Sheridan can’t let go of spot­light

“Down, dooby-doo, down­down/Break­ing up is hard to do.”

The Times-Tribune - - Briefly - — NEIL SEDAKA (1962) CHRIS KELLY

Di­ag­noses of sep­a­ra­tion anx­i­ety were once lim­ited to in­fants and tod­dlers strug­gling to ad­just to their moth­ers’ re­turn to lives out­side their im­me­di­ate needs. Med­i­cal man­u­als have ex­panded the def­i­ni­tion to in­clude teens leav­ing home for col­lege, par­ents bereft in empty nests and adults and chil­dren cop­ing with di­vorce.

Even dogs are now treated for sep­a­ra­tion anx­i­ety, pre­scribed puppy Prozac to cope with lone­li­ness while their own­ers are out earn­ing the kib­ble.

So far, high-school dropouts who some­how be­come school board pres­i­dents have been left out, but Bob Sheridan clearly needs coun­sel­ing as he faces his tardy ex­pul­sion from the Scran­ton School Board.

The all-talk board’s most il­lit­er­ate voice will not go qui­etly. In fact, he hopes not to go at all.

In an act of cow­ardice and crony­ism re­mark­able even for this board, Di­rec­tor Jim Timlin re­signed Mon­day rather than wait un­til a new board elected by vot­ers is seated in De­cem­ber. His res­ig­na­tion let­ter was read into the record by Bob Sheridan, who ex­pressed in­ter­est in re­plac­ing Timlin.

How­ever re­mote, the pos­si­bil­ity that Sheridan — em­phat­i­cally re­jected by vot­ers and em­i­nently un­qual­i­fied to mon­i­tor a one-pupil study hall — could ex­tend his eight-year reign of er­ror is em­blem­atic of just how low the district’s stan­dards have sunk.

Still, Sheridan re­mains de­fi­ant.

“I’m very proud of our whole board. We work very hard with­out any pay,” he said Mon­day at a meet­ing that strangely drew a large crowd de­mand­ing an­swers.

“I’d like to see any­one walk a mile in our shoes.”

In May, vot­ers said they would like to see Sheridan walk as far away from district busi­ness as pos­si­ble, prefer­ably bare­foot across bro­ken glass. The ap­pro­pri­ate re­sponse is to shrink from the spot­light in shame, but Sheridan just can’t let go.

Why? Be­cause the spot­light might fol­low him into the shad­ows.

The very last thing Bob Sheridan and un­told oth­ers who helped drive the district to the brink of ex­tinc­tion is the kind of out­side sun­light a state takeover would bring.

A state-ap­pointed re­ceiver would ask ques­tions for which there are no com­fort­able an­swers:

■ Why is the school board con­sid­er­ing lay­ing off teach­ers who in­struct stu­dents on life lessons like bal­anc­ing check­books and man­ag­ing bud­gets while fail­ing to seek re­pay­ment for 12 years of med­i­cal ben­e­fits it paid to a phan­tom me­chanic and his wife who were never ac­tual em­ploy­ees?

■ Why doesn’t the school board seek re­pay­ment for $4 mil­lion in fuel sur­charges sur­rep­ti­tiously added to the district’s no­bid bus con­tract with DeNaples Trans­porta­tion?

■ How does a high school dropout be­come pres­i­dent of a pub­lic school board over­see­ing a district with more than 10,000 stu­dents and an an­nual bud­get ex­ceed­ing $150 mil­lion?

Capt. Sheridan and his dizzy ship­mates all suf­fer from sep­a­ra­tion anx­i­ety. If the state does step in, they will be sep­a­rated from con­trol of the tax­payer­funded ves­sel they fi­nally ran aground.

Many way­ward boards have spent decades punch­ing holes in the district’s hull. The cur­rent crew prom­ises to bail out the S.S.D. Ti­tanic with tea cups, demon­strat­ing a sep­a­ra­tion from ob­jec­tive re­al­ity that can only end in dis­as­ter.

About the only thing tax­pay­ers can be sure of as in­sur­mount­able waves of debt rise around them is that the sins ex­posed by state Au­di­tor Gen­eral Eu­gene DePasquale’s dev­as­tat­ing re­cent au­dit are just the tip of the ice­berg.

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