Letter – ‘Stay in your lane’

Published 5:45 pm Tuesday, February 20, 2024

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Dear Editor,

For the past couple of years, it has been quite interesting to attend Suffolk School Board Meetings and listen to the banter of four members. It reminds me of Moms for Liberty antics: Create chaos by misleading parents with opinions-not facts; with the end goal to either terminate a superintendent’s contract or have the person resign. Thus, enabling a board to appoint a puppet leader.

Within our city of Suffolk, I have been a middle school teacher, an elementary principal, a member of the school board, as well as its chairman. With over 55 years of educational experience and having served on both sides as a public school employee and its policy maker, I believe there are four consistent roles of an effective school board:

  •  Establish the vision, expectations, and goals for public education in their school district.
  •  Hire an effective superintendent whom they evaluate and hold accountable for results.
  •  Govern through policy and do not micromanage the school district’s staff.
  •  Advocate for the Suffolk Public School District

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When we review the facts, our Superintendent Dr. John B. Gordon III, administration officials, principals, and teachers are preparing our students to achieve high academic goals. In 2023, our 3 high schools graduated a record number of honor graduates and graduates received a record $34.3 million in scholarships. Our student graduation rate increased from 85% to 88%, eighteen of nineteen schools were accredited, and state reading, writing and math proficiency scores were on par with state averages. FACTS: Educational professionals are Making Positive Differences in Lives. To those four school board members in question, what are your metrics for success? It cannot be student achievement. Since some board members homeschool and have children in private schools, their intent may be to disrupt public student achievement, remove the superintendent, and other education professionals.

 Suffolkians, those same four school board members now deem it necessary to create chaos and confusion in the schools with mandatory quarterly board visits to schools. When administrators must constantly address Freedom of Information requests, insults plus visits from board members and minions, how will we be able to keep the best educators and role models to teach OUR students? 

We can agree that no organization is perfect. But one thing I do know is educational administrators make it possible for teachers to do what they do best: teach. When a school or school district is overseen by a motivated and caring administrator, teachers, staff, students, and parents all benefit. These, my fellow citizens, are the undebatable facts in the Suffolk Public School District. We must demand more of our board members because at least four of them don’t appear to understand their roles. They want to dictate policy AND be school administrators. Please, just stay in your lane!


Enoch C. Copeland

Holy Neck Borough

Former chairman Suffolk School Board, retired educator, and city councilman