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I’m writing this because I’m distressed with recent events in the Ava School system, specifically with the Ava School Board, the Superintendent, and the high school Principal. I, too, attended the recent board meeting and stated my request to the board on behalf of Jeff Tabor. Obviously, that request was ignored, as were the requests of several of the more than 100 people in attendance. Others in attendance would probably have made requests of the board, but were prevented from doing so because the Board President failed to move the meeting to another location large enough to hold everyone. The boardroom was completely filled; as were the hallways and outer rooms, preventing many from being able to participate in or even hear the proceedings. The failure of the Board President to move the meeting was a violation of state law, as has been pointed out before.
While not a technical violation of the open meeting law, the Board President’s attempt to suppress the ability of those in attendance to state their requests, by saying the board would not enter into any discussion of personnel, was a violation of the spirit of that law, in my opinion. Of course they are not expected to enter into a discussion of personnel issues, but it is their elected duty to hear the concerns of the voters, whether those concerns address personnel, finance, curriculum, or whatever else the constituent needs to bring before the board.
During the open comment portion of the board meeting, I was lucky and was seated in a location that afforded me a good view of all the board members. As people stood and voiced their support for Mr. Tabor, I watched the reaction of the board. Several of the members, including the Superintendent, had their heads down, intently studying something on the screen of their laptop computers. They might as well have been reading comics, for all the attention paid to those who were addressing them. Such action displayed disrespect to the voters of this District who showed up asking for redress, in my opinion. Then the vote to restore Mr. Tabor was taken in closed session and subsequently published in the newspaper. Two members abstained. Really? A young man’s professional career is on the line due to unsupported allegations, and two members abstain? Really??
Our new Superintendent probably has the tools to be an excellent Superintendent someday. He is smart and personable, easy to look at, with good people skills. But he has insufficient experience to deal with a situation this volatile. I believe he made the decision early to support the high school Principal, no matter what. As the issue has evolved, he has made statements and taken positions which can’t be supported with evidence. In doing so, his objectivity and equal and fair treatment are called into question, in my opinion. Simply stated, Mr. Tabor did not do what he is accused of. The Administration had to discard that argument for lack of supporting documentation. For them to then go back and fabricate another set of issues, such as being late or not checking out, to justify the firing gives us a glimpse of their integrity. Every teacher has at one time been late or failed to check out. To single out one person and fire him for infractions overlooked in others is unequal treatment. I have lost trust and confidence in this Superintendent.
The high school Principal has fostered an atmosphere that has been described as toxic. Do we really want our children and grandchildren to be exposed to a toxic educational environment? Do we really want good teachers, outstanding teachers, fired or hounded and driven to resign by a militaristic leadership style? How many more good people have to be fired for insubordination before we say enough? The next one may just be the one who really connects with your child and opens their eyes to learning. Mr. Tabor was such a teacher. I’ve had enough!
My stake in this issue is this. I am an Ava Graduate. My two sons, their wives, and two of my grandchildren are Ava Graduates. I still have four grandchildren enrolled in the Ava School system. I served nine years on the Ava Board of Education. I care deeply. Do you?