Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Perfect End to Fletcher’s Horrific Administration

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Education advocates continued to raise questions yesterday about the newly appointed Kentucky education commissioner after additional errors on her résumé were discovered. The state board of education last week unanimously approved a four-year contract for Barbara Erwin, who also has been criticized by parents and board members in other school districts for her "dictatorial" leadership style. A review of her résumé prior to the meeting revealed some inaccuracies, including the listing of an honor she did not receive and a claim that she had been a presenter at a Chicago education conference.

Other mistakes have now surfaced, including an error in the number of years she served on the board of directors for the Scottsdale, Ariz., Chamber of Commerce. Erwin's résumé says she served from 2000 to the present, but she left that district four years ago and is not currently on the board, a spokeswoman with the agency confirmed. Erwin's résumé also lists her membership on the executive board of the American Association of School Administrators from 1991-2000. She was actually a member of the AASA executive committee from 1999 to 2002.

Erwin also claims to be a member of Kappa Delta Phi, a fraternity. The similarly named Kappa Delta Pi, an honor education society, does list a Barbara Erwin as a member. Erwin could not be reached for comment for this story. School board chairman Keith Travis said the board spent several hours with Erwin reviewing every detail on her résumé before the vote. "Once we did that, she got my vote of confidence," he said. "Barbara Erwin is the person that will provide us with the leadership to move forward."

Erwin will receive a four-year contract with a base salary of $220,000 a year, and she will start work July 16. Either side can get out of the contract with 90 days notice, but the board would have to show cause to discontinue the contract. Several critics are alarmed the board is not more concerned with the inaccuracies and also with Erwin's reputation in other school districts. Erwin, who has 36 years of experience in education, was most recently superintendent of schools for the 15,000-student Community Unit District 303 in St. Charles, Ill. Previously, she was superintendent of the Scottsdale Unified School District from 2000-2004 and of the Allen (Texas) Independent School District from 1994-2000. She also was superintendent of the Tipton Community School Corp. in Indiana from 1991-1994.

Dick Innes, education analyst with the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, said résumé blunders are a bigger deal than the board is letting on. "The point is, does this woman pay any attention to detail?" he asked. "Clearly we think (the search process) was ill-advised."

Innes said other education advocates and analysts are overwhelmingly against having Erwin serve as commissioner. "There's a lot of controversy and concern here," he said. Also, "somebody with an abrasive personality is probably not going to last too long in this position."

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