Mehlville school board member owes Chambers a public apology

Mike Anthony

Mike Anthony

By MIKE ANTHONY

Board of Education members have a thankless job for which they receive no pay and should be commended for their willingness to serve.

That said, we can’t help but breathe a sigh of relief as Tom Correnti’s tenure as a member of the Mehlville Board of Education soon will end.

Mr. Correnti did not file for re-election, and his term will end in April.

It’s no secret that the Mehlville School District finally is beginning to emerge from what could only be termed a roughly three-year nightmare of disastrous public relations, lack of focus, lack of administrative and board leadership and severe credibility problems. We’re certainly not implying those problems were entirely Mr. Correnti’s fault. Though more often than not, he was a willing participant.

Mr. Correnti may have had the best of intentions when he ran for the school board in 2004. Perhaps he was misled by veteran board members.

Whatever the case may be, we believed the gentleman deserved the benefit of the doubt — until last week. In 25 years of covering school board meetings, never have we seen a board member become so abusive toward a superintendent.

During a Feb. 13 discussion of moving an alternative-education program to the former St. John’s Elementary School, board President Ken Leach had to move his chair between interim Superintendent Jerry Chambers and Mr. Correnti after Mr. Correnti ignored Mr. Leach’s pleas to restrain his comments.

Mr. Correnti had raised concerns about the condition of the floor and bleachers at Jones Gymnasium at Mehlville Senior High School — concerns Dr. Chambers said he was unaware of because he and his wife, Jackie, were out of the country celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. At one point during the discussion, Mr. Correnti said to Dr. Chambers, “You want to walk out?”

Mr. Correnti apparently realized the gravity of his remarks as Dr. Chambers said in a statement, “Tom Correnti gave me a personal apology and handshake immediately after the meeting …”

Dr. Chambers further stated, “I consider the brief encounter a closed subject …”

We applaud Dr. Chambers for taking the high road. We’re not surprised because he truly is a man of integrity.

However, we believe Mr. Correnti owes Dr. Chambers a public apology.

If one is not forthcoming, we believe a public censure of Mr. Correnti by the school board would be appropriate.