BoE’s Todd: Public deserves to know about issues involving schools
Public comments about ethics and disharmony by supporters of Terri Smith and Janet Smola at the May 17, 2010 Board of Education meeting was a continuation of the embarrassing and unprofessional display by the two of them at the May 4 work session.
I have voted for many things during my term and the votes were always based on the information provided by the administration and other board members. When it becomes apparent that the information that we based our decisions on was not accurate, I have pointed out, and will continue to point out, these discrepancies.
Does that mean I have ignored board ethics by not continuing to support board decisions? Or, am I upholding our ethics policy, specifically #4, which notes that members must take the initiative in helping all the people of this community to have information about the operation and performance of their schools?
Am I upholding item #6 which states that the board has a personal obligation to the community? In this same item, it says that the board has a moral and civic obligation to the nation which remains strong and free only so long as public schools in the U.S. are kept free and strong.
I must maintain that attempting to muzzle individual board members does not contribute to a free and strong public school system.
Many of you recall in “To Kill a Mockingbird” what Harper Lee said about integrity and ethics: “Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”
A majority vote or even a 5-0 vote does not mean that our collective and individual opinions will remain the same. The stressful economic times of the last few years have proven that we may need to make strategic decisions we never imagined in order to remain viable.
Our code of ethics relies strongly on the premise that board members are elected to a position of public trust. I aim to maintain the public trust.
It is important to remember that ethics are rules of moral principles governing a group. So if our board makes a poor decision, based on poor information, or if circumstances change, I will continue to serve the public trust by providing information to the public and encouraging participation by all community members in seeking solutions to issues facing us.
In closing, I would like to say again that I do not condone the tone or lack of group cooperation which has been played out so publicly far too many times in our board meetings. But as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”
I ask for your support in the July 20 Republican Primary. That vote will assure an on-going effort to maintain the public trust through open, transparent board activities, keeping the public informed and returning to fiscal accountability.
Dr. Bob Todd, Member
Fayette County Board of Education Post 4