What kind of example are members of the school board setting?
When the 7 p.m. start time was delayed over an hour for the school board meeting on Nov. 9, I believe many of us listening and watching surmised that something untoward was happening in the executive session.
When the meeting started, the look on everyone's faces told the story. By the end of a very long meeting, a stellar educator was fired without cause, without explanation to a community this board is supposed to represent.
As the meeting unfolded, I couldn't help but watch Rowan and Maddie, the two student representatives on the board. What was going on in their minds? _When asked for their comments, Maddie spoke first. Her statement should have given Directors Brown, DeHart, Powell and Shannon pause.
After thanking the board for the opportunity to participate Maddie states: "As far as, like, thinking about problems in the school right now the biggest problem is it feels like really like there are sides, which I never really felt before. Like going to school there's never really been a side.
"There have always been certain kids and there are different groups that not everyone hangs out with, but right now it feels super divided, like there are two separate sides, like kids on one side that won't talk to the kids on the other side, and I think that is the biggest problem that's happening right now because it's caused a lot of division and problems as far as bullying and stuff like that. That is the biggest problem that we have at school right now; it's divided like there are really clear sides."
So, according to a student at Newberg High School, this division is new this year. What changed? It's obvious. A clear and present danger has taken over the majority of this school board.
How many times has the board been asked to seek mediation and yet the majority of four deny this common-sense practice of collaboration?
The "constitution" that is so proudly defended by the majority four, was brought about by deliberation and reasoning.
None of those attributes have been put forward in this case. There has been no desire by the majority four to come together to find common ground. While Director Piros has been consistent in her efforts to implore the majority four to find an alternative path forward, the other two board members, while not as hopeful as Director Piros, have also put forth their desire to find a mediator.
When the Oregon School Board Association representative attended a special session this summer, he made several suggestions regarding mediation. The OSBA offers such services. None of the majority four have ever shown an interest in moving toward peace.
While none of the majority four are trained educators, you should still see how dangerous your actions are by validating the bullying Maddie spoke about happening in her school environment.
My question to the four majority members of this board is this: What kind of example are you setting forth for students like Maddie and Rowan? What example are you setting for the students of this district?
Jere Witherspoon was a longtime Newberg resident who recently moved to Lafayette
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