On Incompetence at Work

This is for the folks, and those who are presently incarcerated or institutionalized.

It’s 9:20 am on November 21 at the Auburn Street and Roslyn Road intersection in East Williston, two blocks from my house.  The morning calm will be shattered 60 seconds later when an East Williston School District (EWSD) school bus with 43 children aboard will collide with a vehicle.  There’s both good news and bad news.  The good news is that only four children and one adult suffered “minor” injuries.  The bad news is that the EWSD was involved.

Ordinarily, one would expect that an incident involving children would result in immediate and corrective steps to address the problem.  But that is what you would expect if qualified and competent individuals were running the EWSD.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.  Here is my take on the EWSD and  its key participants.  Superintendent Lewis, a sweet talking, untrustworthy individual is neither qualified nor competent.  School Board President Kamberg is a self-serving con man who should be barred from the school grounds.  Another Board member is a former president of the teachers’ union.  The remaining three members, including Kamberg’s flunky Freier, are clueless.   The teachers and their union have primarily became concerned with the teachers.  Absenteeism is rampant.  There is no accountability.  The words lard and fat also do not adequately describe the massive waste (9.75 student-teacher ratio, $30K+ cost per student) that exists within the EWSD system.  And oh yes, the teachers’ hapless PTO members and its officers actually think everybody is doing a great job.

Here is what we have out in the real world.  The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) was passed in 1984 in response to concerns regarding the safety hazards posed by the storage and handling of toxic chemicals.  These concerns were triggered by the disaster in Bhopal,India, in which more than 2,000 people suffered death or serious injury from the accidental release of methyl isocyanate.  To reduce the likelihood of such a disaster in theUnited States, Congress imposed requirements on both states and regulated facilities.  These requirements have been extended and adopted by competent organizations outside the chemical industry to plan for and respond to emergencies.  For example, we conducted fire drills at our house when the kids lived there; specific instructions were spelled out.  Something akin to the following should have been in place for the EWSD:

  1. Identify all bus transportation routes;
  2. Describe emergency response procedures on and off the school grounds;
  3. Designate a coordinator to implement any plan;
  4. Outline emergency notification procedures;
  5. Describe how to handle potentially affected individuals, particularly the students;
  6. Describe local emergency units and facilities who will be responsible when an emergency/accident occurs;
  7. Outline medical and medical-related plans;
  8. Provide a training program for both emergency responders and children; and,
  9. Provide methods and schedules for exercising emergency response plans.

Something similar to the procedure I outlined above should have kicked in.  But, here is what happened.

  1. Some parents were not notified until 11:00 am.
  2. Some parents complained that school officials should have been better prepared.
  3. Lewis had difficulty in determining which students were on the bus.
  4. Lewis claimed there were some problems with emergency contact numbers.
  5. The EWSD inexplicably delayed the parents’ notification process.
  6. North Side employed an automated message nearly 8 hours late to notify parents.

You get the picture.  The EWSD has problems.  TheLong Island school system has problems.  I’ll discuss these problems in the months ahead.


2 Responses to On Incompetence at Work

  1. John Messina says:

    Lou…a nice start!



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