The officials of the Capital School District are commended for appealing to the residents of Dover to assist them in their search for a new superintendent of schools. Dr. Michael Thomas has announced his retirement effective June 2015.
It will, indeed, be a challenge to find a replacement for this outstanding educator. In a recent online posting no doubt approved by the board of education, Dr. Thomas is portrayed as one who “has served the district with great distinction since 2002 and can proudly point to a long list of accomplishments that have strengthened our schools and our community.”
In view of this glowing accolade, I find it rather odd that the recommendation by Dr. Thomas for the renewal of the contract for Dr. Evelyn A. Edney, current principal of Dover High School, was so vigorously opposed by four of the five members of the board of education.
• Dr. Edney was hired as a co-principal to implement the Dover High School Partnership Zone Plan, a turnaround program for the state’s lowest-performing schools.
• In 2014, Dr. Edney was appointed principal of Dover High School and has successfully guided the flagship institution through its first year in a newly constructed complex on Forrest Avenue. In an executive session in November of that same year, however, the board of education made the decision not to renew the contract of Dr. Edney (without giving reasons for this action), thus creating among many residents of Dover a wave of distrust and suspicion about the board of education.
• Some citizens are convinced that Dr. Edney was not reappointed because she is an African American; however, a candidate for election to the City Council recently proclaimed, and perhaps rightly so: “This is not a minority vs. non-minority issue; this is a human rights issue.” The overall concern is that if this action is not successfully challenged, other administrators and teachers could be subjected to the same treatment by the board of education.
As the former personnel director for a major suburban school district in South Jersey, I fully understand that, in order to protect the privacy of the employee, some issues cannot be publicly discussed, but what is crystal clear in this case is that Dr. Edney has done a commendable job as principal of Dover High School.
Her employment history speaks for itself: head administrator, Dover High School; principal, Howard High School of Technology; secondar -school principal, Delaware Association of School Administrators; principal and district administrator, New Castle County Vocational Technical School District. She earned the degrees of bachelor of arts and master of arts in English from the University of Delaware and completed her doctoral degree in educational leadership from the University of Phoenix.
Dr. Edney is professionally qualified to continue in the position of principal of Dover High School as recommended by Dr. Michael Thomas.
Unfortunately, four of the five members of the board of education do not believe that she is the right person for the job. No doubt, these illustrious leaders have valid reasons for non-renewal of this contract; nevertheless, it appears that the most important attribute of the next principal is that he or she must be a “team player who can really fit in and work to be part of the community.”
I am not sure what that means, exactly, but to me, this entire unsavory situation smacks of being more of a personality issue rather than a personnel matter.
Just saying …
Lawrence E. Hampton
Editor’s note: Last fall, state officials announced that Dover High had met the criteria to exit the Partnership Zone, meeting federally defined “adequate yearly progress” goals at least once over the past two years and not showing any serious declines.