A variety of terms are being used to describe Denise Birdwell.
As emails are reviewed and events reconstructed from the past year, it's difficult to find anything good to say about the superintendent who has been placed on administrative leave by the SUSD School Board.
Birdwell is being called Machiavellian and mean-spirited. Some say she's a master manipulator. Others are convinced she's a narcissist with strong tendencies toward penis envy.
It also sounds like Denise Birdwell isn't afraid to dabble on the dark side.
Governing Board members had no choice but to finally place her on leave. While that should have happened months go, Birdwell is now one step closer to being gone for good. It's only a matter of time.
No matter how quickly the board musters up the courage to officially cut ties with Birdwell, the damage to the school district has already been done. In just the short span of a year, the public has totally lost trust in the five-member school board - especially President Barbara Perleberg, Vice President Kim Hartmann and Pam Kirby, who have been the architects of the cover-up of corruption.
The control Birdwell had over the elected members of the School Board - including newcomers Allyson Beckham and Sandy Kravetz - has been remarkable. It's as though they have been possessed. When looking back on this period in which SUSD's reputation was systematically destroyed, the five board members will probably conclude: "The devil made us do it."
That's why there needs to be a political exorcism.
There has been a community outcry for the members of the board to resign. But don't count on it. These are five women who have refused to take any responsibility whatsoever for the havoc they have helped create. Time after time they have denied that their decisions have either directly caused or contributed to horrible hiring choices and poor policies. For them, resignation will not be the better part of valor.
Remember that this saga started when the School Board hired Denise Birdwell without interviewing any other candidates ... and the crooks and con men naturally followed. Whatever happens from here, these board members can't be trusted to hire a new superintendent.
Hartmann and Kirby, whose terms on the board expire this year, are keeping their options open. Both have taken the initial step to run for re-election by taking out the necessary documents. In order to run again, they would need to file nominating petitions. They would then have until early August to submit them to qualify for the November ballot.
If they decide to enter the race for another four-year term, it will mean their extra-large egos have made them even more delusional than most people already believe.
For now, "interim" is the term being most frequently used in SUSD. The school district has an interim chief financial officer, an interim chief operating officer ... and soon there will be an interim superintendent. Because of the vacuum of leadership on the School Board, it will be the interim leadership team that will be responsible for restoring order in the school district by getting the $229 million bond program back on track.
That will at least start the process of purging the demons that are plaguing SUSD.