Rumors are insidious. They are also, in the face of a lack of information, inevitable.
And right now, rumors are swirling around the sudden departure of Joel Benton, principal of Hauser Junior High School in Riverside.
On the first day back from winter break, Benton may or may not have been ushered out of the building by Superintendent Jonathan Lamberson, and the locks on the doors may or may not have been changed to prevent him from re-entering the building.
The official line is that Benton is taking care of the estate of his mother, who died around Thanksgiving. That’s indeed regrettable, but few people are believing it is the sole reason for Benton’s quick exit from the scene.
And although Benton is still officially an employee of the district (he’s under contract until the end of the school year), it seems clear that Benton won’t be back next year.
In the meantime, the grapevine is working furiously to spin the events in every direction. Anonymous phone calls?”including one from a woman calling from a pay phone who didn’t want to be identified for fear of some sort of administrative reprisal?”claim the new superintendent wants to install some sort of puppet regime that will do his mysterious bidding and that Benton was standing in the way.
As much as those fears appear to be overstated, the district and Lamberson are doing little to quell those rumors with statements they’ve made up till now. The parents of the district (not to mention staff), many of whom have known and trusted Benton’s leadership for years deserve some sort of real explanation of the curious mid-year change.
If, indeed, the change was prompted by philosophical differences between Benton and the new administration or board, then we can’t see the harm in a short, simple explanation of that fact. While that kind of explanation would no doubt stir up a conversation in the community, as a newspaper, we’re all for open conversations about the operation and philosophy of local schools.
The alternative is the whispering and second-hand allegations being fed through the rumor mill. And those are ample right now.
Make a decision on dog park
After taking a long nap, the Brookfield Playground and Recreation Commission is again pondering the creation of a dog park in the village. Whether the village needs or doesn’t need such an amenity is open to debate among residents and doesn’t need any blessing from us. There are dog lovers and there are people who are not. It’s kind of like arguing religion.
However, what we would like to see is some sort of action on the part of the Rec Commission. The last time this subject came up in 2003, the board chose to simply not do anything about it. Now that it has resurfaced, the commission needs to make the message clear?”they are either for it or against it and should make a decision already. It’s time to pick up the pace of deliberation.