Public School Bureaucracy Running Amock (Again!)

Janet Roberts, Salt Lake City School District -Business Administrator

                      Janet Roberts                       Salt Lake City School District Business Administrator

As a local elected official, the Utah state legislature has given me the authority to exercise my fiduciary duty over the finances of the school district (Utah Code 53A-3-402)

My neighbors decided at the ballot box, that I should have the power to exercise that authority. I find myself, yet again, attempting to navigate the road blocks that the school district bureaucracy throws in my path.

Case in point: I recently filed a  GRAMA Request with the district’s business administrator, Janet Roberts.

I should point out that as an elected official, I shouldn’t have to file a GRAMA request in order to get information that by law is mine to review in this first place.

Yet, in a somewhat comical reversal of roles, the business administrator and the superintendent think I work for them. When in reality the reverse is true (Utah Code 53A-3-301 & Utah Code: 53-3-302 ).

I was seeking information about the Smart School Technology program that the  Salt Lake Tribune reported that one of the Elementary schools in the district was going to participate in.

I was attempting to determine how the school district was going to pay, the close to $400,000.00 dollar price tag, in light of the fact that earlier this year, we were told that we were on the verge of cutting school staff and school programs if we didn’t raise taxes.

I also wanted to know how the district applied for the grant without getting approval, as the law was explicit:

“a school within a school district, with approval of the local school board…may submit an application to the State Board of Education to participate in the program” (S.B. 284 -See Line 92)

In response to my GRAMA request, I was informed my Janet Roberts that I would not receive the requested information in advance of the next school board meeting (See email correspondence ).

So, I was compelled to file yet another complaint with the State Auditor’s Office.

In my letter to the State Auditor I state the following conclusion, which bears repeating:

“I support the concept of “whole-school technology deployment”.

I cannot, however, abide a bureaucracy that consistently exhibits a disdain for the powers and authority of the duly elected institution of the local school board.”

If the problem in the Salt Lake City public school system (at the highest levels of management) was just incompetence, we would be immeasurably better off.

In dealing with the current institutional puzzle palace, I feel that I have found the bedrock of human stupidity. Or should we ask ourselves if that is just part of the system’s camouflage, incompetence covering multiple forms of misfeasance?

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