Further explanation needed

Published 8:48 am Thursday, September 29, 2011

Outgoing Gates County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Zenobia Smallwood fired a shot across the bow of the board of education on her way out the door this week, but now she must be called to account.

In a statement assessing her time as superintendent and offering words of encouragement for the future, Smallwood alleged that some board members are using the school system’s credit card for personal expenses. Asked for details, she would only say that certain members had abused the Gates County School System’s card, and suggested that this abuse was known and overlooked. Had the action been by a staff member, negative consequences would have occurred, she said.

Smallwood’s accusations cannot be taken lightly. Now that this charge has been made public, the appropriate law enforcement agencies must investigate and Smallwood will have to tell what she knows. A concern for the appropriate use of the public’s money demands as much.

The News Herald has tried to reach Smallwood for a more complete explanation of her comments, but without success to this point. Gates County people deserve to know more. The superintendent owes it to them.

It is essential that those who are in positions of authority set the best example possible and follow the rules. This is especially true when applied to school officials, who are being observed not just by parents and voters, but the children they are elected to serve. A cloud has settled over the Gates County Board of Education and it must be cleared.

We encourage the citizens of Gates County to hold their superintendent and school board accountable. Smallwood’s accusation is serious. It should not be allowed to drop just because she is leaving her post. Local leaders need to step forward, look into Smallwood’s claims, determine the facts and act accordingly.

– The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald