Two top Carroll school administrators criticized in anonymous 2 1/2-page letter

Board will discuss what action to take

August 22, 1999|By David L. Greene | David L. Greene,SUN STAFF

An anonymous letter criticizing two of Carroll County's top three school administrators and complaining of low employee morale will be taken up by the school board at a scheduled meeting Tuesday.

The letter -- dated Aug. 3 and signed only "building administrators, secretaries and central office" -- states that many in the school system feel alienated by the leadership style of Superintendent William H. Hyde and Dottie Mangle, the assistant superintendent of instruction.

"We love this system and it's children but it is no longer a system where we are willing to give 110%," the letter states. "It will not change until Mr. Hyde and Mrs. Mangle are gone."

The 2 1/2-page letter is addressed to school board President Gary W. Bauer and board member Susan Krebs.

Bauer said the board, in closed session before its scheduled meeting on the budget, will decide whether to investigate the source of the letter or follow a Board of Education policy that anonymous communications should be disregarded.

He said he has heard no complaints about morale from school employees and believes "it is an unsubstantiated letter because they are not putting their names down."

But Krebs said the allegations echo sentiments she has heard for months from employees during visits to schools.

"The reason I give credibility to this is because I've heard it from so many people -- it comes from teachers who are well-respected, administrators who are well-respected," she said. "This is from Taneytown to Mount Airy. It is from a cross-section of this county. These sentiments, they are coming from everywhere."

Bauer said he received several unsigned letters in the past and decided on his own to follow the school system's policy that employees should disregard them. It is unclear, however, whether that policy applies to school board members, who are elected officials.

The difference this time, Bauer said, was that the letter was sent to more than one board member, as well as to the media. As a result, he said, all five board members deserved to see it and offer an opinion on what to do about it.

"We could ask if anybody is part of this and is willing to come forward," Bauer said, offering options the board may consider.

Board member Ann M. Ballard said she has heard no complaints about Hyde and the school administration. She also said that when school employees have real concerns, they are rarely shy in sharing them directly with her.

"If they don't have enough backbone and don't have enough to substantiate the allegations, I don't want to hear from them," Ballard said.

Board members Joseph D. Mish and C. Scott Stone could not be reached to comment.

The letter's authors ask board members, "Do you honestly believe that in an environment of fear and retaliation that true concerns will be shared?"

Mangle declined to comment on the letter, except to say anonymous communications that include personal attacks should not be given a wider audience.

Hyde said the feelings expressed in the letter are inconsistent with what he has heard in meetings with his employees. He added, however, that some in the system have perceived his focus on quality improvement and the style of management he has implemented as bringing a businesslike approach to the school district.

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