Good Riddance to SISD's Atkinson
by Kevin Lovell
Posted on June 21, 2008
The El Paso Times editorial board has been skewering the Socorro school board for terminating superintendent Sylvia Atkinson and giving her a one year salary as severance. I don’t live in the Socorro district but how the Times can defend Atkinson is beyond me.
To begin with, voters in that district rallied around and elected board members who were known to be in opposition to Atkinson. Democracy in action!
Atkinson was ousted as superintendent from a much smaller district before she somehow got the Socorro job. At Socorro she alienated and forced out three experienced assistant superintendents who had helped to make the Socorro district the envy of others in our region. Atkinson replaced these with five of her own hand-picked administrators. For those counting pennies, that costs taxpayers a lot more money than Atkinson’s one-year buyout.
I’ll leave the measurement of student scores on standard tests to the educational experts. I never met Atkinson but I wrote her a letter one time. I could see that Atkinson was forcing out all kinds of good people and longtime Socorro public information officer Minerva Baumann appears to have been on her hit list. Minerva worked as assistant news director at KVIA for several years before taking the Socorro job. I can tell you that Minerva is the consummate professional. Socorro could not have a better public information officer. Minerva had admirably served under six full-time and interim superintendents including Atkinson.
That wasn’t good enough for Atkinson.
After Minerva went out on medical leave for a serious illness, Atkinson reassigned her the first day she returned to work. Minerva didn’t want to talk with me about her personal dealings with Atkinson. She doesn’t have to. The way Atkinson treated Minerva is all I need to know about her qualifications as a superintendent.
Voters got it right in Socorro. The next superintendent will be a dramatic improvement and hopefully, he or she will put Minerva back in the position where she belongs.
Kevin Lovell is general manager of ABC-7 (KVIA)
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