By Ryan Miner
This article won’t take long to read because most Washington County residents already know that Melissa Williams and Stan Stouffer are deliberately masking their leadership failures, having dropped the ball so bigly on the superintendent search process that not even Kellyanne Conway could devise alternative facts that could explain away their all-encompassing self-induced mess.
Despite the rosy picture Williams and Stouffer – the Board’s president and vice-president, respectively – painted earlier this week in a Herald-Mail Media article, multiple sources within Washington County Public Schools who are familiar with the superintendent search process tell me and others that Williams and Stouffer are way in over their heads and are running around like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off.
The same sources have also told me that Williams and Stouffer have come to closed-session meetings unprepared and are completely clueless about how to execute the search.
Don’t let Stan Stouffer fool you; his leadership skills are exaggerated, to say the very, very least. As a former student of Stan Stouffer, I can personally attest that he often showed up to class looking disheveled; his lesson plans were a mess; his grading system was borderline egregious and inconsistent; and his unorthodox classroom behavior was a cause for concern for students, parents, and teachers.
(Incidentally, if you’re interested, you may want to do some of your own investigations and ask around Williamsport with respect to Stouffer’s departure as Williamsport High School’s athletic director. Do some basic research and you’ll find out the true reason as to why he left Williamsport High School as he did.)
It’s been almost two months since Clayton Wilcox announced in mid-December that he’s heading off in March to Charlotte to lead a school system that will actually show him the respect he’s earned – a school system that will appreciate his ability to inspire curiosity, creativity and achievement.
It’s no accident that Williams and Stouffer haven’t made a single public announcement about how the search process will unfold or the community groups they intend to solicit for insight and approval.
Look at the facts as they stand: Williams and Stouffer clearly have no idea how to manage a search process, and it’s clearer than ever that their leadership failures will bear grave consequences for Washington County Public Schools.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Why didn’t Williams and Stouffer immediately hold a press conference or write a joint letter to the editor detailing the minutia of the superintendent search process?
- Why are Williams and Stouffer so secretive? What are they hiding? Why do they refuse to speak in public about a process that rests upon total transparency?
- Why has it taken this long to organize a search process? What the hell is the holdup?
- It’s been almost TWO MONTHS; one would hope that Williams and Stouffer have outlined or, in the very least, drafted a memo and submitted said memo to the administration and staff. Do they even know how to do this?
As for the most important question:
Why is Melissa Williams and Stan Stouffer lying to the public? Why can’t they just be honest?
If Williams and Stouffer already know that Boyd Michael is the pick of the Board majority – Williams, Stouffer, Karen Harshman and Mike Guessford – why haven’t they leveled with the public much sooner and said as much?
Consider for a moment one critically important detail: ethically-challenged Mike Guessford and disgraced Karen Harshman will be key decision makers – members of the Board’s majority – when it comes time to choose who to hire as Washington County Public Schools’ next superintendent. If that doesn’t scare the hell out of you, I don’t know what will. Two totally incompetent, ethically-encumbered corrupt liars – that’s exactly what they are – will be entrusted to hire the next superintendent.
Melissa Williams, Stan Stouffer, Karen Harshman and Mike Guessford are so far out of their league that Washington County Public Schools will likely suffer as a result. The students will suffer when a subpar superintendent is chosen in what has become a dishonorable, rushed and categorically incompetent process that is a textbook example of a leadership catastrophe. If you think I’m overly hyperbolic, just ask the insiders involved with the process. Just ask former Board members who were responsible for hiring Clayton Wilcox.
You deserve better, Washington County. Much, much better.