I first stepped into the boardroom of ISD 709 nearly a decade and a half ago. Our public school district had just hired a new Superintendent, who had a checkered past in his former job, in Faribault, MN. The school board of that district was debating buying out his contract. They were saved from a messy fight by Duluth’s board.
Some citizens in Duluth, myself included, started attending meetings, concerned the man from Faribault would repeat his mistakes in our school district. Time has shown our concerns were legitimate, but the controlling majority of the board immediately started succumbing to the new Superintendent’s slick charm and sway.
Like many people who attend school board meetings, I initially just sat through the public comment period and occasionally a relevant item on the agenda. It was in the fall of ‘08, when Red Plan construction began, that I started sitting through regular meetings and business committee meetings.
I’ve been watching these meetings for more continuous years now, than anyone else in Duluth. The government I’ve observed has not been for the meek of heart. It has continually tested my faith in representative democracy. The most disheartening part is that the Board of Education has never, over all these years, learned any lessons from its mistakes.