A recent article appeared in Shane Stapley’s GilbertSchools.Info/ titled "Higley’s Birdwell Makes $500 Donation to Whitener prior to Superintendent’s Evaluation." So, is it a big deal that Higley Unified School District Superintendent Denise Birdwell has donated $500 to incumbent school board president Venessa Whitener’s election campaign? (Click HERE for the public record). Here are some excerpts:
The donation raises ethical concerns. The board will conduct its annual evaluation of Superintendent Birdwell in November 2014, with potential for another annual pay raise. Whitener, as current board president, will lead the evaluation whether or not she gets re-elected. Dr. Birdwell just paid her evaluator, which is clearly a conflict of interest. How impartial can Whitener be after receiving such a large campaign donation?
Whitener is widely regarded by parents and teachers as a staunch supporter of Birdwell. Whitener’s voting record speaks to her unanimous support of the superintendent. When parents approach her with concerns, instead of listening and working towards solutions, Whitener states her willingness to meet with anyone to better explain why the district is right in what they are doing. The high frustration level among district staff and students is evidenced by the numbers of families leaving district schools, the exodus of Higley’s best teachers, and the surprising turnover of school administrators. Calls from the public to conduct exit interviews for students being withdrawn and teachers resigning has yet to be answered.
The Higley board president and the Higley District Superintendent are supposed to set the example for nearly 11,000 children. Even though the campaign donation might be perfectly legal, it doesn’t quite feel right, does it.
Click HERE to read the article in its entirety.