Any media outlet that has attempted to deal with the Bladen County Board of Education for information of any kind knows the restricted drill — school board members are not allowed to talk with the media, individual school administration is not allowed to talk with or submit anything to the media, and the superintendent is heavily shielded from any media requests.
Instead, all requests must be made to and information must come from Public Information Officer Valerie Newton.
As more than one county official has described the local Board of Education to us, “they have created a fantasy world where only they are a part of.”
So we were surprised recently when School Board Chairman Vinston Rozier chose to publicly respond to a May 1 editorial in the Bladen Journal (“Task force is facing three trouble spots”) that listed the school district as being an unenthusiastic partner in the county’s battle against the opioid crisis.
In part, Rozier told those at the May 14 school board meeting that “we don’t want the public to think we aren’t doing anything.”
Let’s see exactly what Bladen County Schools is doing: Aside from one of the early meetings of the Opioid Task Force, only one employee with the Central Office has attended some of the meetings and has made little effort to offer any active involvement other than to sign in on the attendance list; no individual schools have been represented; and no school board members have been attending task force meetings.
So no, Mr. Rozier, you and the school district aren’t doing much of anything.
And there actually could be a good reason for that. Back in October 2017, when the county’s Opioid Task Force was in its infancy, Bladen County Schools Superintendent Robert Taylor told a group of about 50 there was no opioid problem in the local schools. On May 14, Taylor told the school board and those in the audience, in part, that we stand behind out earlier statement that there is no opioid problem in our schools … and added something to the effect of it’s not a student problem, it’s an adult problem.
Can anyone living in the real world honestly believe that? We can’t understand how intelligent individuals can be so naive and ingenuous about a subject that has received so much local, state and federal attention for months. It’s almost as if our local school district officials think if they say it’s not there, it won’t be — much like we were told there was no bullying problem in the schools several years ago.
There are so many problems with how the Board of Education functions — including its lack of transparency, its gag order on its elected officials and its coverup of everyday issues within its schools — that the “fantasy world” description may hit the nail squarely on the head.
If there is to be change, school board members have to grow a backbone, start acting like elected officials who represent constituents, remember that the suprintendent works for them and not the other way around, and speak up on issues when contacted by news outlets; and the district, including at least the county’s middle and high schools, must start taking the opioid crisis seriously and participate actively in the local task force.
But nobody is holding their breath.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“The advantage of being naive is being able to believe in oneself when no one else will.” (Sophia Amoruso)