Wednesday, January 23, 2008

School Super 'Censured'

Tuesday night the Escambia County School Board "censured superintendent Jim Paul for his Jan. 10 drunken-driving arrest in South Florida." What's that mean? The intrepid Michael Stewart explains:
School Board members approved a motion by Claudia Brown-Curry to "express disapproval of the conduct of Mr. Paul in Pinellas County."
In kiddyland, an "expression of disapproval" isn't even a "time out" much less a "grounding." It's more like a mild finger-wagging.

In any event, the school board's action rather misses the worst of Paul's behavior, doesn't it? More egregious than the crime "in Pinellas county" has been Jim Paul's persistent lying about it afterwards, right here at home in Escambia County. Reporter Stewart today exposes yet another whopper of Paul's.

As we pointed out when the story of his late-night drunken escapades first surfaced, the heavy irony behind this incident has its roots in Jim Paul's rigid insistence on a "zero tolerance" policy for students and teachers accused of even the most minor, attenuated, or thinly-evidenced misbehavior. But when it comes to his own behavior, all of a sudden he acts like all excuses should be warmly welcomed. To quote ourselves:
There is no reason to believe a "zero-tolerance" policy -- whether for drugs or alcohol abuse -- is any more effective or rational as a school district employment policy than it is as a policy governing student enrollment. There are gradations to such offenses. There can be important individual differences among offenders.
Paul apparently became sufficiently uncomfortable with the manifest hypocrisy of his own behavior that last week he claimed in an interview with Stewart that the school district's policy is mandated by "state law. "

"We have no choice," he claimed then.

Today, reporter Michael Stewart explodes that as yet another Jim Paul prevarication:
The state mandates zero tolerance for some school offenses, such as battery on a school official or bringing a weapon to school. In some areas, such as possession of alcohol or drugs, there is some flexibility.
To which the superintendent apparently now replies, If you don't like my policy, advertise and hold "a public hearing to... see if changes need to be made."

When an elected official repeatedly lies to the public not only about his own behavior but about the institutional policies he is charged with administering against others, he deserves more than a mere wag of the finger. He deserves to be fed a dose of the same medicine he's been so insistent is good for everyone else -- zero tolerance -- and it's up to the voters to do it.

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