WFISD School Board president releases statement on Sept. 20 meeting walkout
“Walking out of a meeting because you did not get your way shows a lack of leadership and a lack of teamwork. I apologize to you on their behalf.”
WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - Wichita Falls ISD School Board President Mike Rucker released the following statement Wednesday about the three school board members who walked out of the Sept. 20 school board meeting.
Board members Katherine McGregor, Bob Payton, and Mark Lukert abruptly left Monday’s meeting, forcing the board to adjourn due to lack of quorum. The three were allegedly frustrated about a lack of discussion on STAAR results and academic achievement, which were scheduled to be discussed in a separate special session. Rucker’s statement addressed misinformation that the rogue board members had given to the press, and reiterated the board’s policy that all media statements should be given by the board president rather than individual members.
Rucker also noted that the forced adjournment curtailed the meeting’s purpose: “As board president, I am ashamed by the actions of these three individuals. Because they were thinking about their own self-interests, the board was not able to take action on several key items that directly impact student achievement - the hiring of district teachers and nurses and the approval of reading curriculum.”
The WFISD School Board is scheduled to meet at next week’s special session to discuss last year’s STAAR results.
The entire statement can be read below.
As school board President, I would like to clear up some misinformation that has been shared regarding three school board members walking out of the September 20 school board meeting.
At the September 14 school board meeting, board member Katherine McGregor requested that STAAR results be put on the agenda for the meeting. School board member Bob Payton stated that he would also like to see that on the agenda. After the meeting, Superintendent Mike Kuhrt shared that several of the administrators needed for the STAAR discussion would be out of town at a work conference on September 20, the day of the next board meeting. I told Mr. Kuhrt that we could call a special session in October to discuss STAAR results when all parties could be in attendance. Board policy does not state that board agenda item requests must be added at the next meeting. Board policy states that the Board President shall ensure that any topics requested be scheduled for deliberation at “an appropriate time in the near future.”
During the September 20 meeting, Ms. McGregor stated that she has been trying to get information about STAAR results since July and has not received that information. That is incorrect. On July 13, preliminary STAAR results were shared with the board at a meeting. On August 16 and September 14, more information was shared with the board about steps being taken to improve academic achievement this school year. Ms. McGregor also met with Associate Superintendent Peter Griffiths on July 26 to review last year’s STAAR results. On January 8, Ms. McGregor met with five members of the district’s curriculum department to discuss academic achievement and the systems that were in place last school year.
A special session has been scheduled next week to have more in-depth discussion regarding last year’s STAAR results. All board members received the agenda for the September 20 board meeting on Friday, September 17. They were informed that the discussion regarding STAAR results was not on the agenda but would be discussed at a special session.
Additionally, board policy states that individual board members should refrain from speaking to the media. According to board policy, all media statements should go through the board President. Three school board members did not follow their own policy and have shared inaccurate information with the media on multiple occasions. I think it should be noted that the newspaper reporter only attempted to speak to the three board members who walked out of the meeting. She did not bother to get a statement from any of the other four members. She also did not call to verify the accuracy of the information those three board members shared.
As board president, I am ashamed by the actions of these three individuals. Because they were thinking about their own self-interests, the board was not able to take action on several key items that directly impact student achievement - the hiring of district teachers and nurses and the approval of reading curriculum. Board members are elected officials who have a responsibility to their constituents. Walking out of a meeting because you did not get your way shows a lack of leadership and a lack of teamwork. I apologize to you on their behalf.
In closing, I would like to commend all of our teachers, support staff and administrators for the job they are doing and the job they did last school year. Over the past five years we have seen the number of campuses labeled as “Improvement Required” decrease and our overall rating as a district has improved from a “C” to a “B.” While last year’s STAAR results were not as high as we would have hoped for, it is understandable given the fact that teachers were faced with educating students both virtually and face-to-face in the midst of a global pandemic. Similar results were seen across the state. Teachers and students were told that the STAAR test would not count during the 20-21 school year. We have several systems in place to address academic needs this school year, and I am confident we will see positive results.
I commend our district leadership and Mr. Kuhrt for the work they are doing. We have a lot to be proud of in WFISD.
WFISD School Board President
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