Reverse Appointment of Jim Torrey to 4J School Board

4J School Board

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It is unethical and tone deaf for the school board to fill a vacancy with the incumbent that the voters clearly rejected through the ballot box in May, and again rejected throughout the extensive appointment process. In addition, it goes against the board's own stated policies and procedures.
4J kids, teachers, and families deserve answers, and new leadership.
We demand that the school board:
* Reverse the appointment of Jim Torrey.
* Return to a fair and fully transparent selection process with the previously selected top three finalists.

* Adopt a standard of transparency and make public all emails and other documents regarding this appointment, so that stakeholder concerns about unfairness and hidden agendas may be addressed.

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To: 4J School Board
From: [Your Name]

To: The 4J School Board

We, the undersigned, are writing to express our distress and disappointment at the selection of Jim Torrey to fill the seat left vacant by Evangelina Sungrenz. The board’s decision on 8/8/19 contradicts the values and goals espoused in the board’s official policies and statements. We are writing to describe how the board’s decision broke its promises to our community and to ask for specific and immediate actions to address these breaches.

According to the Board Members Standards of Conduct, listed on the 4J School Board webpage, decisions are to be made “only after the facts are presented and discussed” (#6). At the board meeting on 8/8/19 neither of these standards of conduct were met. Gordan Lafer stated that he would like more time for the Board to discuss who they would select. Alicia Hays replied that has “never been done like this before.” These suggestions were not followed and the vote went on without further discussion. The facts were neither presented in public nor discussed fully in Executive Session or public session.

The Board Members Standards of Conduct also states that decisions should be “open, fair, and honest” with “no hidden agendas” (#10). Many individuals and organizations in the community spoke in favor of a candidate who the Board rejected with its selection of Jim Torrey. On the other hand, the community had been given an opportunity to choose Torrey in the last board election and the community rejected his candidacy and chose another candidate. The Board’s stated reasons for opposition to the community’s democratic selection are : “Balance,” “Not being too political,” “Equity being broadly defined,” and “Not being able to speak for an entire group.” These explanations are empty. It looks as though there are hidden agendas and that the board is not being open, fair, or honest.

In the School Board's Goals, approved in 2016, Community Engagement is listed as goal #4. The meeting on 8/8 is an example of rejecting community engagement. The Board provided lip service to the community to let us believe that our voices matter and fully ignored the community’s voice in it’s actions.

The 4J Equity Committee webpage says that “achieving equity is a shared responsibility between community and district and it can only be achieved by mutual responsibility.” The decision made last week went directly against what many individuals and community organizations spoke in favor of, in person and in writing. Under “roles” of the 4J Equity Committee members (last two of 8), members are tasked with the following:

- Build alliances and sustain communications with stakeholder groups in the community to support district equity goals.
- Work with the district to engage community stakeholder voices.

The appointment of Torrey fails to conform to these basic standards.

Further, it is unethical to select a board member to fill a seat that the voters clearly rejected through the ballot box in May and again throughout this appointment process.

For all the reasons stated above, we believe that the only way to rebuild the trust with 4J’s major stakeholders is for the board to do the following:

- Adopt a standard of transparency and make public all emails regarding this appointment, so that stakeholder concerns about unfairness and hidden agendas may be addressed.
- Reverse the appointment of Jim Torrey.
- Return to a fair and fully transparent selection process with the previously selected top three finalists.

We are asking the board to utilize the community engagement that you say you're committed to, fulfill your promises to the community, and stand by your ethical guidelines and codes of conduct.

We await your response.