We were hoping for some original new ideas from new School Board member James Kelly, but my wife and I were disappointed by his “Positive Outcomes” letter (March 7, Indy).
Instead of enlarging community schools narrative, he’s seemingly fallen into lock step with same old shrill chorus trying to silence open and fair discussion that addresses both strengths and weaknesses, positive and negatives, in School Board governance practices.
Those of us who went to school here, whose children and grandchildren attend local schools, don’t need to be told our public education system is excellent. We’re tired of apologists for the Board hiding behind success of teachers, students and parents while pontificating against those who know the Board can do even better for students.
We put students first by advocating more competent oversight representing the town’s diversity. The Board should not practice denial about serious District policy and program failures.
Mr. Kelly insists he’s seen nothing but civility, good morale. He needs to take off education bureaucracy blinders and spend enough time in Laguna to know a lot of parents with kids in school won’t even come to Board meetings or speak in public about school experiences for fear of retaliation.
Unfortunately, there’s more. Kelly was less than candid claiming, “I was not sworn in as a board member until January and therefore did not attend the organizing meeting at which the board president was chosen.”
He did not need to defend himself, but when he chose to, it was wrong to use “therefore” to reverse actual cause and effect of his absence. His inauspicious choice of words seemingly mean he was precluded from attending December’s organizing meeting and voting on election of the President because he was not sworn in.
An accurate statement would straightforwardly inform the public he didn’t attend the December meeting to be sworn in and vote to elect President, and “therefore” wasn’t sworn in until attending his first meeting in January.
Not trust-engendering and a bad example for students expected not to make up excuses for skipping class. Claiming prior business commitment with more than a month of notice about official meeting also reflects unwillingness to adjust priorities to meet responsibilities he asked to be entrusted to him.
Since he was a no-show for the election of presiding officers, his vote on repeal of the equal Board member participation rule, broken for purposes of exclusion rather than inclusion, will show Kelly’s true colors.
Howard Hills, Laguna Beach
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