Community Forum – Common themes and Questions

I have several comments and about our community forum to help the public see specifics about this situation. I have numbered the paragraphs in this post the same as the numbered paragraphs of the transcripts to help with this discussion.

mobility-clipart-Person_Reading_Book_clip_art_hight_clipartpanda.comAdditional Information about Interim Superintendent Pete Lewis and the hiring process

Most of the night was full of praise for Mr. Lewis. The only information other than praise was provided by a handful of individuals.

166Lynette Martin [Pete] was allegedly

168 fired for a total failure of leadership, for the retention of an employee named Claude Fowlkes III who was a tutor at Hutchinson High School who was arrested in March and charged with six counts of abusing a student sexually in the school.

169 There were significant observations and allegations of grooming the students by this individual. Pete Lewis, or one of his employees allegedly transferred this student from the school where he was grooming students to another building and did not tell the principal that this student – that this tutor was having these problems. And that’s – after that happened is when the – that’s why Pete Lewis got fired, is because he mishandled that situation.

234 Scott Martin [Pete’s] met with the teachers union multiple times. He’s met with the secretaries union multiple times. He’s met with para educators. He’s met with nutritional specialists. He’s met with maintenance, custodian unions multiple times. As somebody pointed out, I as a public have not been involved in a public meeting with Pete Lewis. He hasn’t invited the public to give their input to him as to what’s going on. Maybe individually, but not as a public.

213 Don Robson I have concerns that the board hired someone that was just terminated from his previous position due to the results of an investigation that they performed. I’m concerned that the board, when trying to select this superintendent for our schools didn’t even contact the previous school board to get any information from them. … I can’t help but feel that that’s negligence. To not contact a previous employer especially when he was terminated due to an investigation.

215 I have had contact with the Fairbanks school board and they have a lot of information to provide. And I’m not sure if they were contacted, he would have been hired in the first place.

2232146463_3aa3230414_z_flickr.comHostile Vibes of the meeting

This may seem like a strange thing to bring up, but I think it’s important. The vibe seemed hostile towards the pro search people. If you look in the transcripts of the applause notes, it’s very easy to see. When there was light applause, it was maybe 5 to 8 people applauding. Don’t we normally give courtesy applause even if you don’t agree? That didn’t happen in this meeting. It quickly became demoralizing to those of us who were asking the board to keep their promise and do a full, open and transparent search.

This meeting was full of heckling, sneering, insults and personal attacks on people. I’ve never been to a meeting where members of the community were this hostile to each other. Normally, the good people of Colville can have a discussion without becoming enemies and have friendly conversations afterwards. But this particular meeting took a turn for the worse at the very beginning. It felt like the anti search people came with the intentions of picking a fight. It was distracting and unsettling to those of us who came to have an open, honest and respectful discussion.

At the end of the meeting, there was one individual who stuck his finger in my friends face and called him a liar multiple times with a threatening and angry disposition. When my friend offered to show this individual the documents he had with him, he was rebuked and called a liar again. My friend had to walk away from the discussion to keep it from escalating. When I say it was hostile, I mean, it really seemed out of hand.

I’m disappointed in our school board because they appeared to be encouraging a contentious meeting that ripped the delicate fabric of our community at a time when we should be working together to heal from past problems. The very subject of the meeting seemed to be designed to pit people against each other. “Tell us if we should keep our promise and do a full, open and honest search, or if we can break our promise and keep the guy we rushed in with closed meetings”.

Here are examples of what I would consider to be hostility.

29 Scott Martin I guess the first point is a point of order. (Note: A point of order is used when someone thinks a public entity is not following proper procedure during a meeting according to “Roberts Rules of Order”. Here is a link

31 The agenda says Superintendent Selection Process as the item. I came here to discuss the process of hiring a superintendent, not whether or not we would do it. It sounds like you guys want us to give you permission to break a promise. I came here prepared to discuss the process, selecting – the superintendent selecting process. Is that what we are going to discuss or not?

P34 Sandy Moore We have to hire a permanent superintendent. Pete is on a one year contract. I’m sorry we didn’t make that clear.

– P35 Audience Member “You made it very clear!”. (angry tone to comment)

– P40 Sid Green “So the point of order is you are already arguing”.

– P42 Scott Martin “The point of order is, are you going to follow the agenda item?

– P43 Sid Green “You are here to decide whether we do a complete search for a superintendent or keep the one we’ve got.”

– P44 Scott Martin “That’s not on the agenda”

– P45 Sid Green “You said that four times now, move on.”

Did Sid address the point of order professionally or did he ignore it, and deliver a personal attack? Would a proper response have been to say that he feels the board is properly following procedures, or to have a discussion with the board members to see if they need to change the agenda item so they could follow the law?

He did not have to argue with Scott, he could have addressed the issue and moved on himself.

192 Clayton Allen I don’t care how many of these meetings you guys have. I don’t care, you can have them weekly, nightly, it doesn’t matter. You’re still going to get the same crowd, you’re still going to get the same people with agenda’s. They’re here tonight. You’re going to get people that gonna support this thing one way or the other.

276. Mike Lariviere  and … no matter what, school board, you’re going to have people who complain about what you do. As you can see tonight, it is a very small minority. They are going to keep complaining, no matter what you do. Let them complain, let’s move on.

180 Terry Lawson Listening to this lady speak over here as I look in public stuff, that family has cost us $11,000, July, August and September for legal fees in Colville School District for information they’ve requested.

Wow, that was a direct personal attack. It’s no secret that my family regularly puts in public records requests. We only do this to find out the truths about the people who are taking care of our children and about specific actions they take. This is 100 percent legal:

RCW 42.56.030 The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created.

The laws further state that it is the responsibility of the school district to provide us this information in a timely manner (normally within five days).

I believe the lawyer fees Terry is referring to are from two requests in particular.

1. Public Records Request asking for all information about superintendent applicants and all information relating to the hiring of Pete Lewis. We have been denied quite a bit of information – why?

2. Public Record Request asking for all information related to all school board meetings in March of 2013. This is when I found the board had engaged in a meeting that had not been announced to the public. It also pertains to these items:

Real estate purchase made at the time

Security Ad/Hoc Committe recommendations for the board (after the gun incident).

I originally put in a request in May of 2013, but didn’t receive the requested documents, so I put in the request again in July of 2014 after Pete had been hired because I was wondering if this new superintendent would give me the information. He tells me it will take him two years to provide me with my requested information.

Why the legal fees? My best guess is they are putting every document through their lawyer. After these two requests had been filed, Pete Lewis publicly stated in a school board meeting that he had some “overwhelming” public records requests that were costing the district thousands of dollars.

I have put in similar records requests to many organizations to get information about our school district. It has never taken any organization longer than a month to give me all the information I request. A records request does have money associated with it, but should not include legal fees.

If the school is bringing lawyers into a public records request, is it because they are trying to get their lawyer to help them hide information they don’t want people to have? If so, why are they trying to hide something, and what is it? When it comes to our children – there should never be any secrets.

If the school is spending money on lawyers to fill a public records request, it is not my fault. I did not charge them the money, I just simply asked for some information. The fact that they are spending money on lawyers says quite a bit, doesn’t it?


Odd-eyed_cat_by_ihasb33r_commons.wikimedia.orgOdd Comments

– P111Sandy Moore “[Pete] would have happily showed up tonight to answer questions, but he thought it might make people uncomfortable to say negative things about him, so we, as a board suggested that he not attend this meeting.” (Did Pete Lewis know?)

The comment “we as a board” is a very significant comment because I did not see “the board” (meaning a quorum of three or more members of the board) make this decision in a meeting. Did they get together outside of a meeting, which would be illegal? Did only some members of the board make a decision for the entire board, which is also illegal? When did “the board” get together to make this decision?

A board can only collectively speak after they have voted together. Can the public have the documentation of this decision? Because in order for the board to make a decision on an item, they would need to discuss it, and those discussions are public domain. This information would give us some insight as to when or if they changed the topic of the meeting from a “selection process” to something that would “make people uncomfortable”.

115 Wes Matlock I’ve been involved in several of these administrative searches before. I’d be very surprised if we get it done for $10,000 and the searches will be highly manipulated by either NEW ESD101 or the organizational professional organizational groups that sponsor those searches to get their own people in, that they – their own buddies, their own people in there (garbled). They are highly manipulated searches.

This comment is odd because his argument against doing a search is pretty much the same situation in which Mr. Lewis was hired. Please see the “Questionable Interim Superintendent Hiring” post

151 Kory Martin I just want to make sure. Could you correct me if I’m wrong, but the $10,000 that we spend searching for the new superintendent, can we spend that money on say, music instruments? Can you tell me if we can or cannot?

154 Sandy Moore (no mike) Yes. We (asked) our money guru and he says yes.

155 Kory Martin Ok, cause I was under the impression that levy funds and specific funding from the school district can only be spent in certain areas, such as hiring money can only be spent hiring people. So if we have $10,000 to hire a person, we cannot spend that money buying equipment cause it’s only allotted for hiring people – hiring people. So that $10,000 can be spent in other places, I have your word on that?

156 Sandy Moore (no mike) (The answer was yes, but I can’t make out the words on the tape)

This comment isn’t as odd as the answer. The money for hiring a superintendent typically comes out of the school boards allotted funding. That money is to be spent on school board related items, and doesn’t pay for educational supplies for staff or students.

193 Clayton Allen Make a decision and get this done. Have a contract in [Pete’s] hand by the first of the year, and let’s move on.

Is the first of the year comment an arbitrary date? Pete Lewis’ contract runs through the school year, so why would the board offer a permanent contract before his interim contract has been fulfilled? Is the board planning to give Pete a permanent contract before the first of the year? Is this the reason they’ve planned a vote for the November 24, 2014 regular school board meeting to cancel the superintendent search?

P195 Clayton Allen You did the thing. You did the politically correct. Ok Politically correct. Right?

This just begs the question, was this meeting a sham to appease some of the public so that the board could hire who they want without any real public input?

223 Sandy Moore (no mike) Fairbanks is in Alaska. Alaska is a different state than Washington. They have different types of rules than we do. We follow our types of rules, they follow theirs. Yes, we are perfectly aware of (garbled) arbitration. We also (garbled). But I can assure you I personally spent hours and hours researching with due diligence, called references (garbled) and I feel very very confident that (garbled). And all of you know people get fired for all sorts of reasons (garbled – missed a lot here, it’s extremely difficult to hear.) I feel very strong about (garbled) Pete Lewis. So believe me if you have any, any questions about his character (garbled) (1:15:26)

224 Audience Member Can we see that information?

Is Sandy Moore saying that Alaska can be open with their superintendent applicant’s because they have different laws than Washington state? Is she saying that Washington state laws do not allow schools to give out the names and information of their superintendent applicants? That’s odd. Here are other schools in Washington state that did provide candidate names, and even let the public meet and speak with the candidates:

Were these school districts breaking Washington state law by providing superintendent applicant information to the public? I’m pretty sure these schools were acting within the confines of Washington state law. So if it’s not against the law for Colville to give us the names and information of the other applicants, then why won’t they provide this to us?

Another note about this post is that an audience member asked to see Sandy’s research information, but there was no response from the board.

 258 Kris McKellar [Pete’s] got a three year plan, and we are going to balance our budget at the end of the year in the black. Wow, that’s like a first for Colville in I don’t know how many years. That is unknown territory for us.

As a person who has attended budget meetings for years and seen every budget balance, it just seemed like an odd statement to me.


pirate-ship-clipart1_vector-magz.comPro- Full Search/Openness Comments

The transcripts are full of people asking the school board to keep Pete Lewis without doing a search. Here are the comments by a select few outsiders at the meeting who asked the board to be open with us about Mr. Lewis and/or keep their promise to do a full search.

P52 Lorie Sandaine You made a promise. I went and reached out to community members with that promise, to get them to pass our levy. We passed the levy so that to show as a sign we were giving the new board that we want this to work and we want to trust you again.

P53 I get that it’s $10,000 that maybe could go someplace else, but that’s less than one percent of your payroll for the month of October.

P54 When … people tend to support that which they help create. Let us help create that for you. We’ve been kind of shut out for a long time, it feels. We’ve been lied to. … I think you need to include us in this decision. If Pete Lewis is the best person for the job, then he will be our superintendent. If he’s as great as people think he is, then he’ll be our superintendent. Let him earn that. Let us be a part of it.

P66 Dusty I feel if we are going to hire a superintendent, whoever it may be, $10,000 is not a lot to make sure we get the right one.

P67 I just don’t feel that our students are prepared to be adults when they get out of school. I don’t feel like my fifth grader is prepared to be a sixth grader

P68 And that, along with safety, which you would know is a big issue with me. $10,000 in this day and age is not that much money, but we got to make sure whoever you find to do it is going to do it and they are prepared to make the hard decisions. … so our students are safe and prepared to move on whether it’s grade to grade or into adulthood.

P83 Kory Martin My point is you spend $10,000, you do a search, you could find someone better. But you don’t know, so you probably should find out.

P84 So why not search? There’s no harm in doing it other than Pete Lewis might leave, but if he might leave, he might not want to stay anyway. That’s my point.

P265 (Kory Martin in later discussion) To me, as a member of the public, I have no information on the superintendent. He’s apparently been to school board, talked to you, talked to the school, the personnel, talked to union workers, but he (garbled) when it comes to the public, and I have no information on him. Would we be able to be provided that information before you made a decision? Can we look at any of that before the public input actually matters?

P271 It just would be nice to have information available beforehand to everybody and not a specific person for any major decision – is made. Specifically one for a superintendent in which a school has been known to have bad eggs

P109 Audience Member I wonder if some kind of middle ground would be – Is there an opportunity for the community to meet him and ask him some questions. I mean, because all we have is hearsay.

127. Bill Pifer If there is a glow about Pete Lewis at this time, I’m happy. But the glow will always dim, and you told us that you would find us an interim superintendent. And you told us then you would go ahead with a long range plan. And I sat in those board meetings and heard you say that.

128. I come to this meeting and now its , there are negatives and there are positives and we got to figure out what we’re doing. I think it’s let the chips fall where they may. I think it is you go through the process. I think the fact that promise was made.

129. I’ll continue to support you. But I will be a little chagrined if we turn around and move our interim superintendent into a full time superintendent position without having gone through some type of process.

139 Lynette Ritchie I know that [Pete] would probably have no problem whatsoever standing up at another meeting like this and taking questions. Because that’s the kind of man he is.

144 Lloyd Ward I would just ask the question, if you went through the hiring process, I haven’t heard it described how the community would be involved in that. Say you had a panel of superintendent potentials, would they question them? Is that possible for us to do? Has it been suggested of Mr. Lewis? And the grey area – grey area I think is very important because there are those that feel that your word needs to be kept. And so how do we address that?

145 I would think that the meeting where he comes to talk, and then some clarification on your part about what you would do if you went through that $10,000 process as it relates to people having input. … So where would these folks – where would we be involved in that. I think that’s the gap we’re looking at here. And if Mr. Lewis can be transparent and be here and able to address those things that we would if it was a whole panel of potential superintendents, then at least you’ve done that part.

159 Lynette Martin I’ve been attending school board meetings for five years and all five of those years I’ve been asking them one thing. to be honest with us. Just be honest, just be open. Because being open is being honest with us.

160 And when Pete was hired, I believe that he was hired in secret and that the board wasn’t doing anything different than what they’d been done in the past. The school went into an executive session. Interviewed three candidates and did not tell us anything about those candidates, not their names, not any information about them. And then said Pete is the best. Well, we don’t know that he’s the best because we didn’t get any information.

161 And the school tried to tell us that they’re not allowed, it’s illegal for them to give out the information on superintendent candidates, which is not true. We talked to the Attorney General’s office and he said it’s at the school’s discretion. The school that Pete came from in Fairbanks had given out every applicant’s name, their information, every question that was asked at the interview, and all of the answers. And then the board sat there and said what they liked about every candidate. They didn’t tell – say what they didn’t like.

162 The -they had four months worth of public input and review for what the public wanted. We didn’t get that with this hiring. We don’t know anything about Pete.

171 I think that student safety should come first in a superintendent and in a school board. And when you have what I consider to be a closed meeting to hire a superintendent and you don’t tell us who the other applicants are – even through a public records request, it’s been denied to us – then you’re not being honest with us. … I don’t care about the money for hiring Pete Lewis, I care about our kids and their safety and I think that should come first.

213 Don Robson I have concerns that the board hired someone that was just terminated from his previous position due to the results of an investigation that they performed. I’m concerned that the board, when trying to select this superintendent for our schools didn’t even contact the previous school board to get any information from them. … I can’t help but feel that that’s negligence. To not contact a previous employer especially when he was terminated due to an investigation.

215 I have had contact with the Fairbanks school board and they have a lot of information to provide. And I’m not sure if they were contacted, he would have been hired in the first place.

216 When are we going to do the real process to find – to find the right one? I would rather spend $10,000 or even $20,000 than to have to spend $300,000 to get someone out of contract.

218 Right now – you know Pete Lewis … he is a good guy. … I’ve had dealings with him. … But that said, he also was just terminated from a job and I know that if I was terminated from a job I would be putting my best foot forward in any position that I was in.

220 I do think that we, that you owe it to the public to do a good search and to actually be transparent with that search.

221 I was there when you were doing the hiring process for Pete Lewis, and you are very adamant about not telling us who the other candidates  even were. And like somebody brought up, many other school districts publish that information. You can go on to the Fairbanks school board web site and find, I don’t know, there’s about 40 pages of information when they hired Pete Lewis When will you be that transparent?

232 Scott Martin We’re getting this 10, 20 thousand dollar price tag thrown around. I’ll remind everybody here that three months prior to Ken Emmil getting the boot and being handed $290,000, the board voted unanimously that he was doing a very good job as a superintendent. Unanimously.

233 We are still paying for Ken Emmil’s mis-doing’s. We still owe the state $340,000. We paid him $290,000 to go away. We’re talking about trust in the public here. You guys did make a promise over and over again. Some of you personally to me. As soon as Pete Lewis was hired said, ‘Scott trust me, we will do a full nationwide search and the public will be involved. It’s $20,000. He’s been here 5 months, and yes, I even admit he’s done a good job, but there are issues. I won’t bring them up, but there are many issues involving him and things that are not being done.

235 I think you did a dis-service by not allowing Pete here tonight, or suggesting he not be here. I think when you compare what this community went through with Ken Emmil – $290,000 just to go away, and we’re still paying for his mistakes. He broke the law. He had contracts that were illegal. And the board refused to listen to the public. The public was there, month after month after month telling the board Ken Emmil is doing a bad job. But the district, the board refused to listen.

237 please involve the public like you promised.

238 If you guys go back on your promise to this community, for the cost of 10, 20 thousand dollars, I think the trust of this community is worth that. If you’re sitting there saying oooohh $20,000 or the trust of the community, I would go with the trust of the community and spend the $20,000.

248 Chris Loggers So we have, it seems a dichotomy. We have a commitment that the board made to honor the community, the promise they made to go out and go full search. We have a large group of people that say let’s just keep him on. I live in a world of grey, so I don’t like either one of those because they don’t satisfy everybody, and granted you can’t satisfy everybody.

249. But looking for alternatives, … how do you honor both things? How do you get done what you need to which is, in my mind, keep Pete Lewis around for three years and how do you conduct a nationwide search – not necessarily at the same time? To honor the communities – your promise to the community.


images_openclipart.orgWere different topics for the meeting given to different groups of people?

First of all, the school board advertised this meeting very specifically as “Superintendent Selection Process”, but many people attending seem to have been given a different reason for the meeting.

The public was told to give input on a “selection process“.

The staff and many audience members seemed to have been told to give input on “whether or not a process should be done“.

The significance of this issue is rather large because in many, many, many school board meetings, the public is told that the board is bound by the law and if an item is not on the agenda, the board will refuse to discuss it. It looks like they changed the rules (laws?) for this meeting.

Sandy did explain that they wanted input on the advantages and disadvantages of doing a superintendent search at the beginning of the meeting, but it’s a different direction than a “selection process”.

P26Sandy Moore “So tonight, this is what I want all of you to tell us:

– How do you think things are going in our district right now?

– What characteristics would you like to see in a superintendent?

– Do you think the advantages of doing a full superintendent search outweigh the disadvantages?

– If not, then what alternative process would you like to see us use to hire a superintendent?”

Please keep in mind, that while many individuals seemed to have been given this information ahead of the meeting, the rest of us were distracted and unprepared for discussing these topics:

Some proof I can provide is that at the end of the meeting, Sandy read off several letters provided to her prior to the meeting to be used as comments for the meeting. I will list pertinent information from those letters here (numbers relate to the paragraph where the information is listed on the transcript):

– P304Kevin Knight “I believe that Pete Lewis is doing a solid job and that our district would be moving backwards if it went through a drawn out superintendent search.”

– P305Missy Bennett “Thank you for passing my support for Mr. Lewis along to the powers that be.”

– P306Karen Watkins “my vote would be to keep Pete Lewis.”

– P307Alison Thompson “I think spending time and money on a superintendent search at this point may undo the work that has been done and take the focus, both financially and educationally away from our students. As a parent and a district employee, I fully support the hiring of Pete Lewis.”

Further proof is in specific comments  made at the meeting:

– P111Sandy Moore “[Pete] would have happily showed up tonight to answer questions, but he thought it might make people uncomfortable to say negative things about him, so we, as a board suggested that he not attend this meeting.” (Did Pete Lewis know the topic had been changed?)

P31Scott Martin “The agenda says Superintendent Selection Process as the item. I came here to discuss the process of hiring a superintendent, not whether or not we would do it. It sounds like you guys want us to give you permission to break a promise. I came here prepared to discuss the process, selecting – the superintendent selecting process. Is that what we are going to discuss or not?”

– P123Bill Pifer “So when I came here, I didn’t know we were an either or. Either we retain Mr. Lewis or we go into a search. And yet, listening to this crowd it becomes very clear to me that that information was out there to other people somewhere along the line”

– P170 Lynette Martin “Tonight seems to be a vote for or against Mr. Lewis and I think that it was unfair of the school board to put down that this was a superintendent selection process in the newspaper, on the radio, on the flyers and in the agenda, and then come here and tell people that it’s for something different. I don’t think it was fair to the people that might have come to say yes I want you to do a search, because they think this is only about a selection pro -process.”

202 John Goldsmith So I ask you to make a decision and go ahead and vote for Mr. Lewis.


Envelope_Cartoon_commons.wikimedia.orgSchool board asked the staff to send letters if they could not attend, but did not give public same offer.

303 Sandy Moore I’d just like to say a huge thank you to each an every one of you for coming tonight. I know it’s hard to come out especially on a cold night to leave your nice warm home and come to a sometimes contentious meeting, but I appreciate hearing from every one of you. Even the negative, the positive and everything in between. There were some people who could not make it here tonight and they took the time to contact me with their input. And I promised I would share it, so that’s what I’m going to do right now. A few things.

308 I got some other comments, but many of them were from people who were here, people who asked me not to share them. I also got some phone calls, but all the things that I heard from people, I never once heard a negative. So the way I see it, (chuckles) we’re suffering from our own great good fortune in that we lucked out in a very quick hiring process, and found a superintendent who is really really good. And so now we’re struggling with what we should do with our great good fortune. So thank you all very much for coming tonight and helping us guide in our decision.

I call foul on this one. If the board is asking for input from the community, they should offer the same options to everybody, and not just some people.

I have been attending school board meetings for close to six years now and this is the first time that anyone has written in notes to be read at the meeting. Sandy’s comments in paragraph 308 say “people who asked me not to share them. I also got some phone calls.” This says to me that she has been in contact with the people directly because these letters were addressed to “Sandy” the letters were not addressed to “the board”. I also happen to know that she sent out specific invitations to a select group of people. Here is an email I had sent to me.

Sandys email

This letter was sent from Sandy’s personal email address, but since she is acting in an official capacity by signing her name and title at the bottom, it is now public domain.

Is it proper for a sitting school board member to send a special invite to certain members of the public? Probably, but it seems a little shady that she didn’t include all people. I was contacted by the school messenger system, but I don’t know if they used that to contact everyone in the community.

Is it proper for a school board director to give different instructions about a meeting to some attendees and not others? This letter doesn’t show that’s what happened, but the comments at the meeting, and the strange appearance of letters and phone calls kind of does.

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