Good timing for Brown’s exit

No matter what you may think of him, thumbs up or down, this is a good time for Scott Brown to step down as the Chico Unified School District’s superintendent, and we applaud his decision.

Brown’s six-year tenure included presiding over—some would say triggering—arguably the stormiest years in the district’s history, as exemplified by the fight that erupted when he decided to demote Jeff Sloan, the popular former Hank Marsh Junior High principal. The CUSD trustees ultimately made the controversial decision to transfer Sloan to a vice-principal job at the Center for Alternative Learning on the Fair View continuation high school campus, but they were reportedly under considerable pressure from Brown. The act caused a wide split in the community, with affected parties siding with either Brown or Sloan and the trustees caught in the middle.

Critics said the whole affair boiled down to a fierce animosity between the men. Because it was a personnel matter, the truth may never be known—but we trust Brown when he says there were valid reasons for the demotion. All Sloan had to do to defend his position was make public his whole personal record. He never did so.

Not all the wounds from that battle have healed, and we can’t help but think that Brown’s giving up the reins of power is a positive thing. His tenure was marked with controversy—from the news that the trustees would conduct their first evaluation of him in his gated-community home to accusations of lavish spending during out-of-town business-related trips.

Hired in 1999 to replace popular Superintendent Rob Barbot, Brown dragged with him from former districts a history of bickering trustees and frustrated parents and teachers. He’s been a contradiction—defensive when challenged but an effective administrator during tough financial times.

It is time to close the book on this chapter, move on and select a capable replacement.