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Sunday, October 14, 2012

email to Cheryl McGinnis about the disgraceful 10/8/12 CCS school board meeting (sent 10/13/12)

Mrs. McGinnis,

I wanted to cover a few things that happened at the 10/8/12 school board meeting with you. 

As you know, I spoke at the 10/8/12 board meeting during Action Item 5.2/5.3.  I discussed my opinion of the subjects of the inaudible roundtable workshop sessions (Discussion Item 6.2 of the meeting) and Action Item 5.2 (moved to 5.3), the "Supervisors and Administrators contract".  Starting at 35 minutes, 59 seconds of the first video (available on the district website) and continuing until 38 minutes, 28 seconds) I had advised:
  1. That the HR Director salary was set at around $86,000 when it was offered to the current HR Director in 2010. 
  2. That according to a FOIAed document I received last year from the district, that the HR Director's annual salary for the 2011/12 school year was $90,600. 
  3. That there was no category in either the existing or the new "Supervisors and Administrators contract" for "HR Director" or just "Central Office Director (minus the "Executive" level) at the $90,600 salary range.
  4. That the HR Director had been calling herself the "Executive Director of Human Resources" for the past year although the board had not been asked to approve a promotion or pay raise for her.
  5. That the only job category I could find on the contract that could have fit the HR Director was the "CO Exec. Dir" (Central Office Executive Director) job category that had a step 1 salary of $105,901, progressing to $118,699 at step 5 (year 5). 
  6. That would have meant that unless the "HR Director" job classification was just "missing" from the proposed new contract, that it appeared that the district was trying to change the job classification of the HR Director from "Director" to "Central Office Executive Director", resulting in a salary raise from $90,600 to $105,901 ($15,301 per year increase), or more if the district was going to grant second or thrird .  However, the board had not been asked to approve a pay raise for the HR Director.
  7. That the HR Director told me after a meeting in June of 2012 that she felt that she "deserved" the "CO Executive Director" salary and level. 
Dr Rock then interrupted me and dismissed me from continuing my comments saying I was "making specific statements about people and I don't think that's appropriate at this time", and then when I disagreed and said I thought it WAS appropriate, he interrupted me and said "I think probably your two minutes are up" and dismissed me. 

Shortly after I was dismissed by Dr. Rock and the board had discussed the issue some more, the HR Director, Anita Banach, got up to the podium at one hour, 7 minutes, 0 seconds to discuss the contract with the board.  This was recorded in the meeting.  She then basically said that she deserved the higher pay that the "Central Office Executive Director" position showed on the contract.  She got personal against me.  She specifically named me and said that I was "making stuff up".  I take offense to her personal attack as I was not "making stuff up" as she said and I also consider that unprofessional of her as a school district "director".  I had not attacked her personally, I had simply brought up issues regarding the salary schedule of the HR Director position on the contract that was in front of the board for approval and I stated history related to the HR Director position and pay.  As much as it may have been personal for her because her pay would be personal to her, it was not a personal attack. 

I have two concerns and a two requests regarding what happened when I spoke and was dismissed by Dr. Rock. 
  • Concern 1 - According to CCS Board Bylaw 0167.3, "Public Participation at Board Meetings", "Section F., No participant may speak more than once on the same topic unless all others who wish to speak on that topic have been heard."  Currently the board is refusing to allow any members of the public from speaking more than once at a meeting (unless that member of the public is Kelli Horst).  What the Board Bylaw means is that members of the public have the right to speak to the board more than once at the board meetings and they can even speak on the same subject more than once after all others wishing to be heard on that subject have been heard.  I was speaking on two subjects, but was limited to only one two minute speech, and there were no other members of the public who wanted to speak at the meeting, so I should have been allowed to speak twice on the two subjects and if I ran over on the time, I should have been given an opportunity to speak again to get my point across.   
    • Request 1 - Can you ensure that the practice of allowing members of the public to speak at board meetings be changed to reflect the state of the Board Bylaw that allows members of the public to speak for up to two minutes on any and all subjects and allows the members of the public to speak more than once on the same subject as long as all others have had a chance to speak.  This would match the state of the posted Board Bylaw to reality.   
  • Concern 2 - According to CCS Board Bylaw 0167.3, "Public Participation at Board Meetings", "Section I., The presiding officer may: 1) interrupt, warn, or terminate a participant's statement when the statement is too lengthy, personally directed, abusive, obscene, or irrelevant;".  I do not believe that my comments were "personally directed, abusive, obscene, or irrelevant" as they were regarding the pay scale for a particular job category for the HR Director from the proposed contract that was on the agenda and the Board members had not been able to get a clear answer on this same issue from Dr. Rock during their previous discussion.  The "presiding officer" of the Board meeting was you, Mrs. McGinnis, but Dr. Rock dismissed me from speaking and he had no right to dismiss me.  After watching the video of this exchange from the meeting, I found that I HAD spoken beyond the two minute limit, but Dr. Rock was not the person who had the right to stop me from speaking, ONLY YOU HAD THAT RIGHT, and you didn't do it. 
    • Request 2 - Can you ensure that the school board's only direct employee, Dr. Rock, is made aware of the bylaws that only give the Board President the right to dismiss members of the public in a school board meeting?
After Anita Banach sat down and right before the round table workshop session, Dr. Rock made a comment in which he commented about the "positive feedback regarding the roundtable discussions" (only partially true), said that several members of the board had asked for more opportunities for discussion before a vote (true), and that the round table workshop session was the way the district was allowing "discussion".  That is just just wrong on so many levels.  With the roundtable discussions split into two tables, the board members hear different questions and answers (resulting in incomplete interpretations) and they also result in a lack of transparency for the public and the board.

At the beginning of all of the board meetings, the president always makes the following statement:
“This meeting is a meeting of the Board of Education in public for the purpose of conducting the School District’s business and is not to be considered a public community hearing. There is a time for public participation during the meeting as indicated in agenda items 3 and 8.” 

The above comments say that the board meeting is to conduct the school district's business rather than being a public community meeting/hearing.  Therefore, there is some public participation allowed, but it is not a public community hearing.  I get it and that makes sense.  However, one of the problems in the Clarkston school system is that THERE ARE NO PUBLIC COMMUNITY HEARINGS IN THIS DISTRICT...  This frustrates the public.  This community NEEDS public community meetings in order to get buy-in to changes the district is considering (if there are proposed changes), instead, the district is:
  • getting the rubber stamper board members to vote (usually with a 4/3 vote) to approve things the public neither knows about, nor would be interested in having implemented by not providing information to the public about it and limiting availability to the board packet information until the day of the meeting,  
  • not asking for public opinion (the public survey from last year does not count, because it was illegitimate - asking for public opinion on subjects with insufficient information and wording the questions in certain ways in order to get a particular results and because there were no where near as many actual phone responses as the survey results reported),
  • regarding Board Packets:
    • not providing the board packets on the Fridays before the Monday meetings any longer,
    • not putting the board packets on the district website for all to view on the Fridays before the Monday meetings,
    • not including all of the backup documentation in the Board Packets,
    • and only providing the board packets to those who specifically ask for them to be sent to them via email on the day of the meeting (preventing any real analysis of the document).
  • and providing less transparency to the public by addressing critical issues in the "roundtable workshop sessions" that are not recorded in any way.     
I believe that the CCS school board is dysfunctional and changes are needed.

Per the Center for Public Education, an initiative of the National School Boards Association, (available here), they say:

"The local school board is a critical public link to public schools. Whether elected or appointed, school board members serve their communities in several important ways.

  • First and foremost school boards look out for students. Education is not a line item on the school board’s agenda—it is the only item.
  • When making decisions about school programs, school boards incorporate their community’s view of what students should know and be able to do.
  • School boards are accessible to the public and accountable for the performance of their schools.
  • School boards are the education watchdog for their communities, ensuring that students get the best education for the tax dollars spent."

I wish that the Clarkston Community Schools School Board would actually become a group of seven professional adults representing the wants and needs of the public, focused on the direction and control of the school system in order to ensure that the students are educated safely and to the best possible degree given the funds the district has to spend on that endeavor.  That is what the school board is supposed to be doing.  I see Joan Patterson, Susan Boatman, and Rosalie Lieblang living up to those school board responsibilities.  On the other hand, I see you, Steve Hyer, Barry Bomier, and Elizabeth Egan ignoring the wants and needs of the public, not requesting the proper data from administration (financial and program data especially), and allowing your employee, Dr. Rock, to take over the board's responsibilities to direct and control the school system and the board, to ignore the public's comments and desires, to refuse to supply the board with data needed to make proper decisions, and to keep himself and the school board as inaccessible as possible from the public. 

I am very disappointed with the current dysfunction on the school board.  I hope that the public does the right thing on November 6th and votes in the board members that will redirect the board to perform the functions the board is supposed to be performing. 

Please respond to the questions and concerns I have above.

Thank you.


  1. How is it that most of the info under the transparency report isn't current, who is responsible for posting it? Some documents expired in 08', insurance, contrats, salary info?

  2. The "district" is responsible, read Dr. Rod Rock. However, he has his secretary, Heidi McClain, update the transparency reports. Email Dr. Rock regarding any old documents.