Mark McKinney's position as superintendent of the Hesperia Unified School District became a political football the week before the school board was next to meet.
An agenda item discussing his position and the potential need to search for a replacement appeared on the agenda for the March 9 school board meeting on Wednesday. Less than 24 hours later, it had been removed from a revised agenda, along with another item discussing the revision of several bylaws that govern how the school board conducts its business.
Ousting McKinney was never the real goal, according to the school board member who originally put the item on the agenda.
"The reason that I put that on the agenda is so that I can have a better understanding and a clear delineation of the superintendent's role and the governing board's role," board member Chris Bentley said on Wednesday. "Our governing board is actually acting as a de facto superintendent, and I'd like to have a discussion on this issue, out in the open."
But the item was removed from the agenda on Thursday, along with another agenda item that would have rewritten six individual board bylaws, including ones that discuss the power of the board president, powers invested in individual board members, how the board interacts with the district's attorney, board membership rules, delineating agenda and meeting materials and the conduct of meetings.
McKinney has the support of Bentley and board president Robert Kirk, both men said on Wednesday.
"Unless it becomes abundantly clear that he is simply a cow being led around the nose by a governing board," Bentley said. "Then I don't need him."
"I think he's doing a great job. It's a tough job. It's an impossible job," said Kirk. "We need to be supportive of him at this tough time."
Bentley first came to the public's attention as a parent challenging what he saw as a dictatorial school district administration, personified, he said, by former superintendent Dick Bray running the district with the school board as a rubber stamp for his decisions.
"We've swung the pendulum too far to total board control now, and I'm just trying to nudge it back to the middle," Bentley said. "We all have roles and responsibilities ... a controlling board majority has [blurred] the lines."
The next meeting of the HUSD school board will be held on Monday, March 9, at 6 p.m. in the HUSD Educational Support Center Annex, 15576 Main Street.
Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.