It’s enough that taxpayer monies must be safeguarded at every turn, even though the taxpayers have not been very successful, but to disallow elected board members attending meetings where policy is implemented is a dictatorial edict that cannot be supported.
In a recent memorandum from Caddo Parish School Board Superintendent Dawkins, elected board members were notified that they would be turned away from staff meetings at the direction of the Superintendent.
The goal of the new “Policies of Exclusion” seem to be designed to disallow communication of Central Office policy interpretations at building level with the board members and ultimately the electorate. The immediate result of these policies will probably be to speed the dissatisfaction that many parents have with the status quo and speed the move of some parents toward charter or independent alternative educational plans for their children.
The net effect of this secrecy and non-communication technique will be to spread rumors and harm any good will the school board hopes to create with new policies. And, in reality, the fear of “accurate” communication actually works against the superintendent and his insiders.
Board member Charlotte Crawley gave a public response to the memorandum which we felt was quite appropriate. She wrote:
I respectfully request that you, as our Superintendent and any staff of Caddo Parish, understand my role as an elected representative for the tax payers, citizens, parents, and children of our district. I was very grateful that I was able to attend the meeting yesterday concerning Choice. I had just received a call from a parent wishing to transfer her son from Huntington to Byrd. While it is not my intention to encourage anyone to leave their home school, I felt ill informed as to what she needed to know. I did not even know that Huntington was going to have to offer choice. I called staff for information and was told that the principals would be receiving the information at a meeting. So I knew it was very important for me to get this information for the people I represent. Board Members are the first people who are called about this and other policies. That is why our positions exist. It is rare that I am available to attend any meetings other than board meetings. But our AU schools and the Schools of Choice are a big concern to me and our citizens. When the chance arises that I am available to attend an informational meeting, I am very hopeful that I would be invited and welcomed. It is very important that Board Members have accurate and most current information.
I would greatly appreciate a list of dates, times and subject of staff meetings in which you would prefer that I let you know that I wish to attend. I never want to be a distraction, but I need accurate and timely information.
More information will follow.