Letter of Condemnation or Badge of Honor?


Tonight’s school board meeting was odd. It started off with many of the district's principals in attendance. I received a couple of calls earlier today, that they were ordered to attend. One the principals spoke about how great the superintendent is. The school board president then passed out a packet of superintendent support letters, written by various employees of the school district. Towards the end of the meeting, the board president passed out a letter signed by her and the vice president, demonizing me. I accept the letter as a badge of honor because I refuse to protect the bureaucracy at the expense of my community.


On March 18, 2014, during the open meeting portion of the board’s study session, Board Member Clara made numerous personally offensive and defamatory comments about Superintendent McKell Withers and Business Administrator Janet Roberts. While this statement is in direct response to those remarks, we recognize that Mr. Clara has made similar pronouncements in other meetings that have, up until this point, gone unchallenged. Given Mr. Clara’s accusations, we feel the superintendent and business administrator are entitled to a public apology from the board, and clear evidence of the board’s support for their overall leadership.

As a board, we agreed to abide by our statement of ethics, which includes the following: “I will treat fellow board members, district staff, and members of the public with respect and consideration, through civil discourse, exhibiting both honesty and decorum whether we agree or disagree on issues.” Board Member Clara exhibited disregard for this board’s commitment to civil discourse and disrespect for the superintendent and business administrator. Moreover, Mr. Clara showed contempt for the board’s adopted parliamentary procedures when he failed to heed the board chair’s repeated requests to cease his invective, which was in no way related to the agenda item being discussed by the board. His comments offended Dr. Withers, Ms. Roberts, other board members, and district employees attending the meeting.

For more than a decade, the superintendent and business administrator have demonstrated collaborative leadership, a focus on problem solving, and a genuine commitment to protecting and expanding opportunities for both students and employees. Over the past year, Mr. Clara’s actions have unjustly maligned Dr. Withers and Ms. Roberts and tarnished the reputation of the board and district as a whole.

For these reasons, we offer Dr. Withers and Ms. Roberts our sincere apology and reaffirm our support for their leadership of the district.

Kristi Swett, President                       Heather Bennett, Vice President

PDF Version of the Letter



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