Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Citizens Advisory Council on Communication

In August, 2011, a group of good and decent people got together, wrote a petition, gathered more than a hundred signatures, and then hand delivered it, link, to the school board during a public forum at a regular school board meeting.

It was ignored until March, 2012. link, when it was "considered" by the District and Community Relations Committee.  The petition was denied a good faith response; in particular by School Board Vice President Kathy Korte.

The human right to petition one's government, is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

What is the point in protecting the right to deliver a petition for redress of grievances, if there is not a corresponding obligation on the part of the government, to accept the petition? to consider it with an open mind, treat it fairly, and provide for it, due process.

There is no venue in the entire APS where community interest groups can ask questions about the public interests and about the public service of senior administrators and board members.

Questions are expressly forbidden during the public forum at school board meetings.

If the questions are inconvenient enough, if the questions are asked persistently enough, a publicly funded private police force, a Praetorian Guard will remove dissidents at the whim of out of control board members and senior administrators.

The questions are not illegitimate;

  • Where is the Caswell Report on felony criminal misconduct involving APS senior administrators?
  • Why hasn't evidence of felony criminal misconduct been turned over to the District Attorney's Office for prosecution?
  • Why is there no role modeling clause in executive and administrative standards of conduct?
  • Why are students expected model accountability to a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct, and board members and superintendents are not?
  • Why are hundreds of whistleblower complaints being denied due process by the Audit Committee?
  • Where is the PowerPoint presentation on student discipline and chronically disruptive students?
  • Where is the PowerPoint presentation on administrative and executive standards of conduct and competence?  Where is there due process of complaints filed against administrators and school board members?
The language in the petition, link, is dated.  The leadership of the APS is scrambling as fast as it can to rewrite all their polices and procedures to eliminate language like;
In no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult,
be lower than the standards of conduct for students.
and any other any references to higher standards of conduct, "two-way" communication with community members, or the intrinsic value of community input in the decision making process.

The truth those now rewritten policies and procedures conveyed, cannot be so easily swept away.

There is a legitimate need for a venue where two-way communication is enabled rather than prohibited.  Community members input is still valuable.  All of the justifications in the petition are justifications still; even if the leadership of the APS erased the policies and procedures that formally recognized them.

APS spends nearly a million dollars a year spinning the truth for interest holders.

APS' Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta makes over a hundred thousand dollars a year polishing APS' apple.

But she doesn't make enough apparently, to stand up in front of stakeholders and explain to them why their million dollar investment in communication between the district and community members, is not enough to buy them a public forum where they are allowed to speak and associate freely, and where they can freely exercise their constitutionally protected human right to petition their government.

A forum where taxpayers, stake and interest holders can ask legitimate questions about the public interests and the public service of politicians and public servants.  A place where the expectation is that legitimate question is entitled to a candid, forthright and honest response.

The Citizens Advisory Council on Communications is willing to create that forum, the leadership of the APS is bent on obstructing it, and their cronies in the establishment media are willing to play along with them.

photo Mark Bralley

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