Embattled Floyd County School Superintendent Kevin Harris, whose hair-trigger temper and prevalent ego gets him into embarrassing public stunts, is a recipient of one of the “Dano” awards from Roanoke Times columnist Dan Casey in Sunday’s paper . A Dano is a tribute to something stupid by someone.
The Dano for Best Intimidation Tactic by a Local School Official goes to Floyd County School Superintendent Kevin Harris. It happened back in August, following a disagreement between Harris and parent Rob Neukirch at a cross-country meet. Neukirch apparently taunted Harris on the subject of track coaches.
Harris called it “inappropriate, challenging, threatening” and added “I think it was disruptive.” Neukirch noted all the athletes were off running in the woods. He said the two skirmishes lasted, at most, 30 seconds total.
The following day, Harris wrote Neukirch a letter, warning he’d be banned from all school property if it ever happened again. But he did not drop it in the mail. Instead, he had it hand-delivered to Neukirch by two sheriff’s deputies.
Later, Harris said his objective was not intimidation. But he didn’t tell Neukirch that.
Harris is in the spotlight for more than berating Neukirch. More than one tirade against former cross country coach Dawn Weeks led her to a tearful resignation. Others who work for the school system tell horror stories about being a target of one of his withering verbal assaults and intimidations.
Members of the Floyd County Board of Supervisors witnessed more than one meltdown in public sessions before a closed-door confrontation between Harris and former county administrator Dan Campbell marked his last appearance before the board.
Since then, Harris has stayed away and let his assistants deal with the Supervisors.
After reports of the encounter between Harris and Neukirch became news items last August, reports of “Harris Harangues” began appearing on Facebook and other social media outlets.
We are told Harris sent a letter “of apology” to each member of the school board but no such apology, if made, has come, to our knowledge, to Neukirch, Weeks, Supervisors or any other target of wrath. We don’t know if the apology letters to school board members were delivered by Floyd County Sheriff’s deputies.
The behavior of the school superintendent was an issue in school board elections in November and it is expected to continue to be an issue in 2016.
Another brewing issue is the superintendent’s ability to avoid living in Floyd County. Although he signed a contract that required him to re-locate his home to the county that pays his salary, he managed to renegotiate — behind closed doors — a change in that rule to allow he and his family to live near Riner in Montgomery County.
Several county residents have asked, in public comments, for an explanation but the school board, hiding behind the veil of “closed door sessions” say personnel decisions are not public record.
In public comments to both the school board and the board of supervisors, however, some Floyd County residents have called for the dismissal of Harris.