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Saturday, June 20, 2015

The letter...

As you might recall, in an earlier blog I wrote about my letter to New Hartford School Board President John Jadhon.

Apparently, Mr. Jadhon read the blog; because shortly thereafter, I received an email from another board member telling me that Mr. Jadhon didn’t get my email because I was inadvertantly given the wrong email address for Mr. Jadhon; although, it was correctly sent to nhart.org.

So I promptly wrote another email this time using what I was told was the correct email address.

I was approached by Mr. Jadhon at the May Budget Hearing to personally let me know that he didn’t get my first email. In fact, he said that he didn’t get the second email I sent either. Mr. Jadhon insisted that any emails sent to his school email address go directly to his work office.

Do they? I am not naive enough to believe that the school doesn’t route emails sent to nhart.org through the school first, then to the intended recipient.

I questioned Mr. Jadhon..doesn’t the school have a catch-all mailbox just in case someone mistakenly misspells a name when they address an important email to nhart.org?

Both emails were addressed to nhart.org; how could it be that someone at the school didn’t receive it? I know the school uses Gmail for board members email and I know for a fact that Gmail allows you to set up catch-all mailboxes. Why wouldn’t the school district set-up a catch-all mailbox just to capture any emails sent to nhart.org with misspelled names so they are not sent back to the sender as "undeliverable" or lost in space? What if it was critical that the email was received? Incidentally, none of my emails were returned to me as “undeliverable”. Does the school have a catch-all mailbox, after all? Is that what happened to my emails to Mr. Jadhon?

I also questioned Mr. Jadhon as to why the school website does not list the school email address for each board member since the board by-laws state:
S. Complaints

The usual channeling of complaints, especially those involving instruction, discipline or learning materials is from teacher to school building or district administrator, to Superintendent and then to the Board. In those cases where satisfactory adjustment cannot be made according to this procedure, complaints may be submitted to the Board. Citizens concerned over educational matters and issues should contact the Board or Superintendent in advance. When a concern goes to the Board, as a general rule, it should be submitted in advance in writing and signed, specifying the action desired or the remedy sought.
My comments/questions had nothing to do with a teacher or child, it was purely a board matter; policy would lead me to believe my choice was to either contact the board or the superintendent. So I chose to try to contact Board President Jadhon through an email; trouble is, I don't normally correspond with Mr. Jadhon, so I didn't have his email address.

It would have been helpful if the school’s website listed board member school email addresses with a “clickable” link so this whole episode could have been avoided.  Instead, the only contact for school board members on the school website is a contact form where it is mandatory that you give your full name and email address in order to send an email to the board.

But, alas, there is no mention of who will receive your message; perhaps you are supposed to assume that it goes to someone on the board. But who on the board? Is it possible that anything sent using this contact form gets run by School Superintendent Nole first and he then decides who on the board should receive it; or worse yet, sent to the circular file if it should be from someone in “that group”? Who would know the difference? What if the complaint is about Mr. Nole; does he self-monitor if the board should see it?

When I asked Mr. Jadhon about why school board members' school email addresses weren't on the school website, he said he thought they were on the bio page.  Really? I sure don't see them there.

Back to my letter…

My letter to Mr. Jadhon was distributed to the full board in their “Friday packet” for the discussion at the May 18th board meeting.

The discussion indeed took place at the May 18th meeting; however, there was no mention of the discussion regarding my letter in the minutes of the meeting that were presented for approval at the June 2, 2015 board meeting. Mr. Flemma asked that it be included and after some discussion, the board voted to amend the minutes stating the May 18th minutes would be approved at the next meeting on June 16th.

However, the amended minutes which were included with the June 16th board packet said:
“Mr. Jadhon distributed a letter that he received from Ms. Lawrence and Mr. Nole confirmed that the process and procedure that the Board follows to enter into Executive Session is correct.”
Basically, the minutes were now amended to make it appear that the school board has been correct all along; not because the school board was called out by my letter, but because they just were always following the Open Meetings Law! That is not what was said at the May 18th meeting; Mr. Flemma once again objected.

Without going into further detail, the bottom line, the minutes are to be amended once again and voted on at the next school board meeting in July. You can listen to the video to hear that discussion for yourself.

I note that Mr. Jadhon has failed to respond to any of the questions in my email. I checked, Board Policy Section 1000 on Community Relations, more specifically Policy 1401 under Public Relations, that states:
It is imperative that all staff members employed in the District realize the importance of positive public relations. The Public Relations Program should include the following:

E. Maintaining good relations with parents through prompt, thoughtful and considerate answers to all inquiries and complaints.
Shouldn't board policies apply to the Board of Education as well? Granted I don’t currently have any children in school, but I am a concerned taxpayer and I would like to think that everyone who takes the time to write to the school board receives an answer when they ask questions; it’s just the right thing to do.

Mr. Jadhon…as you walked toward the board table at the May 12, 2015 budget hearing that was held shortly after I wrote my last blog about the letter I sent, you looked back at me, smiled and said you wouldn’t mind if I said something nice about you on my blog.

Here’s the deal...just as soon as you answer and acknowledge my emails and my questions posed to you when we spoke on May 12th, I promise to acknowledge you and say how nice it was of you to respond to questions that were asked over a month ago! Deal?

Here’s the June 16, 2015 school board meeting.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is New Hartford. The rules don't apply when you are part of the Friends and Family Team.