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Friday, June 8, 2007

Welcome to Cleveland, Eugene. Be Sure to Buy a Flack Jacket.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 8, 2007 at 3:49 PM

Cleveland schools chief Eugene Sanders never got much of a honeymoon. Lately, his PR problems seem endless. Two weeks ago, he faced mobs of angry parents who were never consulted about their elementary schools, Miles Park and Louis Agassiz, being converted to single-sex academies. The police had to be called to restrain them. Now, he’s coping with fuming City Council members, who had to learn from a neighborhood group that at least two dozen city schools could be eliminated from the district’s construction plan, and probably closed, according to The Plain Dealer. Of course, Sanders drafted a plan last November that eliminated 33 schools from the project (“Bait &Switch,” May 23). But that list was never released to the public. And now the masses are growing restless. It doesn’t help that the district has not had a community engagement specialist — the person charged with explaining all the construction plans to the public -- since February. That’s when Helen Piffard left her post. She had filed a sexual harassment complaint against her supervisor, Nick Jackson, who happens to be the mayor’s brother, and watched it backfire into an attack on her character. Piffard was the link between many parents, activists, council members, and the district. And unlike many of her colleagues, she was actually well-liked. Without her, there’s no one to smooth ruffled feathers. And Sanders team is left sputtering, trying to explain one disaster after another. – Lisa Rab

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