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Community Commentary -- Julie Vetrie

April 20, 2002

I have read with interest the statements that have been printed from

community members who have taken a position of support for the Burbank

Board of Education in the current controversy over the release of David


While some points are obvious (the board has the right to fire the

superintendent) and some points are disingenuous (if you knew what they

know, then you would understand), I find myself with more questions than


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.



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