Friday, October 12, 2012

My letter to the South Bend Tribune

The South Bend Community School Corporation Board of Trustees had some accomplishments members reasonably could feel proud of.  They had secured some no cost and low cost consulting to help them formulate a strategic plan.  They appointed a Superintendent.  And they resolved an anticipated budget shortfall.  That’s pretty good work.

Then Trustee Bill Snaidecki went to the press, revealing events in a closed meeting – something he’s been accused of doing anonymously in the past.  I disagree with the South Bend Tribune’s decision to publish this information, since Snaidecki clearly violated at least the rules of the Board, if not worse.  But what followed was arguably worse.

The Board President and Secretary took their turns in the press to express outrage – insisting that Snaidecki resign the position of Vice President and apologize.  Seems to me, a meeting might have been a better forum in which to lodge the protest – particularly since at last count there are seven members of the Board, not three.  In any case, Snaidecki declined the request.

More recently, the Board President upped the ante, announcing that he and the Superintendent had initiated an investigation of Snaidecki’s past conduct, and had called for a special meeting to consider censure shortly after election day.

I hate to be a stickler for chain of command, but doesn’t the Superintendent report to Snaidecki as one of her seven bosses?  It seems inappropriate that she be involved in this way - particularly since she apparently will be a witness for the prosecution.

When asked if there was political motivation behind this announcement, the Board President insisted that announcing the action before the election and resolving the matter after the election was the most neutral way of handling things.  Not in my view.

Snaidecki stands accused, but unable to defend himself prior to the election.  There’s nothing neutral about that.  If neutrality were the goal, scheduling the meeting, but not publicly announcing it would have been the way to go.

Furthermore, the Board Secretary has announced that should Snaidecki be re-elected, she will pursue his removal from the Board entirely.  Let that sink in a minute.  Sounds to me the voters of that district are being warned not to make a mistake.

Were I a member of the SBCSC Board, I would feel marginalized by a minority of my colleagues playing out this drama in the media.  Were I a voter in Snaidecki’s district, I would also feel marginalized – since the implication that my vote might not count for anything is pretty clear.

As it is, I am neither.  What I am is a parent of a school age child, a constituent of the school corporation, and a citizen with a strong interest in the preservation and enhancement of public education.  And I don’t like any of this one bit.

To be clear:  I am not a fan of Snaidecki’s, and I could get very detailed about my reasons.  I would not be shocked if there were a strong case for his censure.  But there’s a right way and a wrong way to handle problems like this.   It’s hard to imagine a way more wrong than what’s gone on to date.

Don Wheeler
60648 Lilac Rd,
South Bend, IN  46614

1 comment:

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What do you think it symbolizes?