To the editor:
Regarding your front-page article "Absent board sparks outrage," I am compelled to respond with an alternate headline: "Board members outraged by accusation of apathy."
Since my appointment and consequent election, I have returned every single phone call and responded to every single person who has written, e-mailed or stopped me in the grocery store to express concerns about our school system. Board members spend countless hours attending commission meetings, training sessions, and school functions. We give up our time to research issues, address civic groups and contact legislators on behalf of our schools. If that's not serving the community, I don't know what is.
However, let me be clear. I have never met, nor do I intend to meet with, any special interest group in my capacity as a school board member. I believe that, singularly and as a board, we have a responsibility to maintain neutrality and to refuse to be influenced or intimidated by any one group. Our purpose is to serve all Marshall County students and staff without regard to race, gender, religion or ethnicity.
If any matter requires deliberation and action by the full board, there is a process defined by policy to address us as a group. However, I would caution your readers that part of the policy includes the requirement that every attempt has been made to resolve the issue "at the lowest level of responsibility" and that "sufficient background material will be provided" to the board when the request is made.
Beyond that, every board member's contact information is listed on the school board Web site. If any citizen has a concern, he should call, write or e-mail individual board members so that each has the opportunity to respond without fear of violating Sunshine laws or opening the door for other special interest groups to make similar demands.