Submitted by John Arbeeny.
Alyssa Pearson, incumbent Clover Park School Board District #3, claimed in her 2017 voter pamphlet statement that “transparency” was central to her campaign platform. Then again in 2021 she claims that she and the Board have been transparent. Transparent? The better description is “opaque”.
The Board has dragged their feet on requests for public information. Meeting minutes have been delayed until irrelevant and dissent missing. They have concealed requested information, manipulated and even altered letters to the Board to fit their narrative. They have squashed debate on critical issues that have gone unaddressed simply so they could “go along to get along”. Even their Board meetings occur when most people are just getting home from work and sitting down to dinner with family.
Board members are public servants who serve for the benefit and at the will of the people who elected them. It is the servant who goes to their masters to find out the will of their master. It is not the master who goes to the servant to request something of the servant. The Board however seems to think it is they who are the masters and that the public whom they are supposed to serve must come to them in their exalted position.
Pearson, when questioned about ways to increase contact with the public who voted for her replied ”I’m all about transparency. But everyone has my phone number.” Board President Marty Schaefer, incumbent District #4, chimed in with “So, it’s not like they don’t have access.” (Clover Park School District Board Meeting, April 26, 2021; Subject: In-house Board Survey). So now it’s the public’s fault for not contacting the Board instead of the Board’s fault for not contacting the public they ostensibly serve; the prime reason for the Board’s existence.
With this imperious attitude why would anyone bother to call a Board member? They routinely and with impunity sweep away such issues brought up by one of their own Board members for lack of a second to a motion to just discuss the issue. The Board clearly understands that their system doesn’t work but are unwilling to change it because they know what that change entails: the Board actually doing its job! If the system is broken fix it! Instead they merely complain about the lack of public participation and do nothing to rectify it.
When you design a system that burdens a component not designed for that purpose the system fails. When it becomes the responsibility of the public to do the work of the Board the system fails. Indeed, a single individual with a problem can easily be swept aside in a phone call even though they may represent the problems of many. Perhaps that is why Board members make themselves scarce at neighborhood meetings where they would have to face that individual along with similar individuals in an organizational setting they, as Board members, cannot control. So they hide within the “fortress” that is the Board which has become their refuge from the public and then wonder why the public doesn’t get involved.
To my knowledge Schafer and Pearson have seldom if ever attended a neighborhood association meeting even in their own districts. Rather they tend to send their “servants” in the person of District employees who are unelected and not responsible for the representation, policy making and accountability of the Board. Sending “a boy to do a man’s job” often ends badly. Clover Park School District is a case in point.
This election for Clover Park School Board is your chance to “flip the equation” and gain a Board that understands that they serve you; that they have the responsibility to gain and maintain contact with you; to listen to you; and translate your input into the policies and accountability that represent your demands of an educational system. Servants serve their masters.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.