Bad manners? Candidates see educable moment

news-school-board-albemarleAlbemarle School Board Chair Ronnie Price (seated right) says the 15 people who wanted to finish the term of Brian Wheeler (standing behind Price) should have stuck around to learn if they were chosen.

Martha Redinger was one of 15 people who wanted to be considered to replace Brian Wheeler on the Albemarle County School Board. She gave a 10-minute presentation on September 8. She came back the next night for citizen comment before the board went behind closed doors to pare down the 15 candidates to four. And Redinger learned this morning that she was not one of the finalists when a friend called to say they'd been announced on the radio.

"It's so unclassy," says Redinger, a long time county school activist who kept checking her email for the note that would have told her she wasn't in the final four.

"It was so cool that 15 people were interested in the position, and were so passionate about education," she says. "I really don't know why they didn't notify us."

Neither do Carmen Garcia and Jim Stern, who also learned they were no longer contenders from the Daily Progress or NBC29.

"There's a common courtesy," says Stern. "When I interview people for my business and I'm not going to hire them, I send them a letter or an email. In something so public, there should have been a common courtesy."

School Board Chair Ronnie Price disagrees, and says it's the candidates' own fault they didn't learn immediately after the board decided.

"We told the media we were going to announce it at the end of the closed session," says Price. "None of the candidates was there. I was surprised no one was there."

Stern didn't hear that–- and neither did the other candidates, he says. "Certainly it wasn't made clear or I would have stayed. I'm not the only one who didn't hear it. The other candidates I was talking to in the parking lot didn't know either."

The closed session lasted about 45 minutes, says Price, and the reporters from WINA and the Progress learned that Robert "Bob" Beard, Ned Gallaway, Maurice Lipper and Harvey Miles were the finalists to finish out Wheeler's term, which runs through the end of 2011. Price hopes the board can pick a replacement before or by a September 18 School Board retreat.

And he rejects the notion that it was rude to not notify the candidates by email. "If I were a candidate applying, I probably would have waited to the end of the meeting," he says.

But Jim Stern sees it as a missed opportunity to personally contact the applicants who weren't chosen and say, "We need people like you to help out in other ways."

And perhaps the School Board has had a change of heart. Around 4:30pm Friday, reports candidate Carmen Garcia, she received "a very general letter" from the board.


Not GSOE, Seems like you've described the exact trick that Charlottesville city council will try to pull as they rush to rubber stamp Maurice Jones for city manager.

Seems like Jim Stern is right. The Board should have reached out to each of the applicants and said "We need everyone to help us solve our issues. You all stepped forward and we really could use you for other things like sub-committees".

It seems you should never turn away a firefighter when your house is on fire.

But why would we expect common sense from our school board?

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What was rude was pretending they were going to pick someone though this process. Wheeler and some of the board have already pick his replacement. That's why he waited till the first day he could resign and prevent the public from voting for his replacement.

McKeel, Strucko, and Kolizar would never allow a non democrat and non teacher approved pick. The real crime is to make the 11 other candidates go though the process that had been predetermined. It's shameful really to waste other people time so the board can pretend to look open and inclusive.

The headline writer did mean "educable." Thanks. Headline updated 8:40pm. -- Lisa Provence

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little birdie says it's going to Ned Gallaway's since he was roped into running last time (they told him that he could ride Slutsky's coat tails last fall and the lost to Pam Moynihan, oops!)

One has to wonder about the wisdom of appointing, by non democratic fiat, a person that the voters have already passed judgment on. Oh but the process was open to all!?

More honesty and a less disingenuous veneer of false democracy would be a welcome change

In my inquiry of Mr. Price as to why this process tracked out as it did, here now is his response.


In our planning to fill the vacant seat for the School Board At-Large position, the Board considered a variety of options as it relates to the process. We considered giving the public the opportunity to elect a candidate to fill this slot in a Special Election and not making an appointment. But this is not our choice since it must be decided in a court of law. In the interim, however, we decided to make an appointment to the At-Large seat as the Albemarle County School Board according also to the law. Clearly this did not set well with us, but we knew given the parameters and cost of a special election, it would be best if we went ahead and appointed someone to fill the remainder of Mr. Wheelers tenure. At this point in time, we also knew that this would take the public out of it beyond gaining their input as it relates to the specific candidates and the characteristics they desire to see in School Board leaders. Please remember that the Courts still have the opportunity to order a Special Election be held for this seat and we are waiting to hear about their decision. In the end it is the decision of the Court that will stand and not the decision of the Albemarle County School Board.

The window of time for appointing a member is very short, 45 days, and we have done everything possible to include the public in the process. The Board made a conscious decision to allow the public input on characteristics desired in a School Board member. Although we have seen a lot on the web and heard much on the radio, we have had only two comments from the public on characteristics desired in School Board member. One community member shared her thoughts during our public hearing on this matter last Thursday and the Board received an e-mail from a community voicing his thoughts.

As you are well aware we allowed all of the candidates to represent themselves in an open public meeting via a presentation, and we have generously shared their supporting letters and r©sum©'s with the public and media. This open session for our public was not well attended , although the board felt is was an excellent opportunity to meet the candidates in person and to listen to their thoughts on three very important topics in our community.

I will state again I am not a proponent that supports open interviews for the School Board candidates. I do not see the value of this for the public nor the candidates. My rationale is simple and I do not expect you to agree with it since it is my own personal one. I feel that we have posted a process and should stand by it. We have given our public opportunity to see the candidates and speak out as it relates to this matter. Our public and community were aware of the closed interviews, and until today I have not heard a word from anyone.

Finally, if I were a candidate in this particular slot, I would prefer to have my interview in private to allow me a measure of comfort in sitting down with six people rather having an interview in a public setting where I might become easily distracted or even more on edge. Once the School Board made the decision to appoint a person to this seat it took on the responsibility of making a decision that will be the best for the public.

Now, I am more than happy to continue this discussion with you but it is time for us to move forward with our process. I appreciate your sharing your concerns with the me and the full board and look forward to your continual engagement with the Board.


Ronnie J. Price Sr.
Rivanna District School Board Member

" All of us do not have equal talent, but all of us should have an equal opportunity to develop our talents.” John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Albemarle County Public Schools

Did the headline writer mean "educable?"

ââ?¬Å?We told the media we were going to announce it at the end of the closed session,” says Price. ââ?¬Å?None of the candidates was there."

Why didn't Price tell the *candidates*-- along with the media?