Onaway school board embarrasses itself once again

The Onaway Area School District Board of Education has once again proven itself a laughingstock of Northeast Michigan.

At least it would have proven itself so if there was anything funny about the school board’s dysfunction.

The board’s June 11 meeting was nothing short of a smorgasbord of embarrassments, ignominies, and other assorted disgraceful acts.

Multiple school staffers resigned, including Superintendent Mindy Horn and Secondary Principal Marty Mix (though Horn and Mix later rescinded their resignations, at least for the time being).

Horn, in her resignation letter, which she read aloud at the meeting, said the board’s drama at least partly contributed to her desire to exit. She accused trustees of trying to find damning information about other board members, about Horn, and about school staff.

Trustee Erin Chaskey also announced her resignation from the school board and left before the end of the meeting.

As the crowd at the meeting grew restless and shouted down the board’s sad actions, board President James Rieger threatened to remove members of the public from the meeting, which could have been a violation of the state Open Meetings Act. He even asked a Presque Isle County Sheriff’s Office deputy at the meeting to intervene. Thankfully, the deputy let cooler heads prevail and didn’t remove anyone.

School boards are supposed to be apolitical, trustees serving only for the success of the students and families in the school district. Most school board meetings are relatively dull affairs as boards set budgets (dictated mostly by how many students enroll, which determines how much money comes from the state), purchase textbooks (most of them dictated by state standards), and manage the superintendent, who runs the day-to-day operations of the schools.

Few people run for school boards with political or personal agendas. Most have children in the school system and just want to help out.

But it appears many on the Onaway school board have brought nothing but personal and political agendas to the table.

When school boards spend all their time on infighting, they’re not spending time making sure the children in their care have the best curriculum, teachers, and school administration possible. And that means the kids lose out.

Such infighting also chases away talent from the school district, sets a bad example for the kids, and embarrasses the entire district in the public’s eye.

It’s time for the Onaway school board to set personal agendas aside and get to work on behalf of Onaway’s children.


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