Johnston County school board members – at least those who have spoken publicly or in emails - have professed ignorance to the laws that will force Johnston County to foot a hefty retirement bill for former superintendent Dr. Ed Croom.
To some degree, you might argue none of this is Croom’s fault – after all he’s just trying to make all the money he can.
But you can hardly say the same thing about the Board of Education. They put too much trust in their lawyer and allowed him to provide Croom with a golden parachute. And, they followed along blindly when that attorney, Jimmy Lawrence, told them the contract simply mirrored what other school systems were doing for their hired leaders. We suspect if Lawrence had told them to jump off a cliff because that’s what other school boards were doing, they might have questioned his advice.
School board members need to remember that the superintendent and the lawyer work for them, not the other way around. Following their advice isn’t always a bad thing, but doing so blindly and without fully understanding the ramifications of a decision is always a bad idea.
School board members have, in email discussions with each other, decided to let Lawrence do their talking, which is unfortunate. Lawrence wasn’t elected by anybody and their refusal to discuss their decision and what they knew and what they didn’t gives the appearance that they knowingly tried to pull the wool over the eyes of the public and now that their work has seen the light of day, they don’t want to take responsibility for it.
That’s not what we expect from our elected leaders, particularly at the local level, where we see these folks at church, in the grocery store or at the local street festival.
School board members approved a fat contract for their soon-to-retire superintendent without understanding what that meant. It leads us to wonder just how many other decisions this board has made without fulling vetting the ideas put before them.