There is no question in the mind of this board that Fernandez does not have the best interests of the educational community at heart. His political motives are obvious with his incessant pandering and grandstanding rather than real work toward student achievement. His persistent negativism, his fueling a culture of mistrust and disrespect, and his inappropriate favoritism has been and continues to be destructive. He has rejected opportunities to work with the rest of the board in a productive, collaborative fashion. Fernandez has repeatedly violated the adopted Board of Education Code of Ethics as well as the board's Guiding Principles. His presence on the board should be questioned by the entire community. Having chosen private school over public schools for his own children, one is left to wonder what his real motivation is for continuing on the board.What was the offensive letter to the editor written by Hernandez that the other four board members were responding to? Here it is:
Advice on school spending in wake of budget cuts If school boards are committed to increasing student achievement, they must protect from proposed cuts the budget items that directly support student learning. In the Lawrence Township school district where I serve as a board member, for example, the administration would like to significantly increase class size by eliminating scores of teaching jobs, eliminate virtually all instructional assistant positions, and purge all professional development from the general fund.Fernandez's crime? He asked questions of the administration, looked into possible mismanagement and offered a view that wasn't the administration's. In this letter, he is making a recommendation regarding cutting administrative staff versus the teaching staff. For that the board members accuse Fernandez of not supporting "student achievement." Give me a break.
While those cuts are considered, teachers are asked to differentiate instruction for an increasingly diverse student body in newly "themed schools," just as teachers are held more accountable for increases in student achievement. Yet, the administration proposed no layoffs for central office staff and almost no cuts to extracurricular programming.
School boards can minimize the adverse impact of the reduced revenues from the state by restructuring the district -- creating models with more autonomous public schools and less central office bureaucracy.
School Board member
Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township, Indianapolis
It is apparent that the four who wrote this letter are nothing more than rubber stamps for the Lawrence Township administration and are offended that Fernandez's offense was that he wouldn't be a rubber stamp. Their reference to the Code of Ethics and Guiding Principles to suggest Fernandez is doing something ethically wrong in speaking out is repugnant. What they are trying to do is use an ethics threat to try to chill Fernandez's First Amendment right to criticize the administration. That the four board members (and the administration) disagree with Fernandez on the issues doesn't give them the right to silence Fernandez from expressing his views.
Lawrence Township voters have a thoughtful public servant with Henry Fernandez. What the "entire community" should do is vote out of office these four board members who are more interested in rubber stamping the administration's agenda than doing their job and representing their constituents.