Editorial: It’s past time to make a decision on Adams

Editorial Board • Nov 25, 2019 at 5:30 PM

John Stuart Mill, 1806-1873, was a British philosopher, political economist and among the most influential thinkers of his time contributing to social theory. He said, “A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction and in either case, he is justly accountable to them for the injury.”

It’s a lesson members of the Norton Board of Education might consider.

Through its inaction in the case of suspended J.I. Burton High School Head Coach James Adams, the board continues to waste tax dollars. According to one school board member, the Adams case already has cost taxpayers some $50,000.

A recent vote by the board affirmed that Adams violated school harassment policy in connection with complaints by two students last June. But that situation, according to a school board member, has already been dealt with. Member Mark Leonard said Adams was “put on an improvement plan with a letter of reprimand to address those accusations at the recommendation of the principal.”

If so, of what use was the school board vote? Likewise, of what use is a statement made at that recent meeting by board Chairman Cody McElroy that “I have no comment or update at this time regarding Mr. Adams or his current employment status other than to state that his status remains unchanged.”

The question that Norton residents should have for the board is why is it continuing Coach Adams’ suspension? Why is it paying him as a teacher and head coach even while banning him from setting foot on the J.I. Burton campus?

If there’s something they know that residents don’t, what is it?

An investigation by Norton police and the city social services department found the allegations made by students against Adams not prosecutable. The board hired the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police as an independent contractor to investigate, and according to Leonard, its report “only repeated the claims of the initial investigation as performed by a prior principal and superintendent and did not result in any new claims subsequent to that investigation.”

After the school board voted to hire VACP, however, the Norton Police Department confirmed that a third complaint had been turned over to the Virginia State Police. That complaint is still under investigation.

It’s well past decision time in this case. Coach Adams should either be restored to the work he’s being paid for, or if warranted, terminated.