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TRIALS, Tribulations and McHenry’s Son

By Jackie Burrell
Thursday, May 22nd, 2008 at 4:32 pm in Schools.

lunchbox Such bizarre school news these days… We’ve got DUIs in a Pinole cafeteria, British exam answers on the test sheet, and a truly odd spectacle at a Mt. Diablo board meeting. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Pinole Valley High’s cafeteria was the site of a DUI trial this week. Yes, really. Alarmed by the drunk driving statistics – 30 percent of us will be in an alcohol-related car crash someday – the county’s doing a “DUI Court in the Schools” program with actual drunk driving trials, complete with superior court judge, DA, public defender and defendant, at Richmond High, Concord’s Olympic High, and now Pinole. Kinda cool, no?

The cash-strapped John Swett school district is paying a pretty penny to oust its superintendent – nearly $60,000 plus health benefits for the next five and a half years. Why? Relations between supe and board turned icy last year after trustees began questioning whether Michael Roth, who leads the 1,700-student district and oversees its $13 million budget, had inserted salary hikes into his business manager’s contract without board approval. Hmmmm, why does that sound so familiar?

Oh. Right. Speaking of which, things have gotten so hairy for Mt. Diablo schools superintendent Gary McHenry that … well …  his family showed up at a board meeting to plead his case.

Spotted at last week’s board meeting: dressed-up son Geoffrey McHenry who delivered an eloquent plea for people to take pity on ol’ dad, who has been feeling the heat. (To recap – teachers took a no-confidence vote in January. Then two trustees demanded he resign. Now a group of parents is circulating a petition to kick him out.) “My father loves this district,” said McHenry jr, who called his father “the man who I could count on for everything.” He implored the hushed crowd to consider his dad’s feelings before they reproached him. “Before you judge, remember that no one is perfect. Before you judge, remember that my father is human, just like you … Before you judge, remember that my father has emotions just like you.”

Mike Noce, the prez of the teachers union, commended young McHenry on his passionate words, but said leaders have to learn to take a little criticism: “He’s a strong man. He knows this is part of the work.”

Um, folks? Does anyone else find this whole scene a tad bizarre? How many of you corporate types would try to divert attention from five years of major financial snafus by allowing your grown-up son to plead your case to your boss? Yeah, we thought so.

Meanwhile, across the pond … 12,000 British teens are celebrating because when they flipped over their GCSE music exams, they discovered the answers were printed on the back. (The GCSEs, by the way, seem to be the British exit exam formerly known as “the O levels” — or, if you’re at Hogwarts, OWLs.) “All exam papers have a copyright statement dealing with source material on the back page,” the test publisher’s spokeswoman said. “This one in particular had more detail than is usual in a music paper.” Gee, ya think?

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