Editor’s note: This submission is in response to the article “School board procedures questioned” published April 20.
Public participation was not allowed during the Hibbing School Board meeting on April 18.
On April 20, the HDT reported that Chair John Berklich intends to suspend public participation until the teachers contract is settled and implied that the teachers who wanted to speak could not be trusted as to what they would say.
As a parent of the Hibbing School District and co-founder of the Hibbing Coalition for Safe and Accountable Schools, I want to know why Berklich believes that he has the power to unilaterally silence the teachers and the public of all comments.
I also want to know what the other school board members plan to do about this.
Silence is support.
Through numerous Coalition meetings in the past, it became very clear to us that a lack of public participation, lack of transparency and too much power in the hands of too few “at the top” were core factors that allowed the Hibbing School District to deteriorate and become unsafe, particularly for the women and girls at the high school. That is why we worked hard to get the current public participation policy passed in 2016.
Our students do not just learn in the classroom. They also learn from school board members.
What did they learn from the school board at their last meeting?
My interpretation from the HDT article is that the message is: “Teachers cannot follow the rules of public participation. Teachers and the public cannot be trusted as to what they will say and therefore should be silenced at a public meeting.”
As a parent, I will make sure my children know that I believe that the school board made a mistake and reaffirm my faith and trust of their teachers.
What will the school board model and teach at the next school board meeting?
When leaders in Hibbing admit their mistakes, apologize and prevent mistakes from happening in the future, then this will become the norm, standard and culture in our school district.
Is that what the school board will do? Or will the chair of the school board be allowed to be authoritative, defensive and unwilling to learn from the past?
I anxiously await to see what our students will learn from the school board at the next school board meeting.
Melissa Petrangelo Scaia
Co-Founder of the Hibbing Coalition for Safe and Accountable Schools