle and put the whole situation to rest.

Turns out, the employee(s) who reported the firing incident to Myers trumped up the scene a tad, leading the delegate to believe it was a more ugly situation than it was.

I'll say this: Whatever we are paying those administrators in the Central Office, it is nowhere near enough. They may not know how to educate, but they're aces at making trouble, which is what we all want to see.

This year alone, administrators disgruntled with Morgan have: 1.) Tried to drive a wedge between the board and the state delegation with the Hitler back-and-forth; 2.) Spread taxpayer-baiting rumors that a minor renovation to the superintendent's private bathroom actually was some sort of jewel encrusted Jacuzzi extravaganza; and 3.) Planted office furniture in a Central Office Dumpster, then phoned County Commissioner John Munson, who rushed in to try to expose "government waste."

Not bad. Bet Gandhi wishes he'd thought of that. If, instead of Civil Disobedience he'd resorted to Silly Disobedience, the Brits might have vamoosed a lot earlier. "Blimey, Churchill, if them Gandhi blokes plant one more Whoopee Cushion, I'm beggerin' off for good."

No wonder Morgan wants to shake them up. What did she do to get them so angry, threaten to make them teach third grade? As much as I admire their tactics, I have to wonder: Like, doesn't the board have a formal grievance process? When most employees have a complaint they go see the personnel director. Here they go see Dennis the Menace.

But then, this is Washington County, after all. I hope Morgan is at least a little amused by us. Where else could she find a county where residents yawn at student performance, but become morally outraged if the superintendent has her own ladies room? Doesn't matter if test scores go down the toilet, just so long as the superintendent has to go down the hall to the toilet.

Then, to compound the ill will, she made the mistake of receiving a pay raise to her $120,000 salary, which largely was performance-driven. Betty, bad move. Around here, it's ixnay on the aiseray. Logic might dictate that $8,000 is the teensiest of prices to pay for the fact that our school kids are getting measurably smarter. But symbolism is huge around here, and it looks bad to get a raise when kids have to go door to door selling azalea seeds to pay for their lab equipment.

But as a county resident, I am willing to pay my share of the raise, which comes to about 6 cents. If Morgan gets under the skin of administrators to the point they will continue to play these types of hijinks that amuse and entertain us all, it has to be the bargain of the century.

Besides, I bet even Hitler had his own bathroom.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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