Archive for Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Saturday meeting defended

October 15, 2003

Betty Bullock believes an apology is owed to the Baldwin School District by the Board of Education for its decision to discuss a challenged book at a Saturday morning meeting.

"The appearance was deceptive," Bullock, a district patron, said. "While it was not illegal, it was unethical.

"I want an apology to the faculty, the students and the community."

The Sept. 27 early morning school board meeting Bullock referred to had been recessed from the previous Monday so the school board could select a new phone system. A phone system was selected, but board members also discussed the district's book policy and the challenged book "We All Fall Down," which was not originally on Saturday's agenda.

The board reversed its original decision, which had been made in front of about 100 district patrons, faculty and news media, and decided against having a review committee make a decision about the book until a new policy for challenged materials was in place.

Board President Ed Schulte said the Saturday meeting wasn't intended to be secretive and out of public eye.

"The issue here is to try and do the right thing," he said. "We're struggling to move forward and do the right thing."

He said the purpose of the meeting had been to discuss phone systems, but it evolved as concerns about the district's policy regarding challenged materials and the board's decision were raised throughout the week.

Schulte took responsibility for how the Saturday meeting developed.

"I, as board president, opened up the issue," he said. "Don't look to (Supt. James) White on this, look to me. I'm the one who brought that forward."

Board Member Scott Lauridsen said he had several concerns following the board's original decision to form a review committee. He said he thought the current policy was not clear, and that it would be unfair to have a committee make a decision only to have to redo it all once a newer policy was put in place.

Lauridsen said because the review committee was going to meet the following Monday, Saturday seemed like the only opportunity to discuss the issue.

"It was an opportunity and we took it. It's nothing more than that," he said. "We saw it as an opportunity to move forward and do the right thing."

Board Member Lonnie Broers agreed the Saturday discussion seemed proper given the circumstances and nothing was meant to be kept from the public.

"There was nothing intended as far as a secret meeting," Broers said. "We did what we thought was best for the school, the patrons and the students.

"If we offended anyone, I want to personally apologize," he said.

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