Serving on TCAPS’ Board of Education for the past 15 months has reminded me that we live in a small community. We truly are all neighbors.

Over this short period, a great deal has been accomplished. We formally adopted a strategic plan and approved contract extensions for each of our labor unions. We passed a bond proposal and issued our first set of bonds at a very low cost to taxpayers. And, we renewed our strong advocacy for true equity in school funding.

However, we have significant room for improvement. In the span of just 78 days, we both welcomed and parted ways with our Superintendent, obviously that is very disappointing.

The public’s demand for an explanation is understandable. This same demand for an explanation also feeds into the public’s confidence in us to get it right next time, as we must.

Any attempt I make to fully satisfy the public’s demand to understand Ann Cardon’s departure will fall short. This is a failure I accept as I continue to proudly serve TCAPS and our community. I must place the law ahead of my own interests and the desires of the public.

We voted unanimously to hire and support Ann Cardon. We were equally as excited to have her support TCAPS’ direction. I would have expected nothing less than this mutual alignment.

Drawing from my own experience in business, successful organizations address concerns with their employees as early as possible. To avoid or even delay giving this feedback is a mistake that rarely gets smaller with time.

The Board of Education’s closed session to discuss some concerns was valid. Ann Cardon had a legal right to carry out this discussion in private. The vote to accept her request for a closed session was unanimously granted.

As the door closed, every board member was legally bound to protect Ann Cardon’s right to privacy, as we must afford to every employee.

After the door opened, a public firestorm stoked by my fellow trustee, Erica Moon Mohr, quickly led to a level of incivility that is totally unrecognizable to me. Although I was not present for the closed session, my review of the closed session meeting minutes indicated to me that the meeting was professional, respectful and straightforward.

Unfortunately, Ann Cardon quickly chose to part ways with TCAPS. It is my belief that this relationship could have been salvaged if this breach of privacy had not occurred. This behavior hurts our school district and our community.

As a Board of Education, we must now do our best to conduct a new Superintendent search. This is the time to remind ourselves to only engage in civil discourse. As responsible adults, this is what we should be modeling. This is as true online as it is in the real world.

Before posting on social media and making harsh judgments of your own neighbors and their friends, it is my sincere hope that every one of us will pause to ask a simple question, “Are you being helpful or hurtful?” Your answer is a reflection of our community.

As our dedicated teachers and staff do every day, it is now time for us to get back to our work of serving students.

Matt Anderson is currently serving as a member of the TCAPS Board of Education.

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