Friday, May 23, 2008

[LCSD] A Report From an Anonymous Commenter

A commenter left this account of the last school board meeting that I wanted to move to the front page:

It was a horrible board meeting. Several meetings before someone requested they move public comments to after the consent to the agenda so the public could comment on amendments as well. Josh said the comment period used to be after the meeting was over and he was the one responsible for getting them moved to before the meeting and didn't want to see them moved any further down the agenda. It left people with the impression he had no desire to be transparent since he and Rick are known for popping amendments in at almost every meeting despite Sherrie and Chris repeatedly requesting they call and have them added to the agenda ahead of time so the public can comment.

When they got to the discussion item about charter school negotiations Josh stood up and said he had been "threatening" to do this and now he was going to do it. He passed out the contract he had written to the other board members. He did not even give a copy to Jim or the press until Jim asked for it. Sherrie was stunned and made it very clear she had no prior knowledge about the contract and asked the others if they had. Then Josh said he didn't believe in holding people accountable (not his exact words, he might have said punish) if they broke a contract and thought instead you should hold a carrot in front of them to encourage them to honor the contract. So he intended to give them more money if they didn't break the contract again and the same amount if they did break it. He then asked the motion to be the following: and read the two page contract. Normally there is a discussion period after the motion is seconded. Sherrie and Chris were pointing out the finance director and attorney should have a chance to tell them how much it would cost and the legal consequences. Josh did not offer up the dollar amount it would cost. Jim knew and began to explain and Josh started swirling his hand in a "hurry up" motion to Rick and Debi and they approved it with no further questions. The audience was quickly going from stunned to furious. When Jim explained what they had done Debi made a friendly amendment to freeze the enrollment of the charter school to the present number of 298. Jim said the present number is 280 and she changed it to cap the enrollment to 280. She actually saved the district hundreds of thousands of dollars by doing that. Josh's original contract had increased the percentage to 85% and allowed them to increase enrollment by 18 kids every year for 5 years.

Things got worse as they moved down the agenda. Steve explained because of budget cuts they were only hiring 2 more high school administrators instead of 3. and Rick said how could he approve them when he hadn't even seen the applications? (he had just approved the hiring of two other people without seeing their applications) Josh said he wanted to wait until he saw the budget. (coming on the heels of making a motion to give hundreds of thousands of dollars to the charter school before seeing the budget) And the hiring committee and 2 principal candidates were sitting in the audience. Jim tried to explain how they were breaking his contract and Josh made a statement that in the long run will make this the most lucrative job Jim has ever had. It was just a horrible board meeting. At one point the audience erupted in applaud from a comment (the applaud was actually being disrespectful to Josh) and Sherrie slammed down the hammer and said NO! There was dead silence which showed the tremendous respect everyone has for Sherri.

Steve pleaded with the board, not Debi, to contact him in the future if they had concerns so he could remove it from the agenda to avoid what ended up happening. He certainly did not ask them to tell him how they were going to vote. I question her interpretation of the word insubordination. A workplace definition is: a refusal to follow a direct, valid work order -- The order must be clear, it must come from someone authorized to issue directives, and the employee must understand it as an order.

The bottom line is Rick, Josh and Debi gave most if not everyone in the room the impression they had colluded outside of the public eye on matters that were public. Whether they did or not, giving the appearance they did is bad board behavior. I hope we never have another board meeting like that one.

That's a pretty damning account, at least to me.


Anonymous said...

As long as Josh, Rick and Debi are on the board expect more meetings like that.

Karma will eventually catch up with them.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:17 you disgust me.

"Karma will eventually catch up with them"

You speak as if they are making their decisions to make things worse. They are doing what they are doing because they think it is the right thing to do for the schools. The only Karma that will come back to them will be positive Karma because they are doing the right thing, no matter what light it puts on them they are willing to fight the negativity of you people to help the kids. You are blinded by the negativity you have surrounding you.

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