Tag Archives: Parents for Transparency Coalition

How must governments define ‘personnel’ matters?

I won’t take credit for this idea. It comes from a reader of this blog and a frequent critic of local government in Amarillo, Texas.

My friend wonders whether the Amarillo Independent School District board of trustees should examine carefully its policy of declining to comment on “personnel matters” when the matter involves an elected member of the governing board.

The Parents for Transparency Coalition is seeking answers from the school board on an array of issues. The coalition believes the board and senior administration are too opaque in their conduct of public business.

I need to revisit the resignation of the Amarillo High volleyball coach. Kori Clements resigned her post after asserting that a parent had interfered with her coaching decisions. The parent allegedly was a member of the school board. Renee McCown, the now former trustee, resigned. Still, the board has declined to comment on the matter, citing the “personnel” policy as prohibiting them from making any public comment.

I’ll ask the question: Is a school trustee “employed” by the district? Does the trustee’s reticence and the board’s reluctance to comment fall under that personnel-related policy? I tend to view the elected trustee as someone who is distinctly different from the paid administrators, faculty and staff.

I agree with my friend, who said: Someone needs to mount a legal challenge to determine whether a board member is “personnel” and the state press association needs to lobby for changes in the way public personnel are protected under the sunshine laws.

Therein might lie the Parents for Transparency Coalition’s opening to seek — and hopefully get — more transparency from its local public school district.

That’s a pretty good starting point.

AISD might soon learn about power of social media

Amarillo’s public school system is still facing pressure from a parental group whose aim is to demand — and receive — more “transparency” from those who educate the community’s children.

I wish the parents well in their quest, although it might be a futile one.

The Parents for Transparency Coalition is using social media as a weapon in their quest to reveal more about what is happening behind the scenes at the Amarillo Independent School District. AISD, thus, might get a stern lesson on the impact social media has on political causes.

The coalition wants an “independent” investigation. It is demanding it through its Facebook account. The group is unhappy with some of the decisions made at the highest levels of the AISD administration.

Why the possible futility?

Well, the board recently accepted the resignation of a trustee, Renee McCown, who got caught up in a controversy over the resignation of Kori Clements, the Amarillo High School girls volleyball coach, who quit after complaining about a meddlesome parent who sought to influence the coach’s decisions regarding playing time for her athletes. Two of those student-athletes happened to be daughters of the parent … who allegedly was McCown, the now-former AISD school trustee.

McCown quit board before her seat was to be decided at the next election set for 2022.

That should be the end of it, right? Not according to the Parents for Transparency Coalition. They are angry with newly installed trustee Dick Ford, who took up for McCown, saying she did nothing wrong.

The coalition is continuing to raise a ruckus about the state of affairs within the AISD, suggesting on Facebook that the group will continue to insist on an independent probe. They have singled Ford out, too, apparently because of the trustee’s defense of McCown.

I am in no position to comment specifically on the merits of what the transparency coalition wants or whether there should be an independent investigation. However, I do sense a growing tension between the parents group and senior administrators that somehow needs a resolution.

Why? Because I do not sense that the Parents for Transparency Coalition is going to let up until someone on the receiving end of its demands — at the AISD headquarters — starts paying attention.

Therefore, we will witness the power of social media.

There will be more to come. Of that I am certain.

School is out, but let’s not lose sight of a noble goal

A group of parents has formed in Amarillo that is demanding “transparency” from the Amarillo Independent School District.

It is called the Parents for Transparency Coalition. The group sprung to life after a high school girls volleyball coach resigned, igniting a controversy surrounding the school board, the administration and alleged interference by a parent in the way the coach was doing her job. The coalition has some specific grievances that is seeks to remedy within the AISD. I am not qualified to discuss the specifics of all that the group is seeking to address.

I do, though, want to take a brief note of the group’s noble goal.

Transparency always, without exception, is better than darkness, or opaqueness in government at any level. That goes for school systems as well as city councils, county commissioners courts, the judiciary at any level and certainly at the federal level.

The Parents for Transparency Coalition believes the AISD is particularly dark and secretive. That is the coalition’s fight to wage. Given that I live far away these days I have little access to the particulars of what irks the coalition’s membership.

However, I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of the overarching message that the coalition is seeking for the public school system. Perhaps there can be a message that needs to be delivered.

It is that the property tax revenue that foots the bill for educating a community’s children comes from the property owners who live within that school district. The vast bulk of that financial burden is borne by the residents, many of whom have children being educated within that system.

Therefore, they have every right to demand full transparency, even while school is out for the summer.

To that end, I stand with the Parents for Transparency Coalition.