Some observers are calling it the Wednesday Morning Massacre. Others say it is another power struggle between the Fairfax County School Board and its iron-willed superintendent, Linton Deck.
The problem began last Wednesday morning when Deck announced eight high school principals would be transferred at the end of the school year. The schools involved are Chantilly, Mount Vernon, Lee, Jefferson, Hayfield, Falls Church, Woodson and Fairfax, and two transfers are the result of retirements.
At last week's school baord meeting the board met in executive session to discuss the transfer, then voted unanimously to temporarily block the move and reexamine the school system's transfer policy.
Several board members have complained that Deck bypassed traditional protocol by failing to consult the board.
At least two school board members said they learned of the transfers last Wednesday night, after Deck's announcement.
"I was at a . . . meeting on Wednesday night when . . . (a school administrator) leaned over and told me that I would be interested to know that one of the new principals was a woman," said Eltse Carter, school board member from Annandale, and an advocate of appointing more women as high school principals. "That was the first I'd heard of it."
Board member Toni Carney, from the Springfield area, also did not get the word until Wednesday night.
"I got home . . . to find 23 messages on my tape," says Carney, who initiated the move to block the transfers. "I'm used to getting a lot of constituent calls but these were all from teachers and administrators which tells me we have a sizable morale problem out there."
At the board meeting last week, Deck defended his actions by noting that extensive staff study had gone into the proposed transfers.
"Dr. Deck assured us that weeks of study went into this," Carney says. "But I would like to know why, sometime prior to be announcement, we were not informed.
This week Deck said he was surprised by the board's action but added that the board was within its rights to put a hold on the transfers.
"I asked the deputy superintendent and assistant superintendent to work with me on this and we reached the decision by consensus," Deck says. "I feld very confident we were making a sound decision."
Several school board members, however, contended that the board, as the official policy-making body for schools, must be notified of such moves before their constituents.
"What he (Deck) likes to do is make the announcement and then come to the board," Carter says. "I don't consider that proper notification."