Monday’s announcement by Wood County Superintendent of Schools John Flint that he had reinstated Parkersburg South High School chemistry teacher David Foggin left quite a few questions unanswered.
“The reinstatement means he resumes the same role as when he left,” Flint said. And, because Flint has determined no laws were broken, no further disciplinary action will be taken and Foggin lost no pay during his time out of the classroom, which began March 18.
Board of education members were as caught off guard as the public regarding the decision. In fact, Board President John Marlow indicated the board had been kept in the dark on the matter for quite some time.
“I don’t know what the basis was for (former Superintendent Pat Law) to keep him out of the classroom for so long and I don’t know the basis of Mr. Flint’s decision to return him,” Marlow said.
Flint said he and Foggin had a “meeting of the minds” regarding policies and procedures, presumably regarding use of social media, but we have no indication of the conclusion that was reached through that meeting.
We also have no indication whether there will be any process in place for reintroducing students and colleagues to the man who stirred such division, both at the school and throughout the region. As Parkersburg South teacher and adviser to the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, Justin McKown, pointed out, Foggin never apologized for making a statement posted on Facebook that many students found deeply offensive. Some may even have felt targeted. There is room to interpret Flint’s decision as conducive to an environment of bullying at the school.
But, as McKown pointed out, there is also room for Flint’s decision to encourage discussion about bullying and other unacceptable behaviors from both students and faculty.
In celebrating his return to the classroom, Foggin received a good deal of support on social media, as did Flint. In fact, one woman went so far as to proclaim “Good decision. Finally a great school superintendent.” With such an important decision being made behind closed doors, and with so little explanation, the public has been denied enough information to make that call.