Something Rotten In Brick – Hometown View
There is something rotten in Brick Township and concerned residents have a right to demand answers and transparency from the elected members of the Board of Education.
It deals with a decision last month by the School Board not to grant tenure to three teachers and a building principal which in essence means they are being fired. In the case of Allison McConnell, the principal at Drum Point School she would go back to being an assistant principal at another school in the district for obviously less money. The situation is worse for the teachers, among them former football coach Patrick Dowling because they will be out of jobs.
All of this is not unusual as school districts routinely take this kind of action against non-tenured teachers and in some cases administrators usually for poor evaluations or needed budget cuts.
However on the surface it would appear and I specify “would appear” these tenure decisions are being made for very different reasons.
If anyone has followed the dealings of the school board then they know there has been a great divide and clearly much of it is political. Things really got ugly three years ago when Dowling was hired to replace legendary football coach Warren Wolf, who had retired. He was the choice of Superintendent Walter Hrycenko but not Wolf and several school officials because he was an outsider with no ties to the storied Green Dragon program.
A couple of emotional board meetings were dominated by the issue but eventually Dowling was officially hired as a Special Education teacher and the new coach. The pro-Wolf faction vowed revenge and they soon got it by taking control of the board during the next election and among those voted in was Wolf himself.
After just two seasons Dowling was not re-hired as football coach and last summer the Board informed Hrycenko that his contract as Superintendent would not be renewed after the current school year.
The latest development has many believing this is the final payback for all that ugliness as Hrycenko himself said the teachers and principal all met the criteria for tenure and he supported their approval. In the case of Dowling, who is the father of six, it will be very difficult for him to find a teaching job that will pay him the nearly $85,000 he now earns complete with family benefits and his supporters claim he’s the victim of board politics.
Since this is a personnel matter the board does not have to speak at least publically but in this case they owe that to their four employees and the public. Residents need to know that elected members of the School Board are serving their interests and not playing a game of political football.