The Darien Board of Education must request Dr. Falcone's immediate resignation as superintendent, on the basis that if he does not tender it voluntarily they would invoke Section 5(B) of his contract, which addresses termination "for cause."
There is no longer any remotely practical or legal basis to debate whether such cause exists. We have two letters from the Connecticut State Board of Education finding that during Falcone's tenure serious multiple instances of systemic illegal violations of federal and state statutes and regulations were committed. His amateurish and embarrassing posture of injured innocence has never passed the "smell test."
But whether or not Falcone was a direct architect of the illegal acts and thus guilty of willful misconduct, as many reasonably believe he is, is completely irrelevant. In the most favorable possible, yet still completely unacceptable view, Falcone failed to exercise proper executive authority and managerial oversight to prevent these violations from occurring, as he had both the means and responsibility to do. Horrible, illegal things happened within his area of direct responsibility. He is guilty of gross negligence. This requires his termination.
There is a long sad list of consequences, among them that many children have been harmed, some likely severely and irreparably, and that time and resources have been diverted from education. The whole town would applaud. And finally, only by this clearly justified, appropriately firm action can the Board of Education begin to restore credibility and an atmosphere of proper governance and accountability.
Don't worry about a leadership vacuum when we also, hopefully, fire other senior staff for misdeeds when the investigations are completed soon. First, any thoughtful observer concludes that other emerging concerns with the school system, quite aside from this complete debacle, are due to ineffective administration and leadership. Second, it would catalyze needed debate about the relative allocation of resources: invest in teaching resources or a failed central bureaucracy that likely needs right-sizing. Third, there are hundreds of highly qualified and available replacements nationally. Our Board of Education simply needs to move more quickly and responsibly. Start now, we beg.
David S. Smith