The Sedona-Oak Creek School District Governing Board backtracked April 11 on a decision to withhold contracts to most of the current teaching staff until two or three teachers were removed from the full list proffered April 4 and discussed individually.

Not even the board members seemed entirely clear April 4 whether they were discussing two or three teachers, as they are not allowed to single out individual employees not on the agenda.

All 52 teachers on the initial list had been evaluated by their principals and recommended for contract renewal, so it seems odd that board members who spend almost no time in the classroom would know better. After all, the purpose of board-approved protocols for principals’ evaluation are so board members don’t have to evaluate every teacher themselves.

Two teachers’ names were ultimately pulled and placed on the April 11 agenda to be discussed, but because they were never specifically discussed at the meeting and were ultimately offered contracts, we felt no need to include their names in our news story and embarrass them as the board aimed to do.

If a board member hears about questionable activity by an individual teacher, they should pass that information on to the superintendent, who will discuss it with the appropriate principal if verifiable, and the teacher if necessary. To publicly embarrass two teachers due to rumor, personal dislike or unsubstantiated allegation is unethical and putting everyone’s contract in limbo is bad administration.

Teachers need to have their contracts in hand by the middle of spring so they know whether they have the option of returning in the fall or have to start looking for a new job elsewhere.
Board member Zachary Richardson also claimed April 4 he had “15 pages” of documentation about the two teachers he objected to, but these alleged pages have apparently not been provided to the principals nor the other board members.

Richardson also stated he has never challenged administrators in public, apparently forgetting his actions in demoting the former West Sedona School principal.

Thus, Mr. Richardson, we have our doubts. So kindly drop these pages off in a sealed envelope at our newsroom at 298 Van Deren in Uptown for us to confidentially examine. If no documents arrive, then well, we and the public must assume they do not exist.

It is board shenanigans like these that lower teacher morale, which has already suffered under the previous dysfunctional board.

We have faith that this board will learn from this glaring error in governance and not repeat it.

To the teachers and students, this newspaper has been steadfast in two fundamentals:

  • Our kids deserve the best education our community can provide.
  • Our good teachers need community support and higher pay so they stay to teach our kids.

Thus we stand with the teachers in repeating their words to the board, “We exhort you to follow established polices and procedures regarding [their] contracts and evaluations in a lawful, appropriate and professional manner.”