Update: I viewed the footage this morning. Beyond fascinating.
Here's what I take away from what was said:
- For whatever reason, there were only two Board members who even seemed concerned around the central issue for the district to consider (at this point, I'll let Charlie take over):
The District wasn't sued for a rape, but for the utter failure of the
chaperones, the utter failure of the field trip approval, and the utter
failure of the District's response to the report.
That's all the Board should have been considering and that's all that would have been in the court case. The girl's lawyers might gone to court contending there was an assault but it would have been predicated on the belief that it would not have happened (or been far, far less likely to have happened) if the district had done its job.
Sherry Carr came the closest when she said they should not ever be talking about whether two students had or didn't have consensual sex while in the district's care.
- As has been said, over and over, no one but the two parties truly know what happened and where it went wrong. I believe that no matter what the girl's intent was in going to the boy's cabin, it did not turn out as she might have thought. And the boy says he just tuned her out at some point. Something did go wrong.
- Since the Superintendent created a Title IX Taskforce, I don't think
this issue of how the district watches over and protects students on
field trips is done. I do think this particular case is.
Highlights and thoughts:
- all the female Board members gave comments/questions but neither male Board member said anything. I don't know that this means anything in particular but it was noticeable. Perhaps it was about concern for future elections. I found it troubling that some Board members seemed to be focused on "justice" rather than the district's own accountability while others remained silent.
- Carr asked about both students and English said that both got something and the boy "received substantial protection from this settlement." It is unclear to me if the boy or his parents ever asked for anything from the district in terms of help/protection.
- Carr asked about "expectations for a standard of care" that should have been exercised in this "particular situation." English said a school district is "obligated to exercise reasonable care in the chaperoning of its students." He went on to say the district's investigator, in the report, identified a "number of problems that the district had in meeting that standard of care."
- Carr asked about the view of the outside lawyers - there were three - on this issue of standard of care and English said they all - including him - agreed on the conclusions and advice to settle the case.
- Peaslee asked "What are we avoiding by settling?" English said three things. One, costs of lawyers and experts. Two, a lengthy prep/waiting to go to trial with depositions, public attention, etc. Three, a possible "7 figure loss" to the district.
- Peaslee went on and on about "facts"and "that no one truly knows what happened" and if they settle, "what does it imply in relations to what occurred?" This is a mixed-up question because, as she says, no one truly knows so there is no implication, just what needs to be done in the best interests of the district.
I also believe she stated a few things improperly. First, she said the boy had no opportunity to tell his story. He did. He told the FBI, he told the district investigator and, like the girl's family, he and his family could have gone to the media. English said the boy, in his testimony to the investigator, was quite clear in what he did and didn't do.
If Peaslee is implying he didn't get his day in court, she's right. He may have wanted that, we don't know. But the district surely did not want that. He and his family are free to sue anyone they like to get their story out.
She also said that the "information would be sealed from public view." No, it's not. All the documentation is available for public viewing. Cutting the girl's family off from public disclosure (as the settlement does) doesn't cut off anyone else.
- Patu said the "outcome is not what I wanted" but then failed to say what that was. She said "it doesn't serve justice but it is what it is."
- Peters, calm and determined, gave a set of very precise remarks. She allude to "recently revealed confidential facts." She said they make the "matter more complicated than I realized." Okay, the Board and district counsel have more information than the public. It seems that it has led several of them to not believe the girl (this is my impression).
But again, since the district screwed up so mightily, those facts don't matter at this point. They might if the district had followed their own processes and procedures but the district didn't.
She went onto say that she feels the Board is owed an explanation of how they came to this time and place. She said she would like an internal review "for some understanding and accountability"and asked for the support of the rest of the Board. No one raised a voice in support of that. Either they believe what the Superintendent is enacting is enough or they want it behind them or both.
But that won't happen for the same reason that the court case isn't happening. The district does not want to hold anyone accountable. Because they would then be back in court if any teacher/administrator sued and it would all start up again.
- Marty McLaren said she was reluctant to agree to the settlement because it was "not just" and "not warranted by the evidence presented." Whatever this new information is, it seems it highly influenced the Board. She said two students "experienced harm" and one was "getting a generous settlement." In the end, though, she said she was "respectful of the expert opinions given to the Board that contradict my own instincts."
- Carr also said she looked forward to the "work to do" and "input from the public."
- Peaslee said she was not intending to support the settlement but had been persuaded by lawyers. I think she almost wanted this to go to court which would not have served the district well. She said she hoped "the public" would put this behind us. She also said there was "mass hysteria" and it was caused by "a few individuals who did not have access to all the facts."
I concur with several commenters here who said that it seemed the main and overwhelming focus on this case seemed to be on how did this happen on a field trip and not on the boy and girl.
Peaslee did not say a single word about the issue of district accountability.
end of update
I have not yet viewed this footage but this is from the Executive Session of the Board meeting on Wednesday. I think the Board needs to be alone with legal counsel to openly talk and THEN the public can hear the discussion that took place.
I note that this was sent to me from SPS and I did not ask for it. As I said about the news about the destruction of the student data previously in the hands of ConnectEdu, it's a wished-for faith-restoring moment.