December 16 School Board Meeting Summary

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Colville School Board Discriminates

Against people speaking out on the Non-Discrimination Policy!

I would like to thank everyone who showed up to endure the abuse by our school board. It was not an easy thing to sit through while the board showed a blatant disrespect and disregard towards the people attending the meeting. Your presence at the meeting was very much appreciated and while the board may not have any respect for us, I certainly have an enormous amount of respect for the people of this community. When we show up in numbers, it absolutely has an effect on the board even though they try to pretend it doesn’t.

The board refused to bring in more chairs for the people standing during the meeting.

The board refused to bring in more chairs for the people standing during the meeting.

Before the meeting started, the police were called. Two officers responded, and joked about the lack of rowdiness of the crowd. They left shortly after arriving.

  1. The meeting was held in a room too small for every attendee to fit into.  With standing room only, many people spilled into the break room and out into the hall where they could neither see or hear the meeting. Some left in disgust which is probably what the board wanted in the first place.
  2. When asked, President Sid Green refused to move to a larger room or to provide more chairs, which were easily available.
  3. There was no microphone, so the speakers were difficult or impossible to hear for those outside the meeting room.
  4. President Green made an announcement about public comments: “If you are speaking about the Policy 3211 on the transgender students, we are willing to hear from you on this topic if you did not speak at the last meeting on November 18th. If you spoke at the last board meeting and have a desire to speak on another topic, you are welcome to do so. “
  5. President Green told people they would not be allowed to applaud the speakers – Several times when people tried to applaud, he rapped his gavel – no Applause, no applause!
  6. This is only about a quarter of the number of people who were trying to listen from the hallway.

    This is only about a quarter of the number of people who were trying to listen from the hallway.

    Director Moore insistently tried to silence one speaker because he spoke at the last meeting, however, he was eventually allowed to speak.

  7. The board was so inattentive to the people speaking, that one person had to ask for the boards attention.
  8. After 8 public comments, the board went on with their regular meeting.
  9. When department updates were presented, the board was courteous, laughed and giggled with them, engaged in multiple conversations with them, and then the board themselves led APPLAUSE for the people. Yes, the BOARD APPLAUDED their own invitees multiple times. (This is not something they normally do – it was a show put on for the public.)

The mood of the public before the meeting was excited, friendly and upbeat with quiet anticipation, but after the meeting was outright anger at the boards utter contempt and condescension of the people in our community. This is the same board that is completely puzzled why they can’t get more attendees to their meetings when they are trying to pass a levy.

I have seen this same treatment of the public several times over the past 6 years. This board seems to do everything they can to discredit and discourage people in the hopes that these people don’t return to future meetings and it usually works. I sure hope this time the people will stand up and not back down.

I will post the complete transcripts of the meeting as soon as I can type them up.

A photo of the board ignoring and disrespecting speakers. Directors Sumner, Newman and Green are looking at their laptop computers during an impassioned speech about keeping our children safe from rape. You can even see Director Newman manipulating her keyboard. The elbow of the woman speaking is shown in the bottom left corner of the photo with the black leather jacket.

A photo of the board ignoring and disrespecting speakers. Directors Sumner, Newman and Green are looking at their laptop computers during an impassioned speech about keeping our children safe from rape. You can even see Director Newman manipulating her keyboard. The elbow of the woman speaking is shown in the bottom left corner of the photo with the black leather jacket.

The same directors listening to a board invited speaker. They have all turned in their seats and are looking intently at the speaker. Director Newman is even smiling.

The same directors listening to a board invited speaker. They have all turned in their seats and are looking intently at the speaker. Director Newman is even smiling.

Directors Ohrtman and Moore have also turned in their seats to listen to the same speaker.

Directors Ohrtman and Moore have also turned in their seats to listen to the same speaker.

Public Comments

The public meetings of our elected officials are FOR THE PUBLIC. That is why there is a public comment section during the meeting, to have a spot in the agenda where the public can can have a voice. While the board does have the option to limit your time, they CANNOT shut you down because of the topic you bring up. To prove this, several speakers talked about the Transgender policy, and the board sat quietly listening.

In future meetings, I would suggest that anyone who wants to speak, fill out one of the half slips at the table with the sign in sheet, present it to the board, and then the board HAS TO LISTEN to whatever it is you want to say.

PARENT MEETINGS

A parent spoke with me last night about getting some community meetings together with just the public where everyone can speak who wants to speak. We are hoping our community can coordinate together in finding ways to deal with the board in future meetings, or maybe discuss other options that we have at our disposal. I think it’s a great idea, and hope that others will stay with us on this topic so that our children won’t be bull dozed by a handful of apparent activists who have occupied our schools. I will be putting up a post when we have organized a time and place for the meeting.

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How Well Does Colville Know Superintendent Pete Lewis?

Lewis

It’s important to know the people taking care of the safety and education of our children. That’s why school districts do background checks on their employees. So as parents, we should know as much as we can about the number one person in charge of our children, Superintendent Pete Lewis.

Last Position Held before Colville: Superintendent in Fairbanks, Alaska

June 9, 2014 Lewis was FIRED from Fairbanks North Borough School District

  • “… he exhibited a total failure of leadership leading up to the sexual abuse of a student on school property.” (Link)
  • “demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to perform the duties expected of a superintendent, which has resulted in potential liability to the district …” (Link)

Fairbanks School Board President Haas went on to say Mr. Lewis had knowledge of:

  • 1. significant allegations of employee misconduct towards students
  • 2. failed to ensure others took appropriate action; and
  • 3. took inappropriate action himself.

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The superintendent’s unwillingness to perform his duties or inability to do them exposed students to harm and the district to legal vulnerability, the board said. Despite inappropriate student contact, Fowlkes received a glowing recommendation, Haas said.

Lewis allowed an employee to routinely work mornings and nights without being paid, putting the district out of compliance with federal wage and hour laws, Haas said, and fostered an attitude of disrespect toward the board that has permeated down to other staff members, Haas said. Link

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Mr. Fowlkes has been convicted of 3 counts of sexual abuse of a minor and is now serving time in jail. Fowlkes has also been charged with seven counts of sexual abuse of a minor regarding allegations made by a student at Hutchinson High School in 2014. The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District has agreed to pay $920,00 to the family of this student.

*****Heidi Haas Video

Here is a video of the Fairbanks School Board Director talking about the Investigation of Claude Fowlkes III and showing her concern that the Colville School Board did not contact them for information about Mr. Lewis before hiring him. Link to Video

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June 11, 2014 Pete Lewis was HIRED by Colville School District as their Interim Superintendent (only two days after he was fired from Fairbanks).

December 2014 Pete Lewis was HIRED by Colville School District as their Superintendent. Normally a school district will keep an Interim Superintendent for a full year before hiring them full time. It is a curious thing that our Board chose to hire Mr. Lewis early.

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A Slap in the Face, and Another, and Another!!!!

THE FIRST SLAP: The Colville School Board decides to create a policy to allow transgender students access to bathrooms of their gender identity choice.

Let me just say that I am short. Very short. It is uncomfortable for me to sit in chairs where my feet dangle – which is almost always. I do not get on a podium and ask people to only manufacture chairs that I am comfortable to sit in so that everyone else is UN-comfortable. That is patently ridiculous – and I’m sorry, but isn’t that what this policy is doing?

ANOTHER SLAP: The Colville School Board changes the wording of the procedure. Here are the changes with explanation:

Pete

This is the notice from Superintendent Pete Lewis indicating changes have been made to the Transgender procedure. Don’t get your hopes up folks. Continue reading

Superintendent Pete Lewis Fired from Previous Position in Fairbanks

Fired_stamp_commons.wikimedia.orgThis post is informational for the good people of Colville. I believe it is important for this community to understand as much as we can about our new Superintendent. I find it important for people to know that Mr. Pete Lewis was fired from his last position in Fairbanks, Alaska for

“significant allegations of employee misconduct towards students”

handcuffs-294516_640To put it more bluntly, an employee named Claude Fowlkes III was arrested for allegedly raping a student multiple times on campus.

Prior to this, Mr. Lewis was made aware of multiple complaints that Mr. Fowlkes was grooming students. The action Mr. Lewis allegedly took was to transfer Mr. Fowlkes to another building without informing the principal of his past behaviors. This action by Mr. Lewis is what allegedly led to the rapes and to Mr. Lewis’ own firing.

Here is an excerpt from a Fairbanks article written on the KSL.com website  http://www.ksl.com/?nid=157&sid=29870313

The board cited a “total failure of leadership” by Lewis in the investigation and retention of employees, including Claude Fowlkes III, 34, a tutor at Hutchison High School who was arrested in March and charged with six counts of abusing a student at the school.

“Significant allegations and observations of ‘grooming’ and other alarming behavior with students were either not understood or were not dealt with in a serious manner,” Haas said in a statement signed by all board members.

Problems began at Fowlkes’ previous assignment at another Fairbanks school, Haas said, but the Hutchison principal was not made aware of them, Haas said.

Fowlkes from 2008 to 2014 was the subject of at least three complaints regarding conduct toward male students or minors. He violated district policy and engaged in inappropriate behavior with a male student at Tanana Middle School, the board said, but remained employed.

The superintendent’s unwillingness to perform his duties or inability to do them exposed students to harm and the district to legal vulnerability, the board said. Despite inappropriate student contact, Fowlkes received a glowing recommendation [by Mr. Lewis], Haas said.

You can find links to more informative articles at the bottom of this page.

5222712198_a24e1ba298_b_flickr.comQUESTIONS

– Do you as a parent feel our school board was honest with us in every way?

– Why did the school board hire Mr. Lewis two days after he was fired from Fairbanks, AK?

– Why did our board feel the need to rush in a superintendent to our district that had been fired for “significant allegations of employee misconduct towards students”?

– Should this community have been properly informed of Mr. Lewis’ past mistake before he was hired?

– Did our school board do a thorough hiring process, or was Mr. Lewis rushed in? (See post ‘Questionable Interm Superintendent Hiring’ https://colvilleparents.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/questionable-interim-superintendent-hiring/ )

– Did our school board skip the steps in their own policies that require them to inform the public of a superintendent or interim superintendent search? (Once again, see “Questionable Interim Superintendent Hiring post). If so, why?

– Did our school board rush Interim Superintendent Pete Lewis into a permanent position without a proper Superintendent search (according to school policies) before the public could be informed of Mr. Lewis’ past? (See post ‘Superintendent Hiring Procedures’ https://colvilleparents.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/superintendent-hiring-procedures/ )

– Do you, as a parent, feel comfortable with Mr. Lewis in charge of your children?

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Cancelled Superintendent Search Transcripts

imagesPen_flickr.comI think it’s important for the public to know the reasons why our board members make the decisions they do. So I have transcribed the portion of the November 24, 2014 school board meeting Agenda item 5.05 Superintendent Search. These are the comments by the board that concluded with their decision to cancel a full and open search for a superintendent position.

Sid Green 5.05 Superintendent Search. Sandy?

Sandy Moore Giggles (garbled) you were going to call on me. Like you were going to tell me before hand you were going to call on me. So

Sid Green Absolutely

Sandy Moore So! Superintendent Search. We had a very, I thought,  informative (garbled – but she is speaking about the public forum for Superintendent Selection Process link can be found at bottom of this post). We had a lot of people show up at the auditorium of Colville High School and share their views about where we are with the superintendent search and where we should go. We got a lot of great input. We as a board have not had an opportunity to talk about it since that meeting and this is our first meeting since then and I would like to have this chance to talk among ourselves about where we think we should go from here.

The way I saw (garbled) at the meeting was that we had a series of options.

– One was to hire a search firm and do a national search.

– Another option would be to do a search without hiring a firm so that was another issue we covered.

– We could also offer Mr. Lewis a contract extension but continue to look for another superintendent as was suggested by one member of the audience.

– We could offer Mr. Lewis a new contract for less than three years to give us more opportunity to evaluate where we are

– Or we could offer a full contract.

So I see that as kind of a measure of options out there on the table. I’d be interested in hearing input. I certainly have my own opinion, but I’ll open it up for discussion first. Continue reading

Broken Promise by School Board

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I am disappointed in our School Board because I believe they did not meet the requirements of the Open Public Meeting laws when hiring our Interim Superintendent. I am doubly disappointed that they went back on their promise to do a full and open search for a permanent Superintendent.

Here is a clip of the job posting for our superintendent.

Job Posting Cropped 2

In the job posting for Interim Superintendent, you will see it says (during which time, the District will conduct a search for a permanent Superintendent). This was voted and passed unanimously 5-0 by the board in the May 28, 2014.

Our board did not just promise the public, they stated publicly in writing that they would do a public search for our superintendent, and then fell back on that promise. In my opinion, we can never trust the word of any sitting board member from this point on.

In the November 24, 2014 school board meeting, the board unanimously approved to cancel the search and hire Mr. Lewis. This broke their promise to our community.

 

Question_mark_1_by_valsgalore_deviantart.comQuestions:

Our school board promised the community they would do a full and open search. Why didn’t they?

Our Board will tell you that they were trying to save us the money, but there is so much distrust with our board already – why go down this path?

Was it really just about the money – or was it something else?

I can understand that they are happy with Mr. Lewis’ job performance as an Interim Superintendent, but why didn’t they do a full, open and transparent search when hiring our Interim Superintendent in the first place?

 

Superintendent Hiring Procedures

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This post outlines the Colville procedures for hiring a Superintendent – and to give you information on other school districts procedures.
POLICIES and PROCEDURES (links to Colville’s Policies and Procedures manual listed at bottom of post)

First, let me explain the difference between policies and procedures, because it can sometimes be confusing and people often use the words improperly.

Explanation:

In the most basic form, a government agency is guided by their policies, but must follow their procedures.

Policies are a guideline.

Procedures are specific instructions for accomplishing a task.

For some reason, Colville does not have a policy or procedure for hiring a superintendent. In this case, the procedure for hiring falls back on employee/staff or administrator hiring procedures. Our school board did not follow their own procedures in the hiring of Mr. Pete Lewis if they treated his hiring as an employee or as a principal which is the closet thing to hiring a Superintendent.

It is the responsibility of the School Board to Write Policies and Procedures, it is also their responsibility to follow those procedures, though, there is no penalty if they don’t. The only thing I can really do is share this information with the public to better inform people of what goes on in our district.

Here is the applicable text in the Colville School Board policies and procedures documents. While you are reading through them, check off how many of these things our school district did in the hiring process of our Superintendent: Continue reading

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.

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