Note: All posts about this incident can be simultaneously displayed HERE, with the most recent post appearing first.
I knew it. From their rhetoric, it was obvious that the Canyons School District has been looking for someone to throw under the bus after the Klan hood incident at a student spirit assembly at Alta High School in Sandy, Utah on March 16th, 2011.
And on March 31st, they found their scapegoat. Both the Salt Lake Tribune and KSL Channel 5 report that Alta High Principal Mont Widerberg, who along with Vice-Principal Mark Montague was placed on paid leave after the incident, has notified the school’s staff that he is retiring immediately. Mr. Widerberg had planned to leave Alta High at the end of the school year to take a facilities job at the district office, but apparently that's out the window as well. His resignation ends a 33-year career in education which began at Hillcrest High School.
According to the Deseret News, Canyons School District spokesman Jeff Haney said that the district "wishes Mr. Widerberg well in his retirement, and thanks him for his more than 30 years of service to the patrons and students of the Jordan and Canyons school districts". One would think a 33-year career would be worthy of more than a one-line footnote from a District flunky.
Tracy Bennett, a member of the school’s community council, expressed disappointment. “It will be sad to lose him. When this all came about, I was actually wondering if he would end up going to the district office or not, so it doesn’t catch me by surprise. But it’s disappointing,” explained Bennett. She further described Mr. Widerberg as a champion of the student who gets left behind.
Maybe being a "champion of the student left behind" was a fatal flaw for Mr. Widerberg in this politically-charged environment. He sought to deal with the White student as a high-spirited individual guilty only of a bit or ignorance rather than witch-hunted and thrown to the lions like a Soviet-style political criminal. On March 30th, the mother of the White student called in to the Doug Wright show and defended her son, saying the whole thing was a misunderstanding. The mother described the meeting her and her son had with Mr. Widerberg, saying "When (the principal) found out how it was perceived he immediately called my son down and called me. We talked and the principal goes, 'I know you, I know your son, and I know your family. I know this was not meant this way. Having said that, it's still required that we suspend him.'"
Mr. Widerberg chose NOT to assume the worst. He chose to balance justice with mercy. He chose proportional accountability and atonement. A three-day suspension would have sufficed. But no, the District bureaucracy was embarrassed, and they had to have a "bad guy" to throw under the bus. And using the White student as the "bad guy" wasn't enough; they had to have an adult to throw under the bus as well. So the District placed both Mr. Widerberg and Mr. Montague on paid administrative leave, which is the same as saying that they don't trust them to be part of the solution.
Mr. Widerberg paid the price for balancing justice with mercy. Now the Canyons District will be engaged in a full-blown witch hunt. But by announcing his retirement and passing up a new assignment in a facilities job, Mr. Widerberg is also sending an unspoken message that the Canyons School District is not a fit place to work for someone capable of independent and intelligent judgment.
Zack Larsen, a junior at Alta, is really getting fed up with all the drama. “I‘d like the district and the police and everyone to stop digging about for racism. It’s like the Salem witch trials. A lot of students want to say let’s just get this done. Let’s get this out of the way”, said Larsen. Unfortunately, the District has not projected when it plans to conclude the investigation, which has now been expanded to include looking at racist threats posted on Larz Cosby's blog about the incident. A few boneheads posted flame comments which included the N-word, which is utterly stupid because it will merely serve to empower professional race hustlers like Salt Lake NAACP dominatrix Jeanetta Williams.
If you really want to vent your spleen, don't dump on Larz Cosby; it's out of his hands. Send an e-mail to the Canyons School District HERE.