The Examiner U-46 News Feed
U-46 Board discusses flow of forwarded data
By Seth Hancock
A discussion spurred by School District U-46 board member Jeanette Ward has resulted in bearing some fruit.
At a May board meeting, Ward had brought an issue to the board stemming from an email exchange between Ward and U-46 CEO Tony Sanders as she sought to receive updates sent to her that were, according to her, sent to the board in the past but were no longer being sent.
“I don’t know if most of you may remember that in the past we used to get updates that (Director of School Safety and Culture) John Heiderscheidt would send out almost daily,” Ward said and added she “noticed recently that we haven’t been getting them quite as often, and so I asked for all of those updates and Mr. Sanders asked me to bring that to the board for discussion.”
After the over 14-minute discussion, Ward told The Examiner last week that more updates have been coming. She said: “Yes, I have started receiving more reports since that discussion.”
Obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, the email exchange between Ward and Sanders started on April 23 when Ward emailed: “We used to get all these updates. It seems that is not the case any longer?”
Receiving no reply, Ward emailed again on April 24: “I’m not sure if you’re clear about the question I’m asking. Are we continuing to receive all the updates or are you just selecting certain ones to send us? If we are not receiving all of them, I would like to going forward.”
On April 25, Sanders indicated he was sending fewer reports replying: “I did move away from providing John’s periodic reports to the full board unless it has an issue of note.”
Ward responded on April 25: “Thank you. I would like to receive John’s full reports again.”
After a few days with no response, Ward emailed on April 27: “Can you please confirm that I will receive John’s full reports going forward?”
Sanders responded on April 27: “I would prefer to have direction from the full board.”
That request for a board discussion was questionable to Ward as she said at the May meeting that it was a level three request, a request requiring less than 20 minutes of staff time, which requires no board discussion. In contrast, Sanders had staff produce a pair of “equity” updates earlier this year on behalf of only former board member Traci Ellis that the presentations alone, without the staff time to produce included, lasting over three hours.
“I don’t know why the whole board has to agree on that,” Ward said. “I’d like to receive all his updates, and since that takes less than 20 minutes of staff time I don’t know why I can’t receive them.”
Donna Smith, the board’s president, said: “I know we get updates. What we have always gotten updates on is… to give us a heads up on what we may hear about in the community, what may be in the newspaper. Is there more than that?”
Sanders said he sends updates to “make sure the board was aware about what you may hear in the grocery store or may read about in the newspaper” He said on Heiderscheidt’s reports: “There was a time they were coming out on almost a daily basis, now they come out every few days. It’s not every day that we get one from John, and I do cull through those and make sure that the board is aware of the major incidents that might have occurred in schools.”
Board member Phil Costello said there should be a standard set on what should be sent to the board.
“I think there should be some standard that we’re going to understand when we’re going to receive something,” said Costello who added violence or disruption to the school day should be sent “regardless if it may or may not be put in the media.”
Smith said: “And I don’t know that we have always been given only things that would be put in the media. It was just to inform us in case they were.”
Board member Veronica Noland confirmed that the number of updates had dropped significantly and said she was “fine receiving them” and fine with only “some of us receiving them.”
“We used to get them often, almost every day, and I do remember that,” Noland said and added: “Really, I just appreciate having that.”
Board member Melissa Owens said “all of us as board members should be getting relatively the same amount of information,” which Smith agreed. Instead of questioning Sanders, Owens questioned Ward with a series of questions all coming down to: “What were you gaining from that that you’re missing out on?”
“Information about what’s happening in our schools,” Ward said. “I read those almost every day when they were sent, and it was always something that I was glad to be aware of.”
Sanders said: “There was no point that I’d actually would just send John’s reports directly to all board members without at least reviewing it and making sure that I thought it belonged in the board’s hands.”
Ward asked: “Why did the number of reports go down?”
Sanders replied: “So in the last two weeks, you have not missed one. Anything that I’ve received from John has been forwarded on to the board. Now there are some things I’ve pulled off the report because it did not pertain to a disturbance in the school. Some were confidential staff issues that I just didn’t, something you would not hear in the grocery store.”
Ward later said: “I guess I just find it hard to believe that the number of incidents has dropped. I mean, that’s just kind of not how things go. All I’m asking for is the same level of information that we previously received. And it seems doubtful that the number of incidents have gone down.”
“I don’t know that the number of incidents has gone down,” Sanders said. “The number of reports has gone down.”
Noland said that regardless as to why the board is receiving fewer updates “this is a good reminder of what we want, and I suggest we just proceed forward with that reminder in mind and take it from there and see how it changes or doesn’t change from there.”