Dear readers, this is embarrassing to ask, but we need your help to contact Sedona-Oak Creek School District Superintendent David Lykins.
Last seen at the District Office off Brewer Road, Lykins appears to be in perpetual 24-hour meetings and unable to speak with our reporters. So we have tried Lykins’ phone number, but he doesn’t call us back. We have tried email, but he doesn’t write us back. We tried texting questions, to which Lykins did respond, but then later claimed to be too busy, and suggested a meeting instead. So we have offered last week to hold a meeting at his convenience, and yet, haven’t heard back.
After the last SOCSD board meeting on Monday, Lykins did what can best be described as “flee” from our reporter rather than confirm a date and time for a meeting, which he himself had suggested.
One of the superintendent’s jobs is to speak to the public, but Lykins appears to be unwilling to perform this simple duty. By refusing to speak with us, he is effectively refusing to speak with you, Sedona taxpayers, who pay his $120,000-per-year salary. He is thusly also refusing to speak with the parents of the students, whom he has been charged with their care and education.
Of course, Lykins is receiving mixed messages about media relationships from the school board. Board members Karen McClelland, John D. Miller and Bobbie Surber almost always return our phone calls with comments, for which we and our readers are appreciative.
However, board member Zach Richardson never returns calls and board President Tommy Stovall usually calls back, but invariably offers “no comment” or refers matters back to Lykins who, as discussed above, doesn’t return calls.
What kind of example is this teaching our children?
Flee from obligations?
Refuse to be held accountable?
Dodge, dip, dive and duck responsibilities?
Printing “So-and-so did not return phone calls by press time” is more offensive to taxpayers and voters than “I don’t know” or “I will get back to you.” We are more than happy to write follow-up stories if particular questions require more research for a thorough, detailed answer.
By design, an adversarial relationship exists between media and government: Given power by the people and allocated authority of our public funds, those in government, even school government, must be constantly questioned by the public about their decisions. Journalists can be friendly and accommodating, but our primary duty is to challenge policies and statements of elected officials and those they hire for administrative duties to make sure they are serving the public interest, spending tax money efficiently and effectively and responding to questions with 100 percent transparency.
If elected or appointed officials refuse to speak, we cannot trust that they are acting in the public’s best interest. Our job is to disseminate information but with no contact, we have nothing to report and thus, we have failed to do our duty, which we cannot abide.
So we are appealing to Lykins’ bosses to goad him into contacting us — and his bosses are you, Sedona taxpayers. If you see Lykins, encourage, prod, push or demand he regularly speak to the press and by extension, Sedona’s taxpayers and parents.
We want a healthy, productive, working relationship with our superintendent and our elected school officials but it cannot be built on just one side of the street.
Christopher Fox Graham
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