Last night with the vote for charter schools here in Clarksville-Montgomery County. The American Classical Academy Clarksville-Montgomery charter school applicant was voted down 6-1 (I was the one vote for the charter school applicant). Before this actual vote, there was an interesting turn of events during the board discussion, the entire board voted 6-1 for the discussion to cease and for the vote to be cast. The problem though, I was in the middle of my discussion – the board literally voted for me to stop asking questions. Let me explain…
Last year at last week’s meeting the board got to ask questions after the district recommendation, however, this year it was arbitrarily changed without our consent. The board attorney (who was subbing for Mr. Nolan) explained that we could submit questions in writing by Friday night. I assumed this meant we could submit questions in addition to asking questions the fact that the board asked questions last year and I had inquired about these rules before the meeting and it was insinuated that the same protocol was in place from the year prior. The meeting abruptly ended and it was clear that the only questions being asked were going to be in writing. I take this all very seriously and I had several problems with the board recommendation based on state law. I spent hours researching and writing questions to get a straightforward response from the committee where I felt they went outside the lines the state had constructed in the law. I received my written responses and I let the review committee know I’d be calling for them to the podium again to get the written responses read out loud to get them out in the public.
I calmly and peacefully asked the questions, which wasn’t a shock to the review committee as I told them I was going to do this. Nothing was personal, and I wanted answers to the questions I asked to be transparent and read to the public. I also had follow-up questions based on not receiving direct answers to the questions I asked. A few questions in my peers on the board voted to stop my questioning and immediately vote. This is the sad side of politics and those I represent voice got shut down.
For more information, I break all this down in this video:
As I previously stated on my website, I have been soliciting unbiased feedback outside of my own echo chamber to see what our community thinks of this charter applicant. I went on Facebook groups like Clarksville Chat which has more than 75K group members of all kinds of political ideologies and diverse backgrounds. In the end, I had 234 individuals tell me they were for Charter Schools, 74 against them, and 10 undecideds.
I know I can’t please everyone, but I voted for parental choice to allow this charter school as the majority of my constituents asked. I couldn’t take the district’s recommendation when almost every deficiency listed went outside the state rubric guidelines. When I began to ask about it, I got shut down. Two sections recommended last year were not this year with virtually no change to these sections. This is goalpost moving and makes the entire process unfair and uncredible.
So the vote was 6-1 against the school and I was proud to stand on my principles and for the majority in our community who want to see these choices in public education. The vote to stop my questioning sadly broke our Board Governance GP-8 Section 4c under “My relations to other board members” it states, “I will make decisions only after full discussion of matters at a Board meeting.” I plan to bring this up at the next board meeting – either we all as a board follow our board governance or we should do away with it.
Now know this is just one issue. There are plenty that the board as a whole agrees with and there are plenty we don’t. If you disagree with me on this issue, it’s ok. I am sure there will be common ground on something in the future but know I will always lead with conservative values, transparency, accountability, and parental rights in their child’s education in mind in all that I do. As always, if you have any questions about my vote – always reach out.
Many articles were written about last night. Here are a few:
In heated meeting with confused vote, Clarksville-Montgomery County denies charter school – Clarksville Now
Board shuts down fellow member supportive of applicant – Main Street Clarksville
ACA charter school application fails vote by Clarksville-Montgomery County school board – The Leaf Chronicle