Bitcon: dark days of Scottsdale Schools’ past are behind us

Good things are happening in the Scottsdale Unified School District.

Cindy Bitcoin

Our amazing teachers, support staff and school administration teams are helping our future leaders become smart, thoughtful, good members of society.

Thankfully, we are turning the page on a dark chapter in SUSD history. I am an SUSD employee, parent, community advocate through Scottsdale Parent Council and active community member through Yes for Children.

I can speak from personal experience that the Birdwell years were painful. My concern began as I researched as much as I could on Dr. Birdwell upon her being named a finalist for the position of interim superintendent. Further investigation and several conversations validated my concerns.

I spoke to Governing Board member Kim Hartmann several times over the following days and met with her on the morning of the final interview. I shared what I had found, expressed enormous concern and asked her to slow the process down.

She told me that I needed to trust her and how well Dr. Birdwell interviewed. I reached out to Board Member Hartmann three times during Dr. Birdwell’s time in SUSD and met with her twice. During a meeting on April 7 of last year I specifically asked if Louis Hartwell was qualified to oversee the bond and was she aware of his personal connection to Dr. Birdwell. Kim was not aware of a personal connection between he and the superintendent, assured me he was qualified and seemed insulted I had even questioned it.

It was clear that the personal relationship had not been disclosed to the Governing Board. Despite repeated outcry from parents, it took the Attorney General stepping in to finally get this board to see the obvious corruption right under their noses.

I had hoped we were getting the ship turned around. Dr. Kreikard has brought calm and stability to employees and parents. Board Members Kirby and Hartmann are exiting the board. Most of the corruption has been cleared from the Education Center and a public, nationwide search will begin for our next leader.

As I watched the Sept. 25th work study where the board met with the recruitment firm, I was stunned at Kim Hartmann’s obvious bullying of the expert she hired to guide the search. Why did she feel compelled to make the Superintendent timeline about what is best for her, not what is best for the students, community or SUSD? There is no valid reason to change his timeline, so she can pick the finalists.

Board Member Hartmann has lost all my trust to make good decisions for our district. I have asked her to continue this search on the expert’s timeline, not her own. I am still waiting for her reply.

I love SUSD and have spent the past 12 years doing everything I can to support what is best for children. It is time for all of us to come together to rebuild this incredible district.

Consider getting involved in the superintendent search process, go to a Scottsdale Parent Council meeting, volunteer at your local school and let your elected Governing Board members know who you think should pick the finalist for our next leader.

Just to be clear, I am not advocating for a delay in beginning the search process. I do believe it is in the best interest of the district to allow the new board to select the finalist list because they will be the ones working together for the next few years.

Our current board has shown us repeatedly that they have their own, secretive agenda and do not make choices that are best for our students. The outgoing members have shown a disdain for stakeholder input and a proclivity for making terrible choices. The newly elected board will ultimately be making the final decision on our permanent leader, one who will pilot this district for at least the next several years.

The current board should step away and allow the new board to complete the hiring cycle from start to finish, based on the timeline recommended by their own paid specialist.

Let’s close the book on this rein of terror and start fresh with the newly elected board. Governing board: please listen and honor the requests of your constituents. Follow the direction of the experts and the recommended timeline originally presented to you.

Editor’s note: Ms. Bitcon is a Scottsdale resident, SUSD employee, parent and advocate

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