Guest Opinions

Editorial ‘missed the mark’; West Ada Trustees Dean, Sayles must go

The April 14 editorial in which the Idaho Statesman Editorial Board questions the merits of the West Ada School Board recall completely missed the mark.

Perhaps the editorial board has forgotten their own Oct. 24 editorial titled “West Ada trustees flunk their first major test.” In it, you stated that Linda Clark resigned as a result of a “totally manufactured crisis” on the part of the school board and that the board’s “mostly toxic public attitude toward Clark reveals a regrettable management style that will not serve trustees well going forward.” You stated that you have “deep concerns” about a district “being managed by a group of trustees who have lost your trust.” What has changed?

Now you say that the chaos and dysfunction that have come to characterize the West Ada School Board in recent months is not the “extreme circumstances” that merits a recall. This statement is grossly misguided and naïve. What isn’t extreme about a board of four elected officials who have been systematically dismantling one of the most fiscally responsible, proven school districts in Idaho? Being duly elected does not preclude Tina Dean and Carol Sayles from also being responsible, transparent and treating others with respect.

This editorial board is clearly out of touch with the West Ada School District and understandably so. Only one of its members lives within the boundaries of the district.

While this board is passing judgment from the comfort of the Statesman’s office, we’re attending school board meetings. While the editorial board is doling out unsolicited advice on what meets “the recall threshold” in their minds, we’re out talking to patrons in the district who are directly affected by this board’s actions. We haven’t seen a single editorial board member at a school board meeting. And we doubt that any of them have spoken with West Ada patrons, let alone canvass neighborhoods weekend after weekend.

Tina Dean and Carol Sayles were elected with less than 4 percent of their zone’s registered voters, but because these board members controlled four of five votes, they felt they were not accountable to anyone but themselves. However, the recall mechanism, a difficult one by design, ensures that Dean and Sayles remain accountable to their patrons without being afforded another year to continue their destruction.

Two of the four trustees targeted for recall have already resigned, knowing that their removal from office was inevitable. They didn’t resign in the face of overwhelming public support. They resigned because they realized there was a groundswell of dissatisfaction with their decisions. The more than 2,000 recall petition signers know that this is about more than a few “unpopular decisions,” as you assert. This recall is about the future of West Ada’s children. By replacing Dean and Sayles, who have failed as board members, with trustees who will advocate for our children, the district can continue building on its long history of success to be the excellent district that it has always been.

Christine Donnell wrote this on behalf of co-authors Reid Olsen, Caroline Merritt and Mike Vuittonet, who is a member of the West Ada School District Board of Trustees.