Friday, May 15, 2009

Bossier School Board should appoint Debbie Hays as new superintendent

I blogged on February 3rd:
Personally, I believe that the board should cast the net far and wide in the search for a new superintendent. The system is faced with problems that are the culmination of years of good old boy politics and 'scratch my back, I'll scratch yours' operations.I think it is imperative to introduce 'new blood' into the system.”
I followed up on February 10th:
Aggressive new administration is needed to establish procedures and policies that will ensure that every penny is properly accounted for. The board must also tighten up its screening policies on outside contractors.”
I noted on March 23:
The formalities are being pursued, but I’m not sure that a new superintendent is.Several members have expressed their preference for the ‘same old, same old’ in the person of Assistant Superintendent D. C Machen.Is the search genuine or is the fix already in for Machen?I suspect the latter.”
On April 28th I laid out the reasons I believe someone other than Machen should be chosen:
The main question in most people’s minds is whether or not D. C. Machen should be the next superintendent. Machen has been the Assisitant Superintendent for Administration. It was under his watch that School Board Administration paid $291,266 to Ark-La-Tex Air Repair, Inc., for overcharges, replacement costs covered by warranties, installations that did not occur, and one missing unit.It was on his watch that Administration may have violated the Public Bid Law for air conditioning purchases and installation totaling $254,598.In addition, the School Board may have violated Public Bid Law through a $1,067,000 emergencymold remediation contract.Also under his watch, School Board Maintenance Department employees authorized credit card transactionstotaling $1,833 with Ark-La-Tex Air Repair, Inc., for air conditioning duct cleaning andsanitizing and the replacement of a control board that did not occur.One current School Board employee performed work and received $3,894 from a current vendor of the School Board in possible violation of Louisiana ethics laws. One former School Board employee may have violated Louisiana ethics laws by receiving $105,769 for services performed for the School Board within two years of the end ofhis employment. (Louisiana Legislative Auditor's full report)Yet incredibly, despite all of this, several board members have already expressed their support for Machen as the new superintendent.The fix is in.”
It didn’t take a crystal ball to predict on May 9th :
No need to waste any more time with this. The three finalists will be Machen, Debbie Hays and probably Scott Smith . . “
I ordinarily believe strongly in promoting from within. In this case, I felt that someone from outside should be brought in to clean up the financial mess that the system finds itself in.
Although the board had an applicant from Texas (how he found the ad, I don’t know), but of course he did not receive a single vote in the selection of the finalists.
I am not questioning the character of any of the three finalists, in fact I’m sure that they are all estimable individuals. What is troubling is the despotic good old boy nature of the selections.
I have outlined my problem with Mr. Machen’s selection above. Scott Smith, I am told, is a very good principal at Benton High School. Again, connections. His wife, State Representative Jane Smith was superintendent.
Debbie Hays, whose father was a principal in the system is the sister of Sheriff Larry Deen, hands down the most powerful person in Bossier Parish.
These facts don’t disqualify anyone, but they do make it more difficult for any of the three contenders to come in and reorganize the system without regard for individual considerations. However, one of the three will be chosen.
The only finalist to actually admit that a problem exists – in other words, to acknowledge the elephant in the room – is Debbie Hays who said ‘We need to ensure that we have high quality fiscal responsibility maintained in all departments. I would like to take over the finance department. I would like to be the No. 1 person in charge and with that I would like for you to assist me and hire a chief business officer that would answer only to me and to you. And this person will be the overseer of all of our funds, how they are distributed, how they are managed so that we know they're managed effectively, efficiently and responsibility over all areas of department areas.
For this reason, considering that one of these three will be superintendent, I believe that Debbie Hays should be the next Superintendent of Bossier Parish Schools.


  1. I respectfully disagree, Jim. The school level employees are holding their breath. They don't want Machen, but they can't stand Hayes and don't believe they would have ANY type of voice in the system. Also, keep in mind the fact that she CAN NOT get enough board votes based on previous votes to beat Machen. to help throw the elite 8 out.

  2. I thought for a long time before I posted this. I just believe of the three she at least acknowledges that there is a problem. Machen said that it was 'beyond their control'. I just can't live with that.
    I think the whole process was a joke, Machen was ordained from the beginning.

  3. I respect your opinion on who you think should be next Bossier Superintendent of Schools. However, I made it very clear in my first interview that my number one priority was to quickly fix the problems in the maintenance and finance departments. In less than one hour, after phone calls to finance dept. employees, I was able to ascertain that there is absolutley no communication in the finance department! This is completely unacceptable. I have no problem removing employees quickly from their jobs for poor performance or unacceptable behavior. I've done this many times over the years at Benton High School. Ask my 76 employees how quickly I address any problems that may crop up. That's why our school is held in such high esteem. I have a 19 year school level administrative track record to prove it. I can and will quickly restore public confidence in this system, if given the chance.

    My goal is to have a new top level administration, new vision, and a new level of accountability for the Bossier Parish School System.

    I should not be penalized or precluded from this joy simply because my wife is a state representative. She has her career, and I've worked hard to have mine. I stay out of her business and she stays out of mine.

    You can come to the public forum for the 3 final candidates this Monday, May 18, 5:00 pm, at the BIC Auditorium. I will be glad to talk to you personally about my vision for this system before the forum begins at 6:00.

    Thank you,
    Scott Smith

  4. Sorry about the typo in the first sentence on the second from the last paragraph. It should say "precluded from this job", not joy.

  5. The outsider is orignally from LA. He was the principal of West Monroe High School(Ranked higher than any Bossier Parish school) - was a superintendent in south LA which took 13 out of 15 schools out of corrective action, held accountability for all including finances, brought the budget from the red to the black, etc. Retired from there and went to work in College Station, TX as the principal of the high school there. His wife grew up in Bossier (down the street from JW Slack - JW said in the interview) and graduated from AHS. I guess she still has family here and that is how he heard about the job. But he is still an outsider - when does it matter who can do the best job or at least give them a chance?

  6. To Anonymous --general statements such as "school level employees can't stand Hayes and don't believe they would have any type of voice in the system" are ridiculous. Just as are all other general statements about any of the 3 candidates. Speak for yourself not for others. You don't know what all employees think--and have no right to make broad statements. I don't believe making negative comments about a candidate helps any candidate!! Negativity sometimes backfires!! .

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