What is truth on charter school?


The School Board meeting of May 15 and consequently the editorial from The New Era have left me wondering what is the truth?

The first thing that I want to say up front is that I believe there are some great people on the School Board that have a lot to offer District 55, however, times being what they are, common sense has been abandoned.

The Charter School fiasco is a product of the School Board’s inability to do several things, which this letter intends to address.

The state of Oregon has a system for starting charter schools and has written up a set of statutes that outlines this procedure. The School Board or individual members of the School Board seem to see no problem with ignoring or disregarding these statutes when it suits them.

The example I am referencing was Diane Gerson’s attempt to use a minor provision of ORS 338.065 to override the intent of this statute, and since she used the word “but” when she referred to provision F, she in fact understood what the statute said but chose to ignore it and instead chose to promote an idea that was in contravention of the statute. So if statutes are laws and you choose not follow them, what are you doing?

Addressing both the board and editorial, PIE (People Involved in Education) has spent over two years trying to start a school in Sweet Home. They have been successfully operating a school in Lebanon the whole time. So, that begs the question: Who actually is acting in good faith? PIE’s agenda and motives are open to the public and laid out on paper.

The people that they are going to impact are going to be people that volunteer to go to school there.

The School Board’s agenda and motives are a little tougher to discern between the executive meetings and the smoke and mirrors double talk of their attorney, Mr. Dassow. The last thing on this point is that the people that want a charter school don’t want a charter school with corporation X. They want it with PIE. Besides nobody else is proposing a charter school in Sweet Home.

The next thing that I would like to discuss is the fact that the School Board is supposed to be made up of elected volunteers and a few people with a vested interest in School District 55, this in the hopes that the district wouldn’t end up being run by two lawyers and an insurance salesman.

David Vanderlip claimed that he would be remiss if he ignored the advice of the afore mentioned individuals, but I believe you are being remiss by ignoring the fact that a charter school is coming to Sweet Home, and that by following the so-called advice of experts, you are in fact going to remove yourselves from the equation entirely.

In other words, the information you are taking a stand on is false, and either you haven’t taken the time to check the facts, or you believe the facts don’t apply to you. Either way it is time to take a closer look.

Finally, I would like to take a look at the abuse of the executive session concerning this matter. This is not a right-to-privacy issue. The things discussed concerning the charter school should be open to the public so that both sides can make known their concerns and what they perceive as their responsibilities.

I believe that as this matter comes to a head the people of this school district will find that they have not been furnished with the all the facts nor that all the facts that have been furnished to them are truthful.

I believe that the board would be better served to share their opinions publicly or keep them to themselves, and I also believe that the board loses credibility with secrecy. The truth of the matter is that most people will always wonder, What goes on behind closed doors?

Brandy S. James

Sweet Home