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Silver Consolidated Schools Board of Education Public Statement

Fellow Citizens of Silver City,

As elected board members of Silver Consolidated Schools, it is our goal to provide each student with an outstanding educational experience. To accomplish this goal we must provide good facilities, proven curricula, exceptional educators and dedicated staff. We do not always have a choice when making certain decisions. Often we run into federal and state regulations that limit and actually dictate how our school district must perform. And there are many laws that must be adhered to, ranging from how we deal with security of information, the well-being of our students, the safety of our schools and the actual workplace environment of the students and faculty. It is a task we do not take lightly.

As we perform our duties as elected board members, we strive to provide transparency in our operations, when legally possible. When the school board convenes a meeting in closed door session, it is because we cannot legally discuss the matter in open session. To do so would be deemed illegal and the school district could face litigation for such action. Once the school board returns to a public meeting after the closed door session, we cannot ...by law... discuss the particular matters relating to the closed door session. You may want to know what was discussed, but it is illegal for board members to speak about what happens within the closed door sessions.

In past weeks there has been much criticism by a small group of concerned citizens. In an effort to be as transparent as legally possible, we will address some of the concerns stated in past meetings.

1. Concerns have surfaced regarding a principal at one of our schools. Personnel issues are duly handled by the school district human resources department and the superintendent of schools. As an elected body that oversees our school district, we are satisfied with the actions of our school administration. The superintendent sought a recommendation from our legal counsel to hire independent investigators to develop an unbiased information of the allegations and provide a report of their findings to the superintendent of schools. An investigation took place. The findings were reported. The school district took appropriate action.

2. Certain issues involving educators and others have come to the attention of the school board. As we pursue the best and fairest course of action, we want to make certain all parties concerned have the opportunity to be heard in an impartial setting. As was stated in our most recent public meeting, and this is a matter of public record, in accordance with Article 7B4... the school board must either affirm the decision of the superintendent or set a date for a hearing. The decision of our superintendent was to allow the teachers union (SCEA) the ability to take an issue to an independent arbitrator. Thus providing a fair and impartial hearing... before an arbitrator with no ties to the school district. The school board affirmed this decision by the superintendent of schools. This decision was extremely fair and equitable.

3. There have been a few complaints regarding the non-renewal of contracts with some first-year teachers. Teacher tenure is a policy that prevents teachers from being fired without just cause. It is a contract that ensures a teacher's employment. In most cases, a tenured teacher cannot be fired for reasons other than severe misconduct or incompetence. Even in some cases of blatant irresponsibility, misbehavior or lack of performance, it is very difficult to dismiss a tenured teacher, and the process can be expensive and time consuming. In most states, tenure is awarded to public school teachers who have served for a certain period of time, usually 3 to 7 years. It is in the best interest of the school district and in some ways best for the teacher, not to renew a teacher's contract before tenure...rather than possibly terminate employment after reaching tenure. Although the school board is not involved in the actual hiring and termination of teachers, we are very concerned that in each instance the employee is treated fairly and the school district handles the situation in such a manner that is ethical, moral, and legal.

The Board of Silver Consolidated Schools, makes every attempt to meet the ultimate goal of our district--- to equip young people to find self-fulfillment as well as become productive members of our democratic society.

Respectfully,

Trent Petty
Board President
for the Silver Consolidated Schools Board of Education

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