The school board club is struggling to find its footing after a disastrous meeting on June 26 and an even more disastrous school year. (See the last post on how bad it was.)

Unfortunately for the club, the face of the board is club president Vicki Snell, who seems to have no end to her rudeness and insensitivity. Just when many thought the board had reached a new low in its handling of public comments, Snell dug down further last night to display more of her bad temperament.

It started with the very first taxpayer, after whose comments Snell started a dialogue with one of the district’s purported experts. The speaker calmly walked toward the podium to be present in case she had some relevant remarks or was called upon for clarification on what she said.

Snell, responded with, “I’m sorry, you’re going to have to sit down.”

First, no, Snell was not sorry. Just my observation, but she seems to take a small delight in using her position to command, control, and criticize. There is a history of there – one that has been documented in this blog.

Plus, it was not just what she said, it was how she said it. As a veteran customer service trainer – an expert! – I can tell you that how we deliver a message usually has more impact on the recipient than the message itself.

Second, in her haste to make sure everyone knew she was in charge, she wasted an opportunity to receive what may have been important information that the speaker wished to convey. Alas, thanks to Snell’s tactics, we’ll never know.

Snell’s option to this person and to at least one other speaker last night was to attend a future study session and bring the matter up at that time.

You know about those study sessions, don’t you? They’re another secret special meeting the club likes to schedule with little notice and on days and at times when most people are busy. That has been going on for decades.

Instead of engaging the speaker at that moment, when the public is interested and in attendance, Snell kicked this participation to the curb.

It is quite likely that outside of the trustees and anyone directly or indirectly employed by the N-MUSD, no one has attended more board meetings over the past ten years than I. By any measure, these are the worst I have ever witnessed.

Snell consistently bungles surnames as well. Calling up a speaker, she makes it apparent that the person’s last name is a challenge, which is a subtle form of gender-free emasculation. Last night, the apex-to-date was reached when a speaker whose last name is Nguyen approached the podium. The exchange was so embarrassing that I was squirming in my seat. Something about her doctor having the same last name and… sigh.

Throughout last night’s 13 speakers, the superintendent paid little attention. In fact, money man Jeff Trader was more engaged in the process than the super.

Oh, and one expert actually said, “We need to have a conversation about how we should have that conversation.”

Yes. Let’s converse about that.

The bottom line is this: If you fill out a card for the high privilege of graciously being allowed to address the royal court, be prepared for shabby treatment.

The real threat

Before the speakers, there was an update on the snail’s pace of upgrading campus security measures. Assistant/Deputy/Associate/Whatever Tim Holcomb told the board that consultants – experts! – had visited all the campuses, identified active (a gate) and passive (a fence) entry and exit options and were establishing security protocols and looking at “territorial reinforcement” and “single points of entry” and blah, blah, blah.

There was not one word about protecting students and staff from a student. Not a word about how a student who wished to inflict harm would be prevented from doing so, even though he or she is the most likely perpetrator in a middle or high school.

Not a word, and not one club member asked about this.

I wrote about this prospect a few posts ago and pointed out that identifying these potential perpetrators is not rocket surgery – their behavior has common elements and training those on campus to be aware of them will offer more protection than any fence or ID badge.

Not a word, and no one asked. Not even one word inquiring about the best practices of campuses elsewhere.

The club’s follow-up questions for Holcomb were of no substance, as they usually are. No depth. No critical thinking.

Speaking of best practices…

The school district down in Laguna Beach tried the math structure that was recommended by the experts here in the N-MUSD. At least one speaker mentioned that fact.

Laguna no longer uses it. So why hasn’t there been a presentation of Laguna’s experience? Wouldn’t that be helpful to everyone? Of course it would. It hasn’t been presented at a regular club meeting because performance standards are low. These days, just getting through the meeting is enough.

During this unenlightening segment, I actually heard one expert use these terms in less than one minute:

  • Plethora
  • Laser-like focus
  • Assessment components
  • Keep it moving forward

This is the type of gobbledygook that passes for meaningful dialog in the N-MUSD.

More people under the bus.

The super wanted everyone to know that the proposed math program that is receiving the evil eye was not created overnight and that it was driven by teachers. Ouch.

And club member Charlene Metoyer – who is up for reelection this year – wanted you to know that she was not involved in the process.

Pardon me, could you please pass this buck?

Steve Smith