Civilizing the School Board

Last night’s school board meeting should have been a revelation. It was taken to task for its ill treatment of Gary Glass by several of us. Most of the School Board members got quite defensive if not contrite. One said she wanted to remove Gary from the board. Brenda Anderson sent a sobering description of the meeting in an email to members of Let Duluth Vote. Here it is in its entirety.

Hello All,

Well I wanted to report on the school board meeting yesterday.

As you all may be aware, Gary’s editorial was in the paper yesterday about the District borrowing (using) general fund monies to pay for the LRFP.

There was some media present, and those that showed up extra early were treated to some string music to celebrate making tenure of many teachers. That ceremony lasted until about 6:45 and then the school board meeting began.

Three of us spoke, Gordon, Harry & I, all pointing out the lack of civility from the board & audience last meeting when Gary was attacked. There was a 4th speaker, Jay Cole, that handed out a curious handout to the Board members about acquiring property. I am not sure if it was a ruse, or real, but the Superintendent simply brushed him off with something along the line of “we will put your request in with all the others that want the properties”

The meeting went on going over old business & new, with Gary raising questions and trying to clarify multiple points. Gary’s questions were good & in several cases got others (Laura C & Tim G) to ask other questions. The topics were long, and I personally did not follow some of what was covered. Meanwhile, Mary C, & Judy S off to the left looking bored & frustrated,(cupping hands over face, sideward looks, rolling eyes, etc) and Ann W to the left of Gary looking just plain irritated. Nancy N & Keith D, jumping in multiple times to “correct” Gary.

During the meeting, after the speakers, a few of the school board members took time to publicly thank the community for supporting the levy. Toward the end of the meeting, when it seemed by her body language that she could take no more, Mary C put her light on, and publicly directed to Gary that there was a time & place for questions and this was not it. She said he has ample opportunities to ask deeper questions by email or phone call and essentially they all had “lives” and these meetings were long enough without his questions. (frankly, although I knew she was irritated, I was shocked, as many others in the audience, that she would say so much) she went on to say that gary should be removed – or some wording like that. – it was shocking really.

After the meeting I bee-lined up there to Mary C and respectfully and appropriately said “Mary, Gary was voted in by 60% of the citizens, and personally, I appreciate hearing his questions so I know that things are being watched & followed up on” We went on to have a 10 min conversation about that, and several others in our group walked up & spoke to her as well, while the majority of the board rushed off and were in the backroom closed session waiting to discuss the properties under a closed meeting. Trina confronted her on the fact that she has not replied to most of her emails asking very simple questions – Mary denied that she has ignored any emails. Mary was clearly on the spot.

Mary expressed that many people in the community are mad at her for her decisions and she is tired of it. She said she does not “rubber stamp” anything from Dixon and she is clearly ready to step down. She stated she has no intention of running again. “I am done” – I told her I agreed with her, that she should step down. (respectfully, but because she was clearly burned out) . Mary went on to comment on what I had said about civility from the board. She said when she was chair, people attacked Hustad & there wasn’t anything she could do about it. I said that was incorrect, you can interrupt and warn speakers when it is getting nasty. She accused our group of breaking the civility code attacking members of the board. I said I don’t believe that has happened often if at all. I pointed out that we have been very respectful with our message.

It made for an interesting close to a meeting. Mary’s rampage, Dixon’s uneasiness as Gary’s questions became more & more specific, and Nancy N trying hard to choose her wording. At one point, Nancy N said ” lots of things come out of the general fund, are you going to question us everytime something does?” She said this more to the audience then Gary directly.

I noted that in the Board packet available to the public, it showed that during the month, two people had sent written correspondence to the district against the Red Plan and OL. It made me realize that while many of us have emailed – those don’t seem to hold the same weight.

My suggestion is to write a letter to the district and mail it the old fashion way, then apparently it becomes permanent record, just as it does when speakers address the board. I would imagine that down the road, those written or documented complaints would be the only ones that would “officially” matter. I believe if you write & simply put “school board” on the top – that they copy & give it to all members of the school board & it is put in the official record. Here’s the address.

School Board
215 N 1st Avenue E
Duluth, Mn 55802

Well, I just wanted to fill everyone in on that so I didn’t take up time on the thursday meeting with that discussion.

Reminder that we have a meeting tomorrow evening. – there won’t be one the following thursday as most of us will be eating turkey and being thankful for the many other blessings in our lives.

Come & join us at the meeting – 6:30 Thursday the 20th -tomorrow

Have a good day


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