Beyond the shadow of a doubt is a standard of proof that is almost impossible to reach. Beyond a reasonable doubt is the standard needed in most litigation. Shadow of A Doubt is also a 1943 movie by director Alfred Hitchcock. Sadly, shadow of doubt is the cloud that now covers every action of the Enterprise City School Board.
When the news of the called board meeting for Monday at 3:00 PM was posted or learned last weekend, the first thought that I had and the first comment I heard from many who mentioned the meeting was, “I wonder why they scheduled it for that time?” Then there was either a snicker or a ‘wink wink’ because everyone knew what they were thinking. Some expressed the thought verbally, or in writing on social networks, “so the crowd at the meeting would be smaller since many people working would not be able to attend.”
I am not alleging that is the reason for the time of the meeting. There could be very valid reasons for scheduling the meeting at 3:00 in the afternoon and not at the normal evening time of 6:00 when the regular monthly board meeting is held. That is not the point I am trying to communicate.
The fact that that so many had a question or doubt or suspicion about the motive behind the timing of the meeting is the point.
Scrutiny is different than suspicion
Both scrutiny and suspicion start with an ‘s’ but that is where the similarities end. Scrutiny is defined as a searching study, inquiry, or inspection, a searching look, a close watch. Suspicion is defined as the act or an instance of suspecting something wrong without proof or on slight evidence – mistrust, a state of mental uneasiness and uncertainty – doubt.
We, as citizens and parents, should scrutinize the decisions of any school board through the lens of – is this decision, whatever it is, in the best interest of the students first, then the school system. If decisions are made with those criteria as guidelines then they will also be what are good for the city.
In case anyone is unaware, the school system is what draws many to the city of Enterprise which, in turn, adds to the city’s sales tax and property tax revenues.
However, we should not need to be suspicious of any decision the board makes because there is a reasonable level of doubt, whether we can prove the suspicion or not, that every decision was not made with these criteria as the filter.
Logic behind my perspective
I don’t pretend to speak for anyone but myself but do believe that my perspective on this situation is not uncommon. My opinion is derived from what I have read, seen, and heard regarding this situation over the past few weeks. Every decision this board makes is now looked on with suspicion as to the motives behind the decision because there is a definite lack of trust between many of the parents and citizens of Enterprise and the school board.
When I do not have first-hand knowledge about any issue I look to those who do have knowledge and “skin in the game” so to speak. Regarding the school board issue, I tend to agree more with those that have worked in the school system for many years that helped to make the Enterprise City School System one of the best in the state and have spoken out on these issues.
They have been directly involved with the school system and issues in question now and have more first-hand knowledge of the people involved and the situation than me. Their history and records validate their desire for only what is in the best interest of the students and school system going forward. They really have nothing to gain by speaking out except to try to ensure the school system they love keeps moving in the right direction – forward. That seems logical to me.
We all have skin in the game
However, just for clarification, every current student, former student, teacher, administrator, support staff, parent, and anyone who cares enough to show up at these board meetings has “skin in the game” too. My hope is that we all keep showing up to show our support for our school system.
Honest disagreements with common goals and motives are good
We can and will have honest disagreements with how to achieve a goal but if our motives and goals are the same, those disagreements and discussion will be constructive and lead to the best decision instead of just a good decision. It doesn’t appear the motives and goals are in sync now between the board and the citizens so these type discussions cannot even occur.
This meeting was no more than going through the motions, literally and figuratively. There was no information shared with the public regarding how the interim superintendent and attorney were selected or about the process the board plans to follow to find a new superintendent. It seems to me that would have been reasonable information to share unless there is some reason not to share it. The school board chose not to share.
Sharing information “could” help
Information like this shared freely with the public “could” have an impact on the rumors that continue to surround the board and could, over time, build trust where none exists now. The best way to squelch rumors is to provide factual information that refutes or negates the rumors. If those facts “hurt someone’s feelings” then so be it.
Failure to share is a choice this board continues to make. Failure to share more information about these appointments, the search for a new superintendent, as well as the events that led to the need to appoint an interim superintendent and attorney just continues to perpetuate the rumors and distrust. The school board has chosen not to share.
As long as the school board continues to make the choice not to share they will continue to serve under a shadow of doubt. It puzzles me as to why they would want to serve under this cloud and choose not to be more forthcoming with information. They do have choices.
Until next time…
Originally posted on Peculiar Perspective on 7/12/2013