Bad manners? Candidates see educable moment
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.