If you’ve been following the latest chapter in the Mashpee Public Schools superintendent saga, you may have observed a predictable twist: after the votes were cast and the wise choice was named, the winner comes under fire, with the supporters of his opposition carrying the torches. A lot of us knew this would happen; the only question was, “when?”
The answer: Choice D; before Dr. Hiersche even had a chance to look in the local real estate ads.
From both Ecclesiastes 1:9, and a 20+ year career as a storyteller and dramatist, I’ve learned that there are only so many twists that a story can take; especially when the characters involved are semi-comic archetypes. I remember my days in film school when a small group of us would watch a movie together, that none of us had seen before. We would make annotations during the film to predict the storyline and the outcome. This was a technique used to develop our own skills and styles as writers.
Find the heroes weakness and exploit it
In this story, we have what used to be a small town, recovering from an ill-advised effort towards becoming a retirement community, and it’s growing school system in need of leadership. Several people step up to take on the challenge, including Prince Somewhat Charming, a local, likeable, and popular teacher who by all counts seems to have the challenge in the bag; until he discovers that he is not as beloved as he thought, particularly by a generally quiet segment of the community, and several rivals with more credentials, experiences, and accomplishments.
However, what he does have is a team of fairy-god-parents who believe that through the magic of their wands, smoke and mirrors, they can make him the victorious one. (You might recall this plot line from the movie “Shrek 2”) However, when the smoke clears and the mirrors shatter, things don’t quite work out the way it was expected (I’d like to apologize to Dr. Hiersche as he ends up being Shrek in this scenario).
What we know from movies is that if the Vil-ero (A villain who see’s himself as the hero) doesn’t die in the movie, we are bound to have a sequel or ten. The tools of a Vil-ero and his henchmen:
The indirect smudge in Dr Hiersche’s impressive record
Unfortunately, the flying monkeys found the constructed and indirect smudge in Dr Hiersche’s impressive record: a student who committed “sexual assault” on two students and was only suspended as a result of this action, by a principal who was under Dr. Hiersche’s purview. Yes, hearing this is quite disturbing and more information is definitely needed. Bravo to the Mashpee School Committee for seeking more insight.
By no means is sexual assault, or the infractions that immediately come to mind something to be condoned and swept under a rug. These are issues and offenses that need to be dealt with in a thorough sense. The power of those to words to bring about scrutiny and concern is amazing. But the question remains, what did the young [alleged] pervert do?
According to an article appearing in the 3/29 edition of the MetroWest Daily News, the incident and how it was handled was reviewed by the District Attorney’s office as well as the local police, both of whom deemed the handling to be appropriate.
I will skip raising inquiry into a few mysteries around this discovery, like why was it brought to the table by a school committee member who voted for the candidate that did not get the post, who also happens to be a friend and neighbor of said candidate… oops, I guess I raised it… okay, forget what I just said… wrote… my real concern in the matter is this: Why didn’t this issue come up before the interview and vote?
Was the review of candidate so lax, that something as serious as a possibly mishandled sexual assault incident could go unchecked? Or was it not reviewed and found because it was assumed that the other candidate was going to get the post, thus only requiring a cursory review of Dr. Hiersche?
If you allow me a moment to speculate: let us look at an interesting issue when it comes to the labels placed on various social and criminal infractions. For example, I remember a situation in 1998, where a man was in court trying to get an indecent exposure charge expunged from his records.
Apparently, one night back in the early 1990s the man in question was urinating in an alley, behind a store and was accosted by two policemen who arrested him for indecent exposure. For whatever reason, when he appeared in court he was advised to plead guilty and pay a fine and his life would go on. However, I guess you can imagine his surprise when he received and official letter ordering him to register with local authorities as a sex offender because he had been convicted of IE.
Let's recall our own high school days
Like many of the adults reading this may recall from their own high school days; let us please consider that such incidents as giving people swirlies (dunking a person in the toilet, head first, and flushing), pantsing (to pull down somebody’s pants… especially common in gym class back in the day), smacking somebody on their rear end, wet willies (sticking a wet finger in a person’s ear…), kicking somebody in the testes, suggesting that someone engage in any variety of anatomically impossible acts combined with the F-word, stroking a person’s palm with your middle finger, or any number of locker room horror stories resembling the jock character’s monologue in “The Breakfast Club”; all legally fall under the charge of sexual assault.
Call me a naïve optimist, but my instincts tell me that this young man’s infraction fall somewhere in the arena listed above; hence the school principal’s seemingly benign disciplinary action. However, that is not important. What’s important is that the ‘opposition’ has publicly tarnished Dr. Hiersche’s reputation among people, several of whom characteristically refuse to look beyond the label.
School Committee Chair, Mr Franco noted that these revelations would not halt the contract negotiations with Dr. Hiersche; so on the surface, all seems well. However, the screenwriter in me sees a juicy scenario forming and we will see how it plays out. Consider: Mr. Franco will soon be stepping down as committee chair; a former town selectman is running uncontested for a seat on the committee; and what appears to be a filibustering around negotiations.
What I am hoping against hope is that this is not an effort on the part of the two committee members to hold things up until after the 4/30 elections, then terminating the negotiations with Dr. Hiersche, and proposing that they go with the runner-up. Of course if they were to terminate negotiations with him, the ETHICAL thing to do would be to abort the search and start it all over. Either way, here’s hoping I’m wrong.
The only enemy is mediocrity
As for my suggestions for the third part of this trilogy: I see three things very clearly: