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With Dr. Freund's Resignation - 'More Than Meets The Eye'

By Kay Wall

What’s the Story?

To accept the storyline that two Board of Education members have caused the Superintendent to resign, you have to believe that Dr. Freund, with many years of management experience, can’t live with the six board members who have voted in his every wish. Most CEO’s would be thrilled to have 75%, winning every battle. Something is fishy here.

To accept that school board members should resign because a superintendent quits his job, you have to believe that the board works for the superintendent. But, the Superintendent works for the board, and the board is responsible to the Greenwich voters who elect them. Those who call for mid-term resignations fall prey to the “petty, personalized attacks” and “corrosive environment” they claim to dislike.

To accept that the board “should get along” and vote together, but those who don’t are a problem, you have to believe that a rubber stamp board is a good thing. You have to believe that there shouldn’t be variance in the opinions of the eight board members, even though they are elected to reflect our voting population, from liberal Democrats to conservative Republicans.

To accept the storyline that the board has been allegedly “micromanaging,” you have to believe that board members’ inquiries about major reforms, such as IB, are inappropriate. Board time has been consumed by IB over the past few months.  Virtually all of the questions posed to Dr. Freund regarding IB have long term impact: Where is proof that IB is academically successful? Why are many other school districts rejecting IB? These questions have not been answered.  Instead, “the six” pushed through a vote. Do you want  board members who don’t express concern?

Finally, to believe “two people felt that through their arrogance and their own personal agendas that they could harass him [Dr. Freund] to no end,” you can’t have  witnessed many board meetings first hand. “The two” are consistently calm and dignified. The same cannot be said about some of “the six.” There’s a lot more than meets the eye in all this.

 

Kay Wall

Old Greenwich

 

 

patriotmommy May 23, 2011 at 11:19 AM
Dear Kay, Very well said! I am new to the Greenwich district and I am appalled that a Superintendent who claims that he's "for the children" would resign simply because he is met with some disagreement from duly elected Board members. It strikes me as very strange - that he must not have the substance to back up his IB stance if legitimate questions regarding a major change in curriculum and school culture can't or won't be answered.
Anderson May 23, 2011 at 12:14 PM
The symbiotic relationship between an inept chairman, who was incapable of leading and managing the situation, and a demanding and in love with himself superintendent who, even if he got everything he wanted, picked up his marbles theatrically and left leaving a vindictive wake. I have attended many a Board meeting where I have personally observed Freund to be rude and downright nasty to Ms. Ponns Cohen and Mr. Sherr. Who is to say that he did not create an untenable situation for them, when he went and cried to Mr. Anderson and Ms. Moriarty that how dare those two ask questions and information to be provided regarding important decisions? And then they piled on just like the mob is now. He was a bad choice for Greenwich. Greenwich needs a young and open-minded superintendent who is not trying to draw down two pensions across state lines.
Cort Wrotnowski May 23, 2011 at 12:53 PM
Substantive accusations v. superficial dismissals. That sums it up. Freund won't respond by providing data or any other factual information. He treats IB as a fait accomplete and ignores the protests. As for the board, people are being politically naive. The failure of the other Republicans, or anybody for that matter, to truly examine the data on IB is highly suspicious. Moreover, it should be clear that the IB program IS a political issue. Conservatives reject IB, liberals love IB. Why?
Taxpayer May 23, 2011 at 10:28 PM
People who are against IB are thinking people, whether they are conservatives, liberals, Republicans , Democrats or Independents. It is a very expensive program that has not been proven and most colleges prefer AP courses. Don't experiment with my children and my money.
S. Rogen May 23, 2011 at 10:47 PM
I agree with Ms. Wall that there is "more than meets the eye" to this story. But I would elevate the focus of our discussion to a larger problem - and that is one of a clear trend of quickly transitioning superintendents that signals a profound crisis of leadership. Is this an issue of recruitment, of governance, of politics, of an untenable structure for leadership, or a confluence of these and other factors? What ever the case, finding answers here is the real story - yes, there is more than meets the eye, yes, we should have constructive conflict and dissent at the Board, and YES we should enjoy continuity and strength in leadership that can navigate a variety of perspectives among stakeholders in order to achieve a better school system. I am not sure we can truly say yes to any of these qualities in Greenwich. Time to fix the problem....and time to focus on a new way forward. Let's forge a plan that recruits and restores effective leadership - an until then, we can wait on programmatic decisions.

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