The Gilford School Board modeled it perfectly for years – while they have had “Public Comment” sessions (sometimes called “Public Input”) at the top and bottom of the meetings, they’d just sit there, stonefaced as if if they were just on display.
Silent, motionless (well, except for Kurt Weber – it was always clear when someone got under his skin because his knee would start going up and down like a jackhammer. Sometimes we’d do it for fun) there was nothing back.
It was (and is) QUITE frustrating to try to engage with your elected Representatives while being totally ignored to your face. As if we were recalcitrant kids throwing tantrums and they were the distant parents just waiting for it to be over.
It seems to be the case that they have become School Boarders and have forgotten they are actually elected Representatives that are supposed to be engaged and able to be approachable to those seeking to have them know there are problems and to give feedback to their constituents on or about these problems.
Instead, they’ve adopted the NH School Board Association policies of “Do Not Engage” – you can see this on display during the Gilford School Board meeting. I also decided to keep it going:
From: “Skip” <Skip@granitegrok.com>
To: “Gandini, Gretchen” <firstname.lastname@example.org>; “email@example.com” <firstname.lastname@example.org>; “email@example.com” <firstname.lastname@example.org>; “email@example.com” <firstname.lastname@example.org>; “AKelly@sau73.org” <AKelly@sau73.org>
Sent: 6/15/2021 11:12:10 AM
Subject: Seeking answers or seeking redress from my Elected Representatives
Yes, in case you are wondering, yes I have more coming.
The seeking of redress of one’s elected Representatives is not just a long tradition here in NH but also a Constitutional mandate:
First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
[Art.] 31. [Meetings of Legislature, for What Purposes.] The Legislature shall assemble for the redress of public grievances and for making such laws as the public good may require.
[Art.] 32. [Rights of Assembly, Instruction, and Petition.] The People have a right, in an orderly and peaceable manner, to assemble and consult upon the common good, give instructions to their Representatives, and to request of the legislative body, by way of petition or remonstrance, redress of the wrongs done them, and of the grievances they suffer.
Much of my ire in last Tuesday’s [meeting] was in the area of seeking answers from the Board – or as it were, seeking redress. As I mentioned, Policies BEDH, BHD, KE, and KEB effectively wall off voters and taxpayers from coming to a School Board Meeting in getting answers and seeking redress. These policies, derived from the NHSBA, violate the norms, traditions, and Constitutional mandates.
In my case, not currently having a child in the school system at the present time, your Policies have effectively blocked me from getting any answers at all to my questions about your Policies and directives. This is not a problem? I dryly note that ONLY Kyle Sanborn made the effort to state that the Board should remedy this situation. No other member spoke to this.
My question at Tuesday’s meeting was WHEN will ordinary voters / taxpayers be able to get answers from our elected Representatives and not be shuffled off and delegated to a mere employee (who, I remind you, can’t even get my name right OR answer my questions)? So let me add two MORE questions:
- Is the Board willing to establish such a time that voters can interrogate their Representatives on matters concerning the District – it’s budget, its Policies, it’s actions and generally seek redress from perceived wrongdoing?
- Or is it the sense of the Board that such a time is beneath them and will continue its behavior in isolating itself from the Public looking for answers?
After all, employees merely do what they are told to do; they can only act within the Policies that the Board creates and approves. They cannot change those Policies – only the School Board can.
And in my case, when presenting the Board with specific instances where Policies are unconstitutional (e.g., coerced speech) or immoral (e.g. when is lying to parents ever moral? It isn’t), the Board refuses to engage. Or even recognize “perhaps we are in the wrong here, we should change this.”.
It’s almost the point that the perceived thought process is “We’ll ignore him until he sues. Then we’ll defend ourselves, in part, by using his tax monies“.
Just look at that “Power Imbalance”: It is mandatory to take monies from me to give to the Board but the Board can ignore me anytime and on any topic it chooses.
Not surprisingly, I have not received an answer at this point in time.
This is a serious problem here in NH (and in watching video from other School Board meetings with Parents absolutely IRATE with what those SBs are either allowing or actually promoting (CRT) to Parents’ kids, I’m seeing this same nose-in-the-air attitude. There is going to be a backlash, one way or another.
The basic problem to be solved is teaching these School Board members that they MUST provide time to engage with their constituents; our system was never one of “get elected, then ignore.”