The Audacity Of Harrie Ellen Minnehan

Over the past year, there have been several attempts to get Christina Board of Education member Shirley Saffer to resign from the school board.  Back in 2014, Saffer was arrested for harassment following a purported argument with a bus driver.  Last summer, Saffer pled guilty to the misdemeanor charge of harassment, paid a fine, and was ordered to stay away from the bus driver.  What hasn’t been reported was what led to the argument or any physical proof that Saffer used a racial slur in the argument.  Despite this lack of essential forensic evidence, members of the Christina Board of Education have made a few attempts to get Saffer to resign.  With a push from the Friends of Christina group as early as last November, the Board President Harrie Ellen Minnehan appears to be making it her mission in life to make Saffer resign.  The latest attempt, shown below, stems from a civil suit against Saffer and the district.

Earlier this year, the board put forth a resolution asking Saffer to resign.  A lengthy conversation happened at that board meeting in which Saffer’s alleged us of “the n word” was taken out of the resolution as there was no proof it was actually said.  No recordings of the argument showed whether it was said one way or the other.  Let me be very clear: I do not condone the use of that word, ever, and under any circumstances.  I don’t think anyone should use that word in any situation.  Even African-Americans.  It is symbolic of a time in our country’s history when the word was used to denigrate and humiliate African-Americans.  I think ANY use of the word continues to remind us of that history.  I actually saw a fake email, constructed to make it look like I used that word recently.  Anyone who knows me knows I hate that word.  But what was very interesting was who showed me that email and that person’s defense of myself in stating they absolutely knew I didn’t say it.  How would that person know, with 100% certainty, that I didn’t?  Something to ponder readers…but I digress…

If Saffer did or didn’t use the word is now immaterial.  She was accused, pled guilty, and paid her debt to society.  So why is Minnehan continuing the witch hunt?  There is nothing in Delaware law that can make a school board member resign.  If Saffer didn’t resign immediately after the incident, last summer when she went to trial, after the Friends of Christina made a concerted effort to get her to resign, and after the board’s prior resolution a few months ago, why would she do so now?  Her term expires in a little over a year.

Based on the civil suit filed, my guess is Minnehan doesn’t want the district or any board members dragged into it.  Should Saffer resign, I would guess the board and district wouldn’t have to pay any legal costs based on the suit.  Which is certainly Minnehan’s desire.  But by continuing this witch hunt against Saffer, she is stoking the flames.  She wants a confrontation, in my opinion.  But it hasn’t happened.  For a Board President who seems to bash others and their actions, she sure has a way of poking the bear any chance she gets.  What if the board issued resolutions asking for Minnehan to resign based on her time as the Pencader Business School Board President?  I’m guessing she wouldn’t like that one bit.  Saffer is not going to resign no matter how many petitions or board resolutions surface in the future.  Minnehan needs to get over it and pay more attention to her district and stop wasting the board and the district’s time on this.  Just because someone holds a gavel doesn’t make them lord of the universe.  With great power must also come great responsibility.  I’m trying to see some good in Minnehan’s multiple resolutions here, but I just can’t.

Did Saffer make a mistake?  No one knows what was really said that day.  At least with empirical evidence.  No one knows publicly what prompted the exchange of words in the first place.  Yes, she pled guilty, but the charge was harassment.  Without knowing, and this is just a picture I am painting here, Saffer may have seen the bus driver do something.  Nobody just goes up to a bus driver to start something for no reason unless they are clinically insane.  Shirley Saffer is not insane.  At heart, Saffer cares about kids.  She went to the bus, exchanged words with the bus driver, and something was said.  It was in the heat of the moment that Saffer may have said something which could be construed as harassment.  It is something many of us have done at one point in time, including Minnehan.  No one is an angel, no one is perfect.  Saffer, whatever happened that day, regrets what happened.  Of that I can be sure.  But to continue to be held under the microscope constantly by someone who should be viewing her as a part of a seven member team and not this horrible person Minnehan projects… I view what Minnehan is doing as harassment.  I view Minnehan’s attempts to have Saffer resign as petty and vindictive.  I don’t think it is about the money issue.  I think it is about power.  Minnehan wants to solidify support on any future votes for whatever agenda items she wants action on, in my opinion.  In looking at how the board votes on controversial items have gone down, there are three votes that tend to vote one way, and three that vote the other.  Saffer and Minnehan are not on the same team.

Based on comments made by Minnehan on social media during the recent board election race between incumbent Elizabeth Paige and Desiree Brady, Minnehan was very passive-aggressive in her comments about the board and certain members on the board.  While others do this as well, I find it very hypocritical for Minnehan to accuse others of causing controversy when she publicly does it herself.  Because I called her out on this, she unfriended me on Facebook.  I have spent the time since in intense therapy trying to get over it.  It was quite a blow!  But seriously, it was just very odd for her to go on one of her fellow board members campaign page and write disparaging things about the board she is supposed to run as the president.

I’ve known Minnehan for a couple of years now.  I first met her at the epic priority schools Christina board meeting in September, 2014.  I liked how she defended the district and railed against the DOE in the months after.  But by the time the priority showdown reached it’s zenith, I couldn’t tell which side Minnehan was on anymore.  She was in agreement with the majority of the board members in going forth with the MOU with the DOE, but ultimately it was her opposition to one of the key parts of it that led to the MOU not going forth until a revised one went out months later based on the WEAC recommendations.

Minnehan and myself have a history, and it is not a great one.  Last summer we clashed over a crazy innuendo against, ironically, herself and Saffer.  I apologized immediately once I realized how I had been fooled by the person granting the innuendo, in email and on my blog.  But Minnehan kept insisting I come to the next Christina Board meeting and apologize publicly.  I advised her many times it wasn’t going to happen, and even if I could, I had a hernia surgery coming up that would prevent me from attending anyways.  Despite that, she felt the need to apologize for me (for a third time) at that board meeting.  And I won’t even get into the Bizarro world of what happened last month because I still can’t wrap my head around it all.  Based on that, I said I would never write about Christina again.  Obviously, I changed my mind.  I won’t let veiled threats stifle me from expressing my opinion or writing about the district.  And the biggest problem I see is the board president.  I have no doubt she will be offended, but I truly don’t care.  When I see crap like this on their agenda, it makes me want to throw up.  As Bob A said a few months back, “Let it go!”

While this is a federal case, it is not at the federal level.  Saffer lives in Delaware and the bus driver lives in another state.  Based on legal guidelines for lawsuits, the feds take over when the parties live in different states.

Updated, 10:45pm: Apparently this resolution was pulled from Christina’s board meeting agenda tonight.  I wonder why…

 

16 To Watch In 2016: Harrie Ellen Minnehan

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As President of the Christina School District Board of Education, Minnehan is the voice of the board at their meetings.  She holds the gavel!  With recent events concerning priority schools and the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, the Christina Board will be in the spotlight quite a bit in the coming months.  The biggest matter facing Christina right now is what happens if the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission does not pass.  The State Board of Education votes on the redistricting plan on January 21st, and if it passes it goes on to the General Assembly.

If, at any point, the plan fails to move forward, the DOE will pounce on Christina’s priority schools.  They are already gearing up for it.  But Christina has dire matters on its plate.  The first is their precarious financial situation.  They could be in serious financial trouble if they don’t pass their next referendum attempt, the third in the past two school years.  As well, there is the issue with what appears to be an acting Superintendent stepping a bit outside of his comfort zone on district matters.  Bob Andrzejewski already made this list, and not for good reasons.  Since then, the Christina board voted down his request to join the BRINC Consortium in a 4-2 vote.  But as of last week, it appears Andrzejewski is submitting grant applications to the Delaware DOE without the knowledge of his board.

As the face of the Christina Board of Education, Minnehan will be the voice behind how to reign in Bob A, as he is often referred to in Delaware education circles.  It is essential that the board make Bob A understand they are the deciding authority in the district.  Minnehan will play a large part in how that is done.  The last thing the district needs is an acting superintendent going rogue.  The board will begin a search for a permanent superintendent in February.