School board’s silent treatment bad move
The Roaring Fork School District board has spoken and what it said is loud and clear.It’s also wrong.In this drama, the RFSD is accusing the Post Independent of being the big bad wolf. The board and outgoing Re-1 Superintendent Fred Wall blasted the newspaper for its April 10 story concerning possible open meetings violations made by the school board in its decision to hire Judy Haptonstall as the new superintendent.Wall went as far as to make the following astonishing statement: “I encourage all board members to not share openly with the press.”Fred Wall serves the board and is not an elected official. That statement is completely irresponsible.The school board is made up of five members whom the voters elected to serve the district.For public officials to not share openly with the press is negligent on their part. It’s the board’s job to make decisions and provide information for residents of the Re-1 school district and other members of the community.The board has the school district’s future in its hands. Are we not allowed to question them on the future of the district?As one of the largest beneficiaries of property taxes in the region, the RFSD should be held accountable for how that money is handled.As a member of the media, the Post Independent serves a number of roles. One of those is to pass along information and report on decisions made by elected officials. Another role is to ask questions and explore a variety of issues. Our role is also to recognize and feature members of our community. The school district and its members are part of our community and we recognize them occasionally along with other residents in our community.Like everyone, we make mistakes, but we will not apologize for asking questions and doing our job.We are constantly scrutinized on a variety of fronts. We accept that scrutiny and criticism, and we try and learn from it.The school district has every right to offer its criticism of us; however, to then shut us out is childish, irresponsible and downright wrong.Is a school board above criticism? Above reproach? Blameless and perfect?Should a school board be unapproachable and silent?All the answers are no.At Wednesday night’s meeting, board members also made ridiculous remarks about the Post Independent being “harmful” to local schools and making the decision to shut out the media to “protect our kids.”Is silence the way to protect students? Should parents just accept a board and its decisions without asking questions, without learning what decisions and discussions are being made that impact their children?This battle between the Re-1 school board and the Post Independent could easily escalate. We don’t want that; however, we will not accept a publicly elected board dictating how the media should gather information.We encourage members of the Re-1 school district to question the board on this decision to shut out the press. Like any school board, this board is not above criticism.With its decision to not share openly with the press, the RFSD is not serving the best interest of our community.A school board wields a great deal of power. Its decisions will shape the future.The RFSD board needs a refresher course on its role.This isn’t about the Roaring Fork School District, Superintendent Fred Wall or the Post Independent – it’s about the parents and the children of the district.
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