Gilbert parents question school board's agenda

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by Tanya Mendis

Bio | Email | Follow: @tanyamendis

azfamily.com

Posted on February 24, 2014 at 8:38 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 26 at 2:23 PM

GILBERT, Ariz. -- Parents in Gilbert are taking matters into their own hands. They say the school board has gone rogue.

At the heart of the debate is the "conflict of interest" issue. On Tuesday's agenda, "board member conflict of interest"  is item number one.

But that agenda was amended late Monday afternoon, moving that item off the official agenda and into the work study session before the public meeting.

With bright, red print and a bold strike line comes an even bolder change: Gilbert school board members are now discussing accountability when it comes to with whom they have relationships.

This conflict of interest code initially would have forced board members to disclose their relationships with businesses and vendors, and abstain from voting when appropriate. But before it could be adopted, the board is now considering dropping it.

"It's going to benefit them because they can hire who they want; they can hire their friends," says Gilbert mom Tonya Tippetts. "They can get away with things they wouldn't normally be able to get away with."

"I really think they want a puppet," says former board member Suzy Horvath. "They want to administer. They've already overstepped the bounds so greatly."

Once 3TV showed up Monday and started asking questions, the item disappeared from the online agenda. We're told the superintendent is making last-minute changes.

Parents say this is a shell game they've seen before. "I don't feel that the Gilbert Public Governing Board is even looking at education or the children," says parent and business owner Adelaida Severson. "And that's our future."

Severson feels so strongly, she and two fellow moms crafted an open letter. "Political agendas are rampant and clear here so we need to do something about it," says Severson.

Parents promise to pack tomorrow's board meeting just like they have for the past several weeks.

"We are using their behavior as an example to my children of how not to behave," says mom Susie Jackson, who has eight kids.

The parents say while their school system may receive As, the board is failing its true mission.

The school board president then spoke to 3TV. She says the change has nothing to do with us asking questions, and says she's fine with the policy whether it passes or not. But she points out no other district in the state has conflict of interest policies this strict.

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