Districts are declaring it over and over again: “This is a meeting in public, not a public meeting!”

This morning, the Parkrose school board joined the misguided traditions of the Reynolds and Gresham-Barlow school boards by refusing to accept public input while acting as public officials and meeting in public.

The Parkrose School Board President, Ed Grassel, gaveled down community members and shouted that he would have them removed “if he heard any crowd” because, “This is a meeting in public, not a public meeting!” Watch the video linked below from KATU, catch the absurd statement 39 seconds into the report:

He was duly elected by the citizens who live within the boundaries of the Parkrose School District, but he apparently no longer wants to hear what the people who elected him have to say. The Board then went on to unanimously vote to implement a contract on its teachers – meaning each teacher paying about $700 per month for the next five months. Classy move. And unnecessary.

Just last night, in a similarly sickening fashion, the Gresham-Barlow school board granted Superintendent Jim Schlachter broad authority to ignore any Board policy at any time and all he would have to do is inform the Board after the fact that he has done so.  The Board also claimed the District is in a state of emergency and therefore would not need to provide notice of future meetings nor meet in public. Good thing public dollars don’t run these institutions, and the public doesn’t elect these people. Wait, they totally do!

In the short time we have before teachers walk out on strike the public deserves more access to its public officials, not less.  More dialogue, not less.  The disinfecting quality of sunlight needs to permeate the East County school board meetings rather than allowing the stale funk of closed doors and secret meetings to grow. Is this behavior by school boards and administrators acceptable to you?

These school boards defining meetings in public as not-public meetings echoes the classic line in Dr. Strangelove: “Gentlemen! You can’t fight in here, this is a war room!”