This guest post is brought to you by Walden:
Let’s speak candidly. My bones do not rattle. I do not quake in my boots. But, my blood still curdles when officials – in a juvenile show of power – abuse Delaware’s Justice System and those departments that represent the students and parents who may find themselves manufactured into that system.
Your behavior is reprehensible. It sends a very disconcerting message to those you have been appointed to serve. Yes, you may serve at the pleasure of the Governor, but your service is to the citizens of this state. Even the scruffy guy, in a hat and glasses reading the newspaper in the lobby of public building. Yes, even these genres of citizens have rights. That you wasted the time of the Capitol Police and the tax dollars that pay them as part of a self-aggrandizing chess game is reprehensible.
You are no better than the districts and charters who knowingly abuse DYFS to intimidate parents. Tired of dealing with a contentious parent? Play the DYFS card – fabricate abuse and neglect accusations. The ignorant result of filing nuisance claims designed to bury families in fear and intimidation, is that you are directing resources away from children who truly are abused and neglected. Draining our already underpaid and overworked child protection system is the classic Delaware Way. Yet, the “look what we can do to you” approach does not work with the most dogged of advocates. Your spin on the classic strategy did not work. Now, I’ve long felt that those who lie to state agencies that result in the wasting of funds should be prosecuted in the same manner the Attorney General prosecutes those who make false police reports. It’s a pity that there isn’t parity between classes. Sadly, your indictment will not come from the judicial system, but from the unbridled public.
The evidence will speak for itself. You work in the Townsend Building. Mr. Ohlandt is not “just” a blogger, his work has propelled him into the field of freelance reporting. He visits the Townsend building on a regular basis. The doors to this building are unlocked to allow public access. He legally entered this public building often to attend the same meetings you attend. He took a seat in the public lobby. The lobby had a couch and some chairs, even a floor to rest his weary feet upon. He sat down to read the paper while he strategized how to ask that next question. He cordially greeted your PIO. Under the reasonable person standard, it’s clear that Mr. Ohlandt’s actions did not rise to the manner of committing a crime. You can’t call a guy you know, a guy whose face is broadcast across the banner of his exceptionally popular blog, a guy whose work has been picked up by national education expert Diane Ravitch, a suspicious person and reasonably think it won’t go unnoticed or unreported. You can’t make a false police report. In fact, the response was so disproportionate and unprofessional it has called into question your own conduct.
I realize you rule Title 14. I’d like to introduce you to Title 11, Chapter 5:
B.Abuse of Office
- 1211 Official misconduct; class A misdemeanor.
A public servant is guilty of official misconduct when, intending to obtain a personal benefit or to cause harm to another person:
(1) The public servant commits an act constituting an unauthorized exercise of official functions, knowing that the act is unauthorized; or
(2) The public servant knowingly refrains from performing a duty which is imposed by law or is clearly inherent in the nature of the office; or
(3) The public servant performs official functions in a way intended to benefit the public servant’s own property or financial interests under circumstances in which the public servant’s actions would not have been reasonably justified in consideration of the factors which ought to have been taken into account in performing official functions; or
(4) The public servant knowingly performs official functions in a way intended to practice discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, age, handicapped status or national origin.
Official misconduct is a class A misdemeanor.
I strongly suggest rereading (3) and compare your fact pattern. Using your office, you contacted the capitol police to investigate a suspicious person. You report a person that you know by name and sight as a “suspicious person.” Harmless? No. Your suspicious person is an investigative journalist, whether by accident, training or both, who has unearthed and published a crypt of evidence that paints a picture of you committing malfeasance during your tenure as superintendent of the Indian River School District. The work Mr. Ohlandt has completed thus far has likely imperiled your own financial interests. Your behavior leads one to question, what else is Susan Bunting hiding? How close is Mr. Ohlandt to ground zero?
Oh Susan, I do believe you have Murphy’d yourself. Your incredulous behavior, your lack of decorum, your total disregard for open government, your absolute pig-headedness obliterated any last standing of respect held by others for you. Though I am certain you received quite a few pats upon the back in the wake of your suspicious person report, I can assure that as each left them room or rested he phone on its cradle your supporters had one shared continence… a smirk, of the kind those try to hide when they realize has crossed the line. Trust that those who where so quick to offer support did so not because you Murphy’d Kevin Ohlandt. But, because you Murphy’d yourself and your head is so far into the sand you made a politically and legally disastrous decision.
Yes, Susan, Delawareans on Thursday had a new word in their vocabulary. “Murphy’d,” as in your behavior was equal to or more atrocious than that of Mark Murphy. Even Markell came to understand Murphy was completely incompetent for the position of head Arse in Education so much so that he manufactured Murphy’s early exit from the state’s top education post. Today, stand tall as you are no better nor more competent as Secretary of Education than the gym teacher that faded into oblivion.
Truly, I am saddened for you. When you play games with bloggers, you detract from the work at hand – maligning the Christina School District, as has been a constant goal of your Department for nearly two decades, the blindness upon which you look upon your charters, and vile satisfaction your department receives for the constant de-stabilization of our lowest performing 5% of schools as measured by a pathetic test that does nothing more than determine which student is poor and which student is disabled. Spare the re-education. I received the mailer. It will make good kindling in the fall. It will not however provide stability to those who need it most.
Oh Susan, what have you done? You legitimized Kevin Ohlandt. Something none before you have dared to do. You took baby out of the corner and made her do the lift. You invited the monster under the bed to lunch. You rewarded the jackass that de-stabilized the interstate by heaping tons of dirt next to the foundation that resulted in a literal traffic disaster for the entire Northeast. You made Jack Markell look…successful. You jacked Skip. You put a game of tit for tat before your job – the education of Delaware’s students.
You Murphy’d yourself. And that is how you will be remembered. News cycles may be short. New verbs, they tend to last a long time. Just ask parents what it means to be Baker-acted.
Walden is a highly opinionated investigative writer that uses a pseudonym to protect its children and family from retribution.
“Tell the truth, or someone will tell it for you.”
― Stephanie Klein, Straight Up and Dirty