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AUBURN — The Auburn Enlarged City School District School Board has approved a change to the public complaints policy, clarifying that it applies to district employees and not to board members themselves.
At its Tuesday meeting, council accepted a resolution waiving a second reading on an amendment to the district’s public complaints policy, completing passage of the amendment.
According to minutes for the board’s policy committee meeting beginning July 26, the change clarifies that the complaints process applies to district employees, not school board members. Time limits for the public complaint process have also been removed under the new amendment.
The minutes state that “the policy is directed to school district employees, additional wording has been added stating that dissatisfaction with a given board member should be addressed through the electoral process” , i.e. removing a board member through elections or through “external administrative or judicial legal processes”, i.e. suing a school board member or complaining to the ministry of Education. The minutes also state that it was recommended that the board waive the second reading of the policy amendment. District attorneys advised that the policy be reviewed/amended , the minutes have been added.
The neighborhood version public complaints policy prior to the approval of the new amendment did not specify whether or not it applied to board members. Part of the process involves the district superintendent contacting those who have sent a written complaint to the district clerk and overseeing the resolution of the issues mentioned in the complaint. The board supervises the superintendent.
This new policy change comes amid some community members who have been attending school board meetings over the past year and a half and raising concerns and complaints about the behavior of district and board members.
Ian Phillips, the Auburn school board chairman, said in an email to The Citizen that the legal advice from district attorneys was to bring Auburn in line with Erie 1 BOCES policy guidelines, which, according to Phillips, is the origin of much of the district’s political language project. .
“The intent of the original policy was to provide an outlet for parents who had a specific concern, say something that happened in a classroom, that went unresolved despite their best efforts. current policies going through class and district-level channels, and then as a last resort, filing this formal complaint with the district leadership team defined in the policy as superintendent, president, and vice president,” said Phillips: “The current policy is vague in how it applies to board members as elected rather than employees and so we have responded to the best of our abilities. The policy updates clarify this intent and align us with current policy language used in other neighborhoods.”
Asked if he was concerned community members would interpret the new policy as a way for the council to shield itself from community complaints, Phillips said the council was not above criticism. and that people were always welcome to speak to the public to be heard. school board meetings, write a letter to the editor of The Citizen, or email the entire school board about an issue.
“At the end of the day, people vote every year on who they would like to become a volunteer member of the school board. If they’re not happy, they can run for the board, and if enough community members agree with they will win. If not, they will lose. This is how democracy works,” he continued.
Prior to the vote at Tuesday’s meeting, Board Member Dr. Eli Hernandez presented the report on the July Policy Committee meeting and read the policy recommendation. Matteo Bartolotta, who is also on the policy committee, asked to clarify the public complaints policy was “strictly for school district employees who are supervised by the superintendent” and asked if there was a misconception that the policy also applied to board members.
Auburn Superintendent Jeff Pirozzolo said that is correct and that the complaints policy is for district employees supervised under the supervision of the superintendent or for district concerns.
“The school board, you govern yourself. You’re my boss, I’m not your boss,” he said.
During the public portion of the meeting, community member Barb Stotler said her “message here tonight is for the community, not necessarily the council,” since the meetings are recorded. Among other concerns, she said she and others had filed complaints about school board members in the past and said she believed those complaints prompted the new policy change.