Texas in dire need of School Board reform School board members ought to be personally and criminally liable for skirting the open meetings laws.

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Aug 6, 2018 No Comments ›› admin

By Lynn Woolley

Of all forms of local government, school boards seem be the least responsive to taxpayers. Local schools have agendas – often built around bond issues – and they work to get a slate of candidates that will favor that agenda.

Very few people vote in school board elections – and even fewer pay any attention to what they do.

Because of that, and meddling by the Texas Association of School Boards, we end up with unanimous decisions on practically every vote. It turns out, that may be illegal. Dave Lieber of the Dallas Morning News reports on a lawsuit filed against Richardson schools alleging that the school board votes are decided before the meetings take place – in violation of the open meetings law.

They do it by meeting two at a time, making a decision, and forwarding that decision digitally to others members. Then they delete the digital trail.

Richardson ISD School Board (RISD website)

The Dallas Morning News watchdog is on the case!

As I have said on-air many times, Lieber’s reports alone are worth the price of a subscription. And note that this isn’t a left-right issue; it’s an issue of accountability and of law. It is my opinion that schools do not care what taxpayers think – and they show it in many ways.

Lieber says he’s been frustrated by years of 7-0 votes on his school board. He’s right. How can that be? Congress never votes unanimously on anything, nor does the Texas Legislature. For that matter, our local city councils have split votes all the time.

So what’s up with our school boards? We’ve reported here that the TASB (the big left-wing school lobby) stresses unanimity. The organization does “training” for school board members and tells them to always side with the superintendent. The TASB usually provides its choices for each district’s superintendent candidates – for a fee, of course.

So here’s how they get to those unanimous decisions.

This is from Lieber’s column:

Two board members (not enough to make quorum) meet or correspond in private to reach a consensus. One of those board members sends an email, text or voicemail message to board members not present. The goal is unanimity. Then, in violation of state law, “board members intentionally delete and purge the electronic communications which document their real deliberations,” the lawsuit claims.

Cunning, isn’t it?

The lawsuit contends that records that should be accessible to the taxpayers are purposely concealed. It’s like Hillary Clinton deleting 30,000 emails –except in this case former Richardson School Board member David Tyson, Jr. is taking the District to court.

If Tyson and his lawyer, William Brewer III, win this case, it should filter down to other districts –and diminish the power of the TASB. We can hope.

Dave Lieber (Courtesy Photo)

School boards and taxpayers should wake up.

The taxpayers foot the bill – yet they have little palpable interest in the meetings. The board members are busy being good little bureaucrats and providing those unanimous votes. Both groups need to change.

School board members ought to be personally and criminally liable for skirting the open meetings laws in this manner. The rest of us – the people who pay the bills – ought not to let them get away with it.

Remember, when you watch a school board meeting on access cable, and you see those unanimous votes, you are witnessing what Lieber calls “Performance Art.” That means the decisions and serious discussions take place illegally before the meeting – and the vote is a put-on to show unanimity.

As Trump would say – SAD!

Of course, school boards preside over a lot of nasty things – egged on by the TASB.

• Voting to have all but one approved member decline to speak to news media that are supposed to be holding their feet to the fire.
• Approving TASB sanctioned “boilerplate” contracts for superintendents that give away the store.
Conducting “rolling polling” by taking voting boxes to such events as football games to get favorable votes for school issues.
• Recruiting “educators” to run for the school board so they will be sympathetic to the education agenda.
Naming a “sole finalist” for a superintendent position so that all supers can apply for bigger and better jobs without being exposed.

School boards are nasty things.

Dave Lieber wants you to understand how they work. And so do I.


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