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OPINION | EDITORIAL: PBSD head needs help immediately

May 15, 2022 at 3:17 a.m.

If the Pine Bluff School District isn't a hot mess, it's a warming concern.

First, it was faculty complaining about Superintendent Barbara Warren's management of the district, and now it's community leaders who are pleading with the state Board of Education to get rid of her. Those community leaders chartered a bus so they could all travel to Little Rock last week to make their case.

Certainly Warren has her hands full, supervising a school district that was annexed with a smaller one last July, and at the same time, trying to make enough improvements in the new district that the state allows to resume local control of itself.

Oh, and that to-do list includes figuring out which buildings to use and how to use them and where a new high school will be located.

In March, district employees expressed concern, saying Warren had done a poor job of communicating the details on a variety of topics, including campus realignment and a shortened work week.

Last week, the complaints took on a sharper edge, with many in the room saying they believe the district would be better off without Warren, and again, some of the complaints were about a perceived lack of communication and lack of action on the superintendent's part.

"Give us a chance," said Pine Bluff attorney Rosalind Mouser. "Join with us, and unfortunately, I do think that means, from what I've heard over the last few months, that is going to mean Mrs. Warren has got to be removed."

Because the state board is in control of the Pine Bluff School District, Warren answers to state education Commissioner Johnny Key. He didn't respond to last week's complaints, but stood up for Warren recently when Go Forward Pine Bluff CEO Ryan Watley complained about Warren's consideration of moving Pine Bluff High School from its current location.

As we have said, there are many moving parts in what Warren is trying to accomplish, so we understand the complexity. But it is also becoming clear that her methods are not working. She has either failed to put together a cogent plan for the combined Pine Bluff and Dollarway districts or she has failed to effectively communicate those plans to her own employees and the district as a whole. One outcome is worse than the other, of course, but neither is tenable.

We appreciate that Commissioner Key and his staff are standing behind Warren, but we also believe he should recognize that Warren needs help, and that trying to accomplish all that she has been asked to do is perhaps beyond the scope of a single individual.

This assistance needs to happen sooner rather than later. At this point, people should be lining up to help the Pine Bluff district move forward instead of lining up to complain that the person in charge needs to go. If things continue as they have, no one should be surprised if this contingent of complainers gets louder and louder. Someone needs to be listening.

Print Headline: PBSD head needs help immediately


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