LET’S DO IT IN EVERY WISCONSIN SCHOOL DISTRICT
School says they want parental input, but one Wisconsin district censors book selection process
EAG News.org – Ashleigh Costello -
Tom Kamenick, associate counsel and open government specialist at WILL, said that claim is misconstrued.
“State statutes give school boards the authority to select textbooks and approve curricula for their courses,” Kamenick said in a press release. “When a school board delegates that authority to another body, the open meetings laws still apply.”
“Not only did this committee conduct closed-door meetings contrary to state law, but no minutes were kept of its discussions or how the members voted,” according to Krueger. “The inability to attend meetings and the lack of records means the public will never know how the committee came to its conclusions or whether the process it used was fair and unbiased. This is a serious violation of the public trust.”
The school district’s chief academic officer told the Associated Press the committee needed to meet privately to facilitate candid discussion.
But Krueger said “secrecy promotes incompetence and sloppy work.” He also believed the district has other motives for keeping the meetings closed.
“[There] is an attitude that you find throughout the school system that they are the professionals, they know what to do, they know what’s best, and they will tolerate parents, but otherwise they just want to do their own thing,” Krueger said. “That’s part of it. I do believe, myself, that the other part of it is that there are several teachers that have their own world view and they want the literature selected that reinforces that world view.
According to WILL, if neither the Attorney General nor the Outagamie County District Attorney file a lawsuit within 20 days, state statutes give citizens the right to act as “private attorney generals” and bring open meetings lawsuits on behalf of the people of the state.
Krueger is hopeful that a lawsuit will set precedent for other school districts.
“I’m hopeful that we’re going to win and that it’s going to open up the barricades for other people and it’s going to make a big long-term difference. I really believe that.”
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