Some Still Asking Why School Chief Was Fired

Despite demands for answers from parents who filled a meeting hall this week, questions remain over the recent dismissal of Supt. Ronald Bennett by high school district trustees.

Bennett, who joined the Huntington Beach Union High School District less than two years ago, was ousted earlier this month for what was described as a difference in management philosophy. Both Bennett and the board said the termination of his four-year contract was mutual. Four days later, the board appointed Susan Roper, a veteran district administrator, as superintendent until June 1999.

"We want to know why the board acted so hastily and did not seek input from parents, staff or students," said Chris Merlo, whose son attends Marina High School.

Other parents questioned the board's decision to pay Bennett $250,000 to buy out his contract when he was given an extension less than 10 months ago.

"You've demonstrated poor judgment and you've lost our trust," said Sally Alvino.

In a prepared statement, board President Barbara Johnson said the board anguished over the decision but acted in a professional manner. "This board will not comment any further," Johnson said. "Some questions will not be answered."

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