Sunday, February 28, 2010

Washington Township School Administration Asks School Board Members to Sign Code of Slience

After blogger Diana Vice recently exposed in a series of posts the illegal Securatex contract the Washington Township School Administration had entered into years ago, the administration immediately took action. Did the story prompt the administration to adopt a new policy to ensure this mistake didn't happen in the future? Nope. The administration adopted a code of silence to try to ensure the mistake would not be exposed in the future.

At the bottom of the page is the "School Board Compact" aka Code of Silence that adminstration is trying to get elected Washington Township School Board members to sign.

Paragraph #1 would violate the open records law. The Superintendent has no power to override state law and impose limits on requests for public records. As far as Paragraph #2, I'd be highly suspicious of what the administration labeled as "confidential." It could be used as a pretext to violate free speech. Paragraph #4 is a direct violation of school board members free speech rights.

Any elected school board member who would sign such a document does not deserve to be in office. I am stunned to read on Diana Vice's blog that four of the five members (not Greg Wright) have agreed to sign the document, including Vice President Don Kite, who is an attorney. Those members should resign their office as it is obvious that they are not putting their constituents first.
As a candidate for the Pike Township School Board, I pledge that should Pike administration officials try to get me to sign such a code of silence like that below, I will gladly tell administration officials where they can stick their document.
MSD Washington Township School Board Compact

The Board incorporates by reference Policy 0144.2 entitled Board Member Ethics. The Board adopts this Board Compact in order to address gaps and ambiguities in current Board Ethics Policy

Individual board member requests for specific documents or information from the Superintendent, whether denominated as a “citizen”, “taxpayer” request or otherwise, shall only be made during regular board meetings. This shall be done so that all board members will understand the rationale behind the request and have the opportunity to agree or disagree with the request. The Superintendent shall comply with the request only if the request is supported by the majority of the board[C1] .

Board members must respect the confidentiality of the executive session. Board members shall not publicly discuss either verbally, in written form, or electronic form about any discussion, confidential documents reviewed or discussed or any decision made in executive session.

Board members in the minority of a split decision will not sabotage the action; individuals on both sides of an issue will respect their Board colleagues. Individual opinions on matters being considered can and should be defended, but once a decision is reached, it should be accepted gracefully and implemented wholeheartedly.

Individual Board members will refrain from independently engaging the media or the public in matters that currently are or may come before the board. The Board reaffirms the notion that the Board speaks only through its President[C2] .

We hereby attest that we have read, understand and agree to adhere to this Compact and that we have reread, understand and agree to abide by Policy 0144.2, entitled Board Members Ethics, in the performance of our duties as members of the MSD Washington Township School Board.

Cheri Harris, President

Don Kite, Vice President

Anthony Dzwonar, Secretary

Wanda Spann Roddy, Member

Greg Wright, Member

Date: ___________________________________


Diana Vice said...

Apparently there's a lot more than the Securatex contract to hide. There have been allegations of witness intimidation involving a federal lawsuit, obstruction of justice, and more!

Marycatherine Barton said...

Sounds so mafioso.

Paul K. Ogden said...

DV, but don't you see that is not the problem...the problem is this matter was brought to light.They must ensure that coverups are much more successful in the future.

I'm still stunned that any elected school board member would sign such a document. Can you imagine asking a legislator to sign a document saying they won't talk to the media or won't seek open records about something going on in the administration?

Diana Vice said...

Totally agree, Paul. I'm sure they'll have a much easier time of covering things up when Greg Wright isn't there to keep an eye on things.

Diana Vice said...

Oh, and btw, I've been told that the Code of Silence Agreement is being recommended to school districts by the school board association. I haven't checked it out yet, but it wouldn't surprise me. Corruption runs rampant in school corporations throughout the state and you know what they say about birds of a feather...

Diana Vice said...

I'm sure administrators are going to like Greg Wright even less after they read his letter calling for an investigation into allegations of wrongdoing. You can read his letter here:

Paul K. Ogden said...

Why would the head of the school board association recommend something that is clearly anti-school board? That shows you how corrupt the system is.

If I get elected, my boss will be the voters not the superintendent or anyone in the administration. That's who I will answer to.

Diana Vice said...

Well, here's the official code of ethics from the school board association.

Unknown said...

odd ....I thought the board set policy not the administration....tail wags the dog