WHEN A SCHOOL BOARD and its superintendent have continued difficulty working together, usually something's got to give -- and usually it is the superintendent. So it is that Lynton Deck Jr. has quit after 2 1/2 years as superintendent of the Fairfax County school system, the 11th largest in the country. And if the carefully worded joint statement on Mr. Deck's resignation lacked either philosophical controversy or nastiness, that may well be an accurate reflection of this parting; it appears to have been mostly a matter of Mr. Deck's style.
As the wording had it, the board and the superintendent "have concluded that they have divergent and mismatching views with respect to the manner of conducting the business of the Fairfax school system." Translation: Mr. Deck's personal, close-to-the-vest style of operating -- from budget decisions and revisions to personnel matters and other administrative functions -- simply did not wear well in a school system with a strong and constructive history of citizen and board involvement.
There is no question that too much citizen and board kibitzing of a superintendent can be destructive. But in Fairfax there is a tradition of intense popular concern that relies on openness and the free flow of information as a basis for the lending of support. When that either failed to materialize or vanished, the board members felt compelled to act before the atmosphere could deteriorate more. The agreement reached with Mr. Deck was achieved in an orderly and decorous fashion.
The transition, too, should be smooth. Deputy superintendent William J. Burkholder has served before as acting superintendent. More important, Fairfax County's school system is strong, thanks to the very citizen support that fed this latest change. What goes on in the classrooms should not suffer.