By Lis Richard,
The following is written in response to the article [in the Aug. 30 edition of the Mineral County Miner] written about the Creede School District Board of Education meeting held on Aug. 28.
Creede Board of Education has stated repeatedly that it always appreciates citizen’s comments. It is important to understand that citizen’s comments are opinions of those in our community. Every community member’s opinion is significant and important. There are times (as in the meeting last Tuesday, Aug. 28) that the citizens who share in the board meetings do not have all of the facts and have not spent time seeking out the principal, superintendent or other teachers for information.
Our board of education desires to hear from the community; however, they will not engage in conversation in a board meeting unless to ask clarifying questions. A single board member may not speak on behalf of the entire board and therefore cannot engage in discussion or decision making with a citizen.
The Colorado Association of School Board Leadership Handbook states: “An individual board member does not have the right to speak for the rest of the board unless specifically authorized by his or her board to do so. This authorization can be implied, as when talking to the public about previous board decisions. Or it can be direct, as when a board asks an individual member (usually the president) to issue a public statement about the district or a particular board position.”
Please note Creede School District Policy: BBAA, BEDH, KE
Colorado Revised Statutes: C.R.S. 24-6-401 et seq. (open meetings law), C.R.S. 24-6-402
Many of the comments made by the citizens were accurately stated in the Mineral County Miner. The underlying issue is that citizens cannot be made privy to the sensitive issues in the school about minors. Stating that a minor (child of one of our families) is an “offender” is inappropriate. This breaks down community and our job is to build community. We value all of our families and the differences they bring to our district. Our staff addresses diverse conflict in appropriate social and emotional context to help reach our students and their families.
It is not the intent to clarify all of the comments as we operate through our policies (controlled by the laws of Colorado, United States of America, and the Creede School Board of Education) however, one correction is needed in regard to our country’s Constitutional Amendments quoted in the meeting. It was stated that we are violating the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. This is not the case.
The sample court case that was used to state the point was Tinker vs. Des Moines of 1969. Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969), was a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court that defined the constitutional rights of students in U.S. public schools.
The Tinker test is still used by courts today to determine whether a school’s disciplinary actions violate students’ First Amendment rights.
The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prevents Congress from making any law respecting an establishment of religion, prohibiting the free exercise of religion, or abridging the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, or to petition for a governmental redress of grievances.
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights that prohibits unreasonable and unlawful searches and seizures. It requires “reasonable” governmental searches and seizures to be conducted only upon issuance of a warrant, judicially sanctioned by probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
Creede School District Administration has no desire to conduct a search of a student’s vehicle; however, we must operate under our policies. If there is reasonable suspicion (as stated in policy) of something that would cause harm or violate the law for the safety of our students, it is within our legal right to conduct a lawful search.
Lis Richard is the superintendent of Creede School District.