Schools on right path to openness

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In the Oct. 22 Press, Duncan Koler provided one side of limiting patron input and Hayden Meadows' Primary Years Program. While Mr. Koler cites only his points of view the school board has the responsibility of considering numerous community points of view during any given discussion. These multiple perspectives should be part of a board member's deliberations regardless of any of these representative patrons being present.

Mr. Koler stated that the school board is attempting to silence the voice of the patrons. At this time the limitations proposed are out for review and the process has several steps requesting public input prior to the board taking action. If approved, the proposed policy would still allow comments beyond the requirement of Idaho law. Similarly, state and national legislatures simply do not allow any type of patron input which distracts from the business at hand. The unfortunate aspect is that comments from all patrons are affected due to the abuse by a few.

During 21 years of service to the Cd'A School Board I have attended many patron meetings and met with numerous patrons individually. In the case of the Primary Years Program of the International Baccalaureate program, I arranged to be available to the parents and patrons of Hayden Meadows Elementary for three consecutive days to discuss their requests of the PYP program. Of the pages of respondents I had two (yes, 2) non-supporters of record. One was opposed to the PYP program and the other was not opposed to the program but wanted choice within the school. Evidence of the strong support at Hayden Meadows for PYP is the lack of parents removing their students from this school as well as the fact that the parents of Hayden Meadows paid for this program; no district funds were allocated for this purpose.

Mr. Koler continued in his column alleging a contradiction posed by the recently suggested limited recording policy by using me as an example. He cited my 'secret recording' of the 'Schools of Choice' meeting. That secret recording was by a video recorder with a flashing red light on a tripod in plain view to the audience. The video recorder was trained on the presentations and was not moved at any point of the presentation. Mr. Koler's allegations of recording "specific members of the public" are groundless.

He falsely stated that he requested this recording be stopped at some point during the meeting. The recording showed that no one approached me until after the meeting. He also demanded that I provide him with a copy of this recording while prohibiting distribution of copies to anyone besides himself.

Individuals with personal recordings of events are not obligated or legally required to release those recordings to others. The same is true of any personal recordings others might have wished of Mr. Koler's meeting at the Coeur d'Alene Library. It is unfortunate that Mr. Koler pursued these demands of me to the point of harassment. This hostile activity ceased only after the prosecuting attorney's office was notified.

In the interests of concentrating on the agenda at hand, I can understand why the school board would explore means of limiting disrupting and redundant patron comments. I would suggest that patrons provide their requests in writing. A written request, whether to the clerk of the board or the ballot box, is a means to send a stronger message.

Vern Newby is a recently retired member of the Coeur d'Alene School Board.

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