To the editor:
It is said that the hallmark of a good leader is one who can be dropped into the middle of a maelstrom and still take his or her organization to a higher level. It is no exaggeration to state that Interim Alexandria City Public School Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt, Ed.D. certainly has a great opportunity to be a hero for our schools in the wake of the outgoing superintendent’s less-than-stellar performance.
I am a staunch advocate for good public schools and do not want to dwell on the long litany of negative issues that have plagued our system under the watch of the last superintendent. Issues such as safety, disparate learning and disciplinary results for students of color, poor communications, low teacher morale and a lack of accountability and transparency are all top issues that Kay-Wyatt will need to address when she officially takes office on Sept. 1.
Most importantly, Kay-Wyatt and the School Board need to stay in their respective lanes to optimize the shared goal of creating a world-class education for our children. Thankfully, the roles of each are simple: The superintendent works for the School Board, and the School Board works for the residents – period. The School Board should never be reduced to being a “rubber stamp” for the actions of the superintendent, and a successful superintendent should never bully the School Board. All the while, the School Board owes a duty to the residents to make sure that our tax dollars are giving us the most “bang for our buck.”
Sadly, the bar for Kay-Wyatt has been set low by her predecessor, although this fact actually puts her in an enviable position. The residents of Alexandria are generally fair-minded, and I think we have “superintendent fatigue.”
I didn’t appreciate the seemingly endless lack of respect directed at outspoken elected School Board members by an unelected superintendent. For now, we only need a leader who is calm, takes responsibility, is results driven and is committed to avoiding needless self-promotion while putting our children first.
-Matt Harris, Alexandria