Cooler heads needed in school controversy

Published 5:00 am Thursday, April 25, 2002

The controversy surrounding the decision not to renew theemployment contract of the athletic director and head footballcoach at Brookhaven High School is a very unfortunate one, and onethat has brought tremendous community outcry of support for thefamilies involved.

That support has been very intense, as evident by the letters tothe editor that have appeared on this page over the past two weeks.Superintendent Dr. Sam Bounds and the school board have taken somevery harsh criticism — some justified, some not justified.

We do not know the full details behind the April 3 decision ofthe school board. We only know the details as related by CoachHickman in an interview we published on Sunday April 7. We knowthat rules were broken, and we know the notification of thedecision not to renew the coach’s contract could have been handledin a better manner.

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However, there are always two sides to every story.Unfortunately, the school board’s policy, as with all personnelissues, is to not comment. And thus, we may never know the completedetails behind their decision.

It is an unfortunate situation for Coach Hickman. It is also anunfortunate situation for the Brookhaven Public School System.

We know Coach Hickman to be a fine young man who is dedicated tothe kids. He is a man who has gone above and beyond in his effortsto see after their well-being. We also know the members of theschool board, including Dr. Sam Bounds, to be dedicated individualswho have been the leading force behind the strength of the schoolsystem we have in this community.

Are they all perfect? No! Each has made and admitted theirrespective set of errors in judgment.

Our concern, however, lies with the school system itself. Aswith any heated controversy, facts sometimes get set aside foremotions, and with those emotions come perceptions, which usuallyhave little basis of fact. Feeding on all of this are those withtheir own personal agendas — unrelated to the original event.

We have published numerous letters to the editor on thesituation. We have declined to run a few others, because quitefrankly, they were so full of hate, anger and personal agenda wedid not see them as productive to the issue at hand.

The most disturbing letter we have received, however, is printedelsewhere on this page. We have been unable to confirm theauthenticity of the author and decided to run it, nevertheless,because of our belief of how the controversy is being perceived bythose who are on the outside looking in. The letter is from agrandmother who is expressing her fear for the safety of thechildren in our schools and her decision to remove her grandchildfrom the Brookhaven Public School System.

Our hope as this debate continues up to the Tuesday night schoolboard meeting, is that some good, old-fashion common sense willemerge. What we need is for everyone to take a deep breath andchoose words very carefully, while listening with open minds.

We need fairness, we need reason, and we need cooler heads toprevail!

The future of our school system and our kids deserves nothingless.