Retired high school principal Robert Schiller has emerged as a voice of dissent, a position difficult for many who know Schiller to fathom. Schiller always seemed a genial consensus builder, but there he was, handing the school board a petition with nearly 600 signatures demanding Richards’ ouster.
Schiller — who is a highly respected member of the community and has rare insight into school matters — recently presented the board with a long list of reasons for the district to shed Richards, most of which are unrelated to his offensive comments.
It is readily apparent that large numbers of parents and teachers join Schiller in broadly distrusting Richards’ competence and judgement.
It may be that Richards is a decent man who made a mistake, owned up to it, and apologized. However, if Richards wanted to behave decently, it seems likely that he would have resigned months ago, sparring everyone else considerable time and frustration. He has said that he anticipates staying on the job through next spring.
We believe that the members of Lake Placid’s school board are public-spirited volunteers who are acting under the advice of attorneys and doing their best under trying circumstances. The idea that they are privy to information that justifies their support for Richards is plausible, but their community is poorly served by any counsel who advises continued silence.
Silence in such situations (and they are unfortunately a reoccurring phenomenon around our area) is easily interpreted as stonewalling, as waiting it out until “they” get tired of the matter and move on — or as something more insidious. Secrecy on such matters often serves to increase discord, distrust and division.
The firestorm in Lake Placid seems likely to continue until the board presents the public with reasonable explanations.
Aren’t taxpayers observing such spectacles entitled to at least that much?
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