Article Comment 

Our View: A troubling campaign




If you have your eye on the Columbus Municipal School District lately, you might think the superintendent position is up for election. 


It''s easy to make this mistake. Considering the following:



  • Interim Superintendent Dr. Martha Liddell takes every opportunity to pass out her resume -- a civic club meeting, a supporters reception, a dropout prevention rally -- the list goes on. 


  • While everyone else was busy offering heartfelt goodbyes, Liddell utilized outgoing Superintendent Del Phillips'' farewell event as an opportunity to promote herself as his successor. 


  • Lately, every special program at Columbus schools turns out to be a media circus, with Liddell conveniently placed at the center. 


  • Liddell has rallied a group of supporters (school district employees) who appear to be ever on hand to sing her praises and even help hand out resumes.


It appears Liddell has been shamelessly campaigning for the full-time job, from day one, as if she''s running for office. 


We fear that Liddell''s maneuvering will not only skew the selection process, but may lead to ill-feeling if she is not chosen. 


Don''t misunderstand us; we''re not saying Liddell is not the person for the job -- though her behavior since Phillips'' departure raises grave doubts -- we''re saying let the search process play out in an evenhanded and deliberate manner. The Columbus School Board was remiss in appointing an interim to the position who covets the job to the extent Liddell obviously does. A wiser choice would have been someone who could calmly and capably steer the ship while a search took place, someone like retired assistant superintendent David Sullivan, for instance. 


Phillips left Columbus schools earlier this month to take a job as head of schools in Sumner County, Tenn. Soon thereafter, the local school board tapped the Ray and Associates search firm to find his replacement. Coincidentally, Ray and Associates is the same firm that wooed Phillips away from Columbus. 


Over the past four years, the city schools have begun innovative programs such as magnet schools and built the district''s first new school in decades. 


In an effort to maintain that momentum, Columbus schools'' leaders have chosen to seek outside help to find the district''s next CEO. 


It''s a decision that should be based on experience, leadership record and a variety of intangibles. It''s not a popularity contest. And it shouldn''t be. 


At the end of the $15,000 search, Liddell very well may be that person. Even so, her decision to launch herself into the spotlight and all but plant a victory flag is troubling.



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Reader Comments

Article Comment fil-col commented at 6/28/2011 3:04:00 PM:

Dear Commercial Dispatch:

Columbus has a long way to go. Such a great distance to go until magnet schools and new buildings are not impressive and do NOT meet the needs of this community. I understand this is your "view" but this display is extremely tacky. Columbus needs a HUMAN leading the school district who is not afraid to put their pride aside and fight for something. The same way Dr. Liddel is "campaigning" for this position, she may very well campaign for the children of this city. Everything here could have been and should have been left unsaid!


Article Comment bigkev commented at 6/28/2011 4:15:00 PM:

fil-col, not only does columbus but mississippi as whole has a long way to go. You say that everything could have and should have been left unsaid. That is probably the biggest problem we have in our great state. Yes i think the world of mississippi. even from afar it still has a place in my heart. but there is so much going on in mississippi and even columbus that these things need to be brought out and dealt with. If she was put in that position as a interim then she should do the job and let her actions speak for themselves and let the selection process go its course. If she really does well in the capacity it will or would show for everyone. Then once the selection process is started she can campaign like everyone else. The persons' view that you deamed "tacky" is laying information out that Dr. Liddel seeems to not mind in what she is doing. If Dr. liddel is so human then why all the grandstanding and passing out resumes and getting groupies together to thump her cause.


Article Comment fil-col commented at 6/28/2011 9:52:00 PM:

I agree bigkev. There are many things being done in the dark that should be brought to light; but handing out resumes at public events is not one of them. (it's not like she left resumes on windshields at Walmart) Although I probably would be taking a different approach from Dr. Liddell, I don't believe her actions are equivalent to planting a victory flag in the ground. It seems to me that she wants the community to know who she is and where she's been. People are hired and appointed daily in this city without discussion or consideration of resumes. I also think this article is unfair because more than likely the search committee reviews local media outlets to see what is going on with the district. Dr. Liddell has a light being shone on her that other candidates do not have to face right now. If this article brought attention to improper and/or offensive formatting of the resume, then maybe there would be an argument. If the resume revealed lack of experience or qualification, then maybe there would be an argument. But this article is simply good ol' front porch gossip.
I would also like to add- I do not know Dr. Liddell and am confident that the search committee will hire a qualified candidate. However, I am choosing to show support for Liddell in this case because this is defamation of character.


Article Comment raider commented at 6/28/2011 11:58:00 PM:

@ the Dispatch: Did you use boldface, bullet-format and use a larger font in an effort to present your opinions as facts? Could you please state how many of these "special programs" have been held at Columbus schools since Dr. Liddell have taken over. And how many has turned into a "media circus." I would think with the meager number of media outlets here...a "media circus" would be practically impossible. Frankly, I believe that if Dr. Liddell wants the job, she should let everybody know that she wants it. That includes the public.

Could you please explain just how Dr Liddell used Del Phillips farwell event to promote herself. Was it self promotion or did she use it to tell everyone that she would continue the programs and direction that Del Phillips had started? Was it self promotion or a tribute to the leadership of Del Phillips?

"The Columbus School Board was remiss in appointing an interim to the position who covets the job to the extent Liddell obviously does. A wiser choice would have been someone who could calmly and capably steer the ship while a search took place, someone like retired assistant superintendent David Sullivan, for instance." And there it know best who should be appointed to fill in. Don't appoint the person that's been there helping Del develop these programs. Let's get someone that will come in and spend months trying to catch up on whats going on...right.

If the school board, city leaders and the parents supported what Del Phillips started, maybe they should save the tax payers the $15,000 search fee and hire his deputy (Dr Liddell) to continue what Del Phillips started.

In my opinion, this was just a hit piece to let evertone know that you are against Dr Liddell. Did you intend it to be anything else?


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