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One picture tells the tale: Kang Smith far left and Joe Walker (far right) never really saw eye to eye: From Left to right the former School board, embattled Superintendent Chelsea Kang-Smith, Board Vice President Kien Tiet, Board Clerk Kenneth Knollenberg, Board President Bob Ridley, Member Matt Smith, and Member Joe Walker. – Photo by Jerry Jambazia
By Terry Miller
We asked Joe Walker, former School Board member why the community so strongly objects to Superintendent Kang-Smith?
“In her time in TC, she has consistently acted completely contrary to what is good for the students or staff of the district. Once she makes up her mind, she refuses to change her mind despite overwhelming opposition from the community and even the board. Time and again the board has directed her to take actions that she refused to implement, complaining that she was being micro-managed.”
Walker continued: “People that disagree with her are harassed, investigated, and ultimately run out of the community. She put on the agenda an item to lay off every administrator several years ago, (and then denied that she supported it) and most recently put on the agenda an item to allow the district to legally demand board members Facebook personal account information. She has directed district administrators to and report on board member activities and family members, and used legal resources to harass and intimidate people who disagree with her.”
We asked Walker if Kang-Smith is really out of touch, as many have said?
“100%. She has rallied a few group of PTA Council members to come speak before the board on her behalf, claiming that she is responsible for the bond passing in 2012. In reality, the bond would have done much better if she had not been the one promoting it, and the employee unions stayed out of the campaign because they saw her hand in it.
Who could be in the running for interim superintendent?
“Any administrator in the district would do a better job than her. What they need is someone who loves Temple City, (unlike her, who has disparaged the community for years) and who has an interest in involving all stakeholders in the process.”
What are the key objections that resonate with you as far as her leadership, or lack thereof?
“Pretty much stated above. She has known since November, 2013, that her contract is not being renewed and instead of leaving quietly and lowering the tensions over her departure, she has divided the district, pitting community members who only know one side of her against teachers and staff who are also community members but who have a much deeper and long range series of experiences with her. She will be gone soon, but all the hurt feelings that she generated will remain much longer.”
Joe Walker was on the school board from 2005-2013. “It was a great experience. When I saw that two excellent, smart, and pro-active guys were running I backed out, allowing them to take office without an election, saving the district almost $100,000 which by law a district has to spend for an election. I am very glad to see that we have a real professional board, with no rubber stamps for the Supe and no one on their own personal power trips or agendas. I see great things ahead for TCUSD,” Walker told Temple City Tribune Wednesday afternoon.