Skip to content

Comments at Censure Meeting – May 19, 2021

May 23, 2021

Wednesday we had a special meeting of the board to consider a censure resolution of a fellow board member. The nine members of the public were unanimous in speaking against it. The board was unanimous in voting for it. Obviously there’s a gap there, probably in understanding.

After the public spoke, we each took a turn (although some of the public had left by that time; a mid-day meeting isn’t friendly to any of us). I wanted to get “on the record” the comments I’d prepared, which I’ve included below. My actual comments varied a bit (I added some in response to other board members’ comments), and you can see the entire meeting on Youtube, but this is what I prepared and read from:

“I’d like to speak in favor of the motion.

“I perceive this action as a formal disavowal of reckless and irresponsible actions by Trustee Petero. The resolution is intended to shield the board and the district from legal and financial liability for those actions. The actions described in the resolution do not need elaboration. The document speaks for itself.

“We had a clear warning in our self-evaluation last week; renegade actions by zealous board members can have serious financial consequences for districts. The example we heard about involved over four million dollars in damages paid out, and it didn’t sound like that was a rare thing. It’s difficult to balance our obligations as elected officials with the need for oversight and accountability to the community, but it’s a fine line we must learn to walk. If we enter schools and speak with school employees as if we’re the boss, we’re doing it wrong. We’ve collectively chosen the superintendent to be the boss, and we’ve agreed not to undermine that. Work environments become toxic when it’s not clear who the real boss is. That’s why we have placed limits on ourselves and empowered the superintendent to monitor us in keeping within those limits.

“Perhaps this action will have no ultimate effect. If Trustee Petero from here forward abides by the proper limits of the office she has been elected to, then there will be no consequences aside from a bit of shame for having behaved enthusiastically but carelessly. But if the behaviors don’t change and legal claims arise, then I would expect this resolution to matter greatly. It would constitute a defense against our responsibility if employees, for instance, are subjected to unlawful harassment or intimidation. This resolution would be a major part of our defense.

“My hope is that will have no effect, because the behaviors would change.

“In speaking for the motion, I would also like to also respond to those in the community who have criticized the formal tone of our discussions, who say that our careful language looks artificial, and that we’re avoiding addressing this head on. Perhaps they are hoping for the drama of a personal battle.

“The reason we choose to address behaviors (rather than personalities) is to keep ourselves focused on our mission: to shape an environment where students’ needs come first, and not to descend into personal conflicts. We choose to focus on problem-solving because our district is faced with many legitimate challenges and needs, and should not be distracted by matters like this. That is why I support the motion. Thank you.”

From → Meetings

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: