During a school board meeting on Sept. 26, Max McGee announced his resignation effective Sept. 29. In response to his departure, there are a few characteristics the school board should consider when evaluating new candidates. To best serve the students of this district, our new superintendent must be more transparent, be involved with the community and prioritize student mental health.

First, the new superintendent should value communication during times of adversity and times of tranquility alike. In the last few years, several Title IX investigations and alleged sexual assaults have shaken up the school district. A report released by the Cozen O’Connor law firm recently reaffirmed the failure on the part of district administrators to properly record and resolve a 2016 sexual assault allegation.

When initial information about an alleged  perpetrator surfaced to the public, many students felt that the school should have been more communicative about the situation, as the district was aware of the issue months prior to the news broadcast. It is understandable that the legality of the situation limited McGee’s ability to publicize certain information; however, more information could have been released without violating federal privacy laws. The lack of transparency by the superintendent regarding the district’s response to the incident only inflamed reactions and increased panic.

To prevent a repeat of this mistake, the new superintendent should recognize and value the power of communication as a key to the student-administration relationship. Maintaining transparency is paramount, and the new superintendent should therefore b
as open as possible during mishaps.

Some of our fonder memories of McGee are his frequent attendence of school programs and community events, which made many students feel more validated and included in the district and helped us view McGee as less of a political figure and more of a supportive adult.

“He  [McGee] is everywhere. Go to a student event — he’s there,” says Student Activity
Director Matt Hall. “He’s all over the place — in a good way. He’s connecting on multiple levels with students, staff and parents.”

“He  [McGee] is everywhere. Go to a student event — he’s there. He’s all over the place — in a good way. He’s connecting on multiple levels with students, staff and parents.”

– Student Activity Director Matt Hall

McGee showed extra initiative to familiarize himself with student culture. For the district leader to truly become familiar with their students, they must be immersed in the climate of the schools, which is why any future superintendent should value this as an integral part of their job.

We would also like to see the new superintendent prioritize mental health and work with the school district to find ways to help combat stress. Considering the district’s history with suicide clusters, we would like to see the new superintendent prioritize mental health in a comprehensive manner.

Despite the many mental health programs within the district, including  McGee’s new initiatives, many are too scattered and inaccessible to students. We believe the new superintendent must look to consolidate the mental health programs in a way that makes them more approachable.

With gratitude towards McGee for his time in the district, we look forward to a new superintendent who will continue McGee’s positive initiatives and improve upon his mistakes. Most importantly, the school board should find a candidate who is invested in the district and would like the best for its students and staff — and that’s something we can all agree on.   v

*Editor’s Note: Verdict, the Verde editorial, represents the opinion of the majority of the staff.