I have never met David Madden. I wouldn’t know him if he walked into this office.
But what I do know is that there are some things you just don’t do including robbing old people (or anyone for that matter), telling your wife – or any woman for that matter – that they’re fat, taking money from a charity jar in the convenience store, and certainly, absolutely never saying rude, insensitive or inappropriate things about those people who have mental or physical disabilities.
As a parent how many times have you chastised your kids when they have called someone “a retard,” “stupid” or other such unacceptable names? It makes your skin crawl and your blood boil how anyone can utter such hurtful remarks.
So what does this have to do with Madden? Everything.
The controversy that has swirled around Madden – the Oxford High School principal – focuses on allegations that supposedly led to his recent suspension – and later his reinstatement.
Daily Local correspondent Marcella Peyre-Ferry reported on the Tuesday night meeting of the Oxford School Board where more than 50 people came out to hear the latest on the Madden saga.
According to her story:
“Neither the board nor Madden would discuss the underlying issue or the settlement due to non-disclosure clauses in the settlement and privacy issues, but there had been leaks and rumors in the community that connected Madden’s suspension with his handling of an incident involving a special education student and what have been perceived as inappropriate and insensitive comments toward special-needs students.
“Before the public’s discussion of Madden and special education students, supporters of Madden turned out in force at an April board meeting to demand he be reinstated during the principal’s suspension.”
The entire mess also led to the resignation of district Special Education Director Jenny Le Sage when Madden was returned to work.
According to Peyre-Ferry’s story as well:
“A part of Madden’s negotiated return to the high school appears to be his removal from interaction with special education students and a move to make him the athletic director.
“Scheese and the other board members sat stone-faced and unresponsive when audience members spoke. None of the questions put to them were answered, and Scheese cut off one speaker when she mentioned Madden’s name. At one point early on in the public comment, he attempted to adjourn the meeting because the public applause for the speaker was prolonged.
“In the face of the uniformed presence there was only one instance where an officer had to move in to direct someone away from the microphone during the public comment session.
“Resident Susan Bowers thanked the three board members who did not vote for Madden’s reinstatement and then refused to relinquish the microphone when Scheese said she was no longer recognized for having mentioned Madden by name. “If someone stands up and shuts off the microphone that’s when I’ll shut up,” she said, relinquishing the podium when an officer approached. “
Now pardon me but I do have some issues with this whole mess.
First, if the allegations against Madden are true and he used the sort of language we’ve described as the kind that makes our skin crawl and blood boil then he has no business being anywhere near a school and children. Especially those with disabilities.
As much as people with “normal” children hate it when districts have to serve those kids who aren’t “normal,” that’s the unfortunate part of life. Not everyone is perfect and sometimes kids do require extra and special services.
And how can you mandate that the principal – due to his alleged behavior – not interact with special needs students? That’s the silliest thing I have ever heard.
And as much as the board is concerned, are you serious that you were cutting off people who used Madden’s name while speaking? What is this, first grade? These people are not your “guests,” they are taxpayers who have the right to ask questions and certainly have the right to use Madden’s name in public. And too much applause? Folks, this is America where people have the right to speak and gosh, no, applaud at a PUBLIC meeting.
The end of Peyre-Ferry’s story:
“Dave Leonard of Oxford was representative of the feeling among parents in the district who are concerned about the impact that Madden’s attitude could have on their children. “I just can’t see at this point how our high school principal can remain an effective leader,” he said.
“The board’s conduct and the way the issue has been handled was also a concern for parents. “The whole thing was clouded in secrecy. Nobody knew what happened with the nameless principal,” Ken Hicks of Lincoln University told the board. “It would be really nice if you guys would step out of the box and address your thoughts – if you could give us a tiny idea of what your thought process is.”
There were several times during the public comment portion of the meeting when speakers predicted the present board members would not be re-elected.
“I would love if some day all of this would come out, but unfortunately in the position I’m in, I cannot comment,” Scheese said following the meeting.
OK, we get the part where Scheese can’t get into details.
However, by all accounts this situation with Madden was mishandled, the board in part acted like children and tried to control the meeting to the point where people weren’t allowed to speak in certain manners.
And I for one am totally disgusted by the thought that someone in a position such as high school principal may have done what Madden is alleged to have done.
I suggest the board think again – and get it right if that’s what’s needed.
– Andy Hachadorian