Letter to the Editor:
I am writing this to you to let you know that I have made the
incredibly hard decision to resign from my USD 231 School Board position, Position 7 / At-Large, effective January 20,2022.
I am proud to have been twice elected and have served on this board for the last 7 years.  During my time here, we helped create the ATC; we added a Freshman Wing on the High School; we were able to employ more teachers than at any other time prior and give multiple staff raises; we recognized the need for mental health in the schools with the start of Zero Reasons Why and were the first district to staff a Mental Health Liaison to provide assistance to our many families and the MANY other milestones that have gone unmentioned.
This decision has not been an easy one and is something I have given a lot of thought to.   Unfortunately, with the current climate in education and how our newly elected board members have shown they plan to handle our Board of Education meetings (as was shown at the January 10th meeting), it has caused me grave concern.
It was apparent in the beginning of the January 10 meeting when Board Member, Greg Chapman, completely ignored all formal procedure and policy by introducing a new agenda that at least three board members, including me, had not seen prior to him handing them out during the meeting.
We have Board policy to follow and that was clearly disregarded by a vote of 4 to 3.
Per BCBD Agenda, The annotated shall be sent to all board members at least 3 calendar days prior to any regular board meeting. Also BCBD states; Prior to any board meeting an agenda of that meeting, if created, shall be made available to any person requesting it.
It was just the meeting prior, in December, when we were notified in an email from GA Buie expressing his concern for the district as he had received an email from now Board President, Lana Sutton, using her personal email address and her official School Board title asking for a list of Superintendents who could serve as a possible interim, appearing that she had done so as an individual, apart from any formal board decision to seek out a new superintendent.   Until then, I was not even aware that Pam had plans of resigning and when approached about this, Ms. Sutton did not admit her wrongdoing but only back tracked and downplayed her intent, despite each of us having a copy of that letter that clearly showed otherwise.
I struggled with that knowledge for some time but decided that I would start with a clean slate and came to the January meeting prepared to work as a united team with our new members.  Unfortunately, Mr. Chapman’s antics with the agenda wasn’t the only embarrassing action I had to sit through.  January also brought to light a voice recording of Bill Sutton, KS State Representative, who was outside the board office building with a group of citizens on the same night Ms.
Stranathan’s Separation Agreement was being discussed in executive session.  In the recording, Mr. Sutton is clearly heard claiming that Lana had provided an update and that ‘they were going through with it’ but she was fighting the amount.   The leaking of executive session information, especially when it involves personnel is an egregious violation and it leads one to question what additional privileged information Ms. Sutton has shared with her State Representative Husband that we do not know about.
This is disturbing on many levels and certainly not behavior that our staff or our community should have to accept. How will any employee, current or future, trust the Board with any information when the Board President so blatantly violated their oath and then denied doing so despite it being clearly heard on audio.
Additionally, Board President, Lana Sutton, could not even lead a highly controversial board meeting. Her inability to keep the crowd quiet and the focus on the topic at hand was a complete embarrassment, especially to our staff who are consummate professionals and deserve more.
I have met a lot of great people in USD 231 and for that I will be forever grateful. I have met some new friends and gained another Best Friend in my life.  And I have loved working with and learning from our wonderful teachers, administrators and directors.
During my time on the board, I haven’t always agreed with my colleagues but somehow, we always managed to work together, in the end, to accomplish some great things.  Personally, I have grown and learned so much about myself. I’ve found my voice and I’ve learned to use it to stand up for what is right. I want to thank those members of the previous board for their time, dedication and service.  I am grateful that we were able to overcome most of our differences, and even when we didn’t, we did not bulldoze or bully each other under the public eye.   I no longer feel like that will be possible with our current board and I refuse to be a part of a Board that not only participates in unethical behavior but ignores it when it happens.
To the Administrators, teachers, and staff it has been my pleasure to serve you. For the citizens that voted for me and supported me, thank you. To the current Board, Good luck. There are many changes coming and big positions to fill. Please remember you not only represent the citizens that voted for you, nor the handful of people that have chosen the boardroom as the place to scream their frustrations, but you also represent those citizens who didn’t vote for you. Keep politics out of Schools.  Our students and staff deserve so much more.
Sincerely,
Robin Stout