Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Free flow of information? I don't think so - Lisa Becker and the school district in Barnegat

Cortland Coleman linked to this story:

A blogger says her right to free speech was violated when the school district removed her from a list of approved school volunteers because of content on her Web site.

Lisa Becker, who owns, was removed from the list at the Board of Education's regular meeting Monday night. After asking why, Becker, who has three children in the district, was told she would be allowed to volunteer in the future once the site was taken down.

So what did Lisa do? Post nude photos of the school board? Publish the answers to the SAT test? Oh, no; it's much worse than that.

The purpose of this service is to inform and clarify issues pertinent to Barnegat township residents. The site will include municipal, educational and recreational topics and links to better inform the public on local policy.

An informed public? We won't stand for that! Especially when such sensitive material is published as can be found in this excerpt from a January 31 entry:

It is a common practice by our administration, that those who question are confronted or dismissed via some parliamentary excuse, policy manipulation, belligerence or disrespect - and they simply go away unanswered. Student concerns are swept under the rug and controversial or disparaging events in the district are kept in the strictest confidence until administrators are forced to confess.

This is not high quality management at work; it is in fact, this type of mismanagement, selective financial diversions and ethically tainted plots that shortchange our children’s future for a quality education here in Barnegat....

Board of education meetings in Barnegat were recorded while Robert Horbelt was superintendent – but that policy was changed by the new administration. Why? Who benefits?

The board office is almost completely turned over and confidential secretaries have confidential secretaries. For what?

The BOE meeting agenda and notes no longer contain the school attendence summaries. You must put in an OPRA to get the number of children who are actually physically attending school in Barnegat. - and these numbers often include children placed out of district or home schooled....

What does it say about a district when visiting team parents go out of their way to comment about the horrible behavior of your basketball coach? What is the response to parents who one after another express their concerns over belligerent and abusive attacks on the children verbally. What does it say when children come out of a post game meeting in tears. It says this person should be fired! No more chances, no more excuses – and no matter who’s "friend" they are. If you allow a coach to berate children for losing long enough……they will believe they are losers....

Shortly after the spring elections for the board of education last year, new members of the board asked the superintendent to open up his contract. The State Commission of Investigation report shed light on the outrageous “total compensation” of these administrators and the public was outraged. One individual, Mr. Houser, having the fortitude to bring this up, was threatened by the superintendent and board president with prosecution for ethics violations. In fact, the Superintendent went so far as to bring in attorneys, send letters to the board president cancelling budget meetings and a laundry list of other activities to try and prevent Mr. Houser from taking issue with his contract or being involved with the budget....

Doesn't the school board realize that you have to keep your friends close, and your enemies closer? They should make Becker head the entire danged volunteer effort.

I like the way that Frank summed the issue up:

You can say it, but that doesn’t mean I have to listen.

You can say it, but that doesn’t mean anyone has to publish it (remember, it’s freedom of speech, not freedom to be published by someone else).

You can say it, and the rest of the world is free to [decide] you are an idiot.

You can say it, and be denied the opportunity to accompany children on a field trip.

Yeah, really.

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