Dispute over Allegations Goes Unresolved in School Board Meeting

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By Dave Freneaux

About a hundred citizens and teachers attended the July 12th meeting of the Central Community School Board, many in anticipation of the discussion of the recent Special Education Audit.  School Board Member Guilbeau requested the discussion but School Board President Sharon Browning elected to address the meeting first.  She read a prepared statement of some four or five pages describing from her perspective all that had transpired dating back to approximately a year ago involving allegations of intimidation of teachers.  Ms. Browning also addressed the process by which the School System identified problems within the Special Education department and detailed the steps that have been taken to correct the issues and move forward.
Mr. Guilbeau then addressed the meeting and stated that he was pleased with the end result of the corrections to the problems in the Special Education department and he expressed a great deal of confidence that under the leadership of the newly hired Amy McLin the department would continue to improve.  However, Mr. Guilbeau was not satisfied that the issue of alleged intimidation and threatening of teachers has been properly and completely dealt with.  He pointed out, and Ms. Browning agreed, that there has been no document or report written evidencing how the alleged issues were dealt with.
The meeting then heard from the individual who was hired to perform the Special Education Audit.  She spent a great deal of time extolling the virtues of Central's teachers and the great and positive things she sees possible as the School System moves forward.
When the public was invited to speak, Pastor Ron Erickson summed up the feeling of he and another citizen by pointing out that when an issue is not dealt with completely, and understood and learned from, the unresolved issue almost always becomes a problem in the future.  He urged the School Board not to simply walk away from unresolved allegations.
So now Central has two approaches to a single issue.  The majority of the School Board and the auditor are urging everyone to accept that the issue was dealt with internally a year ago, and to leave it alone and move on.  School Board members Guilbeau Starns, who voted unsuccessfully at the last School Board meeting to authorize an investigation of the allegations, feel it is wrong not to fully discover what, if anything, happened.  Mr. Guilbeau has stated that refusing to fully understand this issue sends a message of non-support to all teachers.  Regardless of who is right or wrong in their assessment of these allegations and how to handle them, it is possible that the division and dysfunction in the School Board itself is the larger problem with greater consequences for the Central Community School System.