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Saturday, September 15, 2012

"Transparency? We don't need no stinking transparency!"

The title is a nod to "Blazing Saddles"...

Clarkston Community School District (CCS) has gone back to being "opaque".  Apparently, Dr. Rod Rock no longer believes that transparency for the public is important.

The board packets for the CCS school board meetings used to be loaded to the district's website each week and the past ones were available also.  Click on the district's home page here and then click on the "Board of Education" link towards the top of the page.  You can then see the board meeting dates and no links to the the board packets. 

The district used to post the board packets to the website on the Friday afternoons before the Monday meetings and they would be posted under the date of the meeting.  The district is no longer (since July 2012) posting the board packets.  The only way to get the board packets is to email the superintendent's secretary, Heidi McClain, and to request the board packet.  It will be emailed to you a few hours before the meeting, preventing you from being able to study the document in any real way prior to the meeting.  I believe that Heidi will also make a hard copy of it and have it available at the meeting if you do not have email, but it is no longer available to the general public to view on the district website three days before the meeting .  

I sent an email to Dr Rod Rock (superintendent), Mrs. Cheryl McGinnis (current school board president and running for re-election in November), and Mrs. Heidi McClain (Dr. Rock's secretary) on the evening of Friday, September 7, 2012, asking why the board packet was not loaded to the district website for the 9/10/12 board meeting.

Cheryl McGinnis advised me Sunday night that she would have Heidi McClain send me the board packet via email and she would check into why the board packets were no longer on the district website.  I did receive Monday's board packets a few hours before the meeting on Monday (with some detail missing that was sent to me after the meeting), but no one from the district has responded to me about the missing board packets from the district website (August and September meetings) and they have not been loaded.

However, someone else asked the same question of Dr. Rock on Monday, and he advised: 
 "We will send them out to the public on Monday's. Since we've had possible security breeches with our website, we won't post them but will instead send them via PDFs to those who request them."   
A security breach (not "breech",  as Dr. Rock stated) sounds serious, but I have not seen:
    • any removals or changes to any other documents or links on any of the district websites if the district was concerned about a security breach,
    • an announcement from about a district security breach,
    • or a news report on the security breach.    
I was concerned about the district's IT security breach.  During a break in the 9/10/12 CCS board meeting, I stopped to ask the CCS IT director, Matt McCarty, about the security breach.  He looked surprised to hear me ask about a security breach and he said that there had not been a security breach.  I advised him that Dr. Rock said that he was not posting the board packets on the district website due to a "security breech".  He then said that one employee had lent his/her password to a fellow employee for that employee to have access to work on a project, but that it WAS NOT a security breach.

I then sent another email and asked Dr. Rock and Cheryl McGinnis what the "real" reason was that they were not posting the board packets to the district website.  I have not yet (as of 9/17/12) received a response from the district.

I asked, "The school board members receive their board packets several days before the meeting.  What possible valid reason would the district have for delaying the emailing of the board packets to those members of the public who have requested them until just a few hours before the board meeting?  Is it because the district wants to prevent the public or employees from having an opportunity to study the material in the board packets before the meetings?  That is exactly what it looks like...  So much for "transparency".

The district owes us more than this, but as long as people don't demand transparency, we will not receive transparency.  

Please demand that Dr. Rock stop covering up what is going on in the district.

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