The school district, from its school board on down, has taken several steps that they will all in all likelihood come to regret. Those steps are:
1. The decision to suspend Ashley in the first place.
2. The decision to increase her suspension, extending it through the rest of the school year.
3. The superintendent’s press release on Wednesday, in which he mischaracterized the lunch box, and in which he obfuscated about whether Ashley was suspended or not, and whether she is allowed on campus or not. She has shown local media the contract banning her from campus, while the school dances around with a “meaning of ‘is’” approach that is just making the situation worse.
4. Meeting behind closed doors, then issuing a useless but heavily lawyered press release, which now puts the entire school board behind the superintendent and the principal.
5. Implying to the press that a release of Ashley’s records would hurt her or her family.
6. Saying that press accounts are “inaccurate,” but not spelling out where the inaccuracies are, which will only make the media more hostile going forward. Frankly, I’m surprised the local press hasn’t already decided to go full hostile after now two statements have implied that they, the reporters on the story, are incompetent.
Throughout all of this, we still have not heard directly from the principal, Bonnie Almond, who made the decision that triggered all of this. I spoke with Sean Sorrentino earlier today, and after I emailed him a picture of the principal, he didn’t recognize her as having been at today’s meeting. He couldn’t rule her presence out, of course, but did say that she wasn’t acknowledged and did not speak at the meeting. Why have we not heard from Almond? If she was not at today’s meeting, where was she?
I don’t know and I’m not going to guess where she is and why we haven’t heard from her. But it’s curious, to say the least, that the public servant who made the decision to suspend Miss Smithwick has not stepped out to defend her decision personally. She owes the public that much, at least.
The school board met, said nothing, made no decision, and kicked the can down the road. This isn’t over yet, by a long shot.