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Let’s talk about the Ed Newsome situation…

“Danville school superintendent Ed Newsome almost got fired last night.  Nobody else will report it, but SouthsideCentral will. He somehow pulled himself out of the fire and the school took no action after 6 hours worth of meetings. Let’s talk about what happened…

Lots of analyzing to do. Lots of thoughts about it and they’ll be random at times. We’re going to need a Really Big Board…

  • First thing to say is that I greatly appreciate all of my SouthsideCentral sources. All of them came together and we got this story out and publicized yesterday. It was publicized against the wishes of a lot of people, and that makes it even better.
  • Ed Newsome was definitely in danger of losing his job. However since it’s a “personnel matter”, that will never officially be said unless Newsome decides to talk about it himself. He won’t.
  • The Danville School Board has some good people on it. That being said, the whole school board should be ashamed of themselves for pulling this stunt in the last meeting before Steven Gould & Sharon Dones come on the board.
  • The school board should be even more ashamed for not letting the incoming members know what was happening. Both Gould & Dones had no idea of these events and that’s totally unacceptable. If Newsome had been fired, the new members would have had to start with no superintendent and immediately start the search process with no chance of having a person hired by the start of the new school year. That would have been horribly unfair and devastating to the teachers, the students and the school system. It would have also proven that the school board was a vengeful dysfunctional group of idiots.
  • Ed Newsome does not deserve to be fired at this time. He inherited a school system with big problems that started in the Sue Davis era. He needs more than one year to fix those problems. That’s common sense… but did that matter?
  • I’m glad that the school board finally decided to be a rubber stamp for anything that the superintendent wanted (Ahem… Sue Davis), but this stunt was well past the line of rational thinking.
  • Don’t get me wrong. Ed Newsome hasn’t been innocent of bad decisions during his first year. You don’t get away directly challenging your employer very often. I think he’s learning the process of how to work with the school board now.
  • Good riddance to the two outgoing members of the board, Rebecca Bolton & George Wilson. Bolton has the personality of a moldy rock and Wilson simply looks clueless at times.
  • I’m not indicting the entire school board though. Chairman Ed Polhamus and the returning incumbent Philip Campbell are doing a great job and they really care about what’s going on.
  • I’m surprised that this edition of the school board is intimidated by crowds of citizens and the media. If you’re an appointed or elected public official, you’ve got to quickly learn how to handle criticism and outrage. That’s not the case here. Some of the school board members were borderline hostile yesterday and I found that amusing. They’re used to having meetings with very few citizens present and it shows in their mannerisms.
  • Ed Newsome is safe for now. This version of the school board is done. I believe that the new makeup of the board will give Newsome another year to improve the situation, but Newsome now knows he’s on a very short leash.
  • What saved Newsome? Here’s my thoughts on how it worked out. There were six members present at the final closed session (George Wilson was out of town). Newsome had to have three supporters because a 3-3 vote to fire him would have failed because of the tie. I know Renee Hughes was one of the supporters and I’m betting Philip Campbell was one. Ed Polhamus is a smart and sane man, so I believe that he was the third supporter. He’s smart enough to know that firing Newsome would cost the school system a lot of money that they didn’t available to spend. With those 3 votes against his firing, the school board would never have actually taken that vote in open session and that’s why they took “no action”. If the anti-Newsome faction would have had to vote against him in an open session, it would have exposed who they were to the hostile crowd.
  • Yes, that’s all conjecture but it’s the most logical analysis of what happened. If I’m wrong, so be it.
  • Ed Newsome is a smart man. He hired Glenn Berger, one of the best attorneys in the state to represent him. Berger doesn’t come cheap. Newsome had confidence and a bit of swagger. That attitude changed near the end of the meeting as the closed session was about to begin, but that’s understandable. The final closed session took over 80 minutes and that’s when Newsome’s attorney had to have earned his pay.

So that happened. Ed Newsome survives a direct threat to his job. He comes out stronger because of this and the school board looks bad because of this stunt. The sad thing is that nobody will ever tell exactly what happened.

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26 comments to Let’s talk about the Ed Newsome situation…

  • Berkeley Bidgood

    “The sad thing is that nobody will ever tell exactly what happened.”
    This is so true.
    You would think we would have learned something from the sale of the hospital and all the backlash from the closed door back room decision making that went on with that.

  • Ben

    I just find it funny that my opinion was he needed to go, and everyone that defended him categorized me under “ignorant white people” when I never revealed my race. (As if race should have anything to do with it in the first place.) Racism is alive and well, unfortunately. Its a shame that we can’t fire someone based on his failed actions of working with the school system and not be called racist. Welcome to the world we live in.

    • Lee Smallwood

      I think I’m the only one who ever said “ignorant white people”, and I clearly indicated that I was talking about the people in the past who among other things segregated the public library and were responsible for Bloody Monday.

      Your view of what happened in that thread reveals that race is still an issue in at least this city no matter how much some may see things as postracial. Postracial is a wonderful ideal, but we’re not there yet.

  • Sonja Ingram

    “I’m surprised that this edition of the school board is intimidated by crowds of citizens and the media. If you’re an appointed or elected public official, you’ve got to quickly learn how to handle criticism and outrage. That’s not the case here. Some of the school board members were borderline hostile yesterday and I found that amusing. They’re used to having meetings with very few citizens present and it shows in their mannerisms.”

    I AGREE

  • Jerry

    Not a bad take. However, I think you’re underestimating the personnel exodus. Study after study has shown that the biggest factor in educational success is teaching. Private, public, charter…it doesn’t matter. If you have a quality faculty, you’ll usually have good outcomes for the kids who want to learn. If you have a poor faculty, it’s usually bad news except for those with means who may have other avenues to bolster them.

    Danville is known as a bad school system throughout the state among teachers an prospective teachers. It has a very low teacher pay scale compared to “good” districts. So when you lose a lot of good teachers, you’ll end up replacing them with 22 year olds straight out of college. That’s a major problem. I think this year’s exodus is going to be a long term problem for DPS for years to come.

    • Lee Smallwood

      I have a strong feeling it’s just the opposite. Dr. Newsome is shaking things up, and the burn outs who don’t want to buy in are leaving. If that’s correct, this exodus could be the start of great things. As you indicate, it’s not like Danville has been lighting the world on fire.

      • john guzlowski

        As a life long teacher, what I’ve discovered is that good and great teachers leave bad teaching situations while bad teachers stay because they have no place to go.

        • Lee Smallwood

          A teacher who doesn’t have the guts to stay and see through change isn’t a good teacher at all.

          • john guzlowski

            Lee, good teachers are always in demand. And they have responsibilities to themselves and their families that transcend sticking around when they are facing deteriorating situations, lack of support from administrators, low ways that have no promise of getting better.

            Would you keep a job making 30,000 a year with no hope of a raise if you could be doing the same thing in another county for 40,000 with the possibility of more to come?

            Good teachers, like good mechanics and good doctors, can and do move and advance.

  • David

    For those of you who were in favor of firing him, why?? Explain what he did so bad that was not a result of some of the mess from the prior administration?

    • Bob

      There are many reasons, and someone that does not work in the environment that we do would probably not understand. Not following board policy is a very good reason to be terminated and that happened all year. To give one example http://www.boarddocs.com/vsba/dps/Board.nsf/Public# and look at 4070.00 R — none of that was done this year. Others might be to blame also, but when those others try to tell him what needs to be done, he shoots them down.

  • DSD

    His building of a cabinet and layering on of 4 $100,000. Positions. Also bringing in his own cronies and hiring them. Wait until everyone starts dealing with Gateway Insurance – his excuse for having the extra $400,000. A year to hire some more cabinet members that he can blame for things going wrong. The arrogance of the NAACP threatening the community if the African American was fired. Doesn’t quality over color mean anything? As a matter of fact, what the heck does color of skin have to do with it anyway?

  • Amie

    How did everyone know to show up? Who gave out closed session for personnel information that lead everyone to ‘assume’ it would be about Mr. Newsome? It seems 100 or so people knew the discussion would be about Mr. Newsome in advance which I find troubling.

    • Maybe they read SouthsideCentral.

      • Lee Smallwood

        Not to denigrate the good work you did on scooping this, but I have a feeling Dr. Newsome saw this was coming, knew people he could rely on to be supporters because he did a good job of community outreach when he got here, and rallied just a fraction of those supporters there. Frankly it shows me he is a formidable leader. I cannot disagree he needs to spend the next year focusing on running the schools and finding harmony with the new Board, but the more I think about this the more I think he has shown considerable strength here. We all just need to hope that translates into better schools.

        • Shameless self-promotion will always occur here, sir. :D

        • Bob

          Lee, you are obviously a very intelligent person, but you have NO IDEA what is going on in the schools. I suggest that you take a couple of days and substitute, or volunteer. Ask why those students that are cussing teachers and administrators out are still in classes disrupting those that want to learn. It is because the administrators were told they could not suspend them and instead of helping come up with a solution, or even allowing others to come up with a solution, he would just come eat lunch with them. These teachers that left are great educators, not burned out and not wanting to conform. The problem is that people that have made a career in Danville Public Schools from the top down are not allowed to do their jobs because their ideas are not his. Being a person that is strong among the community is great, but let the people who know how to educate do so. Take a look at his resume http://blogs.buffalonews.com/school_zone/2012/05/comparing-the-candidates.html . A lot of up and down movement and not anywhere very long — that indicates problems, not advancement.

  • Centurian

    Lee you are way off base with this one. This problem belongs to Newsome completely. Hr started wrong, continued wrong, and will most likely finish wrong. He has split the district more then anyone else has ever done. Every single employee black or white that i spoke to have no faith in his leadership. He hasn’t even had the desire to move here! He is more concerned with his sideline business then improving DPS. Two years and no principal at GWHS? That was his doings not anyone previous. Bonner disaster? He ignored it time and time again when he could have done something about it. 78 resignations? Under his watch, no one elses. Board tells him not to hire two positions? He does it anyway. The epitamy of pure arrogance. Wait untill the SOL test scores come out. You will see what a great “leader” he is. Always thought no one could have been worse then Sue Davis. He has topped that one!

    • Jerry

      I agree. Usually Lee is a good commenter. I don’t understand his defense of a very bad situation. I don’t know how many black parents he talks to, but I talk to quite a few. Newsome has a few supporters, but there are a lot of black parents who are angry that like Sue Davis, Newsome has basically made G.W. a stepchild while loving Gallileo. The flagship school in the system hasn’t had a principal in quite a while. There’s a lot of anger out there from white and black parents about that.

      There is just as much anger among both races with kids at Bonner. It’s not hyperbole to say that some parents were scared to send their kids to school there this year. There was an enormous amount of fights. No child should feel scared to go to school. To say that the Sup’t shouldn’t take some blame for that is simply turning a blind eye.

      • Lee Smallwood

        I understand a lot about the situation. What Dr. Newsome wants to do is very much a work in progress, but I think you have to look at where he came in. Davis was supposed to serve through 2013 IIRC, but she left over the summer. I suggest that’s because she knew the type of mess that the fall was going to be and wanted no part of it. Yes, I understand there are divisions in the system, and yes I understand that not every change has been one that has been for the better in the very short term. This is a large organization with a lot of problems inherited. The way this was attempted was not appropriate, and that’s why evidently one or more members who were planning on voting for termination folded up that tent.

        I’ve been a lot of places and seen a lot of things. What I know is that it shows extraordinarily poor leadership on the part of the school board as a whole to bring in somebody to be Superintendent and attempt to fire them after a year, particularly in this type of transition. They’re fortunate that it didn’t happen because frankly it’s difficult to imagine what qualified candidate would come to a place like Danville with that type of specter hanging over them.

  • DSD

    He rallied the NAACP and some more African Americans. I bet Avon Keen’s feelings are hurt that the SCLC wasn’t front and center. But don’t forget when it was all said and done the attorney that really saved his butt was WHITE

    • Centurian

      How do you figure that? Glenn Berger just sat there……. His butt was saved by an ineffective poor excuse for a school board and nothing else.

  • Wilson

    Bottom line is that an influential black leader threatened to turn on the racism gas all over town if the school board got rid of Newsome. It is intolerable that such a racist threat was made and that it was effective. This is good old Milltown Danville at its worst. It is why Danville is where it is–and why we can see so few lights at the end of the tunnel. But the community should be deeply grateful to Southside Central for exposing it. That’s the only way anything will ever change.

  • Let's See The Truth

    Many time we wonder is Danville truly united or was that a ploy to suggest that an issue is recognized but will only be given a band-aid. Race only became an issue because community members both white and black issued a verbal commitment to bring up a past that was never really fixed, on both black and whites behalf. Ed Newsome came into Danville with the thought of making a school system better, the issue is no one politely told him how bureaucracy and politics plays a part in the grand scheme of things. Therefore he tried to bulldoze his agenda instead of crafting a plan and gaining full support for the School Board and the community. The community question a few things, even after he found funds that would have kept the two schools from shutting down. They are:
    1) How did you find funds to keep the school open.
    2) Why consider opening a fine arts school, after shutting schools down.
    3) Why create 3 position with a salary over 80k+, especially with teachers resigning.
    4) How does he have the audacity to move forward when teachers are resigning, and why isn’t he listening to them.
    5) If the 3 position – or how ever many – are created who will he hire – truth is that the consultant firm he work with is mainly only he and his wife. Which I’m sure it would be conflicting interest to hire her.
    6) Is his tonality or swag, confidence or arrogance? (least of everyone’s concern)
    7) Why is he living life like he doesn’t see that Bonner is grooming a MFA battleground, and does he care.

    Where I will not answer all of these I will say that he deserves a chance. First of all Sue Davis and other School Board members were informed that placing a middle school from the southside of Danville into the northside of Danville would cause conflict – there should have been an elementary school merger – the bright side is that if you handle the problem now then GW will have less issues. As far as GW not having a principal yet, look at it like this, Jackson is new to Newsome, and Newsome might have needed to see how things worked for Jackson or any other person. I will say he must focus on his teachers more and learn the system – so that he doesn’t become what Sue Davis was, that’s a tyrant to the board. The issue that the board needs to understand the education movement and Newsome need to focus on community and board support, and then make change. But overall Newsome doesn’t stay in a position longer than 5 years – check his resume, I did. People don’t care much for change in slower pace environments and Danville is no different. So the question becomes do we wait for him to help gradually make change or do we shoot him for a fast pace change. I look at the jar as half-full and suggest was express that a slow change is better than anything, and that we need him to show us and DPS teachers, students, and parents his sympathy for years of a broken system. Now DON’T BABY the people too much as to not fix things and become part of the problem, BUT show people you understand and care.

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