(The Sentinel) – USD 491 Eudora superintendent Stu Moeckel and school board president Mark Chrislip denied parents’ requests to address the board about mistreating a student at a recent school board meeting. And that only added to the frustration some parents feel about a female student being assigned to share a bed with a transgender student who was born male on a class trip to Costa Rica.
As reported in The Sentinel, room assignments for the week-long international trip last May were not made ahead of time, and the female student was upset when told of the sleeping arrangement. After complaining to the wife of the teacher/chaperone, the female was allegedly told: “Deal with it.” She did so, sleeping on the floor in others’ rooms for the duration of the trip she reportedly saved $3,500 to experience.
Those wishing to address the board in open forum feel hindered by the three “fates” each request to speak is assigned by Superintendent Stu Moeckel and Board President Mark Chrislip:
- Speaking in open forum before the board
- Speaking to the board in executive session
- Speaking to an assigned administrator, usually the superintendent
Each request to address the board on this issue was denied, only offering to have a private conversation.
Moeckel defended the policy on addressing the board, adopted in 2008, in an interview:
“Issues involving individual students are treated the same way as those involving personnel, they cannot be discussed in open forum, and must be referred to executive session. Those applying to speak on this matter were given an opportunity to discuss their concerns with me either over the phone or by email. I remain available to discuss any issue with any individual.”
The superintendent added a new policy adopted in June on student overnight stays now requires 48-hour advance notice to parents of student room assignments.
Stacie Blubaugh voiced the concerns of those in the audience at the meeting:
“Not being given the opportunity to address the whole board at the general or executive meetings was very disappointing. While they are making good efforts to meet with me one on one, that isn’t what is needed. I would like the opportunity to address the entire board.”
The three-tiered policy doesn’t satisfy Melissa Campbell. She is critical of Moeckel, the trip chaperone, the alleged “deal with it” comment, and what she sees as an effort to disregard the school trip controversy:
“How disheartening that the superintendent made the executive decision to keep the story quiet. First, it protects the offender—the teacher-turned-activist. Secondly, it protects the superintendent whose policies didn’t protect a student—from the public. Lastly, it prevents parents from making an informed decision for their children taking a similar school-sponsored trip.
“Hold your Board of Education accountable, Citizens! Don’t be silenced by activists who pretend to protect children but, in reality, only stand for their personal gain of power. Share how you really feel with the BOE using the addresses below. They’re elected to serve the students by wisely using your tax dollars. Don’t forget–they work for you!”