Honest disclosure is crucial

Opinion: Letters to the editor

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"It's not a dialogue and won't ever be."

That was President Mary Ellen Meindl's flat-out shutdown of public discussion at the Nov. 27 Riverside District 96 school board meeting regarding serious allegations brought by Ames Principal Colleen Lieggi against a recently "retired" teacher as well as the parents of another Ames School student.

It may come as a surprise to Ms. Meindl that school districts do not operate as isolated fiefdoms apart from the communities they are responsible to, who pay the taxes to support them and carry serious oversight regarding future bond referendums, relying on the trust they place in them regarding their performance and accountability. Perhaps she had in mind schools within Russian satellites rather than American communities.

It also may come as a surprise to Ms. Meindl that a primary tenet of democracy is the right of citizens to "full and transparent disclosure'' of information (despite its frequent abrogation) rightfully due them in fulfilling their responsibilities as conscientious citizens.

It is totally logical to assume a degree of intimidation and fear felt on the part of teachers and parents should they publicly question and demand accountability from the board, the principal, the district superintendent. Also, the effect on school morale could be devastating.

As crucial as honest disclosure is, when the reputations and livelihood of individuals in our community are maliciously destroyed, covered up, bought off, then some major degree of moral outrage is demanded.

As a former school board member of a grade school (different school, different location), I cannot imagine ever agreeing to not read a police report laying out all the facts regarding such serious allegations. Were they all out to lunch?

To quote a board member, "We were told by our attorney that reading it would be illegal."

Who was he representing, the school district or the children and families of Ames School, not to mention the entire Riverside community?

We, my board, would have fired him.

Not to get all gooey about our democratic social compacts within our community, but on every level, honoring our responsibility to our school, the staff and especially the children and the parents, is essential. We are all responsible.

This investigation has not "been completed."

Frances Roach


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Christopher FitzHenry Robling from Riverside, Illinois  

Posted: December 21st, 2012 10:34 AM

dear ms. roach, your letter is very powerful and much appreciated. if one assumes this board is proud of what it did, then it is also undeniable that the board has an odd way of expressing its pride. it has consistently failed to show the community why what it did makes sense. it has placed obvious inconsistencies and contradictions throughout the record. it spent our tax dollars to prevent us from knowing what it did. it pays the scariano law firm while the village is rife with conflict-of-interest rumors that it blithely refuses to address. perhaps most disturbingly, it squelches its own public responsibility by hiding under the non-disclosure agreement from the second Battersby separation ("second" because this board botched the first separation, and so much else, to the detriment of the innocent, competent and victimized Susan Battersby). thus the board tells us questions we ask, regardless of subject matter, get to items that fall w/in the Battersby NDA, and so they may not respond, and we must be quiet. this tactic puts off- limits discussion of purely management (i.e., administration) and oversight (i.e., board) actions because the board says they must not discuss them. this policy culminated in board president meindl's "we will say no more, to heck with you" statement at the last meeting, made after she manipulated the agenda so that no one could reply to her -- thus more squelching. this is absurd and ashamed obscurantism. i conclude the board is not proud. it is scared stiff of anyone understanding its serial failures to oversee and the underlying serial failures to administer. quite clearly, to all not digesting board kool aid in this Christmas season, a woman who served us well now despairs for her career, while a vicious prevaricator sits atop one of our schools. in our name, this inversion has occured. and our board desperately wants us to forget it. it is a Christmas wish that i think will not be granted. best, c

i agree from north riverside  

Posted: December 20th, 2012 3:19 PM

Now there is something we need from lieggi and the boe honesty!

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