Breaking the “Iron Schoolbell” wall of open government.

Couple of interesting items with regards to a topic I haven’t touched on in a long time. Open government as it applies to school districts. And a couple of recent news items come to mind in illustrating those issues.

First, I’m hearing from my spies down in the Sioux Falls School District that the school naming committee is completely controlled by the very un-elected Pam Homan.

I’m hearing that she will appoint ALL committee members, and a majority of the people on the committee will be public bureaucrats who work for Homan. The committee will consist of four employees of the school district, plus a school board member and four parents who have children at Twain or Longfellow elementary. No community members will be allowed on the committee. There will be no open meetings. No public debate. No recorded votes.

Secondly, check out this tidbit from the end of an article from the Rapid City Journal:

Also, school board members were urged to watch what they say via email with a new policy set to be put in place that treats email like any other official forms of school board communication. Members are told not to use email to substitute for deliberations at meetings and should be aware that their emails could be inspected by any member of the public upon request.

And a new media relations policy will route any requests from members of the media through the superintendent’s office first.

Dave Davis wanted to make it clear that this is not meant to be a “gag order.”

“The intent is to provide more information to the public, not less,” Davis said.

Read it here.

In the first instance, should a board formed by a publicly funded entity, supported by tax dollars, who will hold hearings & deliberations, and make a administrative decision of mild public interest be able to do so in the dark of a board room, with no public accountability?

Secondly, should requests from members of the media to publicly elected officials be routed through an unelected administrator?

Your thoughts?

3 Replies to “Breaking the “Iron Schoolbell” wall of open government.”

  1. PNR

    Isn’t a request to the governor routed through unelected officials, too?

    Now, there is something a little different here – the superintendent does seem to be acting as if the school board works for her instead of the other way ’round – but the school board is perfectly able to ignore the urgings of the superintendent and may use or not use the media relations people at their own discretion. It is up to the public to elect board members who remember who works for whom.


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