For a school board that has drawn the ire of USD 231 district patrons for poor communication the last year, we were surprised that they entered into closed session to discuss public policy relating to SB40 at their April 7 meeting.
Why?
Or maybe the question should be why are we surprised? This board has made an art form of being secretive.
SB40 gives Boards of Education sole authority to take action in response to situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes learning modes, emergency school closures and other mitigation efforts such as masking, social distancing and other efforts.
In other words, they can’t pass the buck.
SB 40 was approved by the Kansas Legislature in response to the pandemic, it is a public document and requires local boards to pass public policy. Nothing secret about it.
Yet the 231 BOE, citing attorney/client privilege, discussed the public policy in secret before rejoining open session and passing a resolution which abdicates most decision making to the district administration — altho the BOE does stipulate they should be notified.
Specific attorney/client exemptions are allowed, but when used generically it’s more akin to your kitchen junk drawer where you stash things you don’t want anyone to see and pray nobody ever opens.
We question what in a public policy discussion would be considered attorney/client privilege, unless a specific complaint or person were involved, but apparently that’s not the case.
It appears to be more of the same from a district administration that wants to control everything.
Even the most minute data must go thru a central hub – the administration – which is apparently where all power resides.
We have some very good people on the board, but they’ve been brainwashed to the point they don’t even respond to patrons individually.
Nor do they respond to e mails from this newspaper.
And now the BOE has relegated authority regarding SB40 to the administration.
This is not good for patrons.
— from SB40: “Any meeting or hearing of a local school board discussing an action taken, order issued, or policy adopted shall be open to the public and may be conducted by electronic audio-visual communication when necessary to secure the health and safety of the public, the board, and employees.”