An emergency parent meeting was called at Beechwood school last night to explain that a teacher had been placed on administrative leave and that the police department was conducting an investigation into…well, something they’re not allowed to tell us about. The Chief was adamant that there was no evidence that a crime was committed or that any students were involved, which makes you wonder what he’s “investigating” in the first place.
It’s interesting to watch Superintendent Hovey and interim Police Chief Hughes struggle with a new-found interest in transparency, releasing only enough information to scare people about what the teacher might have done. Parents in the room didn’t seem to appreciate the lack of detail. One mother even came to tears trying to figure out if anything had happened to her own child (25 minutes in).
An attentive resident brought us this video of the meeting:
UPDATE: School Board Trustee Chris Thompson posted this comment addressing the question of what the board currently knows about the investigation:
I do not mind being held accountable. For clarity’s sake, I have NOT been briefed on any aspect of this story beyond the information which has been made publicly available in the meeting posted here. I have made it clear to Dr. Hovey that I believe that fact is inhibiting my ability to do my job as a trustee. Dr. Hovey informed me that he had been advised by the district’s law firm as to what information he could and could not give to the board members. He did confirm that he knows more than we do. As the law firm’s primary role is to limit the districts liability, there is no surprise there. Unfortunately, my role is to be 1/5th of an independently elected body whose job it is to ensure that our district does the right and smart thing, and I cannot very well do that if I am “managed” by the district’s lawyer. I believe that the theory is that if the board members are informed of the details of the investigation prior to the conclusion of the investigation that our impartiality will be brought into question if any decisions need to be made by the board as a result of the investigation. I don’t buy it. The people elected us to oversee this government entity and the entity itself is preventing us from knowing the details of what is going on within our own walls. At the risk of sounding self-important, I thought we were in charge.
Having said that, I would not personally use the phrase cover-up at this point. I will not quietly sit by uninformed for any extended length of time. This situation is three days old and we are talking about an elementary school. The individual who is the focus of whatever it is we are investigating has been administratively removed from the classroom and we are being told that there is zero evidence of any direct impact to children. My first step is really what I am doing here. Making it known publicly that I think it is a mistake to withhold the details of the investigation from the board.
Ostensibly, the board would be able to offer some comfort to the community…or some guidance to management about we believe we should proceed. I have no idea if I even agree that there should be an investigation.
As a final comment, I want make it clear that I believe it is exceedingly likely that both Mitch Hovey and Dan Hughes are doing what they believe to be best for the children and the community. I also believe that it is my job to review all of the knowable circumstances in order to determine whether I concur with Dr. Hovey’s actions. I have no way of doing that now.