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The BOE’s Process And Job



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To the Editor:

I have great respect for the former Chairs of the Board of Education and have worked with many of them either as a member of the Board or in other capacities in my volunteer work for Newtown. However, I am genuinely disappointed in their profound misunderstanding of the role of the Board of Education expressed in their recent letter to The Newtown Bee.

The United States Supreme Court has stated that local control of education is democracy in a microcosm. Parents have a large voice in the running of a school through their participation in the election of school board members. (See, Bd. of Educ. v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853) As a result of their popular election, the School Board truly represents the community standard, and remains accountable to the community at each election cycle.

A review of the law creating and empowering the Board of Education clearly does not support the view that it is a “rubber stamp” to the District Staff, as the letter implies. Education is a cooperative activity between the district professionals and the community which employs them. Mutual respect, open lines of communication and a free exchange of inquiry between the Board and the District is important for each side to discharge their role in delivering the best education for Newtown.

“The principle of the freedom to read and the professional judgment of the staff must be defended” is one statement found in Board Policy 8-302, and was quoted in the former Chairs’ letter. What was omitted from their letter is the first sentence of the same policy: “The Newtown Board of Education is legally responsible for all matters relating to the operation of its six schools, including the library media centers.” This statement and Connecticut General Statutes §10-221 make it clear that the Board is the ultimate authority in the selection of media in school libraries.

The issue at hand concerns the District Staff’s professional judgment in the selection of the books in question.

No professional acts in a vacuum and all professional judgment is subject to question. It is the Board of Education’s role, as the representatives of the community, to inquire, question and decide what is best for our schools. We expect our District professionals to meet that challenge, not with rancor, arrogance and platitudes, but with scholarly support for their decisions and alternatives to the objected materials. Professionals should welcome the opportunity to defend their judgment and work to earn the support of the Board, and the community it represents.

It is axiomatic that in our democracy everyone has a right to be heard. The Board of Education should listen and use their judgment to decide the best course for Newtown. That is the process and the job they were elected to do.

Andrew Buzzi, Jr

Member/Secretary — Board of Education:


Comments are open. Be civil.
1 comment
  1. qstorm says:

    Thank you, sir. We, voters, elected the current BoE to review and reverse the agenda of the previous boards. This latest test of the board is only one of many. As elected officials whose charge is described above, they should follow their convictions. I, for one, will be sorely disappointed if they do not remove this material. But I voted for them to represent my views and can vote differently next time.

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