According to both the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune, disputatious Farmington school board member Tim Burke has been accused by several sitting school board members of creating more work for district administrators than they feel is necessary as well as being “disrespectful” to them.
According to the Pioneer Press:
Burke’s strained relationship with district administrators predates his election to the board, when he took a request for a copy of Superintendent Brad Meeks’ contract all the way to the state’s Department of Administration. At an October meeting, some board members voiced concerns that Burke’s criticism and battery of information requests might be creating a hostile work environment for the administrative team.
The request of information regarding Superintendent Meeks’ salary was done back in 2008 and while the district and the school board at the time didn’t much appreciate it, the public was appreciative of the fact that they could make educated conclusions as to its value when compared to other local school districts which have over four times the number of students enrolled.
The Star Tribune noted:
Board members have said he treats administrators disrespectfully and burdens them with unnecessary data requests. Meeks has said that Burke has poor “e-mail etiquette,” and that he’s too quick to blind-copy or forward messages with district data.
Burke has said he believes the district conducts its business with “bewildering” secrecy, and that the board’s claims boil down to “not playing nice in the sandbox.”
School districts, like all other public entities in the State, must provide information requested by the public (school board member or not) as long as the request is considered to be public data as per Minnesota State Statute §13.03. No data request should be denied, delayed or otherwise hindered unless it is considered non-public and frequency and/or breadth of requests have no bearing on the statute’s requirements.
Many of the current sitting members of the Farmington School District are of the belief that as little information as possible should be made available to the public and in the past wanted to limit the use of social networks for dissemination of information which arguably was meant to silence Mr. Burke as he is known to use Twitter heavily. They have also closed a school board retreat to TV viewers so as to, “foster a different kind of dialogue,” because the ISD 192 school board members were afraid of what the public would say if they spoke their minds.
So what do you think of the Farmington School Board’s attempts at silencing fellow board member Timothy Burke’s data requests? Do you believe that it is acceptable for a school board member (or a member of the public) to request information which others may consider to be “burdensome”? Do you believe a school board member has to be “nice” to administrators who some argue have a clear disregard for the public in general? Is any related expenditure, such as hiring a third party to do the investigation, a wise investment for the taxpayers of ISD 192?
Well what say you?