Outside Group Makes More Sense In Ripley Mediation Talks

Given the allegations leveled by a former union president, we wonder if the latest action taken by the Ripley Central School District will actually remedy the problems between the district and its teachers.

The union representing Ripley’s teachers recently announced a vote of no confidence in school leadership. The Board of Education has hired Bridge-it Evaluation Services from Bemus Point, at a cost between $7,500 and $15,000, to spend a month conducting a series of interviews with board of education members, administration, union representatives and non-instructional personnel. Bridge-It will then try to find ways to bring the two sides together.

Herein lies the rub.

One of the issues the teachers’ union mentioned in a letter obtained recently by The Post-Journal is that “the culture of our school has become one of hostility, favoritism, fear and anxiety. Our concerns include: communication, trust, collaboration, decision making, vision and the lack of respect and bullying of staff.” The owner of Bridge-It is John Hogan, who served parts of two years as interim superintendent of the Ripley Central School District at a time when the board president was Robert Bentley, current president of the Ripley Central School board.

Looking to a person with whom a board has prior experience obviously does not mean there is impropriety, but one can’t help but wonder if Ripley teachers will trust a reconciliation process led by a former interim superintendent with ties to current board members — especially when favoritism is one of the key issues the union cites for its anger.

Hogan himself won’t be directly involved in the interviews with staff, with those duties being given to one of Hogan’s employees. And, let us say again there is no insinuation that Hogan and his company don’t do a good job.

We can see, though, why members of the teacher’s union would be uneasy laying bare their grievances with the district given the ties between Hogan and the district.

Perhaps an outside group with no ties to the school district would be a better idea.