A Delayed Word

I was struck uncharacteristically speechless Wednesday night by the vitriolic demagoguery on display and directed at Tiffany Morse.  I can only charitably attribute it to ignorance, willful or otherwise. Ignorance of the thousands of grant dollars Tiffany has garnered for the district. Ignorance of the creation of district goals and alignment of district activities to those goals, as the board has been asking of the last three superintendents, but only received with this one. Ignorance of the creation of innovative programs at Summit, once thought to be a lost cause. And ignorance of her successful shepherding of the district through the biggest pandemic in modern memory.

Yes, the district has fiscal challenges. They existed before Tiffany was hired, and candidly she has been the only one to actually tackle the problems head on. And she has kept the board advised all along the way. The surprise and outrage displayed Wednesday strongly suggests that the speakers just woke up, and have been absent from our years-long discussions about our challenges in that area. I mean, if anyone was actually paying attention, they would know that she is currently reworking the staffing to bolster our weakness in that area. And that she has had a team working on finding and correcting our accounting errors. But those are pesky details that undermine the narrative against Dr. Morse.

And of course, I found it impossible to formulate a civil response to the councilmember (speaking on his own behalf) who stentoriously lectured the district on swimming pool considerations.  The community he governs has been begging for a community pool for years, yet I think he’s spent more council time debating hedge height and leaf blowers than ways of providing a municipal pool or partnering with OUSD to build one.

That same person’s strident demand that the district fire Tiffany was inappropriate, ignorant, and downright nasty. But sadly, it is emblematic of the treatment Dr. Morse has received from those who have their own agendas in this community. Attacking her transparency after her extensive presentation on our current fiscal challenge suggests the attacks would have come no matter what. The politics of personal attacks is alive and well in Ojai.

I think we can do better. I think we must do better.

Let me be crystal clear: Dr. Morse has my unreserved support.

Can OUSD be better? Always. But I know that of all the superintendents I have worked with at OUSD, she is by far the best, most qualified, most dedicated, most innovative, most open to Board direction of all of them. That she weathers these withering personal attacks only increases my respect and admiration.

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