Secret School Settlements

The Mat-Su School Board, at its regular meeting last night (Feb 21, 2018), approved various changes to its policies and procedures manual.

Background: The School Board Policy Committee, a subcommittee of the School Board,  is tasked with reviewing and suggesting updates to the School Board’s Policy manual on a periodic basis.  This review was taking place every two years, but it will take place every three years going forward.

The board policy manual is online at the MSBSD’s website.  Go to the School Board tab at  https://www.matsuk12.us/

At last night’s meeting, the School Board, unanimously and with little to no discussion and no debate at all, approved all of the subcommittee’s suggested revisions to the 9000 series of the Police Manual – which is titled “Bylaws of the Board” – the section governing how the School Board conducts business.

None of the suggested revisions made any significant changes to School Board policy except for one.

This one:

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The School Board is now allowing the MSBSD’s attorneys to settle cases for up to $200,000 per case without the prior approval of the School Board.

Eugene Haberman, a member of the public, spoke up at the meeting and complained that this new policy regarding legal settlements is bad for the public.

Mr. Haberman was the only person to speak on this item.  And no one on the School Board responded to his well-reasoned comments. Nothing. Zilch. The School Board completely ignored Mr. Haberman which is baffling. (Or maybe not so baffling if you really think about it.)

Mr. Haberman’s comments were succinct (members of the public are only allotted 3 minutes to speak on any item) but superb.  He got to the heart of the matter.  (I urge everyone to listen to the recording of the board meeting which will be posted on the KVRF radio station site soon. )

The number should not be 200K and it should not be 50K – it should be ZERO.

Why?  Because it is the School Board’s duty to oversee the School District and its employees.  If the School District is settling a legal matter, this means that the School District made mistakes and the School Board should be made aware of the mistakes so that steps can be taken to prevent the same type of mistake in the future.  And if the School District did not make mistakes, a case should NOT be settled.

And if a matter needs to be handled in executive session, it can be handled in executive session.  (Although most of the time, a settlement should be made public because the public usually had a right to know too.)

Why is the School Board giving all of the power to the Chief School Administrator and the hired attorneys?

Why so much secrecy?  Why isn’t the School Board doing its job?

 

 

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