Page 15

KNOW_Fall_2015

www.gae.org | 15 truth to what was being told.” “I’m glad that the Superintendent had his GAE membership so we were able to provide him the legal help he needed at no expense to him and his family,” Julie said. Together with his GAE network attorney, Harper would face a potentially careerchanging event with poise and resolve. While war was being waged against him, Superintendent Harper committed to taking a “business as usual approach” to his situation. He committed to being positive and taking the “high road” in his attitude towards the allegations. “I continued to attend my church and my Sunday school class and I couldn’t really worry about what people were thinking based on rumor and speculation that came out during that point in time,” Harper said. “I continued to work and do the job that I needed to do as Superintendent of the school system. I worked very closely with my school board to say ‘hey, look – it’s out here. Let’s talk about that.” He reassured his board that the allegations against him were false and meritless. Had they even contained an ounce of truth, Harper would have taken it upon himself to resign his post. In his mind, how could he continue his mission in serving his community and the many students who depended on his good judgment had he been anything other than truthful? Despite his virtue and sincerity, the media had all but convicted Superintendent Harper of his allegations. For the average family, the scrutiny brought on by such accusations alone could have caused devastation; however, the Harpers’ twenty-seven year marriage remained unscathed. His wife Adena Harper and his family remained a constant solace for Harper during the course of a rather difficult time. Throughout his career in education as an administrator, Superintendent Harper and Mrs. Harper agreed to not talk about his work at home. If she were ever asked in the community about a school district issue, Mrs. Harper could truthfully say that she did not know anything about her husband’s dealings at work. The same would be the case when it came to Harper’s PSC procedure. When asked how they handled the allegations at home Mrs. Harper said, “We did several things that were fairly unusual. We really didn’t discuss it at home. We knew it was a journey and a process – and we believed in the process.” Mrs. Harper met with her husband’s attorney alone to ensure it was expressed and understood the supportive role she would play in Superintendent Harper’s case. Whether it was in person or via social media, the Harpers maintained a united public front as they navigated their journey – a journey started all because of a local political rivalry. “Superintendent Harper was subjected to this public smear campaign as a result of a personal vendetta by his political opponents,” noted Oinonen about the nature of Harper’s case. “They tried to try him in the media and really abdicate his right to due process and presumed innocence.” But in spite of his opposition’s attempts, Harper was vindicated of all charges after months of enduring public scrutiny. “I deeply appreciate the overwhelming encouragement shown by the community, including parents, staff, students, my Board, business and religious leaders, as well as the outstanding legal advocacy through GAE.” – Superintendent John Harper Citing his faith and family as grounding forces during his ordeal, Superintendent Harper said, “I deeply appreciate the overwhelming encouragement shown by the community, including parents, staff, students, my Board, business and religious leaders, as well as the outstanding legal advocacy through GAE.” The entire Harper family was relieved at the end of their arduous journey. “I am very proud of my husband for the integrity and leadership he has shown,” Mrs. Harper said. She continued, “…and am grateful that GAE was there for him when he needed it.” Superintendent Harper proved to be the epitome of grace under fire as a servant leader throughout his case. He was able to face the allegations head on while still serving the 14,000 students and 2,000 educators under his purview because of his GAE membership. In summing up her client’s case, Oinonen stated “It is essential that lawmakers ensure the constitutional right to due process protections are in place for ALL educators – whether they be a schoolteacher or Superintendent. GAE is the educators’ association that is there when it counts.”


KNOW_Fall_2015
To see the actual publication please follow the link above