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Merrill School Board bullying

Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 6:51 pm
by Tomahawk Leader
A Letter to the Editor in the Feb. 22 Tomahawk Leader:

I attended the Feb 3 Merrill School Board meeting. The topic of discussion was “Board Relations.” It was not a discussion – it was a personal attack by board members on Loretta Baughan. The meetings I have attended, leaves me impressed with Loretta’s intelligent questions, her own research on topics and her sharing her research with fellow board members. Loretta brings common sense to board meetings. These traits were the topic of discussion at this meeting. Wait – excuse me – there was no discussion, as board members unprofessionally took turns attacking Loretta. Loretta tried to respond but they would over talk her. She was demeaned and chastised for not being in agreement with the majority of the board. I was shocked by the verbal abuse Loretta had to endure. The board president took no action to control or stop this unwarranted despicable action. No, he jumped into the fray, adding his own demeaning attacks.

Some of these comments: On the topic of teacher lay-offs Loretta wanted further discussion – she was criticized like oh wrong teachers, or you know better then administration, grandstanding, accusing Loretta of voting no on every vote, accused of using common political tactics, of her questions to administration being malicious, her tone of voice not appropriate, accused of how could you (Loretta) have better ideas then administration, and ask your questions before meetings. What came to my mind during this meeting is our district does all it can to prevent school yard bullying. I was shocked at this “School Board Bullying” session. Board members are supposed to represent our interest. The only one there representing us was Loretta.

Thank you Loretta for your efforts for children and this community. I would like to publicly apologize to Loretta for the disrespectful manner and verbal abuse she endured at this meeting. I believe the subjects discussed at board meetings should have rigorous and engaging debates, so that all sides are heard. I don’t believe any board member should be treated in such a disrespectful manner.

Joe Fink
Concerned Citizen

Re: Merrill School Board bullying

Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 6:52 pm
by Tomahawk Leader
A Letter to the Editor in the March 1 Tomahawk Leader:

Have you attended a MAPS Board of Education (BOE) meeting lately?

According to MAPS BOE policy, the BOE must follow state statute and operate under Robert’s Rules of Order, however, during a “special meeting” held on Feb. 3, 2011, a “discussion” took place where all, but one board member, made it clear they had no apprehensions sidestepping Robert’s Rules of Order. They also had no qualms with the appointed “spokesperson,” the BOE president, answering all questions directed to the board members so the BOE appears as a united team in the eyes of the public.

Since the BOE doesn’t follow the established order by which to run the meetings, then whose rules of order does the board follow? The spokesperson and therefore the ground rules by which the meetings are run are at the discretion of the BOE president. If you have an opposing viewpoint from the president and are brave and courageous enough to speak out, he will interrupt you or speak over you as if you are non-existent, a common occurrence during regular board meetings. He can also just call you “out of order.” When the BOE president cannot cite the Robert’s Rules of Order to substantiate his position for calling you “out of order,” then the vice president, will declare you “out of order,” even though he does not have the authority to do so, but because he agrees with the president, it’s OK.

Under these parameters, at the special meeting on Feb. 3, I witnessed a free-for-all attack on one board member, Loretta Baughan. After many BOE members verbally lashed out at Mrs. Baughan, apparently trying to whip her into submission, the superintendent wrapped it up stating, “We’ve had a good discussion.” Only four public members were in the room to witness this deplorable display. Conveniently, for these BOE members, special meetings are not video or audio recorded. I will bring my video camera next time.

Anyone who knows Mrs. Baughan sees how she works tirelessly to investigate, research and comes fully prepared to every board meeting so she can intelligently ask the questions she seeks to, and has the right to, have answered in a public setting. One board member told Mrs. Baughan not to ask questions to the “experts,” simply because “they are experts.” Not asking questions and blindly trusting is precisely the mindset that got us into the moral and financial mess our district is facing today. At this time, current policy states that once the BOE makes a decision, members are to “conform” and are not to question. It is clear, under the current BOE “leadership,” conforming and keeping up a good image is more important than getting things right.

Thank you Loretta Baughan for taking ownership of the job you were elected and entrusted to do. You shine above the rest and are a true example of servant leadership.

Karen Cournaya