Source: Sherman Publications

Keep school information flow open

June 22, 2011

We urge Clarkston Board of Education to reconsider their new Board Operating Procedures ("School board OKs rules for communication," June 15).

Procedures include naming the board president as official spokesperson for the entire board to the media, requiring board members who receive calls from the media to direct them to the board president.

To see what that looks like, how about the story "Berkley school trustee resigns," in the June 17 online edition of the Observer and Eccentric.

The story includes one set of quotes: “Mr. O’Gorman was elected to a six-year term in November 2009 and was a conscientious and committed advocate for the district,” said board President Marc Katz. “We will miss his curiosity and openness to new ideas, but we have a responsibility to fill this Board position within the next 30 days.”

Why did Mr. O’Gorman resign? What does Mr. O’Gorman have to say about the matter?

He doesn't say. He's not allowed to.

Clarkston's new Board Operating Procedures are directly based on Berkley's.

The new rules make the school board a single entity, with one collective viewpoint, a united front.

But as we know in the newspaper business, information is power. Funneling information through the president gives him or her all its power, too. The rest of the board becomes more like a cabinet to their president, a set of advisors.

Is that why board members went through the trouble to run? Is that why voters cast their ballots for them?

Clarkston School Board President Steve Hyer said the board procedures, approved June 13, is just a draft that can be amended at later meetings.

We urge trustees to do so.