School board candidate claims no vendetta, says change needed

Steve Linder, a candidate for Norwalk's school board, said he is not out for revenge for past problems with the system, but believes the district and administrators must be more accountable to residents. Since one of the issues Linder has raised in his campaign is communication, the Reflector is asking the district for copies of letters written by the Linders and responses from the district. Linder maintains that the district sent responses, but often didn't answer questions or resolve complaints. "We never really got an answer,' Linder said, even though school administrators returned letters. "They may have answered, but they haven't addressed the issues.'
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010

Steve Linder, a candidate for Norwalk’s school board, said he is not out for revenge for past problems with the system, but believes the district and administrators must be more accountable to residents.

Since one of the issues Linder has raised in his campaign is communication, the Reflector is asking the district for copies of letters written by the Linders and responses from the district. Linder maintains that the district sent responses, but often didn’t answer questions or resolve complaints. “We never really got an answer,” Linder said, even though school administrators returned letters. “They may have answered, but they haven’t addressed the issues.”

This information was too lengthy to print in the paper, but it can be downloaded by clicking here.

Names of students, referring to them while they were students, and information regarding special education plans have been removed under the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

“I don’t want to open any old wounds,” Linder said, “but many people are afraid to say what’s on their mind. Issues should be brought out in the open.”

Linder said he thinks administrators should be accountable for mistakes, specifically high school principal Robert Duncan. Linder considers Duncan the root of the problems he has brought before the board.

Linder said he has talked to both residents and staff members who feel that if they make any complaints against Duncan and other administrators, the complaints will be ignored. In the case of staff members, he added, they are afraid they will face repercussions on the job.

Both Linders said they believed Duncan had done an excellent job as assistant principal, but is not managing the role of principal effectively.

Four years ago, Sharon Linder was transferred from her job as secretary at the high school under Duncan’s ultimate supervision to secretary at Main Street School. Both Linders said they believe she was transferred because the couple had complained about Duncan.

Sharon said she was told that the district wanted the best employees in place to make the new school successful, but she doesn’t feel she was given the true reason for the transfer. Linder says his wife enjoys her job at Main Street, but says she feels her talents were better used at the high school. Both Linders went to the board with questions about the transfer, but said the board would not grant an executive session for personnel questions and said it was an administrative matter.

Sharon would not comment on her transfer now because of her position with the district.

In their letters to the district, the Linders also complained that Duncan broke district policy by using tobacco on school property and by falsifying records over fire drills. Duncan was given a three-day suspension for the problem with fire drills.

The Linders’ latest conflict with Duncan has been over the district’s delay in releasing their daughter’s high school transcript for several months. Melissa Linder, an NHS graduate and a student at the University of Akron, was applying for a program to train as a radiology technician through Akron Children’s Hospital last spring.

When Melissa turned in her application, she was missing her high school transcript and ACT score. Her ACT score should have been included on the transcript, Linder said.

The high school guidance counselor, Julia Gullett, did send a letter to the University explaining why the transcript could not be included in Melissa’s application and invited the university to contact her with any questions. Gullett said that Sharon was satisfied with that at the time.

Gullett also said that in her experience, such a note is sufficient.

“I don’t know if she would have gotten in or not,” Sharon said, but added it was upsetting to know that Melissa’s high school record and ACT score couldn’t be added to the point total needed for the position.

Melissa is now a part-time student at the University of Akron and has a part-time job at Akron City Hospital. She plans to apply for the radiology program again next spring.

Linder said he later discovered that the district had access to the records sent away for imaging at any time and administrators knew that, but never told other staff members. Both Linders said they can’t change the facts, but they would like for more than an “I’m sorry” from the district.

Linder said the board also refused to meet in executive session over the incident. “If we could have had an executive session, we could have resolved this without numerous trips to have the simple communication to make a better school,” Linder said.  

“I think it’s great that Dr. Babcanec stands up for Duncan, but I believe there should be some accountability,” said Linder. Both Linders say Duncan should resign because of what they see as his ineffectiveness as principal.

Michael Grose, president of the board, said he thinks the issue is over and the board handled the situation properly.

“I think we investigated the situation thoroughly and came up with a conclusion of what we needed to do,” he said. “They feel they had the solution for their problem and we didn’t use that solution. We handled it in what we felt was an appropriate way.”

“The board says the problems are the administration’s concern,” Linder said. “I just want someone to be accountable.”

Even though he has been before the board with numerous complaints, Linder said he has respect for the current members and feels he can work effectively with them. “I understand why they work the way they do. It’s a thankless job and it doesn’t pay much,” he said. “I just don’t feel the board asks enough questions.”

Grose did agree that board members could work with Linder if he were elected to the board.

“I’ve had him for a student and known him for 30 years,” Grose said. “If he’s elected, things will work out.”

Linder said his intention if he wins a seat on the board is to give another opinion and raise questions. “I’m not after anybody’s job,” he said. “That’s the nice thing about a democratic society. I would just be one vote.”

He said his first year on the board would be a learning year.

“I’ve been in management for over 20 years. I treat people like I want to be treated. I think I could bring some of my management skills in there and maybe change things around and make a difference,” Linder said. “It’s not a vendetta, but I’ve seen so much wrong. I just think changes need to be considered.”

Comments

Carin Geraci (A...

I just sat and read through all of the letters written by the Linder's regarding all of their family "problems." It is just that-family issues. They don't get their way--so they complain. What does that teach our children? If we don't like how we manage something, then complain until the person you are mad at is fired? IF we don't get our way, cry about it? PLEASE!! I graduated from NHS in 1991. I now live in Kennesaw, GA and have taught in a HUGE school district. Try complaining like that here--and you'll never get an answer. Small town problems always expect every issue to favor them. Get over yourself and move on! You should have been more prepared with the transcripts. She just graduated for goodness sake--you should have asked for all of that information a lot sooner and kept it in your own file. Mrs. Linder worked in the system--she should know that things come up and you can't always get things in a timely manner. It seems to me that the Linders are just finding someone to blame instead of taking responsibility for the situation and just moving on. Teach your child how to be respectful, responsible and accountable for his/her own actions and just deal with it. Quit blaming those around you for things not going YOUR way. I can't wait to talk about this issue with the residents in my neighborhood--I guarantee they'll feel the same way I do.

Some thoughts (...

The fact that this story had to be printed shows there's at least the perception that Mr. Linder has a vendetta.
Why does this story leave out the fact that Mr. Linder's daughter had a 5-6 month window to apply to radiology school, but waited until shortly before the deadline to do so?
He's not perfect, but why is Mr. Duncan the target over the transcript issue? Surely those in the guidance office knew of the procedure. Also, since Mrs. Linder previously worked in the guidance office, didn't she have some working knowledge that would've been helpful?
We've seen one Linder get elected in Bellevue, and that's turned into a big embarrassment for that town. Is that what we want here? Someone in office, with personal crusades against the principal, basketball coach, etc?
How exactly will that make our school district better?

No vendetta??? ...

I suppose he/she thinks the sky isn't blue, either, right??

Carin Geraci (A...

I just sat and read through all of the letters written by the Linder's regarding all of their family "problems." It is just that-family issues. They don't get their way--so they complain. What does that teach our children? If we don't like how we manage something, then complain until the person you are mad at is fired? IF we don't get our way, cry about it? PLEASE!! I graduated from NHS in 1991. I now live in Kennesaw, GA and have taught in a HUGE school district. Try complaining like that here--and you'll never get an answer. Small town problems always expect every issue to favor them. Get over yourself and move on! You should have been more prepared with the transcripts. She just graduated for goodness sake--you should have asked for all of that information a lot sooner and kept it in your own file. Mrs. Linder worked in the system--she should know that things come up and you can't always get things in a timely manner. It seems to me that the Linders are just finding someone to blame instead of taking responsibility for the situation and just moving on. Teach your child how to be respectful, responsible and accountable for his/her own actions and just deal with it. Quit blaming those around you for things not going YOUR way. I can't wait to talk about this issue with the residents in my neighborhood--I guarantee they'll feel the same way I do.

Some thoughts (...

The fact that this story had to be printed shows there's at least the perception that Mr. Linder has a vendetta.
Why does this story leave out the fact that Mr. Linder's daughter had a 5-6 month window to apply to radiology school, but waited until shortly before the deadline to do so?
He's not perfect, but why is Mr. Duncan the target over the transcript issue? Surely those in the guidance office knew of the procedure. Also, since Mrs. Linder previously worked in the guidance office, didn't she have some working knowledge that would've been helpful?
We've seen one Linder get elected in Bellevue, and that's turned into a big embarrassment for that town. Is that what we want here? Someone in office, with personal crusades against the principal, basketball coach, etc?
How exactly will that make our school district better?

No vendetta??? ...

I suppose he/she thinks the sky isn't blue, either, right??

more thoughts (...

I've spent a large amount of time reading these letters from the Linder's....and they are ridiculous! What a waste of my time. You sound like a vindictive person that has too much time on your hands. Sounds like if you got on the school board it would be a big mess and who wants that? I agree with the other responders and think you need to "get over yourselves!"

are you kidding...

Who is running for school board??? Steve, Sharon, both????

mac pherson (An...

they are both old wrestlers...let them settle it on the wrestling mat. Let coach corrigan ref.

My vote is for ...

What a joke! They really do need to find something else to fill their time. NEGATIVE, NEGATIVE,NEGATIVE.I would like to know how Sharon has the nerve to collect a paycheck from Norwalk City Schools. What other job could you hold and openly ride the case of your boss and co-workers over nothing. It is a well known fact that she was transferred from the guidance office because she has loose lips when it comes to private student matters. Big surprise there. By the way, I have to wonder what the daughters GPA was in high school since they are so impressed by that 3.0 in college.
I would also like to know why the Norwalk Reflector continues to give The Linders' front page space for their campaining (complaining)efforts.

logical thinker...

It would appear that Sharon and Steve Linder are their own worst enemies in this election. What a couple of nuts.

anybodybutlinde...

How can that wacko still have a job? Where does she get off talking to her employers like that? It makes no sense at all. I really think she and her husband need help. I would hope that some people are pulling out their yard signs after reading those rantings. It is too bad that they are teaching their children to handle things in this manner.

a taxpayer (Ano...

Steve and Sharon are not nuts. Many other people in town have similar stories- they just don't speak out or they just gave up. I'm sure it gets old after a while for the Linders, but to their credit they have not given up. I'm sure it's not easy. Their kids have graduated, but they still want things that are broken to be fixed. I wish more people would step up. But, who wants to have the good old boys come after them? Who wants the local paper to try to make them look like an idiot?

In reading their letters, the Linders do have many of their facts correct. Bob Duncan isn't known for how he relates to people- unless you're somebody important to him. The average parent or student doesn't matter to him. Call him or email him, chances are he won't get back to you. People have worked for the man and never set foot inside his office. or even seen his door open. He certainly doesn't make regular visits to classrooms and isn't seen in the hallways making efforts to engage students and staff. Remember, only the select few are important. His style of management should not be acceptable to OUR school district. It is not his school district. It belongs to the community.

proofreader (An...

After wasting time reading all those letters and comments it makes me wonder if anyone 'has gotten' Mrs. Linder's message. Haha!

mad parent (Ano...

Someone needs to get into this school system and get things fixed. If something as stupid as a naked picture is what they consider on the top of the importance list their are serious problems.

taxpayer (Anonymous)

I'm not sure if Linder is the answer or not, but at least somebody is questioning the board/administration. The good ol' boy system needs to be shut down. Duncan puts kids in danger by faking fire drills. He gets caught red handed chewing on school grounds. And he basically gets a slap on the wrist for his infractions? I commend Dr. Wayne for standing behind his guy, but it doesn't look good to taxpayers and citizens. And I'm not sure what to make of Gordon. Is he required by law to walk 2 steps behind Wayne? Are they always together? And I remember reading something a month back about him not having the proper training or certification? How does that happen? Again, Linder might not be the right person but at least he's asking questions.

supporter (Anon...

It's good to see somebody isn't affraid to stand up.I know my sign isn't going anywhere.

RE:taxpayer (An...

I am really tired of seeing the term "good ol' boy" used in reference to Norwalk city school administrators and/or board members. If you are going to use the term you should at least know the definition. As printed in the encyclopedia;

Good ol' boy is a slang term used, either to self-identify as or to refer to a male, usually Caucasian and of Northern/Western-European descent, who lives in a rural area and/or subscribes to a traditionally "rural" lifestyle. The term is generally thought to originate in the rural areas of the southern and southwestern U.S. While other terms such as redneck, hick, yokel, "Bubba", and "white trash" are also applied, though usually pejoratively and are often interchanged with "good ol' boy," the "good ol' boy" is more of an idealized image of rural Americans, Canadians and Australians.

Norwalktaxpayer...

It makes me laugh when people say "the good ol' boy network or system. When people don't get what they want, it's because of the good ol' boys. Right. Grow up.
Duncan was punished for his past transgressions. He was docked three days pay, which is more than any fine that could have been levied against him in court.
I happen to know the Steve and Sharon Linder's two children. Thank God they don't take after their parents.

Right (Anonymous)

Can I have an executive session with the board? I just want to see how things are going. Maybe see what the board members have planned for Christmas. Hold on! That's not why executive sessions are called. I have had issues with the board and administrators. Issues that were handled after we communicated. Did not take an executive session. Did not take me running for school board. As for Bob Duncan; if the best you can come with is the past tobacco use and fire drill beat you have lost. He is more than the poster boy for your mudslinging campaign to get attention. I have known of Bob for some time and he is exactly where I want him to be leading that school. Someone else was hell bent for election trying to get Bob out some time ago if I remember correctly. Check your motives at the door. If you can only cite 'communication' as what you would bring to the board go someplace else. EVERYONE RUNNING FOR MINOR OFFICE SAYS THAT!!! Hell, if everyone lived up to what they say to these papers in their candidate question and answer sessions we would have the most communication being done ever in history. What would you do different and/or better? Stringing up Bob is not different/better. Maybe better for YOU.

This is from someone who pays a hell of a lot in property taxes and SDIT. I have one son in the high school and several others on their way. The board can make sure the schools have roofs, windows, heat, etc. Leave the administrators and teachers, who are doing what they are hired to do, alone.

And, as a completely immature and unneeded comment; you would lose that wrestling match.

Stay home, gripe at the paper, gripe with the paper, gripe without the paper. You do not have the right mindset to be on that board.

supporter (Anon...

Heaven for bid someone stands up for other employees besides the administration.

Cory N. (Anonymous)

Having been a student at NHS,I would like to say things were run very smoothly. They stopped running smoothly when people started making big stinks about petty little things.

It is very obvious that the Linders have personal vendettas that they are trying to resolve. When Sharon was secretary in the guidance office, kids wouldn't go in there, because she was rude to us. The only time I would go in there, was when I had an appointment made ahead of time with Mr. King or Mrs. Gullett.

Somebody else wrote that Mr. Duncan's door is rarely open, or he is never seen in the school. Well, having worked in the office as a office aide, his door was open frequently. He was out in the office, and was out in the halls. Mr. Duncan is a great principal, and he though there were a few faults, he owned up to it and took the consequences given to him.

Finally, Dr. Babcanec and Mr. Gordon. These two are some of the most personable people I know. Dr. Babcanec and Mr. Gordon are always at sporting evets, academic events, musicals, performances, or anything that goes on in the schools. They don't just show up, they participate. For golf, every year they have a cookout where they cook hamburgers and hotdogs for the teams. They are great all-around men and I am proud to say that they are my high school's superintendent and assisstant-superintendent.

I think voting Linder onto school board would be a big mistake. The academics at NHS are great, the problems occur when people make the littlest stinks, and something tells me there would A LOT of stink, if Linder is elected to school board.

A. Comment (Ano...

The administration consists of a couple good ol' gals, too! They may feel left out if everyone keeps referring to the good ol boys!

I mean, come on, when something doesn't go your way it's always the good ol' boys network at fault. Grow up and get a life.

me (Anonymous)

I have two children at NHS. I have never had a problem with Bob Duncan. Neither have my kids. I think he is a great leader and principal. Mr. Linder, take your vendetta elsewhere.

Good Luck (Anon...

Good luck in trying to change anything in the way Norwalk schools are run. Or in who runs things. I truly agree with you Mr.Linder, and you have my vote. i sure hope it helps and if you do make it you will not fall prey to those already in the system. Its time to clean house!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i do not have any kids in school now but from experience in the past the way the schools of Norwalk are run just plain STINK. GOOD LUCK, YOU WILL NEED IT.

Re: good Luck (...

You're right.... he is gonna need it. To bad he's not gonna get it.

Re Cory N (Anon...

Cory N's dad works for Bob Duncan... Hmmmmm

handsome man (A...

the trurh is Steve Linder is not nuts and Bob Duncan is not a great leader,this is a small time election for a small time position in a small town,I cannot believe how slanderous so many people have become just sitting on their fat butt in front of a computer,with no fear of being called on their nastiness

High School par...

Our Board does not ignore concerns, they address them and resolve them to the best of their abilities. Just because they do not give the answers the Linders want to hear doesn't mean they are being ignored or unresponsive. I, too, took the time to read through Sharon's lengthy and spiteful letters. Is Bob Duncan an angel? No. But for a school employee to write letters with the verbage she has used is unacceptable. I am just as surprised that she has not been sanctioned for insubordination as others who have commented in this forum. If this is the Linder family's mindset, it has no place on the board. My advice is to tell all your friends to read the letters posted here so that the voters in Norwalk can make an informed decision.

needin a man (A...

hey I been lookin for a handsome man

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