Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Maintaining Quality Is Job 1 for Bowden | New Superintendent Must Also Focus on Low-Achieving Students

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Maintaining Quality Is Job 1 for Bowden | New Superintendent Must Also Focus on Low-Achieving Students

Article excerpt

OUR VIEW

Todd Bowden leveraged his network of connections and insider status, in a school district with an aversion to hiring outside leaders, to overcome a potentially damaging scandal and get the votes necessary Tuesday to become Sarasota County's next superintendent of schools.

Bowden, the district's director of career and technical education, was supported by four of five School Board members in their first vote. Shirley Brown, who initially voted for Brennan Asplen of St. Johns County, subsequently moved to make the vote unanimous in Bowden's favor. Contract negotiations will follow: The schedule anticipates a deal by Nov. 1, followed by a transition that has Superintendent Lori White's successor firmly in place when she retires in February.

Despite the School Board's eventual unanimity Wednesday, Bowden's selection was not without controversy. Just two weeks ago, Bowden and his team of legal and public-relations advisers, engaged the Herald-Tribune's newsroom in order to get in front of a potentially damaging story. Bowden acknowledged that he had been the focus of an investigation, initiated by White and conducted by an independent law firm, in response to allegations that he had sexually harassed several female employees.

The investigator found the allegations "inconclusive," citing their "she said-he said" basis. The women stood by their allegations; Bowden denied them.

This news, these allegations and the report's references to behavior that put Bowden's judgment into question warranted public vetting. Yet, during the board's public interview of Bowden last week and Tuesday's brief deliberations, none of the members insisted that he answer their questions about the allegations. The failure to ensure that Bowden addressed the so-called elephant in the room was a disservice to the district and public.

Nevertheless, assuming a contract is successfully negotiated, it will be in the interests of everyone -- Bowden's critics and supporters, of whom there are many -- to pursue their mutual interests in maintaining and improving the quality of Sarasota County's public schools. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.