September 27, 2012 9:46:36 AM
When he was running for Lowndes County Superintendent of Education, Lynn Wright made a personal visit to the offices of The Dispatch, assuring the newspaper's editorial board that, as superintendent, he would be accessible and available.
That was last November and it would be exaggerating the point very little to suggest that was the last time Wright has been accessible.
Almost from the moment he won the election and became superintendent, Wright has neither answered nor returned calls from Dispatch reporters.
Granted, there are probably few readers who are particularly interested in how a reporter is treated. But this matter goes far beyond the daily difficulties of the average journalist. However people may feel about reporters, almost everyone will strongly agree that an elected official entrusted with tens of millions of taxpayer dollars should be accessible to the taxpayers.
And it is through the media that public officials are most accessible to the taxpayers themselves. By denying access to the media, Wright denies access to his constituents.
That the Lowndes County School Board meets on Fridays at 11 a.m. further diminishes the public's access, since most people are at work at that hour. That inconvenient time only compounds the inability of parents and other interested parties to hear from those in whom they have entrusted both their money and their children's education.
Even on routine matters, Wright has steadfastly avoided interviews. And on the bigger issues, whether it's test scores or pre-K or school uniforms or unitary status, Wright has been uniformly unreachable.
To her credit, Columbus schools superintendent Dr. Martha Liddell has been accessible, even when this newspaper has been sharply critical of the district. Liddell at least understands the importance of being accountable.
In like fashion, Wright is expected to speak for the county board and the schools. Being accountable and accessible are aspects of leadership. When Wright does not return calls, he abdicates his responsibility, not to the newspaper, but to the public he pledged to serve.
Once upon a time, way back in November, Wright seemed to understand that.
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