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Our Opinion: Clearing the clouds

January 03, 2001

John Marshall, a well-known and longtime local educator, has left his position as principal at Frank Wright Intermediate School in Imperial under a cloud of suspicion.

A little more information about why Marshall was relieved of his duties would serve students, parents and others in the Imperial community, who seem baffled by why Marshall was moved to a job in the individualized learning center at Imperial High School during the Christmas break. To only say he was moved after being given a notice of "unprofessional conduct," as the school district has announced, is not forthcoming enough to those concerned about the matter. It also leaves a cloud around Marshall regarding what he did or didn't do, which may be unfair to him.

We have always found it to be best when public officials, including school boards and school officials, are forthcoming in such matters. Barbara Layaye, who generally has done an admirable job as Imperial Unified School District's superintendent, may want to be more open about such matters in this case and in other such matters in the future. We realize there are confidentiality considerations when dealing with personnel matters that must be weighed, but community well-being and peace of mind also must be considered.

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That said, we are glad to see the district has brought in Donald Hopper, a longtime local educator and former IUSD superintendent, to the Frank Wright post. It is crucial to have an experienced educator to keep watch on kids during their adolescent years, when much can go right or wrong in their lives, and Hopper should be able to do that (just as Marshall did, with the requisite tight rein). Hopper, who is retired and had been substitute teaching in the Modesto area, will run Frank Wright until June. That will allow the Imperial school board plenty of time to find someone right for the crucial spot.

With Imperial growing rapidly in population and prominence in the Imperial Valley, the Frank Wright job likely will be a highly sought one. There should be scores of good applications. Whoever is chosen, however, won't be John Marshall. And in a lot of ways that is too bad.

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