Vi Waln: Don't let politics get in the way of our children's education

Vi Waln

Parents should be elected to School Boards
By Vi Waln
Lakota Country Times Columnist

Congratulations to Debra Boyd (460 votes) and Sandra K. Dillon (457 votes) for a successful election to the Todd County School Board (TCSB). These ladies have many years of experience. Both have worked in the school system serving our students as professional educators. They also bring their expertise as mothers and grandmothers to their positions.

There were 5 other candidates who ran for 2 open positions on the TCSB. Candidate Linda Bordeaux received 427 votes, only 30 less votes than school board member elect Sandra K. Dillon. Obviously, the voters spoke at the polls. That is, people who voted in the school board election indicated Bordeaux was the next best candidate to serve on the TCSB. Voters obviously wanted to see her on the school board more than they wanted the other 4 candidates.

Linda Bordeaux is also an experienced educator. She was a teacher for many years. She served most recently as Principal at Rosebud Elementary, as well as the Todd County Middle School, before leaving the district. Linda is also a mother and grandmother.

In addition, before the election a vacancy existed on the TCSB. This was due to the resignation of Evelyn Evie Espinosa. Word on the street is Espinosa allegedly grew weary of the politics some of the school board members were immersed in. The politics must have been especially dirty because it didn’t take Evie long to get tired of it.

It is very understandable when individuals grow frustrated with the politics of a board, committee, commission or council they serve on. I have served on boards, committees and commissions where dirty politics played a major role in the decision making process. The political environment of the groups I was involved with wasn’t good, nor was it in the best interest of the constituents we were elected or appointed to serve.

Many times the people who are elected to represent us disregard the written rules, resolutions, laws and ordinances. Sometimes elected representatives have no morals, ethics or integrity; they would rather do things their own way. Instead of following policy or procedure or doing what is in the best interest of their constituents, this type of elected representative engages in good old boy tactics.

As many people are aware, politics is often a dirty playing field. There isn’t much we can do to change the unscrupulous mentality of elected representatives. Change is slow. But change will happen when we elect or appoint candidates who have the experience, knowledge, and most importantly, the integrity to work in the best interest of the group they are elected to serve.

Consequently, the interim between the June 7 school board election and the seating of the newly elected members left Melissa Whipple, Travis Wooden Knife and Charles Moe to conduct business for the Todd County School District. Only half of a 6-member school board, but enough to have meetings and take care of district business. Summer is a slow time for many school districts.

Many people in Todd County think the proper procedure in making any major decisions affecting the school district would have been to wait until the newly elected board members were seated. A big decision, such as appointing someone to fill the vacancy left by Evie’s resignation, should have been left for the 5-member board to decide. However, the 3-member board apparently interviewed 3 candidates and appointed Gena Heinert to fill the vacancy on June 20.

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Even though the minutes of that school board meeting have not been made public, local citizens who attended that session indicated that the 3 members appointed Heinert to the vacant seat. Again, many local residents believe it would have been proper to wait until the newly elected members were seated to make this major decision. But when you operate under the good old boy system, you have to hurry and do things before educated people have a chance to influence your decision.

It would have made more sense to appoint Linda Bordeaux to the vacancy, as she was the third highest vote getter in the June 7 election. But, the school board apparently had a different agenda in mind. It’s an example of how the good old boy system works. Unfortunately, a long time educator was overlooked.

Parents should be provided the opportunity to be elected to school boards. However, long-time educators who have interacted with students for years are just as qualified to know what is in the best interests of our children. Furthermore, educated people who have dedicated many years of their life to the school district are likely to base their decisions on what is in the best interests of our students. The TCSB has also made some questionable hiring decisions but that is a whole different column. I’ll write more on that when the meeting minutes are made public. I have confidence in Debra Boyd and Sandra K. Dillon to make ethical decisions that are in the best interest of all the students attending the Todd County School District. Both are women of integrity. I doubt they will become immersed in the good old boy tactics currently displayed by some school board members.

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