Letter- Calls for resignationA few years ago I ran for the school board with intentions to listen, learn and improve the district.
By: Jim Bartlein, Hudson, Hudson Star-Observer
A few years ago I ran for the school board with intentions to listen, learn and improve the district. One objective was to take a good look at the superintendent, at that time I was prepared to begin a campaign to remove her if warranted.
I had prior experience with the superintendent that caused concern for others in the community.
Was my experience isolated or unique? Apparently not, it is disappointing to hear that a top-down pattern of behavior has affected many within the district and board. What began as confidential conversations has now become villagers gathering in streets with pitch forks and torches.
Have you noticed the letters directed at the superintendent and board? Should a reasonable person assume the district is totally innocent? Even if we are to assume these letters are over-stated exaggerations there may indeed some elements of truth.
Board members are now writing letters to the editor complaining about unfair public opinion. Totally inexcusable! This should be restricted by their code of conduct policy. In an ironic twist, board members are said to be forbidden from reading letters sent to them and responding to concerned citizens. However there is no restriction to communicating with citizens in public forms about district policy and board duties.
The president of the board discussed openly at a recent board meeting about thoughts to file suit against taxpayers who write critical letters to the editor. This seems like a better subject for closed session unless it was meant to intimidate and silence criticism. The district’s legal counsel unwittingly pointed out the obvious when he said; “I represent over 30 districts and have never seen anything like this.” There may be only two explanations: are the citizens the problem or has the superintendent lost the confidence of the taxpayers.
Superintendents on occasion may need to use a heavy hand to settle disputes. The really good ones use restraint and accept compromise on non-critical issues. Effective leaders know they do not have to win every battle at whatever the cost; it’s ok to lose for the greater good sometimes.
I cannot imagine this situation getting any better, the board has lost the public trust and cannot carry out its duties because of a growing distrust of the superintendent. For the good of the children and the community it is time for Mary Eggenbratten to resign and allow the Hudson school district to move forward.
Jim Bartlein, Hudson