To the editor:

I have been following The Courier’s coverage of Madison Consolidated Schools closely in recent months. As a former Spanish teacher at Lydia Middleton and E. O. Muncie and as the father of a student in the junior high, I am deeply vested in the quality of the educational experience and in the health of the environment in which our teachers work.

I understand that school board members are also deeply vested in the quality of our public schools. They assume significant responsibility and expose themselves to criticism from parents and teachers without the expectation of personal gain.

I also understand that they are not obligated to hold additional meetings or to discuss individual personnel decisions. However, the National School Boards Association does recommend that boards host study circles, town meetings, and focus groups when these are appropriate.

When students walk out to protest a school board decision; when hundreds of community members protest the same decision; when former teachers publish an open letter decrying the “hostile work environment” at MCS; when a former school board member describes the superintendent as a “bully”; and when a devoted young teacher writes to the school board to explain why she will not apply for jobs at MCS under the present circumstances, then it is appropriate to consider holding the kind of discussion the National School Boards Association recommends.

On March 7, a group of us sent a letter to the president of the MCS Board requesting a civil, respectful, constructive work session and proposing that it be moderated by a neutral, respected member of the community. One hundred and two people signed this letter. Although we have not yet received a reply, we are optimistic that the Board will be persuaded of our good faith and consider hosting such a discussion.

James Buckwalter

Associate Professor of Spanish

Hanover College