The Ketchikan School Board met for less than half an hour Wednesday, and did not conduct any of its scheduled business. A legally required notice in the weekend newspaper listed the wrong date for that regular meeting.
Superintendent Bob Boyle said the error was entirely his fault.
“I need to apologize with due haste to the board, to the school district staff, to parents, to students, to the community in total,” he said.
The school board discussed whether to schedule a special meeting, or wait until its next regular meeting to take action on agenda items that had been set for Wednesday.
Board Vice President Kim Hodne said some of those items can’t wait.
“We have four contracts on here. Two occupational therapy contracts, a teacher’s contract, another teacher contract,” he said. “I don’t even know how we can start the year without these contracts in place.”
The first day of school was Thursday.
The board agreed a special meeting is required. Board President Trevor Shaw said he would arrange one for Aug. 29.
Shaw said the meeting date error was brought to their attention by a citizen who contacted Shaw, the borough mayor, the borough clerk and School Board Member Glen Thompson.
Thompson was out of town for Wednesday’s meeting, but wrote a letter that Shaw read out loud.
“Because of this failure, the board will be hamstringed in its ability to conduct business this week, thus inconveniencing not only the board members but the public and staff who need timely decisions by the board,” Shaw read.
In the letter, Thompson urged the board to upbraid Boyle.
Shaw agreed that the mistake was completely avoidable, and asked Boyle to make sure it never happens again. Boyle said he has a plan.
“I will provide corrective measures toward myself that will have a developed procedural checklist with multiple reviews to take active steps to prevent this failure in the future,” he said.
The one item on the agenda that the board was able to offer was public comment. Loren Stanton spoke about multiple concerns that he said the district has not addressed or responded to.
Stanton talked about substitute teacher pay, an encounter with a district employee that he said was confrontational, and a report by his family of sexual harassment at the school district that he said was ignored.
Stanton says that information will be provided to an investigator who will be looking into the district’s response to another case.
Stanton said these failures are Boyle’s responsibility. He asked the board to suspend Boyle pending the outcome of the investigation, or ask for the superintendent’s resignation.
“Our story will show that the superintendent has violated the reporting requirements regarding sexual harassment in the past, or he cannot or will not do his job properly. I don’t know which,” he said. “Regardless of how this investigation ends, this superintendent has lost our trust.”
During its last meeting, the board announced that it hired attorney Suzanne Michael of Seattle to advise the board regarding the arrest of recently retired teacher Doug Edwards. He faces charges of sexual assault of a minor.
Michael will retain an investigator to look into the district’s response to reports of sexual assault and harassment.