Angry Elitist at the Board of Education (letter & video)

Letter To Board President

Letter To Board President

At the October 6, 2015 Board of Education Meeting, I distributed the following letter to members of the Board. Without even knowing of its contents the Board President and immediate past president declared that it should not be made part of the minutes of the meeting (see video below).


6 October 2015

Hand Delivered
Ms. Heather Bennett, Board President
℅ Salt Lake City Board of Education
440 East 100 South
Salt Lake City, Utah 84111

Re: Superintendent Search Agenda Request

Dear Ms. Bennett,

I am writing to request that the issue of the new Superintendent search be placed on the agenda of our next meeting. I would also request that the hiring of a new Superintendent become a top priority for the Board of Education.

On August 28, 2015, Superintendent Withers sent out a memo notifying the Board of his intent to leave the District. The last line states:

I will be meeting with our board leadership in the weeks ahead to further discuss and plan for a thoughtful, professional, and purposeful transition of district leadership [1]

As a duly elected member of the Board, I reject the Superintendent’s stated course of action. The planning for a “transition of district leadership” rest with the entire Board of Education, not with McKell Withers nor with a “group of members” [2] of the Board:

Power belongs not to individual members of a Board of Education but to the Board of Education acting as a corporate body through collective action. Board members have authority only when acting as a Board of Education in a legally constituted session, with a quorum present. The statement or action of an individual member or group of members of the Board of Education does not bind the Board of Education itself, except when that statement or action is specifically authorized by an official act of the board. [3]

I was advised that in a recent General Administrators Meeting (GAM), Superintendent Withers told those present that he would be involved in deciding who the next Superintendent of the District would be. I reject that notion, as that is not his role.

Moreover, the Board should ensure, insist and demand that we initiate a new Superintendent search, free of the current central office’s bureaucratic meddling and manipulation that has vexed this District for the past decade.

I believe that the time has come for the majority of the Board to exercise the authority that is rightfully ours in setting the direction and future of this District. State law declares:

(1)        …A local school board shall appoint a district superintendent of schools who serves as the local school board’s chief executive officer.

  (2)         A local school board shall appoint the superintendent on the basis of outstanding professional qualifications. [4]

I recommend that we review the process followed by our neighbor, the Canyons School District (see attached) and adopt some or all of the processes they followed in successfully hiring a new Superintendent. One of their first steps was to publish an RFP for a search consultant in order to obtain professional advice and guidance.

More importantly, it appears that they followed an open and public process. I of course recognize that transparency is a foreign concept to the current administration of Salt Lake City School District and select members of the Board. Nevertheless, a new and exciting day is on the horizon for our District and I am hopeful we can turn the page and start a new chapter free of the contamination of the past. On behalf of the residents that elected me, [5] I submit this request for your review and subsequent action.


J. Michael Clára
Board Member, District 2

Enclosures: 2

cc: Board of Education

[1] McKell Withers memo to Salt Lake City School District Board of Education, Transition Planning Letter 08/28/15

[2] Heather Bennett letter to the Salt Lake City Planning Commission 01/21/15

[3] Board of Education Handbook –Salt Lake City School District pg. 7

[4] §53A-3-3-301 Utah Code

[5] Notwithstanding a local school board’s status as a body corporate, an elected member of a local school board serves and represents the residents of the local school board member’s district, and that service and representation may not be restricted or impaired by the local school board member’s membership on, or obligations to, the local school board. §53A-3-3-401 Utah Code

PDF Version of Letter w/timeline

Withers 08/28/15 Memo to the Board

Angry Elitist at the Board of Education (video link)

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