Eric Tollefson is right about the importance of looking at the record of those who seek higher Rappahannock County office, and I agree with former RCPS superintendent David Gangel that a school board is often the first step toward a political career with “an agenda to accomplish.” And so, it is critical that voters know about an even more consequential failing of Mr. Lesinski as school board chairman: one that also demonstrated a disregard for public involvement in government affairs.
In September 2012, several RCPS parents became concerned that the school board had not yet taken action regarding then-superintendent Aldridge Boone’s contract, set to expire June 30, 2013; several of us spoke in support of Dr. Boone at the November 2012 school board meeting. Acknowledging that the board owed Dr. Boone a performance review by the end of the calendar year, chairman Lesinski said that “The decision of whether or not to renew Boone’s contract was a personnel matter and thus private” [Rappahannock News, Nov. 22, 2012], that it was none of our business as parents, citizens and taxpayers whether our public schools would have a superintendent in place for the coming school year. The same thing happened in December 2012, but chairman Lesinski offered no information on the process. The pattern was repeated at the January 2013 meeting.
Dr. Boone privately indicated that he did not intend to leave, but was concerned about the lack of progress on renewing the contract and the risk to his future. He announced his resignation in late January 2013. Under Mr. Lesinski’s ineffective leadership, our county schools lost a skilled, strongly supported superintendent. Meanwhile, our schools were left to rely on an interim superintendent while the school board conducted an expedited three-month search, limiting the pool of candidates.
Note that when previous superintendent Robert Chappell was set to retire in June of 2010, the previous school board under the leadership of chairman Wes Mills was already interviewing six finalist candidates in January of 2010, and hired Dr. Boone by April of that year.
Appearances are that Dr. Boone was intentionally forced out, despite strong community support. Clearly, Mr. Lesinski demonstrated a lack of transparency, honesty and timely action. Is this the leadership Rappahannock County wants?
Janet S. Davis