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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


School safety dispute damages reputations

If the intention of county law enforcement’s press conference last Tuesday was to beat the board of education into submission with its allegations of school safety mismanagement, it did not work out as planned.

Three days later, public school system officials staged a forceful countermove that might cause the public to wonder if this is going to be a best two-out-0f-three falls contest.

That wrestling metaphor seems apropos now, considering this dispute between the schools and local law enforcement has become a public spectacle that aims to prove, finally, who deserves the good guy label and who doesn’t.

Forget everyone’s use of statistics, data, charts and punch lists, because these seldom resonate with most people, who are more likely to be influenced by their impression of an argument than the argument itself. This, then, calls on the public to decide the fundamental question of who’s lying or exaggerating and who isn’t.

Unfortunately, making that distinction is not that easy, since these attempts to sway the public have done little more than damage the reputations of both entities to the extent that the eventual emergence of a clear winner verges on the impossible.

Warranted or not, the suspicion that something isn’t right somewhere will affect the public’s perceptions of the school system, the state’s attorney and the sheriff regardless of what they do from now on.

The next time either party finds itself facing a crisis or is at a crossroads in terms of public opinion, lingering suspicion borne of this sorry episode will come into play and the public will ask, is this for real or is this political theater?

To a public that tends to operate on its own interpretation of events, this point/counterpoint exchange leaves observers aware but skeptical, much like Bob Dylan sang back in the 1960s: “… something is happening here, But ya’ don’t know what it is, Do you, Mister Jones?”