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Reader's view: School Board investigation of Johnston smells of politics

The special School Board meeting of June 10 was far from reassuring about the underlying intent of the board’s controlling majority in its pursuit of an investigation of board member Art Johnston (“Board to investigate Johnston,” June 11).

One of the controlling members claimed the entire process was generated by Rule 2 of the board’s Code of Ethics, which states: “Board members should endeavor to make policy decisions only after full discussion at publicly held meetings, rather than pledge their vote prior to discussion.” Anyone believe the five controlling members of the board didn’t walk into that meeting with their votes predetermined, violating their sacred code? Also, in a functioning democracy, a “full discussion” would imply public participation. The five majority members voted against a motion to allow the public to speak.

Much of the meeting was spent questioning the appropriateness of the law firm the board planned to use for its investigation. Member Johnston stated several times that the investigation should not be conducted by the law firm recommended by the school district’s attorney, Kevin Rupp.

Board member Harry Welty said, “(I’ve) often wondered if the attorneys that represent us are the School Board’s attorneys or the superintendent’s attorneys. And since, quite clearly, the superintendent is one of the people making allegations, I think what member Johnston says has great merit, that a law firm recommended by someone who may owe his contract to a good relation with the superintendent would not be the law firm I would want to conduct the investigation.”

Some of the charges against Johnston appear to be overblown. Some appear to be outright false. The more biased and corrupt the process looks, the more this action will solidify what many citizens already believe, that these charges are not driven at all by ethics but by crass political purpose.

Loren Martell