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Advocate Editorial Board opinion: VISD leader welcomes communication

By By the Advocate Editorial Board
May 24, 2014 at 12:24 a.m.


We stand corrected

Superintendent Robert Jacklich's open communication style also was evident last week when he and Victoria school board president Tami Keeling visited our editorial board to discuss our editorial about Gideons making Bibles available in public schools.

They correctly pointed out that we erred in our editorial Wednesday describing the school district's policy concerning the distribution of religious material on campus. The school district's policy restricts any use of school time for this purpose by any outside group. The district's policy has been carefully crafted to comply with Texas law.

Our editorial board recognizes that words are powerful, and we must ensure we use them in a manner such that the impression that we convey is the meaning we intend.

We apologize for this error and express our gratitude to these two leaders who showed their willingness to have a constructive conversation about our differences.

"Communication is key" is a popular catchphrase, but, in our experience, also a steadfast truism. Communication is often central to both the cause and the cure of so many issues a community faces.

That's why we have been so impressed with Superintendent Robert Jaklich since his arrival at the Victoria Independent School District. From day one, Jaklich has instituted an open, direct communication model both internally to VISD and externally to the community. He and his staff regularly visit all 29 VISD campuses. He writes a weekly column in the Victoria Advocate. He attends a staggering number of external functions, including community meetings, booster club banquets and sporting events. His level of engagement and outreach to the community is unprecedented as a superintendent and sets the tone for the entire district.

Last week, a group of 22 parents staged a protest outside the VISD administration building to voice their concerns about bullying. What was surprising was not the fact that parents had concerns they wanted to voice but that they felt the need to do so in the form of a protest.

As indicated in Jaklich's column Saturday, VISD has instituted clear channels of communication to address concerns like these. Many of the protesters expressed surprise that VISD did not attempt to address them at the protest, but we certainly understand why. With 22 parents all having their own specific issues ranging from concerns about the bullying policy to concerns about punishment being meted to concerns about the dress code, it becomes nearly impossible to address any specific matter to anyone's satisfaction while standing on a sidewalk.

Instead, Jaklich continues to urge parents to follow a simple procedure of basic communication, which is to contact the teacher of the student, schedule a meeting and discuss the issue. If the issue is not resolved to parents' satisfaction, they should escalate the issue to the principal and ultimately the superintendent.

In talking directly to community members who have followed this process, many have been pleasantly surprised by the outcome. In a school district with 14,500 students and many more parents, grandparents and other relatives combined with 2,200 employees, some conflict is inevitable. However, that doesn't mean conflicts can't be resolved in a constructive, positive way. That's the approach Jaklich has brought to VISD. He's a positive, energetic leader who is trying to infuse this attitude in everyone in the school district and - perhaps even more needed - in the community.

We encourage you to give him that chance. He won't be hard to find - he'll be the one attending and cheering at just about every school function.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.

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