The Nerve of some people 

By Bobby R. Henry, Sr. 

I have been sounding the alarm to alert the public that the behaviors and actions of some members of the Broward School Board are out of control.  The lack of proper decorum and self-discipline to stay in their lanes seems embedded in their culture. The civility they speak of is for everyone else – not themselves. It matters little if the members have been on the Board 10 years, 10 months, or 10 days, they exhibit a brazen and emboldened sense of privilege and entitlement that leads them to behave in ungodly ways. It can be infectious. I even spoke once from the podium and became irate and lost my composure for a moment. It’s easy to do when we don’t stay focused on the objectives before us. It becomes personal – yes, I do believe that the behavior shown by some on this school board is personal just as it is now personal for me to call out this behavior.

On Friday, Dr. Smiley released her 14th weekly Superintendent update. In the update, Smiley was not shy about calling Zeman out. According to Smiley, she witnessed two Cabinet members attempting to calm a very agitated and nervous middle level manager who was maligned by Zeman. Zeman was upset because he did not receive a response to 14 questions that he submitted on Friday with an expectation of a full response before Tuesday’s Board meeting. Seriously, he set up the impossible and used it as a weapon to malign.

I am going to simply cut to the chase. I am not at all surprised, but still disturbed by Zeman’s latest behavior.  He has gone to great lengths to position himself for power. It was Zeman who broke the search process by speaking to Dr. Jesus Jara after the application window for the superintendent position closed. It was Zeman who connected Jara to Alhadeff.  It was Zeman who strategically brought up the subject of another candidate but would not call Jara by name, instead egged Alhadeff into doing it from the dais. From what I know of Alhadeff, she made a mistake but if she is as smart, measured, and meticulous as I believe she is, she won’t make that mistake again.

It is abundantly clear Zeman did not want the front runner, Dr. Valerie Wanza.  I hesitate to say why he didn’t want her, but I am on the record now. Wanza is Black and she is a woman. Zeman has shown his hand and has left me no choice but to check him. A man who thinks he’s privileged still sees women in general as substandard to him as a privileged man.  Dr. Wanza and Interim Superintendent, Dr. Smiley, have several marks against them in this scenario. They are women, they are Black, and they are well qualified. It is evident that Zeman has no issue with speaking to them in a condescending tone and demanding they jump to his every request and whim.

Zeman later addressed Judith Marte during the meeting and according to Dr. Smiley, he was “overly aggressive” with his questions and publicly admonished the Deputy Superintendent. What Zeman did to Marte was not surprising.  He has thrown temper tantrums before with staff, women, in particular.

Let’s be clear, he supervises three people: The Superintendent of Schools, The Board Attorney and The Chief Auditor.  Any and everyone else in the organization works at the pleasure of the Superintendent. Anytime Zeman directs staff to do anything, he has risen above the line of his authority. When reporter Scott Travis of the Sun Sentinel received Smiley’s weekly update, he reached out to Zeman for a comment and as usual, he doubled down on the shenanigans.  He claimed that things have gotten worse under Smiley’s watch (worse for who?) and blamed her for the district not having a sex education curriculum this school year even though the curriculum was stopped by the Board. As usual, he doesn’t take responsibility but looks to point the finger of blame when things go wrong at everyone else.  There is no way that staff could have gotten a curriculum written, approved by the Board, and rolled out to students in the time left after the Board rejected the abstinence only curriculum. These are just facts.

Zeman’s behavior is to act above the line. Privileged people see no line.  They only see what they want and the shortest path to get there.  This line of authority has been blurred for years in Broward County schools. Would they have behaved this way under former Superintendent, Frank Petruzielo, who served until the late 90’s?

I watched the Board meeting. Zeman behaved disrespectfully to Deputy Superintendent Marte. It seemed like he was posturing for the audience and did not demonstrate the level of civility he would want from anyone. Every time he behaves badly, I must pinch myself because this is the very arrogant and entitled man who slapped a subordinate on the buttocks and thought nothing inappropriate about it. He has never apologized. He has never admitted it was poor judgment.  He has simply doubled down on his arrogance and White male privilege.

Zeman has also failed to apologize for the misrepresentation about being a United States veteran. That misrepresentation could be interpreted as arrogant and privileged; a slap in the face of every veteran who has selflessly served this country and to every parent, sibling, spouse, and child who has lost someone while serving this country. I don’t remember it being addressed nor an apology issued. Privileged people are willing to take anything, tangible or intangible from anyone and claim it as his/her own. They don’t feel they have to work for it – just take it.  Take it like those whose ancestors swooped in and took land and resources from the Native Americans. Take it like those whose ancestors went to Africa in search of cheap labor by separating African people from their countries, families, heritage, and culture. Why – to expand their wealth and comfort.

It’s privilege, plain and simple.

Kudos to Smiley for speaking truth to power. Just because Zeman is her supervisor doesn’t give him absolute power to go above the line and behave in a way that is unbecoming.  She checked it and checked him.  Zeman says things have gotten worse under Smiley’s leadership.  It has gotten worse for Zeman and other Board members who are used to running amok and doing as they please because they hire a superintendent who will fall in line with their shenanigans.  It is the reason they don’t want the other Black female. They are looking for someone who will align to their dysfunction and allow them to keep it going.

Get to the polls people and vote these people out of office.  And when they are out, lock the door, throw away the key and don’t reopen it for anything.


About Carma Henry 22956 Articles
Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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