City council, school board finally did right by Franklin

Published 2:47 pm Wednesday, November 9, 2016

In the end, it wasn’t pretty. But, then again, almost nothing about the way Franklin’s school system has been managed in recent years has been. So perhaps it was fitting that in less than one week’s time the school board fired its superintendent and then fell on its sword, with each member honoring city council’s request and submitting their resignations.

It was also the right thing to do.

For years, city residents have been crying out for a change in school leadership. Regional neighbors have joined their voices as well, as the chaotic state of Franklin’s schools have had a negative impact on Western Tidewater’s ability to attract new industry and jobs to the area. But city leaders placed a higher value on political cronyism above the education of our children and the well being of our community, and those political priorities led directly to the demise of a once-great school division.

City council deserves a tremendous amount of credit for finally taking action and demanding that the school board resign. There was much concern over potential backlash, that certain members of the community would view the move as being racially motivated. But due to the strong leadership of Mayor Frank Rabil and an overwhelming mountain of evidence to support such a decision, council members unanimously took a bold step and placed the future of Franklin ahead of their own political interests.

And even if it was a last-ditch effort to save their jobs, the five remaining members of the school board — two having resigned prior to Friday night’s vote to oust the superintendent and the other five thereafter — deserve credit for removing a superintendent who clearly had lost control of the system.

This is a tremendous moment in Franklin’s history. The slate has nearly been wiped clean and a fresh start awaits, and it is because all sitting members of city council and the school board, black and white, managed to set aside the politics of race and together do what was best for the city. In doing so they have set a new standard for this community, one where color is irrelevant and the future is a priority. These leaders have done right by the City of Franklin, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for clearing a pathway forward.