School Board Muzzles Board Members

December 29, 2013 Asheville , Columnists , News Stories 1379 Views
School Board Muzzles Board Members

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By Pam Danz-At its regular school board meeting in December the Buncombe county school board voted to pass a series of policies over the objections of member Lisa Baldwin. These regulations work to muzzle individual members of the school board. One suspects that the new regulations have been put in place because the more liberal board has been inconvenienced by the inquiries and statements of Lisa Baldwin, the one true conservative on the board.

The stated reasons for instituting the regulations include: other school boards have such regulations, free-flowing communications between board members and staff and faculty take up too much of the latter’s time, and inaccurate information might be disseminated to the public.

Other boards may have similar regulations and policies, but that is just proof that other boards are straying from their original intent and that the tail is wagging the dog again as it is in so many other areas of modern education. The Superintendent is an employee of the citizens of Buncombe County. The people of Buncombe County pay his salary to manage the school system. He is to supervise teachers, staff, and the physical plant. He makes a monthly report to the school board. He is the executive of the school system as the president is the executive of the United States. He enforces the laws (policies). He does not make them.

The School Board contains REPRESENTITIVES of the people. The people delegate some of their authority over the education of their children to the board. The board has fiduciary responsibility and authority over school policy. (It used to have responsibility for curriculums and textbooks, but that function has been usurped by the state.)

Essentially the board functions to supervise the school system, including the Superintendent, to make sure the people’s tax dollars are being spent wisely and honestly and that school policies reflect the wishes of the people. It is the job of the school board to keep the Superintendent in line, not the other way around. The voters simply would not accept a federal regulation that required all congressmen to communicate with their constituents only through the offices of the president, and prevented congressmen from gathering information directly from public employees. When the Congress wishes to speak with a member of the armed services or a member of the executive branch, they even have subpoena power.

Naturally a school board team player would be transparent in their inquiries and statements, carbon copying other board members, for example, but they should not have to ask permission of the superintendent for either. They should not have their responsibility to supervise the doings of the school system abridged. The school board members represent their constituents, not the educational establishment.

The charge that these policies are necessary to prevent the time of school employees being wasted with questions up to 3 times a week as said is spurious. Part of the school employees’ job is to answer questions from the board and their constituents. They too must be transparent to the people.

The fact that the vast majority of Buncombe County school board members do not understand this and are willing to muzzle themselves is truly sad. If nothing else, they should be more sensitive to minority rights.

These regulations work to muzzle individual members of the school board. One suspects that they have been put in place to emasculate Lisa Baldwin, the one true conservative on the board. Other boards may have similar regulations and policies, but that is just proof that other boards are straying from their original intent and that the tail is wagging the dog again as it is in so many other areas of modern education. The Superintendent is an employee of the citizens of Buncombe County. The people of Buncombe County pay his salary to manage the school system. He is to supervise teachers, staff, and the physical plant. He makes a monthly report to the school board. He is the executive of the school system as the president is the executive of the United States. He enforces the laws (policies). He does not make them.

Pam Danz lives in Flat Rock, NC and used to write for the Radford News Journal in Radford VA. Along with several other careers she is a Masters Degreed educator with experience teaching from Middle School through college.

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