The Ketchikan School Board’s meeting packet was a couple of hours late getting delivered to board members on Monday, which led the board to postpone action items until its next meeting.
Board President Matt Eisenhower said board bylaws require the packet be sent to members three business days before a regular meeting.
“The agenda packet was provided to board members at approximately 11 a.m. on Monday. So, unfortunately, I’m having to rule that since this agenda packet and notification was two hours after the start of business, the three full business days were not fulfilled,” he said.
Eisenhower apologized to the board and public, but said the board needs to follow its bylaws.
The meeting did allow public comment, though, and some of those comments addressed items on the agenda. One item was the resignation of Board Member Glen Thompson. In his resignation letter, he noted that the priorities of a majority of the board don’t align with his own.
Terri Robbins told the board that elected officials resigning because they are in the minority is a disconcerting trend.
“I’m a Democrat. Believe me, I understand how frustrating it is to be disappointed by the decisions made by our elected representatives… But that is how our system works: You get elected to serve in office and the people who elected you expect to be represented,” she said. “Sometimes you’re successful in furthering your shared objectives, and sometimes you get voted down. Since when is it acceptable to throw in the towel just because you don’t get your way?”
Another board member resigned last year because he disagreed with the board’s decision regarding new teacher contracts. There have been other resignations in the past where local elected officials cited similar frustrations.
Robbins asked current board members to fulfill the obligation they’ve chosen to make. She also thanked them for their service on the board, even when she doesn’t agree with them.
Another agenda item related to former Superintendent Robert Boyle’s resignation, which came in December, at the end of a challenging year for the school district. The board wanted his resignation to take effect quickly, so the board negotiated a separation agreement to pay Boyle about three months’ worth of his salary in exchange for his immediate departure.
The board already voted on the $53,000 payment, but on Wednesday was to formally vote on the whole separation agreement.
Pete Arntzen asked the board to hold off on any agreement with Boyle, including the payment, and to start an investigation into what Arntzen said is Boyle’s violations of legal and contractual obligations to the district and students.
“Rather than hold Robert Boyle accountable, you the board has chosen to give him a free pass,” Arntzen said. “A free pass from accountability, a free pass from having to answer hard questions, a free pass from getting fired and a free pass from having his benefits, retirement and future employment threatened. Because he can go anywhere else in the country, or the world. Right now, he’s got nothing on his record.”
In spring of 2018, Ketchikan High School teacher Doug Edwards was arrested and charged with sexual abuse of a minor. He has pleaded guilty to charges that he sexually abused a 14-year-old girl at the school, at his home and in the church where he was a pastor.
An independent investigation of the district’s actions shows there were formal complaints about Edwards’ conduct going back at least five years. Members of the community have questioned why administrators allowed Edwards to continue teaching.
Other items that were on Wednesday’s agenda included contracts for two elementary school principals; and a resolution opposing Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed budget.
All action items from Wednesday’s agenda will be added to the board’s March 27 meeting.