answers. A big one is, why now? Even bigger is, why like this?
If I could be queen for a day and reign over the Burbank Board of
Education, I would choose Feb. 21. Then I could have directed Richard
Courier to approach Aponik with the board's decision to terminate his
contract, effective June 30, 2002. I would have offered assurance that
nothing would be released to the public before May 31, allowing Aponikthe
opportunity to choose to announce his resignation, if he so decided.
In this way, the board could have honored the service Aponik has
rendered to the district over the past 21 years, Aponik could have begun
to seek another position, and the rest of us would more likely have
thought it was a shame to lose him, but life goes on. And the process
would have some dignity.
The current board, without benefit of my advice, seems surprised that
the public doesn't trust its decision. They seem surprised that Aponik
didn't accept its decision for his immediate departure and crawl quietly
into the woodwork. Its members seem genuinely perplexed that "If you knew
what we know" doesn't satisfy many people. What is surprising to me is
that it would satisfy anyone.
There was clearly no criminal act. There was no gross misconduct. The
board has stated that its decision is unrelated to the budget debacle.
It's not because negotiations were in a tangle and a strike was imminent.
In fact, the board members, who beg for sympathy and trust, have said
they studied the issue for 18 months. So why the rush?
Why take immediate action three months before Aponik could have
presided over his daughter's graduation from Burbank High School? Her dad
was superintendent for 11 years while she attended Burbank schools, but
not when she graduates.
Why impose an immediate change of assignment only three months before
John Burroughs and Burbank High Schools will have new facilities
dedicated? Will there be a place on the plaques displayed on these new
facilities for the name of the superintendent who served the public so
Why make a decision that would require buying out an additional three
months of Aponik's contract, particularly in the face of the budget
shortfall? For that matter, why make a decision that would require buying
out any of Aponik's contract? The board apparently lived with its
dissatisfaction of his performance for 18 months, so what's a little more
I am outraged on a personal level by the manner in which the five
members of the Board of Education have dealt with Aponik. I am outraged
by the manner in which they have dealt with the aftermath of their
decision. I am appalled by their collective mendacity. And I am
astonished that five well-meaning trustees of the public welfare could
have all suffered such a serious lapse of good judgment simultaneously.
Oh, to be queen for a day.