“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
– Micah 6:8
Beebe Superintendent Dr. Chris Nail did the right thing in bringing the district’s special programs director off paid administrative leave in late June, even if it wasn’t for the right reason.
The right reason would have been if Dr. Brandy Dillin had been exonerated of the misdemeanor charges against her that accuse her of knowing that alcohol was being consumed by minors and marijuana was being smoked at a graduation party at her residence in May 2018.
As a public school administrator – one who was still technically Beebe Middle School’s principal at the time – those allegations are alarming, but we’ve gone more than two years waiting to find out if they are true as the case has slogged through the court system.
Members of her church (some of whom reportedly were at her residence the night of the party) say they are not true. The Beebe School District’s former superintendent, Belinda Shook, didn’t seem to believe the accusations. And even Beebe’s then-city attorney, Scott Bles, eventually wanted to drop the charges based on what he believed was an unreliable witness.
However, what we’ve gotten instead is $209,002.76 in taxpayer dollars being paid to Dillin while she was on leave to not do her job while the Beebe School District had to burden other employees with extra duties to fill in for her.
We can’t blame the school district for continuing to pay Dillin while on leave since she is only accused of a crime. Unless she is guilty, we can’t blame Dillin for taking that pay. We can’t even blame the city for pursuing the charges if the police believe she is guilty.
What we can blame is a system that has allowed this, a misdemeanor case, to drag out this long. We know that the wheels of justice turn slowly and there have been issues with having to change judges, video not playing right and even Dillin’s lawyer passing away that have added to the grind, but there comes a point where something just has to get done.
We’re way past that point with “no end in sight,” Nail said, which is why as a steward of taxpayer dollars, he stopped waiting on justice, whatever that might be.
Dillin, who got her doctorate while on paid leave, is not only the district’s full-time special programs director (a position she had accepted at the end of the 2017-18 school year), but also has been named virtual administrator during this time of online education because of COVID-19. If she is eventually found guilty of the crimes she’s accused of, she should not only be made to pay by the courts, but also by the school district.
If she isn’t found guilty, then questions need to be answered about why the city continued to pursue this case when its then-city attorney wanted to drop it and it was costing taxpayers more than the normal court costs. Is it because Dillin is suing Mayor Mike Robertson and one of the witnesses for $5 million for allegedly seeking to defame her “so that she could not remain as a school administrator in Beebe or anywhere else”?
We’ve gone more than two years and $209,000 waiting for a verdict and answers, and the only thing that has gone right is Beebe’s superintendent choosing not to wait anymore.