Predicting Pettit before the ink is dry on the contract

Sager Pettit

Paul Sager and Dr. Todd Pettit Facebook

Todd Pettit was a ground-breaking choice to be Quincy’s next school superintendent.

All of Quincy’s previous superintendents have been straight (as far as we know), white males, none of whom graduated from Quincy High School.

So Pettit is the first QHS grad to be chosen to lead the district. At age 51, he might end up sticking around for a bit. QPS superintendents don’t seem to have a very long shelf life.

Oh, the alumni angle wasn’t what I was talking about when referring to ground-breaking.

Pettit isn’t straight. He is an openly gay man. His husband, Paul Sager, was with him Wednesday night when the Quincy School Board approved his selection, along with other members of his family.

Watching someone born and raised in this community come back and become a leader sounds like a good thing. It’s what the “Quincy’s Calling” marketing folks are being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote. I’ll be interested to see if they take credit (retroactively) for bringing Pettit home.

While hundreds of people took to social media after the announcement to praise the decision and congratulate Pettit, there were a few with … concerns.

“Why did a district the size of Quincy hire a person who has never been a superintendent before?”

That’s actually a fair question, but it’s easy to answer. Quincy pays less than most districts its size when it comes to these kinds of positions (and for most positions, actually). Just as with physician recruitment, it’s also often difficult to find suitable employment for gifted spouses or partners.  The other finalist was a current superintendent, albeit at a much smaller district.  She also would have been a ground-breaking choice as the district’s first female superintendent.  

Then there was concern on social media about Pettit, the School Board and their “woke” agenda to indoctrinate all students into the LGBTQ lifestyle.

Oh, boy.

This School Board isn’t perfect and deserves criticism for the dismissive attitude it has had since the pandemic began.

But it appears when Pettit was hired, he took a pay cut to come home, banking on the chance he would eventually become the district’s superintendent. He’s being paid less than the current superintendent ($175K for Pettit compared to $200K+ for Webb), but Webb’s been here since 2017, the longest-serving superintendent the district has seen in years.

Quincy School Board President Sayeed Ali admitted he also saw Pettit as someone who could one day sit in the big chair.

Why does being gay, or trying to help students struggling with their identity, or asking fellow students to be a little more accepting and understanding, mean we’re trying to brainwash more than 6,500 kids?

Yes, some people attempt to push an agenda. I don’t believe a pride flag equates with an American flag, so one shouldn’t be flying outside our schools.

But if a teacher wants to hang one in their classroom and talk about these issues in civics or social studies classes, I don’t have a problem with it, as long as respectful tolerance goes both ways between the teacher and the students.

To paint Pettit with this brush before he’s even given a chance isn’t fair. Yes, he is a strong supporter of LGBTGQ. As superintendent, he represents all students. Even the ones who hate him. Just ask Webb how he feels after he doesn’t grant a snow day when there is a skiff on the ground.

Some of the Facebook crowd was already talking about taking over the School Board and firing Pettit next year.

Well, he has a five-year contract … and you’re going to fire a man because he’s gay?

If there’s one thing some conservatives hate more than gays, it’s spending money on education. If you think $175K is a lot, wait until you fire him and end up paying millions in a discrimination suit. Yes, your Facebook posts will be the plaintiff’s Exhibit A.

We want the school district to succeed because we want Quincy to succeed. When it screws up, it should be called out. But to not even give the new superintendent a chance because of his sexuality is incredibly narrow-minded, even for Quincy.

I brought up the chatter to Pettit before his appearance on Muddy River News This Week. I told him I felt we needed to broach the subject. It wasn’t going to be the basis of the entire interview, but it was important to discuss.

He agreed, but he told me he wasn’t hired to be a gay superintendent. He was hired to be a superintendent.

That should be enough.

J. Robert Gough is the publisher/general manager of Muddy River News.

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