School Board Rehashes Professional Conduct
Left, school board members at a recent meeting. (City-Times photo)
By Amy Van Meter
Discussion led to consensus and committee members will present a board member ethics and code of conduct policy at the upcoming Stevens Point Area Public School District Board meeting.
With some members of the Policy and Legislation Committee content with the proposed policy, which included common courtesies as board members being respectful to each other and maintaining professionalism, other members expressed that the proposed policy was arbitrary during the April 17 meeting.
“It’s all interpretation,” said Lisa Totten, chair of the committee, at the beginning of the discussion. “What one finds offensive another doesn’t.”
Since the material of the policy is subjective to one’s perception, this isn’t enforceable, said Kim Shirek, who serves on the committee.
Citizen member Jane Petruska didn’t understand the hesitancy of passing the policy, however.
“I am surprised it is so difficult to put this through,” she said during discussion. “(An ethics code) is so commonplace.”
Using the Speak Your Peace Civility Project, a movement that promotes ways to enhance civil and productive conversation, a draft of the ethics code was created at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year with school board not approving with a 5-4 vote in February, according to documents at the April 17 meeting.
“Literally half of us want it and half of us don’t,” said Angel Faxon, a school board member who sat in at the committee meeting.
The committee came to a compromise, which included incorporating a procedure the board should follow as well as eight ethical standards with the current code of conduct.
“We should have a standard,” said Christina Scott, committee member. “There should be some guidelines.”
While the admitted ethics included members encouraging citizen participation, working in cooperation and basing decisions on available facts, portions that were omitted from the policy either mirrored the eight standards or involved personal judgement such as apologize when necessary and maintaining a sense of humor.
“Being agreeable, being honest…are such arbitrary things,” Faxon said.
The policy will be voted during the April 22 board meeting.