The New Bedford School system is in a state of chaos. Again.

Superintendent Dr. Pia Durkin has tendered her resignation effective next June. Who can blame her? Durkin has decided that she has no interest in sticking around to defend her record of success against a School Committee that now consists of a gang of chest thumping egotists, more interested in performing for the masses than in advancing good education policy for the city's students and taxpayers.

Leading this pack of attention seekers is drama queen John Oliveira who thinks that his election less than two weeks ago gives him a license to swear and scream at Durkin and slam her office door as "an exclamation point." What it bought him is a no trespass order that prevents him from entering School Department properties, including the school where committee meetings will be held. Nice way to begin.

Mr. Oliveira believes Dr. Durkin was "lying" and "lecturing" him and refused to drop everything to meet with him upon his command. Doesn't she know who he is? How dare she. Oliveira believes he is acting with the full support of the public behind him. A folk hero of sorts. If these childish antics are supported by the public, than they system is in even worse shape than I thought.

Mr. Oliveira needs some lessons in humility. To be elected to public office is a humbling experience. Especially the first time. Most newly elected officials lay low for a while so as to learn the ropes and the protocol. Not Mr. Oliveira. He storms the Superintendent's office before the ink on the election certification is even dry, making demands and slamming doors.

The children and taxpayers of New Bedford deserve better than this. Mr. Oliveira owes them an apology for his juvenile behavior.

As for Dr. Durkin, she deserved a chance to complete her contract and some appreciation for doing what she was hired to do. Mayor Mitchell says Durkin was "contentious" at budget time. Too bad. I'd rather have an advocate who fights for funding for our school kids than a bunch of politicians who fight to find ways to just barely meet minimum net school spending requirements. Yeah, Durkin had a bad "management style."

And so the search for a new Superintendent begins. How much is this going to cost the taxpayers and school department budget? How many "Supers" has New Bedford had in the last ten years anyway? Maybe if we keep looking we'll find someone who will tolerate people like John Oliveira swearing at them and slamming their door.

It's a sad day for education in New Bedford.

Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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