Archive for Thursday, March 30, 2006

School board continues closed-door sessions

Group submits petition asking to work out differences with Hackett

March 30, 2006

Basehor-Linwood school board members were back at it Monday night, meeting behind closed doors, as they work toward a decision about leadership in the district.

Two weeks ago, board members met in several lengthy executive sessions, talking with district employees.

At the conclusion of those sessions, the board announced that they had accepted Superintendent Jill Hackett's request to go on administrative leave for 30 calendar days and that the assistant superintendent would take over her duties during the interim.

In addition, the board extended the contracts of two school principals -- whose contracts Hackett had recommended the board not renew. The board also voted to rescind earlier decisions it had made to extend Hackett's contract for two years. So her current contract expires June 30.

On Monday, before board members went behind closed doors, about 35 people gathered in the meeting room.

But board president Kerry Mueller explained that because the board was conducting a special meeting, its members would not take public comment.

"We have audience forums at our regular board meetings," Mueller said, which upset some patrons who had gathered and had hoped to address the board.

The next regular board meeting is set for April 10.

It's not clear whether the board will conduct another special meeting between now and April 10.

"There's always a possibility we'll need another special board meeting," Mueller said.

Mueller said, after Monday's meeting, that the board met for nearly three hours and took no action.

Basehor resident and businesswoman Debbie Breuer submitted to the board a petition that Breuer said contained about 130 signatures. The petition called on the board to work out differences between the superintendent and board members.

Mueller said the board has taken no action on that petition.

"The board accepted it and read it and is taking it under advisement, as we are with everything that we've received," she said.

For now, the superintendent remains on administrative leave, at least until mid-April. And it's not clear what will occur once that 30-day period ends.

"Nothing has been decided about what happens at the end of 30 days," Mueller said.

Attempts to reach Hackett for comment have been unsuccessful.

Board member Dayna Miller said Wednesday that she understands some patrons' frustrations with the board's reluctance to discuss Hackett's future with the district. But, she said, the board's hands are tied.

"In reality, it's like any other business across the nation," Miller said. "Personnel issues are things that are private. They are between the employer and the employee.

"If we were to speak outside of executive session about what happened and about personnel issues, we could be sued by that employee. ... It's a personnel issue, and that's why it's so important. It's to protect the employee's privacy."

And concerning another issue that's looming for the district, Miller said no action has been taking in recent weeks on the board's earlier decision to conduct a bond issue election in November.

In mid-February, the school board voted unanimously to ask voters to approve a $26.7 million bond issue that would finance a new elementary school near the high school, as well as renovations to Basehor-Linwood Middle School and Basehor and Glenwood Ridge elementary schools.

But during the past few weeks, the board has grappled with personnel issues. And the board has not notified the state of its intent to conduct an election in November, Miller said.

"No further decisions have been made," she said.

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