Dear Dr. Bruce Thomas,
You say that you needed to quit your job as superintendent of the Marietta City School system, after less than one year, in order to be closer to your ailing father. I know exactly what this means for you because I also returned home in order to care for an ailing father. However, Dr. Thomas, that is where our likenesses end.
Unlike you, I honored my contractual commitments with my employer, for I knew that that is what my father would have wanted me to do, and I gave my employer a full-year's notice because my position was not an easy one to fill. Moreover, I returned home with no job waiting for me because the importance of my father's care was not depending on my employment. Thus, I can't help but wonder what your own ailing father would have to say about the way you have handled your departure from Marietta.
Have you told your father about how you repeatedly and boldly reassured the people of Marietta that you were committed to this community for the long-term while you were also quietly negotiating for jobs elsewhere? I wonder, were you also declaring your virtues of honesty and steadfastness to those communities while you were hoodwinking us? And, have you told your father about how you kept his ailing condition a secret from everyone, including your employer, the MCS Board of Education, until after your intentions to leave our district had been exposed? Would he be heartened to know that you said nothing about him or his condition to anyone until after the story broke that you were a finalist for a job with Warren City Schools? Have you told your father that you have used his illness (the one you told no one about) as an excuse to quit a critical job at a critical time when an entire community is depending on a committed leader they can trust? The commitment piece cannot be overlooked, Dr. Thomas, because the ability to make a long-term commitment to our district was a fundamental requirement in our board's search for a new superintendent. You were our fourth superintendent in seven years. You knew this fact even before your first interview. As such, the ability to commit to our community was emphasized repeatedly in the search and interview process, and the MCS board took you at your word.
And, finally, would your father be comforted to know that your decision to move back to be near him depended on whether you actually got the job with Warren City Schools and was not really dependent on his condition (you said in the Marietta Times that you would stay in Marietta if you didn't get the job with Warren City). At the very least this seems to imply that you wanted the job at Warren City more than you needed to be near your father.
Dr. Thomas, if your father's health really did become worse just this last year, which is certainly possible, then why the cloud of secrecy? Why did you not immediately tell the MCS Board the moment you became aware that your father needed you? Was it not your moral obligation to give our board advance notice of your intention to leave, given all that is at stake for our district and our community, not to mention all of the time, money and effort our board had spent trying to find a dependable superintendent?
Indeed, if you want to restore some of your honor, you should now offer to pay for the next superintendent search and interview process since you have broken your contract with our board. Is that not also what your own father would expect of you? Mine would. Dr. Thomas, I know first hand what it means to make difficult decisions and sacrifices in order to care for an ailing father. If your father is ill, may he be genuinely comforted by your return, and may you have God's blessings in helping to care for his needs. I mean that. That, at least, is an honorable thing to do.
Just know that your clandestine handling of this matter has seriously damaged your integrity. On the other hand, if you simply did not want to stay in Marietta, you should have had the courage to just be honest about that, too. In the end, since your heart is clearly not here, it's best for all of us that you have left our community. As for the people of the Warren City Schools area, try to be a little more forthright with them than you have been with us. Honesty and commitment matter.
Steve Parlin is an eighth-grade teacher. He lives in Marietta.