Leadership and Cowardice. Board Meeting 5/4/10-5/5/10.

Our Regular Board meeting lasted until 12:20AM as the Board had a very full evening, and as it turns out, morning. An auspicious start as we each had the pleasure of bestowing Outstanding Citizenship awards to 7 very worthy Christina community members who make a difference in our district above and beyond the call of duty.

The meeting then shifted to several key decisions and I will focus on 2: Code of Conduct and Teacher Terminations.

The code of conduct revision, the culmination of a 6 month process, was submitted for a second and final reading. A lively debate ensued which covered bus privileges, 24 hour notice rules for accused students at hearings, the appropriate punishment for arson, and a discussion about the fallacious policy of zero tolerance in which the word “optional” was used as a code word to argue that we should maintain the misguided sensibility that treating  each infraction the same is fair, particularly along the lines of disparate racial outcomes, when the statistics simply confirm that zero tolerance does just that: targets minorities and socioeconomically disadvantaged.

Late in the debate a motion to table the code of conduct was made, seconded, and carried 4 votes. I voted NOT to table it.

Teacher terminations. The administration recommended that the Board terminate 40+ educators as a move to maintain fiscal soundness for the district. While I take the responsibility to spend within our means wisely very seriously, I also am deeply troubled by the lack of information provided about spending that would fully inform such a decision. Essentially, I am asked to accept the district’s assertion that we operate with “no frills” and that there are no available cuts (even as little a one local share) to save even one job/position. Without access to data to satisfy my need to understand the picture appropriately, I did not support the vote to terminate (4 yes, 2 no, 1 abstain). At one point, my actions were described as lacking courage by a fellow board member. I could not disagree more. I would loved to have secured a third vote, even if designed to make my vote look irresponsible in order to force the district to make these cuts elsewhere. Alas, the vote was along traditional historical lines: business as usual…a position I ran against when I ran for this office.

I guess I could possible accept the label as Cowardly Lion for a no vote, but what then for yes votes?

Finally, there was a public comment regard a FOIA petition that fellow board member Elizabeth Scheinberg and myself submitted in March. The comment indicated that the ruling was in our favor. The President responded, as he was targeted by the comment. I just want to say the plain truth is that the AG ruled in our favor and indeed found that the board did hold an illegal meeting and failed to document an otherwise legal meeting on a consistent, recurring, basis. The public commenter, in my opinion, was factually correct.

That’s all I can recall for now, I may edit this entry for more detail later in the week.

Continuing news coverage: http://blogs.delawareonline.com/delawareed/2010/05/05/a-long-night-the-debate-continues/

More: http://blogs.delawareonline.com/delawareed/2010/05/06/protest-planned-at-christiana-high-school/

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