Recently, School Superintendent McGonegal wrote a letter to the Bradenton Herald editor regarding transparency. In the letter, he explained his selective transparency posture in which he reserves the right to choose the MCSB documents which are to be made public.
I have read two documents describing how the superintendent flouts public record requests; these documents center upon the Manatee Education Foundation and staff salaries. Several have asked repeatedly for a list of names and salaries of school administrators, without getting a reply. As time passes on the staff salary matter, speculation has mounted regarding extravagant salaries, nepotism, and a larded administration. Sadly, both matters appear headed for the courts, a notoriously unsuccessful venue for our Board of late.
If the Board would simply publish these salaries, speculation would cease, and citizens could decide whether their money is being spent wisely. The superintendent and the board attorney seem determined to promote an adversarial relationship with the public and even with two of its members. By being evasive and dismissive, they have been able to hold off the public so far, but it is probably just a matter of time before parking lot protests and hostile Board meetings will look like child’s play.
Another likely effect of furnishing public records requests in a complete, polite, and timely fashion would be that critics would get on with their lives and allow educators to do their jobs. It would seem that the public schools have enough challenges to occupy themselves without creating more.