Monday, March 21, 2005


It has become clear in recent weeks that the Chair of the Durham School Board, Gail Heath, is simply not up to the job. At the March 9th special meeting of the School Board Ms. Heath all but relinquished the Chair to Board Member Steve Martin. Time and time again Mr. Martin called for a “point of order” and proceeded, oblivious to the fact that he was usurping the role of Chair, to lecture the School Board and assembled members of the public on proper procedures for the meeting under Robert’s Rules of Order. Ms. Heath sat looking bewildered for many minutes and only feebly attempted to regain her proper role as Chair once Mr. Martin finished by lightly pounding the gavel and calling the meeting to order.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas of last year Ms. Heath was reported to have been recuperating at her mother’s home in Tennessee. She had, it was said, undergone surgery for an inflamed gall bladder. To many observers however, it appears that it is just as likely that she suffers from a much more debilitating illness than a gall bladder attack. Ms. Heath’s general appearance and her demeanor appear to have become more morose, timid, and distracted since her return from the mountains. Whatever the nature of Ms. Heath’s health problems the result has been a weakened and ineffectual leader for this School Board.

This is not the time for this community to coddle our leaders. Our children are suffering under the burden of an oppressive system that shows little sign of repairing it’s own deficiencies. We cannot allow the fast dwindling public trust in this board to be further eroded by a Chair who, through no fault of her own, is plainly no longer able to continue to be effective in her role. The proper thing for Ms. Heath to do at this juncture is to relinquish the Chair to the Vice-Chair and serve, as best she can, as a regular member of the board.


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