Resignation is a big deal, but not a cure

Renee McCown, the Amarillo school trustee implicated in an ongoing controversy surrounding the resignation of a popular high school coach of a vaunted athletic program, is going to resign her position on Thursday effective immediately.

She said the usual thing, that she intends to spend time with her family and will look for other opportunities to serve the community.

But, her silence on the controversy is not a matter of breaking some mythical state law, as one of her board colleagues has suggested. Newly seated trustee Dick Ford reportedly said that McCown could not comment on the matter because of restrictions set forth in policy and law. Ford said, “The only way she could had defended herself would had been to violate rules, state laws and AISD policy as it relates to AISD employees.”

I get the policy matter might have stood in the way. State law? Not an issue.

You know the story. Kori Clements quit as Amarillo High’s girls volleyball coach. She cited interference from a meddlesome parent who disliked the coach’s decision regarding playing time for the parent’s daughters. A complaint filed with the Texas Education Agency identified the parent as McCown, a member of the Amarillo ISD board. If McCown did what was alleged, she has committed a serious ethical error. Trustees set policy, but are supposed to leave the nuts and bolts of staffing matters up to the staff and to administrators.

Ford also said McCown has been “unfairly chastised” by constituents and in the media.

I won’t respond to that, except to say that McCown was not under any legal obligation to remain quiet. She could have answered the criticism directly. She has remained silent, which to my mind lends credibility to the accusation of interference.

She will submit her resignation. The Parents for Transparency Coalition, formed in recent months to seek an “independent inquiry” into the matter, said her resignation won’t solve any problems.

I’ll disagree respectfully with a portion of that argument. This resignation will help lift a cloud from the school system. OK, so there will remain some issues to resolve. This particular matter involving a former coach who said she was hassled out of her job, however, will be lifted from the Amarillo Independent School District.

It also allows school trustees to speak candidly among themselves so that they all understand fully the ethical standards of the public office they all occupy.