Archive for Thursday, April 20, 2006

Board member still believes in ousted superintendent

April 20, 2006

Danny Dearinger, a seven-year veteran of the Basehor-Linwood school board, served on the search committee that hired Superintendent Jill Hackett.

He believed three years ago that Hackett could lead the district to greatness, and he still believes that today.

That's why, after his fellow board members on Monday voted to oust Hackett, he announced his own resignation.

The 54-year-old rural mail carrier said Tuesday that his decision was necessary because he believes in the work of Hackett and Bill Hatfield, assistant superintendent who also is leaving the district -- for another job.

"He's strong, honest and a superior leader," Dearinger said. "I think his resigning is really going to put a cramp in our district as far as curriculum and instruction. He set the bar high, and our scores show that. He's going to be dearly missed."

Dearinger said that while Hackett wanted everyone held accountable for their actions, she also had worked hard to bring Basehor and Linwood together.

"When we rescinded her contract, I think it was a slap in the face to her," he said. "I just don't feel we should have gotten rid of her. I think she should still be there."

But Dearinger, whose wife is a secretary at Basehor Elementary School, believes the school board is a good one.

"The people who are there might need to get a little more in touch with the community, the patrons of the district and the employees of the district," he said. "The employees and the patrons of the district have always come to me because I'm a lifetime resident."

Dearinger was elected to fill position No. 1, which represents an area of the district bounded by Wyandotte County on the east, Dempsey Road on the north, 182nd Street on the west and Parallel on the south, according to board clerk Audra Boone. His replacement, who would serve through June 2007, would be chosen by the remaining six board members, she said.

But she said, "The board is not required to fill that vacancy."

As Dearinger announced his resignation Monday, he said he did so with a heavy heart. He's taken his work as a school board member seriously, and it's a job he's loved. And he's not entirely closing the door on returning to the board.

But this past month has been difficult, and for now, he's had enough.

"People call you up on the phone and literally cuss me out on the principals and Jill Hackett and how I felt about them," he said.

"It's going to take a long time for people to get back and trust the school board -- the people who are upset -- because Jill Hackett is gone. She's a wonderful leader. I can't believe she's gone. It's like a nightmare to me."

Dearinger said he believes district administrators and teachers would benefit from additional teambuilding.

"I would strongly suggest that they do that," he said, adding, "We're still a good school district, and, hopefully, we can get back there soon."

On Tuesday, Dearinger received phone calls from people disappointed at his decision.

"They also understood, too, that I just could not be part of the school board," he said. "I didn't have the energy to help look for another superintendent. I did the best thing that I thought I could do -- move on and, hopefully, they'll find somebody to take my place. I don't think it will be too hard."

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